Author: Ewan McAndrew

Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh. English & Media Teacher. Film, Travel & Open Knowledge enthusiast.

Telling the history of HIV and AIDS activism in Scotland on Wikipedia

As LGBT History month draws to a close this month, I wanted to pay tribute to a collaboration brought about through Siobhan Claude at the University of Edinburgh’s Staff Pride Network and my colleague, Lorna Campbell, who suggested telling the history of HIV/AIDS activism and awareness in Scotland on Wikipedia.

It seemed inconceivable that Wikipedia had so little on this important history and the people who fought long and hard against prejudice and myths surrounding the virus and did so much societal good in raising awareness and campaigning for treatment. Yet the largest open education resource in human history was largely devoid of any mention of the organisations and activists so pivotal in this history of Scotland.

We contacted Henry Gray at HIV Scotland and a date for an event was set. We would bring people together to edit Wikipedia and formed a worklist of new pages to create so that the generations to come would learn and understand the story of HIV/AIDS activism in Scotland. This is only a beginning so I have created a Navigation Box template to pull all these new pages together, make them easier to discover and to highlight  the organisations and people we are still missing. This template has been added to the foot of all the new pages below. There is much more to the history of HIV/AIDS activism in Scotland (and the United Kingdom for that matter) to be told. We hope that this is only the beginning to honour and celebrate the pioneering and vitally important work that came before. Much more to do!

As a result of the HIV Scotland Wikipedia event at the end of January, we now have pages for:

Scottish AIDS Monitor

In 1983, after becoming aware of the spread of an illness affecting gay men in the United States, Derek Ogg set up Scottish AIDS Monitor in Edinburgh, along with Edward McGough, Nigel Cook and Simon Taylor, in order to inform and educate gay men about HIV and AIDS. The organisation was established before the first case of HIV was recorded in Scotland and three years before the first government AIDS awareness campaign. In addition to their original Edinburgh branch, by the late 1980s, the organisation had branches in Highland, Lothian, Tayside and Strathclyde. SAM was funded by private donations and public funding. The organisation was awarded £25,000 by the government’s Scottish Home and Health department in 1988 and also received funding from Strathclyde and Lothian Health Boards.

SAM safe sex condom packet
SAM safe sex condom packet

Initially SAM focused on raising awareness of AIDS and promoting safe sex among gay men, but the organisation expanded its activities to include all groups affected by HIV and AIDS, including homosexuals, heterosexuals, teenagers, drug users, sex workers and prison inmates. The organisation worked with the Genito Urinary Medicine unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in order to ensure the information they provided was accurate and up to date. SAM’s activities included advocacy, awareness raising, advisory, support and prevention services. The organisation trained AIDS counsellors and hospital visitors and set up “Buddy” and HIV support groups. They also ran AIDS information phone lines in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, worked with drug counselling agencies, promoted safe sex and distributed free condoms. In 1994 SAM set up Gay Men’s Heath, the UK’s first dedicated health initiative for gay and bisexual men. The organisation was also instrumental in setting up Body Positive Scotland, a self help group for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

SAM ceased operating in the West of Scotland later in 1995, and after funding was withdrawn by Lothian Health Board in 1996, the organisation closed down.

HIV Scotland

HIV Scotland is a registered charitable organisation based in EdinburghScotland, established in 1995 as Scottish Voluntary HIV & AIDS Forum, that works to make policy and advocacy changes for people living with HIV in Scotland, PrEP users, and people at risk of HIV. George Valiotis was the Chief Executive Officer of HIV Scotland between 2012 and 2019 during which a key achievement was a successful implementation strategy for a new technology called HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), for which the organisation was awarded the British Medical Association Medfash prize for making Scotland the first nation in the UK to have it listed on their national health service. Nathan Sparling was appointed chief executive on 1st November 2018, and helped lead the organisation through a strategic review which led to their new 11-year Strategic Plan – #ZEROHIV. He announced he was leaving HIV Scotland in December 2020. 

PHACE West

Project for HIV and AIDS Care and Education (PHACE) West was Scottish HIV and AIDS awareness organisation that was active in the West of Scotland between 1995 and 2006.

PHACE West was founded in November 1994 by Ken Cowan following changes in the Scottish HIV voluntary sector, and the following year attracted funding from four West of Scotland health boards. There was a widespread perception of an East Coast bias in the management of the predominant Scottish AIDS organisation Scottish AIDS Monitor, and inadequate West Coast services. A number of SAM staff joined PHACE West, including its director Maureen Moore.

The new organisation had a high-profile launch party in May 1995 at Glasgow’s Tunnel nightclub, featuring a performance by Dannii Minogue. In 2000 it expanded by opening an Aberdeen office, and becoming a national organisation, PHACE Scotland. In 2006 the organisation became part of the Terrence Higgins Trust, as its parent organisation PHACE Scotland completed a merger with the UK’s longest established HIV charity, allowing THT Scotland to provide services in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Argyll, Ayrshire Arran, Lanarkshire, Grampian and Highland NHS Scotland board areas.

PHACE West provided a welfare rights service, Buddy Support Service and Night Owl crisis line, counselling, and condoms by post for people in rural areas. They ran the HAVEN, a drop in space at Ruchill Hospital. They also produced publications and websites on safer sex aimed at gay men, distributed condoms in LGBT venues, and ran the youth group Bi-G-Les for under-25s.

Derek Ogg

Derek Andrew Ogg QC (1954 – 1 May 2020) was a Scottish lawyer who, through the Historical Sexual Offences Pardons and Disregards Scotland Bill, campaigned for automatic pardons for gay and bisexual men with historical convictions of sexual offences that are no longer illegal in Scotland. In 1983 Ogg established the Scottish HIV and AIDS awareness charity Scottish AIDS Monitor.

Ogg’s activism started with his membership of the Scottish Minorities Group (later Outright Scotland) where in 1974, together with Ian Dunn, he organised the International Gay Rights Congress in Edinburgh, which later resulted in the establishment of the International Lesbian & Gay Association.

In 1983, after hearing about a disease affecting gay men in the United States, Derek Ogg, along with Edward McGough, Nigel Cook and Simon Taylor set up the Scottish AIDS Monitor to educate gay men about the risks of HIV and AIDS. He served on the board of Directors until 1994. In the 1980s much of his activism was around the issues of HIV and AIDS, where along with Scottish AIDS Monitor he was also involved in the establishment of Waverley Care through which the Milestone Hospice, the UK’s first purpose built hospice for HIV patients, was established in 1991.

Ogg was involved in the campaign to end the ban on gay sex in Scotland which was formally lifted in 1981 with the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980. He was also an activist against Section 28 (Clause 2A in Scotland) which was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and England Wales in 2003. In 2015 he was presented with a special award for Lifetime Achievement at the inaugural Scottish LGBTI Awards in recognition of his activism and legal work. He also campaigned for an apology from the Scottish Government in 2017 to gay and bisexual men who had been convicted prior to 2001, under discriminatory laws against same-sex sexual activity that had since been made legal.

Maureen Moore (activist)

Maureen Moore OBE was National Co-ordinator, then Director of Scottish AIDS Monitor from its inception in 1983.

After leaving SAM, Maureen went on to Chair the Scottish voluntary sector’s HIV and AIDS forum and the Board of Project for HIV/AIDS Care and Education (PHACE West) in Glasgow. This enabled her to continue lobbying for improved awareness of heterosexual transmission of HIV and better education and HIV prevention services for gay men.

In 1995 Maureen took over from Alison Hillhouse as Chief Executive at ASH Scotland where she supported the ban on smoking in workplaces in Scotland and the ban on tobacco sales to under 18s. 

She was awarded an OBE for services to healthcare in 2006.

Ken Cowan (activist)

Ken Cowan ( 23 February 1955 to 11 November 1995) was a Scottish AIDS activist and founder/director of PHACE West, the project for HIV and Aids education in the West of Scotland.

Cowan successfully lobbied that patients be included on the carers sub-committee at Ruchill Hospital and was instrumental in the success of the West of Scotland’s awareness strategy for highlighting HIV prevention initiatives for gay men. He was also majorly involved in the development of Body Positive, the self-help agency for those living with HIV.

Cowan was diagnosed with HIV in 1991.  He died aged 40 on 11 November 1995.

Eric Kay, in Gay Scotlands article on his passing, wrote that Cowan:

“was particularly skilful in fighting against the prejudice and dispelling the myths surrounding the virus. His eloquent delivery on the subject was always compelling, whether he was teaching young children or convincing politicians and Health Board funders. His determination ultimately brought about key policy changes which in turn have radically affected HIV Services in the West of Scotland.”

 

Scotland, Slavery and Black History… and Wikipedia

Wikipedia is one of the most widely used means by which people get information, but it has lots of gaps and problems. Last semester, the residency collaborated with Professor Diana Paton and Lucy Parfitt at the University of Edinburgh History Society to begin a project to make it better. Participants were invited to improve public knowledge of Scotland’s Black history, and to help make Scotland’s deep connections to Atlantic slavery better understood. The controversial politician Henry Dundas was a focal point following media coverage of the back and forth discussions on his activity in relation to slavery.

An initial information meeting was held on 18 November 2020, with talks by Lisa Williams (Edinburgh Caribbean Association) and Tom Cunningham (UncoverEd) to set a context for where improvements to articles could be made.

Subsequent workshops took place on three Wednesdays in January: researching the topics, learning how to edit, and making the edits.

As of today, almost 15,000 words have now been added to 4 new articles with 56 more being improved. These pages have now been viewed over a million times already. Some of the pages created and edited are provided below. The hope is that this is just a beginning to improve the imbalances and gaps online, reflecting a truer record of Scotland’s role in the Atlantic slave trade and presenting more positive stories of black history online.

Jesse Ewing Glasgow

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Image: Jesse Ewing Glasgow, Jr. Source: Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Jesse Ewing Glasgow Jr. (1837-1860) was a Philadelphian-born African American intellectual and student at the University of Edinburgh from 1858 to 1860. He authored the radical pamphlet on John Brown‘s Harper’s Ferry Raid in 1859.

Glasgow became ICY’s first graduate in 1856, and afterwards gained a place at the University of Edinburgh. Due to his reputation for intellectual prowess, managers and peers competed to pay for his transatlantic trip and tuition. At Edinburgh, Glasgow excelled in all of his classes and won several academic prizes in Greek, English, and Mathematics, graduating in 1858.

In 1859, Glasgow published a 47-page pamphlet called ‘The Harpers Ferry Insurrection: Being an Account of the Late Outbreak in Virginia, and of the Trial and Execution of Captain John Brown, Its Hero’. This was an account expressing sympathy for white abolitionist John Brown and others who led an unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, a federal armoury in Virginia, in October 1859. It was published in EdinburghGlasgow and London.

In the pamphlet Glasgow relates his experiences of racism in Scotland to the experiences of African Americans in the United States, condemning the institution of slavery and hailing John Brown as a hero in the history of anti-slavery movements. The pamphlet also included an appeal to his Scottish readers to take up the cause of anti-slavery in the United States, using the words of Sir Walter Scott in the opening lines of the pamphlet.

On 20 December 1860 Glasgow died of tuberculosis aged 23 in his Newington home (10 Hill Place), before he had completed his studies at Edinburgh. His death was commemorated in Scottish newspapers and by the Banneker Institute. The latter not only issued statements of sorrow but also remembered Glasgow for his academic achievements which demonstrated the reality of African American intellectual equality with white people. Glasgow’s legacy was to improve the position of the African American community in the United States when contemporary racial ideology dictated black inferiority.

Jean-Baptiste Philippe

Jean-Baptiste Philip (1796 – 1829), sometimes written Phillipe, was a Trinidad-born doctor and the leader of an activist group formed in Trinidad in 1823, which fought against the racist attitudes of colonial authorities through letters and petitions. He was a complex figure as he fought against racist attitudes of colonial authorities in Trinidad while also belonging to a Black slave-owning family. His famous work Free Mulatto pointed out the racist treatment of free Black people in Trinidad, but did not request the abolition of slavery.

Between 1806 and 1810, Philip left Trinidad to study literature in England, becoming the first Trinidadian to formally study literature abroad. After completing this degree, he went on to be one of the first Black students to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland between 1812 and 1815. He graduated in 1815, and his thesis explored ‘Hysterical Moods’. After graduation he spent some time travelling in Europe, where he met and fell in love with a woman of European descent. However, following the advice of a friend, he did not marry her and returned to Trinidad alone.

Around 1815, Philip returned to Trinidad to practice medicine as one of the first black doctors to work in the Caribbean. Many doctors at this time were invested both politically and economically in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, and therefore many slaves did not receive proper medical treatment. Moreover, many doctors owned enslaved people, one doctor, William Wright, once wrote that the abolition of the slave trade would be ‘fatal to our commerce.’ Despite this, Philip sought to challenge the racial discrimination he faced in the medical profession in the Caribbean and critiqued the many inequalities between the Black and the white population. Between 1816 and 1825, Philip became the leader of the Civil Rights movement in Naprimas, South Trinidad. He travelled to England between 1822 and 1823 to petition the rights of free Black people in the Caribbean. This petition was later printed and became his most famous work ‘Free Mulatto.’

Free Mulatto

Philip wrote A Free Mulatto: An Address to the Right Hon. Earl Bathurst in 1823. The text was a call on the British governor of Trinidad, Bathurst to grant the “coloured population” of the island the same “civil and political privileges as their white fellow subjects.” The use of the term “coloured” in the text refers to the free Black population but excludes slaves. Philip states that the text aims to highlight the prejudices free Blacks in Trinidad face in order to inspire Bathurst to act.

Philip provides evidence of racist segregationist practises such as the prevention of marriage between Black and white Trinidadians, prejudices against Black doctors and separation in churches. He also compares the unequal severity of punishment experienced by white and free Black criminals in Trinidad to argue that “criminality is lost in the glare of whiteness.” On slavery, Philip celebrates the shift towards amelioration policies, but does not go so far as to ask for immediate abolition. He invokes the Haitian Revolution as evidence that ‘no privileges’ should be given to some which are inconsistent with the happiness and prosperity of the whole. However, he closes by asking for an end to the “sufferings of the coloured population.”  This distinction between free and unfree Blacks, reinforced differences within Trinidad’s Black population.

Henry Dundas

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Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville by Sir Thomas Lawrence. National Portrait Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount MelvillePCFRSE (28 April 1742 – 28 May 1811) was a Scottish advocate and “independent Whig” politician. He was the trusted lieutenant of British prime minister William Pitt, and the most powerful politician in Scotland in the latter decades of the 18th century.

A few years after passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807, Wilberforce and Dundas encountered each other. Wilberforce recorded the event as follows:

We did not meet for a long time and all his connexions most violently abused me. About a year before he died ... we saw one another, and at first I thought he was passing on, but he stopped and called out, ‘Ah Wilberforce, how do you do? And gave me a hearty shake by the hand. I would have given a thousand pounds for that shake. I never saw him afterwards.

Historians of the slave trade and the abolitionist movement, including David Brion Davis, Roger Anstey, Robin Blackburn, argue that Dundas’s actions were a tactic designed to delay rather than facilitate abolition. They maintain that when Dundas inserted the word ‘gradual’ into the debate he in effect postponed the discussion on the slave trade until an unspecified date in the future, and subverted the British abolitionist movement. 

Subsequent measures were brought forward in favour of abolition at other times in the course of the 1790s which Dundas also opposed. The loss of momentum was connected to the renewal of war with France in which Britain favoured the expansion of slavery while the French, after 1794, stood for its abolition.

Other historians, including Sir Tom Devine, who focus on Scottish and British history disagree. 

Brian Young notes that in 1792, the motion for immediate cessation of the slave trade was heading for certain defeat. By inserting the word “gradual” into the motion, Young says Dundas ensured a successful vote for the ultimate abolition of the trade in slaves. 

In June 2020, the Edinburgh City Council voted to install a new brass plaque on the Melville Monument acknowledging Dundas role in deferring the abolition of the slave trade.

Happy Birthday Wikipedia

Guest post by Hannah Rothmann, Classics undergraduate at the University of Edinburgh. This is a transcript of what she said at Wikipedia’s 20th birthday event on Friday 15th January 2021.

Hannah Rothmann, Classics undergraduate, and Wikimedia Training Intern last Summer at the University of Edinburgh.
Hannah Rothmann, Classics undergraduate, and Wikimedia Training Intern last Summer at the University of Edinburgh.

Hi everyone, my name is Hannah. I am currently in my fourth and final year studying Classics at the University of Edinburgh. Last summer, I was the Wikimedia Training Intern at the University. Over the course of my internship, with my university’s Wikimedian in Residence Ewan McAndrew, I helped to created training materials for Wikipedia, Wikidata and a website to host them. I contacted other Wikimedians across the UK and included their work on the website. We wanted to make a platform which collated new resources and all the impressive ones already out there. This in part was to help stop people going down a rabbit-hole of blue links… something I am sure all of you are familiar with.

 

Before starting my internship, I did not know much about Wikipedia and its sister projects. I had obviously used Wikipedia; to settle arguments, as a springboard for research and as a helping hand in some difficult pub quizzes. However, I had never actually edited it myself. Embarrassingly, I had also not given much thought to where all this information I was using came from, how it was maintained and what prompted people to edit. My attitude to Wikipedia was also affected by those around me. From school through to the start of my degree, I have been warned away from Wikipedia many times. My teachers and lecturers have told me it is untrustworthy, not academic enough and must be avoided at all costs. One lecturer even told us that as Wikipedia could be edited by anyone, this was proof enough to avoid it. Despite these warnings, myself and the majority of the students I know use Wikipedia in some form. Therefore, universities and education systems need to acknowledge that Wikipedia plays an instrumental role for many students in their learning and they need to recognise that it is not this big, bad wolf leading their students astray.

 

The University of Edinburgh is aware of this demonstrated by the fact it was the first university in the UK to employ a university-wide Wikimedian in Residence, Ewan McAndrew. Wikimedians in Residence tend, or tended, to be situated in galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Many still think about Wikipedia as a way of sharing library collections and are wary of the dangers of consuming Wikipedia rather than what we can gain from a teaching and learning perspective through contributing. The residency at Edinburgh is geared to support sharing knowledge openly and developing information literacy and digital skills. A focus of the residency is also on supporting equality and diversity through improving representation online and increasing the diversity of editors. This, along with a desire to make Wikipedia more transparent to the university community, drove the creation of our website.

 

We decided to focus our efforts on Wikipedia, Wikidata and the ways that people can continue to contribute to the sites after their initial tentative steps into the world of Wiki. Our first goal was to explain to people, especially students and staff, why they should become involved with Wikipedia and Wikidata. My own journey, from being strongly warned away from Wikipedia to actively contributing to it helped me to contextualise this for people. Explaining what Wikipedia is, something which to many is apparent, was crucial to explain why people should edit it. I think many do not realise that the goal of Wikipedia is to be the sum of all human knowledge and that people need to contribute to it for it to come even slightly near this impossible but noble goal. More importantly, the fact that anyone can edit Wikipedia is a positive and not a negative, as my anti-Wikipedia lecturer suggested. It is incredible that people across the world and from different backgrounds can contribute to a singular platform.

 

An idea of knowledge activism, as opposed to passive consumption, is inherent in the goal to get more people to contribute. Within universities, many staff and students are in excellent positions to contribute, improve and edit articles on Wikipedia. They can access resources, they have specific subject expertise and, with some persuasion, a desire to improve Wikipedia. This could mean that they could be valuable editors and empowered knowledge activists.  Subsections of our website include how to create an account (crucial for any Wiki editing), how to edit, guidance around what you should be contributing, how to make an article, how to cite Wikipedia and how to teach with Wikipedia.

 

The part on teaching with Wikipedia was crucial to make as several University courses now include Wikipedia editing. It was through this that my sister was won over to the world of Wiki. She took the Stars, Robots and Talismans honours course run by Glaire Anderson at the University who put editing Wikipedia at the centre of her course. My sister, and others on her course, had their perceptions of Wikipedia challenged. They had to confront their idea of Wikipedia as a place that is not intellectual and not trustworthy when they themselves were contributing their own research. Their change in attitude shows me that with training and an explanation of what Wikipedia is really about, people can learn to appreciate a platform many take for granted. Hopefully, students soon will be able to receive an award, the Edinburgh Award, by undertaking 50 hours of wiki editing from October to April to improve, individually or in groups, whole areas of Wikipedia such as Scotland’s links with slavery, Women in STEM, Translation work and more.

 

Our website also has a section on how to contribute to Wikipedia once people feel ready to start editing. Edit-a-thons are a way to do this. As many of you know, this is an event where people come together to edit and create articles around a particular topic. Generally, it is also to address the biases on Wikipedia. I had never heard of these events before my internship and this is a shame considering how it is an easy way to try, in your own small way, to create some social justice.

 

It is this aspect of Wikipedia and those who edit it that exemplifies everything good about the internet. It is astounding that Wikipedia has been with us for 20 years and in the current political climate, we can all do with some accessible, non-partisan and free knowledge.

New website on the Wikimedia residency

  • New 41 webpage site created by Hannah Rothmann, student intern, on University of Edinburgh’s Digital Skills site.
  • Includes the following videos she created:
  1. How to create an account on Wikipedia.
  2. How to enable the visual editor on Wikipedia
  3. How to create a user page on Wikipedia
  4. How to make your own Wikipedia article.
  5. Exploring the Wikipedia main page
  6. How to format your Wikipedia article – adding bolds, headings, links and italics.
  7. How to add a citation on Wikipedia
  8. How to move your article into the live space.
  9. How to upload an image onto Wikimedia Commons.
  10. How to use an image from Wikimedia Commons on Wikipedia.
  11. How to add a heading for references.
  12. How to edit Wikipedia – a 1 hour tutorial
  13. A brief introduction to Wikidata and how to create an account.
  14. How to use the Wikidata Query Service – Mapping the Scottish Reformation’s Dr. Chris Langley
  15. How to use QuickStatements – a tool to bulk upload data onto Wikidata. By Dr. Sara Thomas
  16. How to add a new item to Wikidata.
  17. How to add an image to Wikidata.
  18. Wiki Loves Monuments

Reflections on the Edinburgh Award – Presentation by Wikimedia Training Intern, Hannah Rothmann on the Summer 2020 project

Final interview with Wikimedia intern, Hannah Rothmann – This video interview was recorded on 11 September 2020.

Scotland Loves Monuments 2020

Get involved in Wiki Loves Monuments!

Glasgow City Chambers stairwell, by Stinglehammer CC-BY-SA 4.0 and the 2018 Wiki Loves Monument upload stats
Wiki Loves Monuments is an international photo competition which takes part throughout the month of September every year, and is supported by the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation.
You can see historic locations near you that are missing an image using our handy interactive map (red pins are locations without an open image).
The aim is to crowdsource as many high quality, openly licensed photos as possible of scheduled monuments and listed buildings throughout the world. Why? Because documenting our cultural heritage today is so important.
In the UK, there will be prizes for the best photos of a site in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as prizes for the best UK photos overall. The latter will then be put forward for international prizes and there are some phenomenal pics from last year’s competition worldwide like this one of the lookout in Ayyoob Cave located on top of Ayyoob Mountain, Shahr-e Babak, Kerman, Iran:
Ayyoub’s (Job’s) Cave, Iran by Morteza Salehi, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Why take part?

Portobello and Wikipedia – Great 8 min podcast featuring University of Edinburgh Digital Curator Gavin Willshaw and Dr Margaret Munro of the Portobello Heritage Society discussing the importance of surfacing local heritage online.
Portobello beach by Photochrom Print Collection [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 
Wikimedia Commons is a free repository of photographs, audio and video content that anyone can use, re-use or distribute. Images on Commons can also be used to illustrate Wikipedia articles – which can then be seen by a global audience.  But not all of our rich heritage is represented – there are a number of gaps when it comes to the coverage of Scotland – and this year, we’d like to do what we can to change that. Especially when this is something fun, impactful and socially-distanced we can all do.
Is your organisation or group looking for activities?  Wiki Loves Monuments can be a great activity for local social or volunteer groups, not just those those concerned with photography or history.  Why not organise a heritage walk to take pictures of listed buildings in the local area, and visit the local museum or library at the same time?
Collage of Wiki Loves Monuments pics by Stinglehammer, CC-BY-SA 4.0, taken during Glasgow Doors Open Day.

How do you take part?

Register for an account on Wikimedia Commons. (Individuals only, no organisational accounts.) If you already have a Wikipedia account, no need to register for a new account on Wikimedia Commons, you can use the same account for Wikimedia Commons. To enter the competition you must make sure that your account has a valid email address and that your email is activated. To check that, once you have logged in, look for “My preferences” tab at the top right of the page. Click on it, and then select “enable email from other users.”  This will allow the competition organisers and other registered users on Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons to contact you but will not make your email address publicly available.
Wiki Loves Monuments – dynamic map of Edinburgh showing listed buildings requiring an image (in red).

What should you photograph? How do you upload it?

In Scotland, the subjects eligible to be entered in Wiki Loves Monuments are those designated by Historic Environment Scotland references for Listed Buildings and Scheduled Monuments. If you’re not sure what buildings or monuments are classed as listed, don’t worry! We’ve got a great tool for you to use to upload your photos which includes an interactive map.

Blue pins on the map indicate monuments which already have a photo on Wikimedia Commons, whereas red pins indicate where they are missing. Select your town or city then wander around your local area and look for buildings or monuments with red pins. You can take photos on smartphones, tablets or cameras and then upload them by selecting the appropriate pin on the map and clicking upload. Make sure that you are logged into your Wikimedia Commons account and follow the basic instructions. Every photo uploaded via the interactive map will be entered into the Wiki Loves Monuments.

You can take more than one photo of a building or monument. Preferably one should be a photo of the building or monument as a whole, but also use your photographic flair to add photos of key features, inside views or behind the scenes features that the public doesn’t normally get to see. Doors Open Day runs throughout September and is a great opportunity to organise a photography tour of a building or a tour of the local listed monuments in your town.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and snapping pictures of the Glasgow City Chambers, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Anchor Line bar, Garnethill Synagogue and the Arlington Baths among many other locations as part of Glasgow Doors Open Days.

Other tips:

  • Not sure that your photo skills are up to the competition? Don’t worry about it, the important thing is to take part. The more photos we can crowdsource, the more we can improve the coverage of listed buildings and monuments in Scotland, which is our ultimate goal. You can also check the Wiki Loves Monuments blog for tips on how to best take architectural photos.
  • Wiki Loves Monuments is aimed at everyone! You don’t have to be an expert photographer, or have prior experience with any of the Wikimedia projects.
  • The competition runs through the whole of September from the 1st till the 30th and any entries uploaded during that time will be part of the competition. Photos don’t have to have been taken during September though, so you can add old photos, as long as they’ve not been previously uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Doors Open Day is a great opportunity to tie in with Wiki Loves Monuments, so if you know local DOD venues or if you work with a local heritage officer, please advertise it with them too.

How can you take part?

National Museum of Brazil, by Paulo R C M Jr. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

In 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world in a Rough Guide readers’ poll.

There’s nowhere quite like it.

Yet, we can take it for granted that our beautiful locations, listed buildings and monuments will always be there… something that can never be fully guaranteed. Political and economic tides change  and forces of nature can have devastating effects as we have seen with the destruction of Palmyra in Syria, the devastating fires at the National Museum of Brazil, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and, more closer to home, the Mackintosh building fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterwork.

There is a grief that comes from these lost buildings, their histories and what they had come to represent & symbolise. Recognising that there can be a profound regret and sadness at the cultural losses and a significant connection with the past means we can act today to look around us and appreciate the cultural heritage all around us. Many of us have access to a camera or camera phone and may even walk past these buildings every day. All it takes is looking up, taking a snap and uploading it in seconds and you’ve done something amazing to help document our cultural heritage for all time.

That’s why it’s so important that we take the opportunity to document our cultural heritage now for future generations before it is too late. Share your high quality pics of listed buildings and monuments to Wikimedia Commons and help preserve our cultural heritage online. After days out, weekend breaks and holidays at home & abroad, there will be gigabytes of pics taken in recent months and years. These could remain on your memory card or be shared to Commons and help illustrate Wikipedia for the benefit of all.

Aside from being great fun, Wiki Loves Monuments is a way of capturing a snapshot of our nation’s cultural heritage for future generations and documenting our country’s most important historic sites. Don’t wait till it’s too late, do your bit today! Click here to view a map of your local area to get started.

You just take a quick look at the map, take a pic and upload. It takes seconds and is the easiest way to take part in this year’s competition.

If each one of us took just 1 pic, we’d have this sewn up in a couple of weeks. Which is when Wiki Loves Monuments closes – end of 30 September 2020. But if you can do more then great.

#ScotWiki #WikiLovesMonuments

ps. If nothing else, let’s give our counterparts in Ireland, England and Wales a run for their money in terms of how many images we can upload. A little friendly rivalry never hurts, right?

Scotland uploaded 300+ images in 2016. That rose to 2,100 in 2017 with 1,351 of those uploaded by staff at the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, Scotland smashed it with 4,411 images uploaded. Let’s smash it again this September!

Let’s see if we can get pics from ALL over Scotland this year. Everyone is welcome to take part and every picture helps.

You can check out the images uploaded so far for Wiki Loves Monuments in Scotland here.

Final reflections on my Wikimedia Training Internship by Hannah Rothmann

Before starting my internship as the Wikimedia Training Intern at the University of Edinburgh, I did not know much about Wikipedia and its sister projects. I had obviously used Wikipedia; to settle arguments, as a springboard for research and as a helping hand in some particularly difficult pub quizzes. However, I had not given much thought to where that information came from, how it was curated, maintained and what prompted people to edit freely and in their spare time. The goal to make Wikipedia the ‘sum of all human knowledge’ lies behind the work of many editors. It is this possibility of open access to all knowledge for all that drives people. The majority of editors want to preserve information, such as creating an online database of small, nearly extinct languages. For many, it is also a wish to share knowledge, to help people and to make the internet a bit better that drives them to contribute. It is a noble aim and one that many strive to help achieve both within the University of Edinburgh and Wikimedia UK, the UK branch of the Wikimedia Foundation.

However, I do acknowledge that Wikipedia and the other Wiki platforms are not perfect. They sadly reflect the biases that are inherent in our society. Only around 18% of all biographies on the English Wikipedia are on women and there are even less on women from the Global South. The representation of ethnic minorities is also problematic. A study in 2011 found that the perspective on Wikipedia tends to come from the Global North and this is something that needs to change as the editors of Wikipedia are predominantly male, college educated, white and in their 30s. Therefore, to make Wikipedia a better place we need to make learning how to edit and maintain Wikipedia accessible for all and we need to persuade people to get involved from all backgrounds to try to address the systemic bias on Wikipedia.

One way is through edit-a-thons, where people come together with a goal to edit and create articles around a particular topic. For example, a group called Women in Red create Wikipedia articles about notable women that are lacking from Wikipedia and they helped to increase the percentage of articles about women on the English Wikipedia from around 15% to around 18%. During my summer, I attended events aim at improving representation of women such as the NHLI Wikithon for Women in Science and events hosted by the Women’s Classical Committee. Both had great speakers and showed me the possibility for social activism that Wikipedia holds.

Another way to increase access to Wikipedia is through training materials. Making accessible and understandable ‘how to’ videos and content for Wikipedia and Wikidata, an open machine-readable database, has been a main focus of my internship and over the last few weeks I have been finalising what I have made and making a website for this information. This is not a final solution for Wikipedia and Wikidata training but hopefully it will be a place where most questions can be answered for those taking their tentative first steps into the world of wiki. Not only do we need to persuade people to edit but we also need them to continue to edit and this training resource could mean that there is a safety net for new editors to fall back on for help.

Working from home has had its difficulties. Waiting for software, for a headset and sending many emails which could have been short conversations in person are some of the things that have slowed down my work. It also is important to stay motivated when working from home as the days can blur especially when there is no distinction between home and work. However, the team at the university have been very friendly, they have been around to have video calls if I need any help and extremely supportive. Everyone is going through a strange time and working from home has been a good learning curve and one that will be important for my final year at university where most of my studying will take place remotely.

I am grateful for the skills I have learnt this summer during my internship and for an opportunity to learn about the positive work that we can collectively do on the internet. Hopefully, I will continue to edit Wikipedia and in a small way increase representation on the internet and open access to knowledge for all.

Thanks especially to Ewan McAndrew for all the help and guidance this summer!

Internship Blog #2: 4 weeks into my Wikimedia Internship by Hannah Rothmann

I have now finished 4 very busy weeks of my Wikimedia Training Internship! These past few weeks I have begun developing ideas and plans for training materials for Wikipedia and Wikidata and for a website where I can share these materials. This has meant that, among other things, I have been learning how to create a website and how to use screen capturing software; all useful skills! There have been some stumbling blocks in getting the relevant access to the necessary sites so I have spent time ensuring I had the skills to access platforms such as EdWeb.  Everything has now been sorted out and hopefully I will be able to progress smoothly for the next 8 weeks of the internship!

The website that I want to create will showcase the work that the Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh, Ewan McAndrew, is doing, explain the importance of Wikipedia and Wikidata, explore real life examples of using both platforms and hopefully give all novices the skills they need to feel confident using these platforms. It will be a mix of videos, pdfs, images and texts and I am looking forward to having a finished website which will be useful to many people embarking on their wiki-journey!

Working from home is still a strange experience but luckily frequent calls with colleagues and Wikimedians outside of the university ensure that I feel connected and part of something. Last week, I was able to sit in on some of the talks at the Celtic Knot Conference 2020 (originally meant to be held in Ireland) which changed up my routine a little. This conference  clearly exemplified how Wikipedia and especially Wikidata can cause real life change. The focus of this conference was

‘to bring people together to share their experiences of working on sharing information in minority languages’

and the organisers wanted to have

‘a strong focus on Wikidata and its potential to support languages’.[1]

One of the talks I attended was led by Léa Lacroix and Nicolas Vigneron who showed us how to input Wikidata lexemes. For example, Nicolas used Breton as the language he was inputting. This function of Wikidata is significant in ensuring that a record of these languages is accessible for many people in many languages. This is important work considering a recent study suggested that Scots Gaelic, for example, could die out within the decade.

The next few weeks I will be focusing on creating videos, the website and editing all of these materials. I will be also attending the Women’s Classical Committee UK Wiki colloquium at the end of July which describes itself as

‘a crowd-sourced initiative that aims to increase the representation of women classicists (very broadly conceived) on Wikipedia.’[2]

This neatly combines my degree, Classics, with the new skills and interests I am developing from this internship and it is a good way I can practically put these new skills to use diversifying Wikipedia!

[1] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Celtic_Knot_Conference_2020

[2] https://ics.sas.ac.uk/events/event/22700

Internship Blog #3: #WCCWiki Colloquium 2020 by Hannah Rothmann

Credit: Statue of Hygeia, copy of orginal in vatican. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Today I had the chance to attend the #WCCWiki Colloquium 2020. This was an event organised by the Women’s Classical Committee UK. #WCCWiki describes itself as

‘a crowd-sourced initiative that aims to increase the representation of women classicists (very broadly conceived) on Wikipedia.’ [1]

Since they started in 2016, they have edited and/or created more than 450 Wikipedia pages for women classicists. This is an impressive feat and important to increase the diversity on Wikipedia. You may be wondering why we need to increase the diversity of pages about Classics on Wikipedia? It is because the gender bias on Wikipedia becomes even clearer when looking at classics:

‘one Wikipedia editor estimated in 2016 that only 7% of biographies of classicists featured women’.[2]

This statistic has become less extreme due to the efforts of #WCCWiki but there is still lots of work for us to do.

At the event itself, there were a series of talks ranging from why it is important for us to edit Wikipedia to LGBTQ+ Wikipedia editing. The talks touched upon the issues that editors come across when creating new articles. For example, Adam Parker discussed notability. When creating new biographies on Wikipedia notability is a really important aspect to focus on. It is usually because of failing the criteria for notability that new articles are excluded. Jess Wade faced this issue when writing about the nuclear chemist Clarice Phelps.[3] Phelps’ page caused controversy with editors deleting her page numerous times. Eventually, by January 2020 her page was restored. This happened again when a page made for Donna Strickland after she had won the Nobel Prize for Physics was deleted.[4] However, there were issues surrounding the original page created for Donna Strickland and these are explored in a post by the Wikimedia Foundation which also explains some of the problems that come up when thinking about notability.[5] These issues surrounding notability come up again and again and are a continual battle.

In the afternoon, Miller Power gave an important talk on LGBTQ+ Wikipedia editing. He discussed the issues that the LGBTQ+ community face on Wikipedia such as queer erasure and harassment which can lead to edit wars. For example, this could be changing pronouns or using deadnames when it is not necessary. An example of one of these edit wars is the Wikipedia page for Harry Allen (trans man) where corrections kept needed to be made. Miller Power also discussed what we should be aware of when writing about LGBTQ+ people on Wikipedia including consistently using correct gendered language and avoiding outdated language and phrases such as ‘used to be a man’.

It was a positive and informative day that really showed what a group of motivated people are able to achieve. If you want to edit or create pages here is a list on the Women’s Classical Committee project page and they are also planning an online editing session on the 19th August.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Women%27s_Classical_Committee/Colloquia

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/dec/12/female-scholars-are-marginalised-on-wikipedia-because-its-written-by-men

[3] https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/female-scientists-pages-keep-disappearing-from-wikipedia–whats-going-on/3010664.article

[4] https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nobel-prize-winner-physics-2018-donna-strickland-wikipedia-entry-deleted-sexism-equality-a8572006.html

[5] https://wikimediafoundation.org/news/2018/10/04/donna-strickland-wikipedia/

Internship Blog #1: My First Week by Hannah Rothmann

Hi, my name is Hannah and I will be going into the final year of my Classics degree in September. I have just finished week 1 of my Wikimedia Training Internship; the start date was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty that came with it. Adjusting to working remotely from home, meeting new people but over video calls and Microsoft teams and also learning about entirely new things has meant that it has been a strange and somewhat nerve-racking first week and not what I would have expected from a summer internship a year ago. Thankfully, my line manager, Ewan McAndrew, has been very welcoming and made me feel at ease despite this novel situation!

The Wikimedia Training Internship caught my attention among a long and varied list of Employ.Ed internships. The aim of my internship of is to create materials to teach people how to edit and use Wikipedia and Wikidata with the goal of them becoming active editors and contributing to a growing database of free, credible and jointly gathered information. I was shocked when I discovered this week that only around 18% of biographical pages on the English Wikipedia are about women! Hopefully, by making more accessible teaching materials we will be able to address this imbalance and increase the diversity of Wikipedia and Wikidata. This means making resources that avoid complicated jargon, address all stumbling blocks a beginner wiki-user may encounter and will enable the uninitiated to become confident editors and contributors. Wikimedia UK believes

‘that open access to knowledge is a fundamental right’ and in the ‘democratic creation, distribution and consumption of knowledge’.[1]

These aims demonstrate the importance of the work of Wikimedia UK. My line manager Ewan stressed this importance and that Wikimedia related activities have a growing significance in a learning environment shifting more towards the digital world when he had to argue that the internship should go ahead despite financial impact COVID-19 on the university; many internships were cancelled. My internship will hopefully enable remote learning and help people see how they can change their approach to teaching to incorporate Wikimedia related activities into how students learn.

This aim means that the work I am doing is firmly rooted in the present and even the future. Just this week I have learnt new ways to use technology and skills which will be indispensable in a world moving ever more into the realm of online, online learning and the online experience. Although at first glance this internship appears in direct contrast to my Classics degree, which is focussed among other things on reading and interpreting ancient texts, the aim of a Classics degree, in my opinion, is to understand that ideas and concepts of whatever period always have relevance and there is always the possibility of continual learning.  The different skills I will develop in my internship and the skills I am learning from my degree will hopefully enrich my approach to work and any work that I do in this time and in the future.

So far, I have been getting used to remote working and all the quirks that come with it (hoovering is not something that goes too well with a work video call for example!) and I have also been figuring out where the gaps are in the current resources that Ewan has to teach people about Wikipedia and Wikidata while also filling in my rather large gaps of knowledge. For example, I had no idea what Wikidata really was before the start of my first week and I am still trying to understand it fully. I was lucky enough to attend the NHLI Women in Science Wikithon at the end of my first week which gave me a chance to implement what I had learnt about Wikipedia editing and it showed me how much more still needs to be done to improve diversity. Dr Jess Wade, who was Wikimedia UK’s Wikimedian of the year 2019, gave an introduction exploring why we should all edit Wikipedia. She has personally made hundreds and hundreds of Wikipedia pages for women and for notable women in science who previously had been ignored and in doing this has increased awareness regarding Wikipedia and how it can be used to tackle inequality and lack of diversity. After this introduction, it was a treat to have some training from Dr Alice White who showed us how to begin editing and creating our own pages. I edited some pages already created but lacking details, for example a page about Dr Susan Bewley, as I did not feel quite ready to begin making my own pages. The work Dr Jess Wade has been doing and continues to do along with this event really showed me how Wikipedia could be used as a force for good and also the importance of ensuring people have access to learning materials.

I am excited about getting to grips with my internship, developing skills, challenging my abilities all with the aim to make Wikipedia and Wikidata a platform that anyone anywhere will feel able to use, edit and appreciate!

 

[1] https://wikimedia.org.uk/ viewed 30/06/2020

Knowledge activism vs passive consumption – rethinking Wikipedia in education

Kindness on the Internet has been much in the news of late and this quote from novelist Henry James stood out to me:

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

I have been working at the University of Edinburgh for over four years now as the Wikimedian in Residence. Four years as of January 2020 in fact, just as Wikipedia itself turned nineteen years old on January 15th 2020. In thinking about this period of my working life, I am reminded of some of the (sometimes) sceptical conversations I have had with (some) academics over the years but more often than not I recall the enthusiasm, generosity and kindness I have encountered.  And I’m reminded also of the words of Katherine Maher, Executive Director for the Wikimedia Foundation, when she said that Wikipedia, ultimately, is based on human generosity; that the act of editing Wikipedia is a generous act by volunteer editors all around the world because they are giving of their time, their expertise and their passion for a subject in order to improve the knowledge shared openly with the world through this free and open online encyclopedia. And why? Well because…

“Knowledge creates understanding – understanding is sorely lacking in today’s world.” – Katherine Maher.

While the residency has been something of an experiment, a proof of concept if you will for hosting a Wikimedian to support the whole university, I am more convinced than ever that there is a clear role, a structural need even, for Wikimedia in teaching and learning.

Yet while I am an employee of the University of Edinburgh, I attended the other place (University of Glasgow) for my undergraduate course and my postgraduate courses were at Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Strathclyde and Northumbria University. So four years at the University of Edinburgh and experience of five universities all told. As 74 UK universities go on strike now and a national conversation is being held about working conditions, casualised contracts and the workloads of staff at universities it does indeed give pause for thought. Time, for thought and reflection on the purpose of education… and its delivery.

Now imagine you are relaxing after work in a sauna at your local swimming pool one evening and a guy called Patrick starts chatting to you and asking what you do for a living. You tell Patrick why, I’m a Wikipedian at the University of Edinburgh. And Patrick replies… “Cool. What’s Wikipedia got to do with universities?”

Have a think for a moment… what is the link between Wikipedia and Universities? What would you say? How would you answer?

Well Patrick, it’s a fair question. Let’s see.

How about shared vision and mission statements. “The creation, curation and dissemination of knowledge” is built into the University of Edinburgh’s mission while Wikimedia’s vision is to “Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.

And as Sue Beckingham said in her Association for Learning Technology (ALT) keynote it’s about engaging with & understanding the relationship we have with the open web, how people create, curate and contest knowledge online and our relationship with the big digital intermediaries like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Wikipedia, the fifth most visited website in the world.

Then there’s the Digital Skills aspect – It is widely recognised that digital capabilities are a key component of graduate employability. So many reports make this clear. Supporting learning digital research skills, synthesising that information and communicating it in a rapidly changing digital world.

And it’s about how we support developing a more robust critical information literacy. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the areas that working with the free and open Wikimedia projects affords. At its heart its about the fact that search is the way we live now and what’s right or wrong or missing on Wikipedia affects the whole internet. And this is how Wikipedia in teaching in learning is often framed – warning students about its use, pros and cons, often with the focus firmly on the cons, as something to be consumed at your peril. When Wikipedia in teaching and learning should really spin this on its head. It’s what you can also contribute as an institution, staff and students, and get out of the teaching & learning experience as a result.

Indeed, the ALT website defines Learning Technology as this:

“We define Learning Technology as the broad range of communication, information and related technologies that can be used to support learning, teaching and assessment. Our community is made up of people who are actively involved in understanding, managing, researching, supporting or enabling learning with the use of Learning Technology. We believe that you don’t need to be called ‘Learning Technologist’ to be one.”

Wikipedia is learning technology, the largest open knowledge resource in human history that is free, open and anyone can contribute to. Now aged nineteen, as of last month, Wikipedia has truly come of age and ranks among the world’s top ten sites for scholarly resource lookups and is extensively used by virtually every platform used on a daily basis, receiving over 20 billion pageviews per month, from 1.5 billion unique devices. The only non profit website in the top 100 websites, quite simply “Wikipedia is today the gateway through which millions of people now seek access to knowledge.”- (Cronon, 2012)

Ergo… Wikimedians are learning technologists. And a Wikimedian is just someone who has learnt how to train people how to edit, who facilitates editing events and assignments.

Ergo… Learning technologists are Wikimedians or they should be.

Because at the University of Edinburgh, we have quickly generated real examples of technology-enhanced learning activities appropriate to the curriculum and transformed our students, staff and members of the public from being passive readers and consumers to being active, engaged contributors. The result is that our community is more engaged with knowledge creation online and readers all over the world benefit from our teaching, research and collections.

Our Wikimedia in the Curriculum activities bring benefits to the students who learn new skills and have immediate impact in addressing both the diversity of editors and diversity of content shared online:

  • Global Health MSc students add 180-200 words to Global Health related articles e.g. their edits to the page on obesity are viewed 3,000 times per day on average.
  • Digital Sociology MSc students engage in workshops with how sociology is communicated and how knowledge is created and curated online each year.
  • Reproductive Biology Honours – students work in groups in 2 workshops at the beginning of the semester – learning about digital research kills from our Academic Support Librarians so they can work collaboratively to research and publish a new article on a reproductive biomedical term not yet on Wikipedia. One student’s article on high-grade serous carcinoma, one of the most common forms of ovarian cancer, includes 60 references and diagrams she created, has been viewed over 88,000 times since 2016. That’s impact.
  • Translation Studies MSc students gain meaningful published practice each semester by translating 1,500 words to share knowledge between two different language Wikipedias on a topic of their own choosing from the highest quality articles.
  • World Christianity MSc students spend the semester undertaking a literature review assignment to make the subject much less about White Northern hemisphere perspectives; creating new articles on Asian Feminist Theology, Sub-Saharan Political Theology and more.
  • Data Science for Design MSc – Wikipedia’s sister project, Wikidata, affords students the opportunity to work practically with research datasets, like the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database, and surface data to the Linked Open Data Cloud and explore different visualisations and the direct and indirect relationships at play in this semantic web of knowledge to help further discovery.
  • This academic year we have also added three more course programmes in Korean Studies MSc, Digital Education MSc (group editing pages related to information literacy), and Global Health Challenges Postgraduate Online (group editing on short stub articles on natural disasters). Indeed we are looking increasingly at how we support online course programmes and supporting discussion, engagement and up-skilling students on these course programmes in more structured self-directed way.

We also work with student societies (Law & Technology, History, Translation, Women in STEM, Wellcomm Kings) and have held events for Ada Lovelace Day, LGBT History Month, Black History Month, Mental Health Awareness Week and celebrated Edinburgh’s Global Alumni; working with the UncoverEd project and the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.

Students are addressing serious knowledge gaps and are intrinsically motivated to communicate their scholarship because of this. They benefit from the practice academically and enjoy doing it personally because their scholarship is published, lasting long beyond the assignment and does something for the common good for an audience of not one but millions.

Why engage at all? I think we know that representation matters. And that Gender inequality in science and technology is all too real. Gaps in our shared knowledge excludes the vitally important contributions of many within our community and role models, trail blazers are important. You can’t be what you can’t see. To date, 69% of our participating editors at the University of Edinburgh have been women. The choices being made in creating new pages and increasing the visibility of topics and the visibility of inspirational role models online can not only shape public understanding around the world for the better but can also help inform and shape our physical environments to inspire the next generation.

Wikipedia in the curriculum involves identifying reliable secondary sources we can cite (or sometimes the lack thereof); discussing whose knowledge, open access, bias, neutral point of view, writing for a lay audience and copyright. These are all absolutely appropriate for the modern graduate. The skills needed by those contributing to Wikimedia are the same digital literacy skills which a degree at University of Edinburgh is designed to develop: Those of critical reading, summarising, paraphrasing, original writing, referencing, citing, publishing, data handling, and understanding your audience.  In this era of fake news it has never been more important that our students understand how information is published, shared, and contested online. And beyond this, feel empowered that they can do something positive to share fact-checked knowledge and help build understanding.

 “Because It’s an emotional connection… Within, I’d say, less than 2 hours of me putting her page in place it was the top hit that came back in Google when I Googled it and I just thought that’s it, that’s impact right there!” (Hood & Littlejohn, 2018)

Things can look bleak when we think about all we see in the news and our relationship with the open web and the way in which information is shared online. It’s easy to lose faith at times. Indeed almost two years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was on Channel 4 News being interviewed about the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal and he said this.

“We need to rethink our attitude to the internet.

It is not enough just to keep the web open and free because we must also keep a track of what people are building on it.

Look at the systems that people are using, like the social networks and look at whether they are actually helping humanity.

Are they being constructive or are they being destructive?”

And he’s later reiterated this point that he feels the open web is at something of a crossroads and could go either way.

Happily, Sir Tim had cheered up a little by May 2018 when he gave his Turing Award lecture in Amsterdam when he said,

“It is amazing that humanity has managed to produce Wikipedia. Somebody recently said, “You know what? For all of the defending of the open net and the open web, it would have been worth it if we just got Wikipedia.”

It IS amazing that humanity has produced Wikipedia. And he’s right. That’s my experience of working with Wikipedia. The research, the feedback from staff and students all bear this out. People do feel they are doing something inherently good, and worthwhile in sharing verifiable open knowledge and they learn so much from engaging in this process. Becoming knowledge activists. I commend it to you as a hugely impactful form of learning technology where our staff, students, research and collections can help shape the open web for the better, building understanding to make for a kinder, better world.

 

Bibliography

  1. Wadewitz, A. (2014). 04. Teaching with Wikipedia: the Why, What, and How. Retrieved from https://www.hastac.org/blogs/wadewitz/2014/02/21/04-teaching-wikipedia-why-what-and-how
  2. Cronon, W. (2012). Scholarly Authority in a Wikified World | Perspectives on History | AHA. Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/february-2012/scholarly-authority-in-a-wikified-world
  3. Levine, N. (2019). A Ridiculous Gender Bias On Wikipedia Is Finally Being Corrected. Retrieved from https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2019/06/234873/womens-world-cup-football-wikipedia
  4. Mathewson, J., & McGrady, R. (2018). Experts Improve Public Understanding of Sociology Through Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://www.asanet.org/news-events/footnotes/apr-may-2018/features/experts-improve-public-understanding-sociology-through-wikipedia
  5. Hood, N., & Littlejohn, A. (2018). Becoming an online editor: perceived roles and responsibilities of Wikipedia editors. Retrieved from http://www.informationr.net/ir/23-1/paper784.html
  6. McAndrew, E., O’Connor, S., Thomas, S., & White, A. (2019). Women scientists being whitewashed from Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/women-scientists-being-whitewashed-from-wikipedia-ewan-mcandrew-siobhan-o-connor-dr-sara-thomas-and-dr-alice-white-1-4887048
  7. McMahon, C.; Johnson, I.; and Hecht, B. (2017). The Substantial Interdependence of Wikipedia and Google: A Case Study on the Relationship Between Peer Production Communities and Information Technologies.

 

The Wikimedia residency is a free resource available to all staff and students interested in exploring how to benefit from and contribute to the free and open Wikimedia projects.

If you would like to find out more contact ewan.mcandrew@ed.ac.uk

In the news

Scotland Loves Monuments 2019

Get involved in Wiki Loves Monuments!

Wiki Loves Monuments is an international photo competition which takes part throughout the month of September every year, and is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation. The aim is to crowdsource as many high quality, openly licensed photos as possible of scheduled monuments and listed buildings throughout the world. Why? Because documenting our cultural heritage today is so important.
In the UK, there will be prizes for the best photos of a site in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as prizes for the best UK photos overall. The latter will then be put forward for international prizes. 

Why take part?

Portobello and Wikipedia – Great 8 min podcast featuring University of Edinburgh Digital Curator Gavin Willshaw and Dr Margaret Munro of the Portobello Heritage Society discussing the importance of surfacing local heritage online.
Portobello beach by Photochrom Print Collection [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 
Wikimedia Commons is a free repository of photographs, audio and video content that anyone can use, re-use or distribute. Images on Commons can also be used to illustrate Wikipedia articles – which can then be seen by a global audience.  But not all of our rich heritage is represented – there are a number of gaps when it comes to the coverage of Scotland – and this year, we’d like to do what we can to change that.
Is your organisation or group looking for activities for September?  Wiki Loves Monuments can be a great activity for local social or volunteer groups, not just those those concerned with photography or history.  Why not organise a heritage walk to take pictures of listed buildings in the local area, and visit the local museum or library at the same time?

How do you take part?

Register for an account on Wikimedia Commons. (Individuals only, no organisational accounts.) If you already have a Wikipedia account, no need to register for a new account on Wikimedia Commons, you can use the same account for Wikimedia Commons. To enter the competition you must make sure that your account has a valid email address and that your email is activated. To check that, once you have logged in, look for “My preferences” tab at the top right of the page. Click on it, and then select “enable email from other users.”  This will allow the competition organisers and other registered users on Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons to contact you but will not make your email address publicly available.
Wiki Loves Monuments – dynamic map of Edinburgh showing listed buildings requiring an image (in red).

What should you photograph? How do you upload it?

In Scotland, the subjects eligible to be entered in Wiki Loves Monuments are those designated by Historic Environment Scotland references for Listed Buildings and Scheduled Monuments. If you’re not sure what buildings or monuments are classed as listed, don’t worry! We’ve got a great tool for you to use to upload your photos which includes an interactive map.

Blue pins on the map indicate monuments which already have a photo on Wikimedia Commons, whereas red pins indicate where they are missing. Select your town or city then wander around your local area and look for buildings or monuments with red pins. You can take photos on smartphones, tablets or cameras and then upload them by selecting the appropriate pin on the map and clicking upload. Make sure that you are logged into your Wikimedia Commons account and follow the basic instructions. Every photo uploaded via the interactive map will be entered into the Wiki Loves Monuments.

You can take more than one photo of a building or monument. Preferably one should be a photo of the building or monument as a whole, but also use your photographic flair to add photos of key features, inside views or behind the scenes features that the public doesn’t normally get to see. Doors Open Day runs throughout September and is a great opportunity to organise a photography tour of a building or a tour of the local listed monuments in your town.

Last year I had the pleasure of visiting and snapping pictures of the Glasgow City Chambers, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Anchor Line bar, Garnethill Synagogue and the Arlington Baths among many other locations as part of Glasgow Doors Open Days 2018.

Other tips:

  • Not sure that your photo skills are up to the competition? Don’t worry about it, the important thing is to take part. The more photos we can crowdsource, the more we can improve the coverage of listed buildings and monuments in Scotland, which is our ultimate goal. You can also check the Wiki Loves Monuments blog for tips on how to best take architectural photos.
  • Wiki Loves Monuments is aimed at everyone! You don’t have to be an expert photographer, or have prior experience with any of the Wikimedia projects.
  • The competition runs through the whole of September from the 1st till the 30th and any entries uploaded during that time will be part of the competition. Photos don’t have to have been taken during September though, so you can add old photos, as long as they’ve not been previously uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Doors Open Day is a great opportunity to tie in with Wiki Loves Monuments, so if you know local DOD venues or if you work with a local heritage officer, please advertise it with them too.

How can you take part?

National Museum of Brazil, by Paulo R C M Jr. [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

In 2017, Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world in a Rough Guide readers’ poll.

There’s nowhere quite like it.

Yet, we can take it for granted that our beautiful locations, listed buildings and monuments will always be there… something that can never be fully guaranteed. Political and economic tides change  and forces of nature can have devastating effects as we have seen with the destruction of Palmyra in Syria, the devastating fires at the National Museum of Brazil, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and, more closer to home, the Mackintosh building fire at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterwork. There is a grief that comes from these lost buildings, their histories and what they had come to represent & symbolise. Recognising that there can be a profound regret and sadness at the cultural losses and a significant connection with the past means we can act today to look around us and appreciate the cultural heritage all around us. Many of us have access to a camera or camera phone and may even walk past these buildings every day. All it takes is looking up, taking a snap and uploading it in seconds and you’ve done something amazing to help document our cultural heritage for all time.

That’s why it’s so important that we take the opportunity to document our cultural heritage now for future generations before it is too late. Share your high quality pics of listed buildings and monuments to Wikimedia Commons and help preserve our cultural heritage online. After days out, weekend breaks and holidays at home & abroad, there will be gigabytes of pics taken in recent months and years. These could remain on your memory card or be shared to Commons and help illustrate Wikipedia for the benefit of all.

Aside from being great fun, Wiki Loves Monuments is a way of capturing a snapshot of our nation’s cultural heritage for future generations and documenting our country’s most important historic sites. Don’t wait till it’s too late, do your bit today! Click here to view a map of your local area to get started.

You just take a quick look at the map, take a pic and upload. It takes seconds and is the easiest way to take part in this year’s competition.

If each one of us took just 1 pic, we’d have this sewn up in a couple of weeks. Which is when Wiki Loves Monuments closes – end of 30 September 2019. But if you can do more then great.

#ScotWiki #WikiLovesMonuments

ps. If nothing else, let’s give our counterparts in Ireland, England and Wales a run for their money in terms of how many images we can upload. A little friendly rivalry never hurts, right?

Scotland uploaded 300+ images in 2016. That rose to 2,100 in 2017 with 1,351 of those uploaded by staff at the University of Edinburgh. In 2018, Scotland smashed it with 4,411 images uploaded. Let’s smash it again this September!

Let’s see if we can get pics from ALL over Scotland this year. Everyone is welcome to take part and every picture helps.

You can check out the images uploaded so far for Wiki Loves Monuments in Scotland here.