Wiki GLAM 2015 Conference – report by Michael Muti Phoya

Posted by on May 27, 2015 in Unpublished pages | No Comments
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Presenting during GLAM-WIKI showcase. CC-BY-SA Habib M’henni

From Friday 10th May to Sunday 12 April 2015 I had the pleasure of attending GLAM-WIKI 2015, a conference about projects by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAMs) in collaboration with Wikimedia and other organisations that have an open knowledge component. The goals of the conference were to share lessons learned and best practices on this subject, inspire and motivate participants to join existing or to start up new projects that support the mission of the Wikimedia movement, and increasing awareness of the importance of freely accessible cultural heritage and to put currently available content in the spotlight.

After a stop in Pretoria to arrange for a Visa, I found myself in the beautiful and historic city of the Hague. Arriving to lunch, it was great to reconnect with old faces (Isla, Asaf, Rexford, etc) and attach faces to names I was only familiar with online (Alex, James, Denise, Sandra, etc).

Since it was a very tight programme, I was thrown into the thick of things when I, together with other Wikipedians from across the world (US, Mexico, Philippines, Ghana, Albania, etc.) including the memorable Zach Pagkalinawan (Digital Preservation of Cultural Heritage in the Philippines) presented at the GLAM-WIKI showcase, ably hosted Isla Haddow- Flood. It was very inspiring to be informed about some of the work taking place in other areas of the globe. Even more inspiring hearing some of the strategies implemented. From Malawi, I highlighted the need for a paradigm shift especially when it comes to ownership of content. I also talked of the need to update obsolete copyright laws. Of course, some of our achievements and collaborations (Wiki Loves Africa anyone?) were highlighted.

On Saturday 11th May, we attended the keynote by Paul Keller, Director & Copyright policy advisor at Kennisland who highlighted that Wikipedia can provide GLAMS a greater outreach for more people. He also pointed out that people may not come to GLAM institutions because they will assume the info on Wikipedia is enough and that GLAMs can also be a little hypocritical by wishing that others make stuff public domain then claiming rights over their own collections

In the end, he mentioned some problems including what he called 20th century obstacles for 21st century problems. Ie. Restrictions in some EU countries on taking pictures of artwork, or either filming in public space.

Later, I attended a very enjoyable tutorial on Wikidata by Sandra Fauconnier. I also attended a workshop by Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO John Cummings who highlighted on the collaboration possibilities between UNESCO and the open movement.

I also attended a tutorial on GLAM-Wiki Toolset, the first standardised, mass-upload system for Wikimedia Commons. Although the subject somewhat advanced, I was able to gather a thing or two. I will look into it more as I do mass uploads especially with the National Archives of Malawi.

During break times, I was able to initiatite collaborations with others including Open Images, a media platform that offers online access to audiovisual archive material to stimulate creative reuse. Works from Malawi will be featured here in the near future. I also initiated a partnership with the WikiProject Medicine the result of which is work with volunteers in Malawi to translate medical articles from English into ChiChewa and other articles.

This is but a snapshot of the conference. Overall, the experience was very enriching in many ways. And the Hague provided such a perfect setting. Dinner and long walks with fellow Wikipedians were just inspiring. Very thankful for such a great opportunity, I am.

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