Last week I was thrilled to attend Wikimania, the annual international conference of the Wikimedia community that was held this year in Haifa, Israel. Â We were excited to have the GLAM-Wiki initiative as a track throughout the entire conference, but for me, it was most poignant to experience how the many tools, programs, and strategic plans are all so intertwined to promote the same mission: sharing the sum of all human knowledge on a global scale.
During the conference, the sensationalized claim that âWikipedia is dyingâ resurfaced again in the press. Â This came out of a statement from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales that the main languages in Wikipedia are losing editors â a well-known fact that is a top priority for the Wikimedia Foundation. Wales reacted to this press during the closing plenary, declaring, âWikipedia is NOT dying.â Rather, the quality of many topics has become so high that only experts could contribute further information. This isnât a bad thing.
Nonetheless, editor retention, or creating a positive environment in which new editors can thrive, is an important concern for Wikimedia. A number of features have been developed with the aim of making the Wikimedia community more welcoming. The new WikiLove feature, for example, is an easy way for editors to show appreciation for one another. This feature is perhaps the most heavily debated as many fear that the âsocializationâ will push Wikipedia into Facebook territory.
Wikimedia Foundation Board Trustee Kat Walsh stated, âAdding features to make it easier to thank people doesnât make Wikipedia more like Facebook, it makes it easier to do what youâd do in everyday life.â The take away point: Be human.
Another important topic was the issue of the âgender gap,â or the lack of women editors present in Wikimedia. With only 13% female contributors, the foundation is highly interested in reaching out to women.
Looking back on the conference, what Iâve come to realize is that the GLAM movement can speak to each of these issues:
Benoit Evellin, Wikipedian in Residence at the Palace of Versailles, stated, â[The GLAM movement] will win when museums are contributing content on their own.â The Wikimedia Foundationâs push to humanize the editing experience will have an important impact on potential contributors in the GLAM sector. Considering these efforts, Wikipedia has never been more alive with possibility.
Visit Wikipedia Weekly for a podcast (pictured) that features me and three other Wikipedians in Residence discussing the future of GLAM.
flickr Photos: Top byÂ NiccolÃ² Caranti, pictured: Jimmy Wales. Bottom- “GLAM 2011 Wikipedians in Residence” by fuzheado; pictured, left to right: Liam Wyatt, British Museum; Lori Byrd Phillips, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis;Â BenoÃ®t Evellin, WikimÃ©dien en rÃ©sidence au ChÃ¢teau de Versailles; Sarah Stierch, The Smithsonian Institution