Florence Devouard wrote:
A couple of weeks ago, I went to an event organized in
Paris by the
French Government about "economics of culture".
During that event, I mentionned that the French chapter has several
ongoing discussions with various museums to set up content partnerships.
Here are two examples of such potential partnerships:
* a small museum with very old and precious documents. The museum has
limited room for access and documents are fragile, so only a few
visitors are allowed to look at them. The museum wants to digitize these
docs, but has limited technical infrastructure.
Opportunity: we host their documents on wikisource and provide them
additional visibility through an article on Wikipedia, featuring their
* a large museum already has a digitization procedure for the documents,
as well as a hosting service. However, the digitized version contains
mistakes (errors generated in the process) and the museum simply does
not have the human power to provide the corrections of the numerous
documents digitized by their services. Our members can take care of this
This is probably more about archives than about museums, but the
problems for museums regarding three-dimensional objects is just as
severe, as Raoul Weiller has been keen to point out at the last two
Wikimanias. Lars makes a good point about distinguishing between
preservation and access digitization, but I think that capital-intensive
preservation strategies are well beyond our capabilities. Wikimedia
works best when it can marshal large quantities of free labour to
altruistic purposes; the kind of people whom we attract are properly
annoyed with capitalist profiteering that depends on our free labour.
It comes as no surprise that they intuitively support non-commercial
clauses in free licenses.
Your two examples present startlingly different circumstances. In the
first example it is up to the archives to provide the leadership, while
acknowledging that providing the needed manpower exclusively through
professional personnel is well beyond their limited budgets. At the
same time they are repeatedly the beneficiaries of acquisitions which
they can neither properly process or store. The recent story of the
Royal Ontario Museum rediscovering a Tyranosaurus skeleton that had been
misplaced for decades gives us pause to wonder. The type of artifacts
that concern us are much smaller, and consequently easier to misplace.
Museums need to engage in volunteer training programmes so that
volunteers can better take on more specialized and more responsible
tasks. If they believe that they will some day receive budgets adequate
to the task, they have been breathing too many fumes from evaporating
artifacts. They also need to make collections accessible to qualified
volunteers for longer hours than the regular opening hours of the museums.
The second example is more within our grasp. Proofreading is a tedious
process, and we should never deceive ourselves into believing that the
task can be handled by spell-checkers or other software based
techniques. In addition, since Wikisource likes to host whole books or
multi-volume reference works there is a tendency to upload this material
from other sources without any thought of checking the material for
accuracy. This means that material which clearly falls within the scope
of Wikisource grows at a phenomenal rate when compared to its
verification rate. Image files are only one part of the solution. They
provide the basis for the verification, but not the verification itself.
Wikisources members know all that very well and much
better than I. I
just summarize that very quickly for reference.
In Europe, at least in some countries, we meet several problems
* many scholars have a rather bad image of Wikipedia (because written by
amateurs, anonymous members, plagued by vandals etc...)
* the other wikimedia projects have rather poor popularity and would
benefit from more "light"
* journalists are bored and need new information (otherwise, they focus
on all the bad stories)
* some projects are more difficult to advertise than others, because
they are full competitors with other commercial projects of very good
quality (eg, wiktionary, wikinews...)
I don't see the problem as one of publicity at all. It's a matter of
recruiting people who are satisfied doing humble tasks. Such people do
not want to participate in complex decision making processes; they are
completely confused if they need to deal with anything but the most
elementary of wiki markup; when faced with any conflict they just go
away. They are often older, and sensitive to disrespectful behaviour.
Besides, my feeling is that contributors and in
particular members from
chapters need a project on which they can team.
That's worth considering. In theory at least chapter leadership is in a
better position to understand the priorities of national governments.
Chapters that host Wikisource sites themselves can better adapt to laws
that restrict the export of charitable donations.
I would like to propose that next year be Wikisource
How can this be best co-ordinated with the Wikimania programme?
And since the planet is very large, if this is done in
through chapters, that it be an opportunity for some european chapters
to work together.
An EU super-chapter? :-\
Appealing to nationalism could be more fruitful.
I am not necessarily thinking of anything very
complicated. Examples of
efforts we could make together:
* leaflets about wikisource updated and available in a large number of
* webbuttons to advertise the project on the web;
* each time someone gives a conference about Wikipedia, take the
opportunity to spend a couple of minutes of Wikisource as well;
* summarize our best cases on Wikisource;
* develop stories about these best cases. Illustrate. Feature these
stories on chapter websites;
* develop initiatives on projects for cross project challenges (eg, best
article with content improved in at least 3 projects);
* chapters may write and distribute a couple of press releases about
* chapters may propose conferences about wikisource (and speakers
available to talk about it);
* develop arguments for museums etc...
Measures of success are numerous, from improvements of Wikisource
(number of docs), number of mentions in the press, partnerships
established with museums etc...
What do you think ?
Who is the target audience for all this? How much of this will appeal