Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ansel Adams comes to Wikimedia

May noted the start of Wikimedian Dominic's Wikipedian-in-Residence at the National Archives and Records Administration. Within days of starting his internship, Dominic had declared to the GLAMWIKI community that NARA had agreed to donate a collection of Ansel Adams photographs; photographs taken by Adams on behalf of the National Park Service in the mid-20th century.

Adams work is known for being one of the most accessible to the public eye - pleasant and monumental images of the parks of the West, often making their ways into calendars and posters in gift shops, allowing purchasers to admire the majestic nature of America at home. This accessibility and availability allows for cultural organizations to milk what they can out of licensing; fearing to release their images into the public domain due, claiming they'll lose major income. Many of us within the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) world know that this is rarely a truth; it's like saying you make money off charging admission. Regardless, there are some institutions that can rake in the dough at licensing off images of the Mona Lisa and Van Gogh, despite being out of copyright - just like the Ansel Adams images created for the feds - these are public domain. We own them, the public, so let us have them, right?

Right! So NARA decided to release hi-res versions of a series taken between 1941-1942 featuring major National Parks and images of Indigenous peoples living in the Southwest. Aside from having great images of what he's known best for - nature - Adams also photographed peoples of the Southwest: Navajo and San Ildefonso Pueblo. Just a few images are in the collection, but, they are a refreshing and natural series of examples compared to the stiff pre-planned images of Edward Curtis which litter the cultural world due to their lack of copyright.

I'd love to see a content donation from an Indigenous community - specifically images of people today. While these images are historically beautiful and the people in them as well, the importance of contemporary image donations to free culture will allow for educators to inform the world that people in these communities are flourishing today - and are not stuck in the past of black and white images taken by a government employee. I hope my research and work will allow this to eventually happen, as trust is built and neither side (community and Wikimedia) comprise their belief systems.

View and use the newly donated images here.

Thanks NARA for the donation and Dominic for being the "fastest working Wikipedian-in-Residence" this far!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wikimedia + Archives of American Art = #wikilove

This summer I have the pleasure and honor of being the first Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Smithsonian! More specifically, I'll be spending the next few months working at and with the Archives of American Art. The Archives of American Art holdings consist of the world's largest collection of primary resources related to American art - from letters to photos, sketches to oral histories - if you are an art historian, there will most likely be a time when you will seek to utilize the archives of AAA.

(To the right is Greek-American artist Jean Xceron from AAA's collection. This photo is in the public domain, as it was taken by the Works Progress Administration! And yes, it's in Commons already ;)

I will be working closely with Sara Snyder, webmaster, Karen Weiss, the Archives Information Systems Manager, and curatorial, collections and archival staff. Their passion for sharing and digitizing their collections are inspiring, and I can only hope that my own passion for sharing, educating and "freeing information" can be equally as inspiring - encouraging to other Smithsonian related organizations too.

One question I get frequently is "What the heck is a Wikipedian-in-Residence?" You can learn a bit more about the concept & origin from the first Wikipedian-in-Residence Liam Wyatt's blog.

There are a few things I hope to achieve there this summer, some of these plans include:

  • Expand coverage on Wikipedia about topics relevant to the Archives of American Art's collection. This includes providing sources for existing pages and writing non-existent pages about notable topics.
  • A content donation to Wikimedia Commons.
  • Work on an e-volunteer program, inspired by the Indianapolis Museum of Art's program.
  • Collaborate with art history related educational programs outside of the museum (university level) to work with students for article contributions.
  • Brown bags and workshops with Smithsonian employee & volunteers.
  • Examine statistical data related to traffic from Wikimedia websites to the AAA's website.
  • A backstage pass tour for GLAMWIKI.
  • Case study
  • .....and so much more!
I've also been speaking with other GLAMs about their involvement with Wikimedia, including the National Building Museum and the Special Collections Resource Center at George Washington University. The National Archives will also have a Wikipedian-in-Residence this summer! This is already turning out to be a great year to be a Wikipedian, riding the wave of the free encyclopedia's 10th birthday and the search for affordable and unique ways for GLAMs to expand awareness about their collections.

A quick side note - if you haven't had a chance to read Lori Phillips's guest blog "Museums & Wikipedia: The Future of Collaboration and Accessibility" on the Center for the Future of Museum's website, then get on top of it, darnit. It really speaks for what we're hoping to achieve in GLAMWIKI, and as a fellow masters student (at different schools) and colleague of Lori's (the Wikipedian-in-Residence at The Children's Museum), I'm proud to be associated with her and her work, which has served as a cornerstone for GLAMWIKI work.

Thanks to all who have support my scholarly labors, and I can't wait to see what happens this summer!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yesterday I co-presented with Katie Filbert at Ignite Smithsonian, which was held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

A group of 20 speakers came together to share Ignite talks - a fast paced, fun five minute presentation about something great - all from the cultural/tech sectors. A lot of fascinating, informative and well thought-out concepts and ideas being executed around the world about technology within museums - from augmented reality to concepts of a non-museum.

Katie and I talked about GLAM/SI and how people and museums can contribute to our goals related to Wikimedia and GLAM.

You can watch our presentation, which will soon be edited down by speaker. But, check it out for now, we start at 10:15.

You can also download and view the PowerPoint:

Thank you Michael Edson, the Director of Web and New Media strategy at the Smithsonian for putting this all together and allowing us to co-present. He's working hard at the creation of Smithsonian Commons, which intends to change how we see institutions on the web and accessibility to information.

At lunch I was able to join great folks at the John Hopkins Museum Studies program; Director Phyllis Hect and Assistant Director Deborah Seid Howes. The program at John Hopkins revolves strongly around museums and technology. I'm hoping to possibly work with them on a GLAM related project in the future, or even doing some work with students about the wonders of Wiki.

I also spent my evening getting to know Cory Bernat, a food historian at the National Museum of American History's Food and Wine History Team. She created this super cool exhibition of war-era food posters from the National Agricultural Library, which was on site at the USDA and is now online. And wrapped up my evening with Erik van Tuijn, the Web & Media Coordinator at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag at The Hague, and Jasper Visser, the Project Manager of New Technology & Media at the National Historical Museum. Jasper presented on vending machines being used as cheap and quirky ways for visitor interaction and shopping. Let's just say these two are my favorite Dutchmen next to the Flying Dutchman.

Time to get back to work..lots of exciting announcements coming soon. I will be in Boston this weekend, New York in May, and speaking at the Indigenous Peoples & Museums conference in June. See you soon...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Encourage More Women Participation in Wikipedia

As an active female Wikipedian I'm quite aware of the gender differences in editors and contributors - as many Wikipedians are and this was before the studies and the front page of the New York Times. However, it took the study and the NYT to make the rest of the world aware and for Wikipedians to finally decide to take action. A Gendergap mailing list was started for Wikipedians to discuss these issues, led by Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Conversations on the list vary from the gender bias via Wikipedia that take place outside of the US to sexuality articles that are chock full of "pictures of hot chicks" but no men. It's been fascinating, and I'm waiting for the revolution to really heat up - the task forces, the next steps, the outreach. This morning I woke up to a Top 10 list about why more women should participate in Wikipedia by Sandra Ordonez.

Perhaps it will motivate you or someone you know..

1) Improve the quality of information. Information is shaped by perspective, regardless of how NPOV you aim to be, and perspective is shaped by experience. When you experience the world in a certain perspective, you see things that others don't see. A Chinese immigrant in the United States may notice things that a American born may not see, just like it is very likely that a female may notice things their male counterparts don't see.

2) Open doors to more groups. The inclusion of women might have a domino affect, and open doors for other groups, particularly those that are traditionally dis-empowered, such as people of color in the United States. (You can include whatever other group you want here..I can only speak to the US).

3) Improved processes and systems. Collaboration is improved by diversity - everyone in this group (sic: mailing list) knows this. More female participation may result in better collaborative brainstorming and problem solving.

4) Better organization. Studies reveal that women tend to be great multitaskers. IMHO, women are great multitaskers because they also plan their world to be more "efficient" for multitasking. I can totally see a group of women helping improve the organization of Wikipedia's rules, background knowledge, presentation, etc.

5) Stronger community. Reports are also showing that more women than men are on social media. This is because women tend to focus on creating community. A larger, more sophisticated Wikipedian community is so powerful, I'm not even sure how to describe its potential in words. However, it would have the ability to help the projects but bring change worldwide.

6) Better image. Organizations that are ethical are usually favored and respected by society, which increase's an org's success. I am not talking "left vs right," and this is not a philosophical question, it is a public relations one. Talk to any PR practitioner and they can share why this works, and examples of organizations taking this PR strategy. And, at a minimum, I can guarantee it will increase how many women worldwide see the project, which btw are 50% of the world's population.

7) Better parties and possibly more Wikilove! As corny as it sounds, I am quite positive that more women will improve the festivities in any wiki get together, and possibly result in more wikilove :) lolol Why not!! What a perfect place to meet someone that shares your interest, and better parties are usually always welcomed.

8) A better world society. Wikipedia has this ability to affect the world and start revolutions in what seems to be very silent but effective ways. I really believe that the inclusion of women will have amazing revolutionary affects on the world, and make it better. Channeling Jeff Bridges, "information is really power, man." And maybe we have come to take for granted that the world is informed/educated through Wikipedia on a daily basis. This has an effect.

9) It's the right thing to do. Wikipedia has always gone against the grain, even though at times it ruffled society's feathers b/c transparency in knowledge sharing is more important than the agenda of any group. Its part of the free culture movement, dedicated to empowering people worldwide, and has done much in that area. Why wouldn't it come together now to improve on this systematic problem that affects not only the project, but humans at large.

10) Who else is going to do it? No one has the ability to look and tackle this complex issue like Wikipedian community. No other community has the strength in numbers, intellect, and structure to address an issue like this. I guarantee that other groups will embrace any solutions the community finds, b/c its not Wikipedia is not only a pioneer, but its a "best-in-breed" virtual project that comes up with "best-in-breed" solutions.


So there you go! I think it's simply put and rather empowering. But, I've been contributing for years - if I can get a few more women to contribute, I'd be happy.

What are your interests? What do you want to edit in Wikipedia? Have you edited? Do you still?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How to anger a Wikipedian

As many of you know, I'm an avid Wikipedian. I've been editing since 2006 and contributing well researched and educated articles for quite sometime. I'm almost about to hit my 100th article, and the majority of those have involved the Wikiproject: Public Art.

While watching Super Bowl pre-game and editing an article about a winery in Sonoma (taking a break from public art!) a colleague of mine shared this article with me:

The Top 10 Reasons Students Cannot Cite or Rely on Wikipedia by Mark E. Moran

She found this article via the professional organization the American Association for State and Local History, who posted it on their Twitter account.

Alright, maybe five or ten years ago this had some validity. Educators historically freaked out when Wikipedia came to light, claiming it was a poor source to cite. But, as many people know, that's not the point of Wikipedia. NO student should "CITE" Wikipedia in any project - Wikipedia is a starting point.

I tried to post to the articles comment section multiple times and kept getting pop up windows to share the article on Facebook every time I hit the submit button. So here is my brief and opinionated idea behind this poorly thought out article:

This article is hilarious. As an active female Wikipedian who is also a student obtaining my Masters in Museum Studies, I'm insulted by this.

Yes, there are jerks who abuse the power that Wikipedia has allowed them, but a large amount of articles are well sourced and are well maintained by good passionate well-educated people.

In my research I often use Wikipedia as a starting place. It is a requirement for articles (if they wish to not be deleted) to have well cited sources in the article page, which provides a great resource for researchers of all backgrounds and levels. The goal is to provide verified information. Wikipedia was never meant to be the number one cited source for anything, it's just a starting place, a place for you to be inspired, to explore more, and to share with the world what you've learned.

I'm also active in task forces that are seeking to expand women's contributions and studies on Wikipedia. Perhaps if you "researched" more on what Wikimedia Foundation is doing to better Wikipedia and the mission you'd think differently. There are also groups dedicated to museum coverage - why would the British Museum or the Children's Museum of Indianapolis entrust a Wikipedian-In-Residence to train their staff about how to use the website, and allow that Wikipedian to share information on selected objects with the world via the website? Obviously these well respected institutions must find something valid about what Wikipedia's doing.

Then there is the Campus Ambassadors program, which has Wikipedia working with universities such as Duke, Georgetown, George Washington University, Indiana University, and many others, to teach students and professors how to edit and utilize the website. I guess it's not trustworthy if GWU and IU are supporting it?

This way of thinking may have had some validity years ago when Wikipedia (now ten years!) first made it's appearance, but, I believe you'll be eating your words, if you aren't already.

It's equally insulting that AASLH would share this with the public. In a time when Wikipedia is celebrating it's 10th anniversary and celebrating its efforts and challenges, people still insult us with outdated articles like this.

I'm really loving the tweets from educators stating that they dock students 10% if they "cite" Wikipedia. I would too! It's like using the Encyclopedia Britannica as your source, you just don't do that. Perhaps you can educate your students on how to utilize the internet better for research, and you wouldn't be having to dock students for their research attempts.

Another colleague just stated that perhaps a clever soul should write a Top 10 on why AASLH folks should contribute to Wikipeida. In a female dominated industry you'd figure it'd be of interest - all that research, why not share it with the world?

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I owe you an update

HI! Wow, I owe you an update Internets, I apologize for letting you go for so long.

So yes, if you didn't know by now, I live in Washington, DC. My neighborhood is the historic Logan Circle, full of history, gentrification and lots of cute dogs. I live an insanely busy life, little time for social outings, a lot of time and work put into school, and my three jobs.

I am still working on Wikipedia Saves Public Art, devoting more of my time to working on Wiki stubs and the Flickr images, and not so much on photographing DC. I've been very busy, so devoting the time I did in Indy to travel around is tough, and many of the areas I need to get too are hard without a car. A lot has been going on with WSPA - including a new project in Milwaukee which has brought a lot of awareness to the project. I've been a bit overwhelmed by all they have been doing, but also feeling like I'm not doing enough.

I am still working on expanding the Washington DC public art on Wikipedia, you can take a look here, and get involved if you'd like. The image above is one of my favorites in DC, "Gwenfritz" by Alexander Calder, at the National Museum of American History.

Speaking of the Smithsonian, I got a gig with the National Museum of African American History & Culture. I'm the research assistant to the head curator, Jacquelyn Serwer. A true honor, especially with her esteemed career at the Corcoran! I'll be doing research for their fine arts collection.

I'm also the Studio Director of a commercial/fashion photography studio in Old Town called Union 206. I assist the studio owner, Charles, and I handle all member needs, event planning, and the like. It's a great experience, and is my home away from home.

On Fridays, I lend a hand at a local vintage store in the heart of the U-Street district, peddling fine vintage wears to the cool folks of the District. It's quite fun.

And of course there is school! Three masters classes and my butt is getting kicked. Museum Administration, Non-Profit Admin and Green Museums - all dramatically different. Lots of projects in the works and lots of team work (something I do struggle with) to be had. My main goal - work hard and meet the right people.

Ok, so, there is your short update. DC has been pretty great so far. I'm car-less, which has been surprisingly tough to deal with, and I don't go out much - it's too expensive, and well, I have more important things to do.

More soon....PROMISE!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Welcome to the world of Copyright Chaos

So after some epic speedbumps and a two day banning, I've started uploading select photographs from my collection onto Wikimedia Commons. Commons features millions of bits of media - photos, film, music - all available for public use for free. It's like the ultimate Creative Commons repository. What has led to this minor obsession?

Over the past 48 hours I have learned a ton about copyright - what to do and what not to do in regards to free media and what can be shared and what can't. Just when you think you don't. (It's taking me a bit of time to post this, I chose to do it while watching the Stanley Cup finals...)

I don't want to get into the gory details about my copyright chaos. Let's just say it's added a bit of unneeded stress into my Wiki world, but I have learned from my mistakes. I also realized that our project, Wikipedia Saves Public Art, has a lot of friends in the Wiki world that support us. If you have visited our page in the past 24 hours (oh and I know you have!!) you will see that our project has been nominated for deletion by a very bored/irritable Wikipedian. I encourage you to check out the discussion taking place, and if you're a Wikipedian, please take part. It's rather entertaining, and this isn't the first time I've stirred the pot with my innocent mistakes.

Here is a picture of me giving thumbs down to copyright fails with a Panda in Woodley Park that I am not allowed to upload to Commons. However, if I chose to write an article about these pandas, I can upload it to Wikipedia. I do not think Wikipedians will appreciate me in the photo though.
There's a lot to the story, but, you can follow the Wikipedia page for WSPA if you really want in on the drama known as Copyright Chaos.

So, to help with the "epic project" known as Commons, I've start
ed uploading photos. No, not the panda photo. But, images from my trips and travels that fall within the scope (my favorite word right now) of Commons. Want to use some of my photos? Give me credit. You can even manipulate them all you want, just let me know. Here is your chance to pillage my photos, enjoy!

In other news, I have completed the most epic of all Wikipedia public art projects. It's not even complete, and of course you can help me complete it, if you want. I still need to write a nice blurb for the opening page, but, I think you'll be impressed. Or you'll be ashamed if you know me, thinking I have no life.

Read it and weep. Prepare to have your mind blown with art work you probably did not even know existed. Prepare to go "Hmm, I think I drive by that statue, every single day."

It's been my main project since getting my undergrad and waiting to move to DC. I can't wait to leave Indianapolis, and I've completely immersed myself in Wikipedia and educating myself about public art and re-educating myself about old D.C. punk rock. My heart, mind and soul are in the District already, it's just my body, my belongings and my cat that are still here. Oh, and some of my friends and family of course.

But, this isn't for all that personal mumbo jumbo. In one month I'll be posting about my new life in D.C., from my studio in Logan Circle, overlooking the city. Breathing in the heat of summer and enjoying what life has in store for me.