Tag: Open Knowledge

A smorgasbord of Wikimedia projects to choose from: not just Wikipedia!

In visiting a lot of different people of places over the last two months, one question keeps cropping up: what is the difference between Wikimedian and Wikipedian?

Which is a fair question.

Ultimately, Wikimedia UK is the parent or umbrella body, a charitable non-profit foundation (the UK chapter of the global Wikimedia movement which has its HQ in San Francisco) which exists to support & promote Wikimedia’s projects in the UK: one of which happens to be its main open Knowledge project, Wikipedia.

From the Wikimedia Foundation’s FAQs:

“What is Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is the largest collection of free, collaborative knowledge in human history. Millions of people from around the world have written and added to Wikipedia since it was created in 2001: anyone can edit it, at any time. Wikipedia contains more than 35 million volunteer-authored articles in more than 290 languages. Every month, Wikipedia is viewed more than 15 billion times, making it one of the most popular sites in the world. The people who support it are united by the joy of knowledge, their passion and curiosity, and their awareness that we know much more together than any of us does alone.

What is the Wikimedia Foundation?

The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports and operates Wikipedia and the other free knowledge projects. All of our work is guided by our mission to share the sum of all knowledge with every person in the world. We keep the websites fast, secure, and available. We support the community of volunteers who contribute to the Wikimedia projects. We make free knowledge accessible wherever you are — on your phone or laptop, on a boat in the South Pacific, or in the hills of Nepal. We help bring new knowledge online, lower barriers to access, and make it easier for everyone to share what they know.”

However, while Wikipedia draws the most attention, there are numerous ways where staff & students can get involved & directly contribute their knowledge & expertise to develop Wikimedia UK’s diverse range of projects.


Not just Wikipedia: Wikimedia UK’s diverse range projects (above).


Wikisource, for instance, is a ‘free content library of source texts’ with some 300,000+ source texts which anyone can use.

Wikimedia Commons is our media repository with over 30 million freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute to and re-use.

Wikibooks, an open-content textbooks collection that anyone can edit, has been utilised by some academic institutions (notably Greg Singh, lecturer  in Communications, Media & Culture at the University of Stirling) as an assessed part of their courses where students work in research groups to contribute chapters to create a brand new textbook, the Digital Media & Culture Yearbook.

Wikidata, in particular, as Wikipedia’s newest sister project offers up a wealth of possibilities as a structured database of all human knowledge which is readable by humans and machines. For example, the Histropedia website makes good use of the data Wikidata harnesses in order to create visually stimulating & dynamic timelines: be it as straightforward as a timeline of University of Edinburgh alumni or something much more bespoke: such as a timeline of descendants of Robert the Bruce, who are female, and born in Denmark.

Example timeline from Histropedia
Example timeline from Histropedia

As the residency continues, I hope to explore each of these projects a bit further (and others besides) and see if any collaborations can be achieved which mutually benefit the university and Wikimedia in adding open knowledge content to these projects. So watch this space… and if you have any questions about any of the projects then let me know.

History of Medicine Wikipedia editathon 16-18th February

Following the successful editathon session on ‘Women, Science and Scottish History‘  that the University of Edinburgh ran with the assistance of the National Library of Scotland’s Wikimedian in Residence, Ally Crockford, during Innovative Learning Week in 2015, the UoE is running a brand new one for Innovative Learning Week 2016 on Tuesday 16th February to Thursday 18th February which Sara Thomas (WiR at Museums & Galleries Scotland) and I are hosting at room LG.07 in the David Hume Tower Building, George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JX.

I Want You For Wiki CC-BY-SA
I Want You For Wiki


Feedback from attendees at last year’s editathon event:
“Fantastic week, one of the geeky best. Had a great time at the #ILW2015 #ILWeditathon, researching the #Edinburgh7”
“Shared delight in learning new things about the period & these people”
“Day 3 of #ILWeditathon and I’m getting hooked!”


The topic is on the History of Medicine on this occasion. It covers medical terms not currently covered on Wikipedia as well as historic Edinburgh locations which have played a large role in the history of medicine. It also broadens out to cover notable personages in the history of medicine such as the infamous Burke & Hare grave-robbers as well as the intriguing case of James Miranda Barry and continuing our work on those female pioneers of the medical profession such as ‘the Edinburgh 7’ whose stories continue to be under-represented on Wikipedia.

"A complete delineation of the entire anatomy engraved on copper" - Thomas Geminus
“A complete delineation of the entire anatomy engraved on copper” – Thomas Geminus CC-0

Here’s the event described in brief:

Unravel myths, discover truths and re-write the Wikipedia pages of Edinburgh’s infamous medical figures including gruesome body-snatcher William Burke and intriguing alumni Dr. James Miranda Barry. Come join us for all the fun and gain digital skills, learn how to edit Wikipedia, explore our history and harness the power of the web for public engagement.


There will be refreshments (inc. free lunch if you wish to edit in the morning and afternoon sessions), guest speakers, online materials to work with, physical materials to work with including, hopefully, the letter written in William Burke’s own blood. We’re also looking for some buildings associated with Edinburgh’s role in the history of medicine to be photographed and uploaded to Wikicommons.

You can attend one day or multiple days (or just half a day) if you so desire. Either in person or remotely joining in.

 by the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. UofE Innovative Learning Week 2015 editathon UofE Innovative Learning Week 2015 editathon CC-BY-SA
University of Edinburgh Innovative Learning Week 2015 editathon CC-BY-SA

It’s open to all: new and experienced editors; UoE staff & students; members of the public. You’d be very welcome. Training will be provided in each session.

Full details on how to register for the event are on the event page here:


I have also now setup the Wikipedia Project Page for the University of Edinburgh residency with details of what it involves & what I’ll be up to including upcoming & past Wiki editathon events. The link to the Project Page is here:


If you have any questions regarding the event, the residency or about collaborating on any projects then feel free to get in touch.

Hopefully see you there!

Open Knowledge meetup at National Library of Scotland

On 19th January 2016, I attended my first ‘Open Knowledge‘ meetup at the National Library of Scotland.

Link here: Open Knowledge meetup at NLS

In an informal friendly setting, with a lovely assortment of sandwiches, nibbles and drinks I was able to observe an equally lovely assortment of Open Knowledge initiatives espoused by the evening’s speakers including:

Jeremy Darot on Edinburgh Open Data Map. Utilising lots of cool data to populate OpenStreetMap. Data like planning projects, schools, GP surgeries, shops, catchment areas, air quality, green belt areas & much more besides. Phew!

Jeremy Darot
Jeremy Darot

Also, the University of Edinburgh’s own Professor Richard Rodger outlined the MESH project (Mapping Edinburgh’s Social History): 60,000+ properties mapped accurately by physically walking past taking a note of every garden, wall and business with the ambition to create the most accurate city map in Edinburgh.

Then there was architect Akiko Kobayashi on fabulous project: open source house designs on Commons  which can be digitally fabricated & assembled easily.

Akiko Kobayashi
Akiko Kobayashi

Lastly, the National Library of Scotland’s own Fred Saunderson enthused about NLS’s Open Data Publication plan to publish 3-star open data (14 datasets in 2016, 8 more in 2017).

Fred Saunderson - NLS
Fred Saunderson – NLS

All in all, a great night of Open Knowledge initiatives. More please!

Getting Started – What the residency involves


As this role is a fairly new and interesting-sounding job title, I thought I should intimate what this year-long residency will involve.

In short, I am to facilitate a sustainable relationship between the University and Wikimedia UK to the mutual benefit of both communities.

You're so Venn: Where the Wikimedian in Residence sits between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh.
You’re so Venn: Where the Wikimedian in Residence sits between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh.

To do this, I will be an advocate of open knowledge and deliver training events & workshops which will further both the quantity & quality of open knowledge and the university’s commitment to digital literacy.

Areas of convergence between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh's missions.
Areas of convergence between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh’s missions.

More practically, this will involve arranging & delivering skills-training sessions which will fit in with and, importantly enhance, the learning & teaching within the curriculum. I will also stage events outside the curriculum which will draw on the university’s, and Edinburgh’s, rich history & knowledge.

Editathons will be a large part of this, however, there are numerous ways where staff & students can get involved & directly contribute their knowledge & expertise to develop Wikimedia UK’s diverse range of projects, including: Wikipedia; Wikivoyage; Wiktionary; Wikispecies; Wikiquotes; Wikisource; Wikiversity; Wikibooks; Wikinews;  Wikimedia Commons; Wikidata; Mediawiki; Wikimedia Labs and more besides. (https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Our_projects)

Wikimedia UK's diverse range projects
Not just Wikipedia: Wikimedia UK’s diverse range projects (above).

If you would like to know more about how our main open knowledge project, Wikipedia, fits in with academia then these two recent articles make very compelling reading:

  1. https://wikiedu.org/blog/2016/01/14/wikipedia-15-and-education/
  2. https://www.refme.com/blog/2016/01/15/wikipedia-the-digital-gateway-to-academic-research/

Alternatively, I am based in the Learning, Teaching & Web Services Division within the Hugh Robson Link Building on George Square, Edinburgh,  and am very happy to chat to you about the residency.

Contact details
Contact details

Indeed, should you wish to discuss collaborating on any projects then I would be only too glad to hear from you.

Wikimedia, Open Knowledge and The University of Edinburgh

 “Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice.

Screenshot from ‘Alice in Wonderland’. By Walt Disney (Original Trailer (1951)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


“The time has come,” the Walrus said. “To talk of many things.”

By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
Exactly one month has flown by since I started my year-long residency at the University of Edinburgh as the new Wikimedian in Residence and I have not stopped to collect my thoughts. The starting of a new blog seems a good place to begin.

In starting this curiously titled new role at the University of Edinburgh, I am reminded how far we have come since I first began my undergraduate course at the University of Glasgow; when mobile phones and the internet were still very much in their infancy and social media (like blogs) and Wikipedia were still all to come.

This is now my third blog; following my WordPress blog (on film, tv & book reviews) and my travel blog covering my travels from Seoul (South Korea) to Glasgow (UK) via Canada, North America and South America. Like millions of others, I also have a Facebook account. It chose recently to ‘share a memory’ with me of the time, six years ago, I sat in the gardens outside Vina Undurraga, Santiago, Chile. In seeking to illustrate my first post with a picture to introduce myself, and until I can get a new picture taken of myself in my new surroundings, this picture seems a good one.

At Vina Undurraga, Santiago, Chile.

Prior to this picture, I had just completed two years’ teaching in Japan & South Korea and I had the option to return directly home to the UK or my employers would also pay for me to fly the equivalent distance elsewhere and I could indulge my curiosity and take the scenic route home.

I chose the scenic route.

The picture shows me mid-trip in Chile after visiting Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, Peru and Bolivia and Chile. I had just visited the observatory at Cerro Mammalluca (with the best conditions for stargazing in the world), stood next to a Moai statue from Easter Island, visited Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaiso and I had a trip traversing the Andes into Patagonia to look forward to.

It reminds me how rich and interesting the world is and how wonderful it is to share knowledge and experiences. I was able to travel from country to country, experience new cultures, stop off at libraries, museums, art galleries, see many natural wonders, learn new languages and read terrific books, travel guides and articles on Wikipedia in-between stops.

New York 410
At the Natural History Museum, New York.

Since that time, as an English, History & Media teacher, I have been an advocate for lifelong learning and for Open Knowledge; for looking outward to the world and pooling & sharing our knowledge & experiences. In this way, I can think of no better role than a collaboration between Wikimedia UK and the University of Edinburgh to do just that.

Time to roll my sleeves up and get started…