Thursday, 26 May 2011

Mobile Wikipedia editing is science fiction of the near future

The following science fiction short (or User Story) is based on a conversation at JFK airport over a coffee with Maarten B:

I am sitting in the airport and have nearly an hour to kill until my flight is due to be called but feel too tense to start reading my book. I have spare data allowance on my smart-phone and so use the free Android marketplace Meow-mobile app to automatically and securely log into my Wikipedia account. The application is pleasingly easy to use on the mobile screen and with a tap and the odd screen flick, I check recent entries on my watchlist and revert an obvious vandal edit on one of my favourite biographic articles. Someone has raised a question on my talk page and using my standard virtual keyboard I make a brief note, promising to look in more detail tomorrow. The edit form is a cut-down version to be mobile friendly and signing my reply is a simple button press.

Meow has logged me into all sister projects for which Single User Login recognizes me for, and I seamlessly flick over to Wikimedia Commons where I note that there are no decent photos of automated airport check-in and so using the mobile friendly upload form, I add a photo taken on my phone's camera of a nearby check-in booth. The upload form remembers my preferences so there are minimal tweaks to be made. Using the mobile version of HotCat, I add three more categories to the image. I check the shared WikiProject Architecture Geo-wishlist and note there are several interesting outstanding photo requests for my travel destination, at least one I think I can easily snap on the way to my meeting.

Flicking back to Wikipedia, I launch mobile-IGLOO (which has optionally suppressed cases with large diffs as these are hard to check on a mobile screen) and spend a happy 15 minutes checking some recent suspected vandalism and revert 7 obvious cases, three of which were top of the list due to my filter preferences.

My flight has been called for boarding and I switch Meow to off-line mode which retains a local cache of my watchlist articles and will intelligently attempt to re-sync any changes when I am back on-line. During the flight I plan to fiddle with a draft article in my sandbox which I'm planning to raise a Did You Know for when I get home and needs some thoughtful re-wording for the lead text. Meow displays my data usage as I close it down I note I have used less than 500k of data, probably due to the smart way the application handles images.

I have a glow of satisfaction at having used my spare waiting time to bust some vandalism and nudge up the quality of content on Wikipedia and Commons. Oops, I was so engrossed that I forgot to drink most of my coffee. Luckily I'm about to get a couple of free drinks on the flight.

The current state of the art is fairly limited to passive Wikipedia reading on mobile devices. If you think the fantasy of a user friendly Meow-mobile style Wikimedia projects editor and vandal-buster can be made a reality in the near future, drop me a note.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Launching our new GLAM Outreach Taskforce

Wikimedia GLAM logo
GLAM - Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.
Wikimedia - the organisation behind Wikipedia, its image library Commons and many more information projects.

In the last few months, Wikimedia volunteers have run a number of successful collaborations with cultural institutions such as the British Museum and the V&A. Based on this successful start, Wikimedia UK has set up a GLAM Outreach Taskforce to roll out the program across the rest of the UK.
Our goal is to establish a UK wide program of partnerships between Wikimedia and Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums, that will:
  • work together with cultural institutions as they open up to the digital age
  • help to freely and widely liberate the knowledge they hold
  • engage volunteers and professionals in making better use of Wikipedia and sister projects for improved public access to GLAM collections
  • link our volunteers and digital presence with willing cultural partners to mutual benefit

The UK GLAM task force is supported by, and reports to, the Wikimedia UK board. There are a number of free events and institution relationships in the pipeline with GLAMcamp London in June being the formal kick-off for the UK GLAM network (it's free and open to GLAM professionals and prospective GLAM ambassadors).
Here is what is coming up in the next month:
A larger list of institutions where we have made contact or are currently working with to establish partnerships or hold events with is at GLAM events. In the context of how we started the concept of GLAM ambassadors in the UK at the British Museum only a year ago, this rapid and remarkable progress is only possible because we were pushing on a door that many institutional professionals were ready to open.

As well as edit-a-thons and workshops, we are establishing innovative approaches for museums. Derby Museum was not the first museum to make their collections internet enabled and smart-phone friendly by using QR codes, but they were the first in the world to use QR pedia so that their collection became automatically available in multiple languages by using Wikipedia's Korean, Chinese, Spanish and over two hundred and fifty other language versions (see this unauthorized guerilla video).
Wike Needs You

Would you like to help?
  • Sign up and come to one of our events
  • Join Wikimedia UK or join our email discussion list to discuss future events and plans
  • If you work within an GLAM institution and would like to see an outreach event for e-volunteers to increase access to your collections, email Fae or glam(at)
  • We need your help expanding Wikimedia's GLAM e-volunteer network, particularly for locations outside London. Drop me  a note with your ideas if you would like to see your loved local institution be at the forefront of this knowledge revolution.
  • Finally, this isn't just for big institutions in London, we are keen to collaborate with specialist associations and local museums everywhere in the UK (and in all languages)
[Reposted at]