#TAG2013: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation – Session Summary

19 Dec

I’ve compiled together my notes and tweets from the Seeing, Doing, Thinking: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation session at the Theoretical Archaeology Group conference (#TAG2013) held in Bournemouth this week. I was planning to live blog, but the session was so engrossing that I am afraid I managed just a few tweets and scribbled thoughts in the end!

I was presenting a project that I have been working on with Jude Jones. She is the brains behind the whole thing, I have merely been helping with computational photography! The paper about the project has yet to be written, but we are busy plotting, so watch this space!

We were talking about the potential of RTI as a form of visualisation for reading the tomb of Dame Mary May which is situated in a small and very lovely church in Lavant, near Chichester, West Sussex.

More about that in a soon to be written blog post, but first I’ve copied in my tweets and accompanying notes from the session. These are scruffy at best, but at least they give an idea of the fantastic papers that we enjoyed.

The session organisers (Gareth Beale, Sara Perry and Catriona Cooper) maintain a blog which pulls together all of the various activities surrounding the Seeing, Thinking, Doing idea, the TAG2013 session being just one of these events, so do check out their blog for more information: http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com/

Tweets from Session

Paper abstracts here: http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com/tag-2013-bournemouth/

Session Introductions

We’re just starting in the #visualarchaeo session at #TAG2013. Visualisation and Archaeology. V exciting!

Rachel Opitz

RachelOpitz on #crowdsourcing Pictish stones: Online to real world. http://www.pictishpuzzle.co.uk  but you’ll need WebGL! #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

RachelOpitz talking about choice in viz. Discussing different types of #saliency for highlighting interpretation. #visualarchaeo

Mahiri Maxwell

MahiriMaxwell of #Glenmorangie at #NtlMuseumsScot. Starting with 3D visualisation as craft. Brilliant! #visualarchaeo  #TAG2013

James Taylor

JamesTaylor, @uniofyork. On digital recording as reflexive process. #catalhoyuk‘s stratigraphic sequence as testbed. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Jamie Hampson

JamieHampson touching on #IPinCH issues. Finding representations of #rockart in #SL#visualarchaeo #TAG2013 “Don’t just gaze and guess”.

JamieHampson: Manifestation rather than representation in #rockart. Considering rock surface & the paint being used. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

JamieHampson on rock art as a process. What is the ‘art’ in ‘rockart’? Considering orality as well as visuality. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

JamieHampson of @UWAnews on #occularcentrism in #rockart interp. ‘Reading’ #rockart as text. Is there a semantics? #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Matthew Harrison

@MattJ_Harrison on filtering data through visualisations and on translating visualisations. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

@MattJ_Harrison on viz of Fustat. Using topography (not neces cartographic) & topology (relationships & entities) #visualarchaeo #TAG2013


Q from discussion: Is visualisation a simplification or is it an augmentation to other data representation? #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

A shout out to @lparchaeology‘s multivocality of the record as part of discussion part 1 at #visualarchaeo #TAG2013 Yay guys!

So many faces on one screen. Enjoying the GoogleHangout at #visualarchaeo #TAG2013 pic.twitter.com/ojLpy8U5lI

My fav. bit of #visualarchaeo so far… @MattJ_Harrison on visualisation as a filter for data. #TAG2013

@GCBeale asking how we are publishing visualisations. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Sorin Hermon

Tablet as user interface btwn digital world & real world. Lots of tablet-love in #visualarchaeo this aft. #TAG2013 pic.twitter.com/UKDLHC2zDs

SorinHermon reminds us about the importance of including #paradata about the human processes, the interpretation. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

SorinHermon reiterates importance of the #LondonCharter for viz and of the portability & flexibility of #CIDOCCRM#visualarchaeo #TAG2013

SorinHermon on fuzzy logic and classification with ontologies #CIDOCCRM for quantifying reliability of a 3D model. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Neha Gupta

Additional info for post-session Googling:Neha is NehaGupta: http://cal.mcgill.ca/htdocs/index.php/who/neha-gupta … #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Neha on use of spatial approach partic. geovis of patterns to challenge monolithic govt control of cultural heritage #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Jude Jones and Nicole Beale

RTI is described by #culturalheritageimaging http://culturalheritageimaging.org  Watch @ArchCRG blog for MaryMay outputs. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Robin Skeates

RobinSkeates on SuzannePsalia’s use of archaeoengineering & 3Dviz 2 reflect multiple interpretations of Maltese site #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

RobinSkeates of @durham_uni on critiquing aesthetics & archaeo. Visualist bias of terminologies like ‘focus’ ‘view’ #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Alex Zambelli

Great images by @a_zambelli overlaying historical and contemporary architectures of the choreography of London Stone #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

@a_zambelli up now. The Moves of London Stone. VERY EXCITED about this talk. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Ian Dawson and Louisa Minkin

Enjoying the poetry of LouisaMinkin and @demondawson‘s presentation. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013 pic.twitter.com/1chnyPOInd

@demondawson & LouisaMinkin on the wonderful understatement of the magic of #photosculpture & on accidentaloutputs #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

The work that we did with @demondawson and LouisaMinkin is described in our #EVALondon paper: http://ewic.bcs.org/content/ConWebDoc/51037 … #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

@demondawson and LouisaMinkin now up. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013 pic.twitter.com/JR8slWzhd2


Importance of paradata for 3D viz. highlighted. #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

@demondawson on importance of having transparent decision making process 4 artwork making 4 backtracking & recreate #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

Erin on how incorporating multiple senses: sound is action & visual can b static. You need movement 4 noise creation #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

On subj of stone balls, AndyJones will talk tmw abt art practice as an alternate process of archaeological fieldwork #visualarchaeo #TAG2013

#okcon – Small Museums and Open Data – my presentation text

23 Sep

Notes from my presentation, delivered at OKCon in the Open Culture session on 18th Sept. 2013.

Doc available on Scribd:


Although I didn’t use my slides in the end, the presentation that I put together is available on Slideshare:


Live blogging – #okcon – Session: Open Science

17 Sep

My notes, apologies for any mistakes.

Session: From Open Data to Open Science: Policy, Literacy and Citizen Engagement

Moderator: Francois GreyCitizen Cyberscience CentreUniversity of Geneva

Why Science is an Open Endeavor

–  Victoria Stodden, Professor of Statistics, Columbia University

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

@victoriastrodden on role of computation in scientific research. Donoho: says that its not the published article that is the scholarship, the article is the advertisment the scholarly contribution.

We need to update the scientific record.

Branch 1: deductive – with the idea of the proof

Branch 2: empirical – with the idea of hypothesis testing, and structured methods (protocols)

So add Branch 3/4?: computational – large scale simulations, data driven computational science. Using big data.  - what do we have here? to qualify the findings? Scientific method is to root out error. And computational science today doesn’t generate reliable knowledge.  So the availability of code, in order to verify it, is essential. 

Victoria’s slides are here: http://t.co/Iq7VY7YonL

We shouldn’t need a special language to discuss the reproducibility of experiments. Of scientific enquiry.

Open Health – The Citizen’s Revolution

–  Ernst Hafen, CSO, healthbank / ETH Zurich

For the future of health and medicine to become personalized, preventive and predictive is also needs to become participatory. The need for millions of health data sets requires the active participation of healthy individuals and patients. This will be promoted by empowering individuals by giving them control over their health data (medical, omics, mHealth etc). In healthbank, a Swiss health databank, citizens from all over the world can securely store, manage, and contribute anonymized selected health data for research. Since healthbank is organized as a cooperative, members not only control their data, they are also owners of healthbank and share its profits.

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

Health Data platform: http://datenundgesundheit.ch

Multi-agency, multi-national.

Upping our digital literacy

–  Kaitlin Thaney, Director, Mozilla Science Lab

Despite the influx of tools and policies under development to advance the broader goal of open science, we’re still facing a critical gap in our education system. The newly launched Mozilla Science Lab, an open science project supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is looking to help close that gap in skills development so that making research more efficient isn’t only accessible to the chosen elite. This talk will look at some of the broader issues surrounding disrupting the current educational system, and explore what “digital literacy” looks like for science, so we can better arm the next generation of researchers (as well as the PIs and advisors) with the skills to truly enact change.

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

@kaythaney of @mozillascience

Kaitlin talking about OpenNews project.

Open web to change the way that science is done.  A key to this is digital literacy (@mozteach).  They’ve run a MOOC about teaching using the web. Science is becoming more data driven. There is a skills gap developing.

Mozilla Science Lab:

All of these layers are interdependent on one another:

  • Community – buildings communities of practice for keeping up to date with tools, best practice, communities, etc. Have a skills training programme.
  • Code
  • Code/Data Literacy

Software Carpentry Programme: http://software-carpentry.org/v4/invperc/

It’s all about making sure that education is producing professionals who have the skills that are necessary for 21st century jobs.

Kaitlin’s blog: http://kaythaney.com/

“Reliance on ad-hoc, self-education about what’s possible doesn’t scale.”

Introducing CC Science Affiliates Network

– Puneet Kishor, Project Coordinator for Science and Data, Creative Commons (CC)

As a small organization with a global ambition, reach, and footprint, CC is only as strong as its community.
CC can’t be everywhere, and that is where its community steps in, using CC licenses, promoting the values underlying those licenses, and championing openness.
In keeping with CC’s vision of “realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity”, one of the core strategic objectives of CC Science is to “Grow the Community.”
CC Science Affiliates Network aims to strengthen CC’s science outreach by: including local and regional scientific voices in the global conversation on open science; making CC more responsive to scientific concerns worldwide; and providing scientists who are friendly toward open science and access the full power of a global community. We will introduce the CC Science Affiliates Network, highlight synergies between it and OKFN’s outreach programs such as the OKFN Ambassadors program, and invite participation from the OKFN community.

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-science-and-research/session-1/#sthash.WekP0tAJ.dpuf

My notes:

Openness is not evenly distributed.

CC has lots of volunteers, called CC Affiliates.

At a recent meeting of CC Affiliates, Puneet noted that there were very few Scientists from developing countries represented. So this needs to change. Most affiliates are from a legal background, mostly because of the way that CC developed.

Science Affiliates Network.

OKF is the mechanism whereby CC and its vision is achieved. i.e. “Realising the full potential of the internet”

Live blogging – #okcon – Session 3: Open Education

17 Sep

The facets of open education. Resources, data and culture – Panel & LinkedUp Awards presentations

Tuesday 17 September, 11:45 – 13:15 @ Room 13, Floor 2

The facets of open education. Resources, data and culture – Panel

Open data is data that can be freely used, reused and redistributed by anyone. Many institutes offer Open Educational Resources (OER) online. Education can benefit highly from open and linked data approaches.

Moderator: Doug Belshaw, Badges & Skills Lead, Mozilla Foundation

Panel members:

LinkedUp Challenge Award Presentations

- See more at: http://okcon.org/more-open-topics/#education-session-1

My notes:

@jackiecarter said: Co-existence of open and closed data.

@jackiecarter said: It’s not just about releasing the data, is about creating products for that data.

Respecting rights. Using CC and respecting people’s ownership.

Identifying derivative works is the challenge.

My tweets from the session – in reverse order!:

#linkedupproject at #okcon: Linking entities from social media profiles to historical data. Using timeline based viz. http://apps.facebook.com/yourhistory 

Really impressed by the breadth of the real-use working instances & prototypes of #openeducation at #linkedupproject competition at #OKCon.

#polimedia putting political events at centre of model 2 link together news items in media archives. V translatable. #linkedupproject #okcon

#gnoss #MisMuseos project up now at #OKCON semantic data based online museum of 7 Spanish museums. http://mismuseos.net  #museweb #lod

@jackiecarter saying It’s not just about releasing the data, is about creating products for that data. #openeducation #OKCON

Intro to #linkedup-project at #okcon. Making connections & creating resources for #openeducation. Led by #leibnizuni. #lod #museed #museweb

Live blogging – #okcon – Session 1

17 Sep

Live blogging from #okcon

My notes (may contain errors!)

Session 1 Plenary Talk

Tuesday 17 September, 09:15 – 09:45 @ Main Stage

Open Data Movement Gaining Power

Ellen Miller, CEO, Sunlight Foundation

See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/#session-1

Examples of opportunity:

– Open Government Partnership

– Open Data Portals (there are 43 country level portals, and over 100 area portals). Including city level portals.

“The win isn’t getting the open data portal itself. The win is the impact that the open portal can have.”

– International Transparency Organisations. Check out the list here, and add to it if you have an example that is not yet there: http://bit.ly/globalngo

Ellen asks does our work (Sunlight Foundation) live up to the open data potential to change things? Do we have more trust in Government? Ellen says No.  Due to:

Usual startup problems. Taking on too much work, taking too long to work out problems, working out how to relate to politicians, how to deal with the bad actors, are minor incremental reforms good enough? we’re inconsistent: should we model how govts should do their work, or should we do their work for them? I.e. make the tools for them. How should we measure our impact? how do people want to use govt data <– need to know this so that we can match their need.

We’ve learned:

– Independent position is needed – Away from politicians. Naming and shaming is very important. As is praising the good work.

– Building tools for average citizens isn’t as smart. We need to work with engaged constituencies.

– Fundamental questions of state and political power are actually key to our work. The influence of money and politics will only grow, and this threatens our ability to create accountability. This is a problem that we need to find a way around. i.e. the new surveillance powers of the US and the influence that this could have on our experience of the internet.

We need to set a standard of what we mean by open data, and then ensure that govts adhere to it.

Govt agencies have to use technologies to invite us (people) into a meaningful dialogue, to participate in the major decisions that impact on our lives.


Tuesday 17 September, 09:45 – 11:15 @ Main Stage Room 2

Moderator: Sarah Schacht, transparency technology advisor and author

Open Data – not just good, but better

Chris Taggart, Co-founder, OpenCorporates

The arguments for open data are often perceived as being about liberating a public good, but open data has another, more subtle benefit: increased quality. This presentation will use OpenCorporates’ new corporate network data features to demonstrate how open data can address the quality and collective action problems that plague proprietary datasets, and provide efficient feedback mechanisms for open data publishers, governments and data users.

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/session-2/#sthash.dwSsGttv.dpuf

My notes:

Data quality issues:

– Data accuracy

– Gaps in data

– Granularity.

We can’t look at companies in isolation. They are all part of a huge network of other companies. So we need to consider them in relation to other companies’ activities.

Open data on a global stage. Talked about the G8 Open Data Charter.

Global activism on the local stage.

Great summary tweet: “@pmackay16sopen data is disruptive: 1) by new uses of data, and 2) in changing processes around the data, by @_OpenP #okcon

On Process:

The “nature of the government processes are important in their own right.”

data.gov.uk is a place where interactions occur. Data users communicate with Cabinet Office team.

We’re trying to get the dataset of the datasets! We need to know what there is to ask for it to become data.

The National Information Infrastructure <– critical datasets that need to be made available (at high quality).

It’s how we interact/collaborate. Team blogs, Twitter, etc.  As a civil servant these things make my accountability to the civil society feel different to the past. Very different to the consultation process, which is less interactive.

On Improving:

How can we, as a government, interact better with the community on open data?

How can this interaction evolve after all the data is released? So after all of the data that is going to be released, has been released (only a couple of years away):

– open policy making team – learning from examples like MindLab in Denmark: www.mind-lab.dk/en

– internal insights


Big, Small, Smart – what data does an enlightened society need?

Andreas Kellerhals, Director, Swiss Federal Archives

We will look first at the availability of data and their supposed value for a public use, illustrated with some real life examples. Secondly, we’re interested in the added value of data analysis for administrative work and an opening toward a kind of data driven political participation. We will, thirdly, address questions of public responsibilities and due diligences. Fourthly, the urgent need for methodological skills when working with open data or public sector information will be a topic as well as, fifthly, possible retroactive impacts on government data.

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/session-2/#sthash.dwSsGttv.dpuf

My notes:

Shows some gorgeous images of historical publications of government data.

Publishing statistics of government data has a long history. As an instrument of propaganda in 17th and 18th century. e.g. Stanford visualisation of enlightment correspondence. http://www.stanford.edu/group/toolingup/rplviz/rplviz.swf

Swiss Open Government Data: http://opendata.admin.ch

Much of the data was already available, but not all in one place. 1617 datasets.

The portal will now be tested for 6 months or so. Hopefully the community will get involved.

Example: http://hydrodaten.admin.ch data, resulting in Aare App: https://itunes.apple.com/ch/app/aare-schwimm-wetter-temperatur/id375825664?mt=8

As this develops, we will move away from facts and figures, and towards issues of methodology. example of University of Massachusetts, what could the effects of an error in data mean? See The Excel Depression, Paul Krugman: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/krugman-the-excel-depression.html?_r=0


Data: Opened for Action

– Andrew Alspach, Senior Information Management Officer UNHCR

UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee agency has taken many steps in the last year to expose anonymized data related to the people we serve for use by the humanitarian community. The organization has realized and embraced the fact that opening up data results in informed decision making and ultimately saving lives. While blogs and the twitter–sphere are rumbling with the need and intention to “open” data, UNHCR is committed to becoming a leader in this area through tangible actions for the humanitarian community and the people we are committed to providing assistance. Our talk will highlight the technical, innovative, and responsible ways that UNHCR is contributing in this area.

A goal of the High Commissioner, since 2011 UNHCR has changed its approach and policies to sharing data necessary for collective and effective action in humanitarian response. The recent emergencies in Mali and Syria, among others, have shown the critical importance of a humanitarian response based on a shared understanding of the needs and capacities of those displaced by conflict and natural disaster. UNHCR recognizes that unless the true condition, risks and resources of a population is known and shared collectively, the effectiveness of a collective response is severely compromised. This requires a cultural revolution within a protection agency such as UNHCR, holder of some of the most sensitive data of any international organisation. The talk will share specific experiences and changes UNHCR has adopted in regard to policies and tools for sharing data with the past year, as well as how we ensure opening of data without opening risks to rights, security and protection of refugees globally.

- See more at: http://okcon.org/open-data-government-and-governance/session-2/#sthash.dwSsGttv.dpuf

My notes:

Open data for the protection of refugees and the delivery of services to displaced peoples and people in need of help.

Andrew is beginning with a 5star.info slide. UNHCR use the 5 star rating for opening their data. They’re at the 2-3 star level now.

Aiming for some of the data to be 5 stars by the middle of next year.

Websites that deal with emergencies:


The Syrian platform has evolved from a series of PDFs to having an entire dump in csv available. Daily updates are also available in csv. The information was already public, but now is extractable.  And is still improving.


Population Statistics, bi-annual. Was a PDF document, 3 months ago was converted to a searchable, downloadable database. Working on visualisations.

Beginning of this:


Open Map Data. We want to provide services to our communities. Shows a web feature service and web mapping service, available for GIS specialists to use.

Different kinds of datasets: Common operational datasets & fundamental operational datasets.

Humanitarian Exchange Language: http://hxl.humanitarianresponse.info/docs/index.php

  • Using URIs for names of things.
  • Using HTTP URIs.
  • Providing info using SPARQL and RDF standards.
  • Including links to other URIs.

HXL is the name of the lang.

Analytical aspects of considering open data.

Its about how we can use data for action.


Making Digital: Visual Approaches to the Digital Humanities

29 Jul

Over the past few months I have been lucky enough to be involved in a project working with artists from Winchester School of Art to develop a series of training events looking at the relationship between art and archaeology. 

This project has been a fantastic experience. Later this week, we are all going to EVA London 2013 to talk about the project, and I wanted to share with you the paper we’ve collaboratively written. But, more importantly, I wanted to say a big THANK-YOU to the team at WSA who have worked with us to make all of this possible. Thanks all!

Making Digital: Visual Approaches to the Digital Humanities


Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2013)

London, UK, 29 – 31 July 2013


Gareth Beale, Nicole Beale, Ian Dawson & Louisa Minkin


The Making History Project is an attempt by artists and archaeologists based within the University of Southampton to collaboratively develop innovative uses for 3D technologies. Techniques such as high resolution data capture and 3D printing represent a new era in digital imaging. As these technologies become increasingly affordable they are coming to play a more significant role in archaeological and artistic practice. Both art and archaeology are currently involved in attempting to realise the full implications and potential of these technologies. This paper describes a project undertaken by the Archaeological Computing Research Group and Winchester School of Art at the University of Southampton which seeks to address this moment of technological disruption in order to collaboratively develop creative and methodologically innovative approaches to the use of these technologies.


PDF file PDF Version of this Paper 1,079(kb)

Abstract URL: http://ewic.bcs.org/content/ConWebDoc/51037

Museums and Wikipedia

17 Jun

This is a copy of a blog post I wrote for the University of Southampton Digital Humanities blog: http://digitalhumanities.soton.ac.uk/blog/2755

Today, the Museums Association published the new issue of Museum Practice. This month the magazine focuses on Wikipedia, and I contributed an article providing practical advice for smaller museums. The journal is behind a paywall, but the Museums Association have kindly agreed to let me share a draft of the article here at the Digital Humanities blog.

The final article (and much neater version!) can be viewed at the Museums Practice website, alongside the rest of the issue, which is a fantastic resource for those interested in cultural heritage and the web: http://www.museumsassociation.org/museum-practice/wikipedia/

Wikipedia for Regional Museums

Nicole Beale

From its humble beginnings in 2001, Wikipedia has grown exponentially, and to date (May 2013) the multi-language website boasts over 4 million articles, with 19 million named user accounts.  The site is one of the most visited on the web, coming 6th in Google’s ranked list of most popular websites (in 2011, Wikipedia achieved 410 million unique visitors), beaten only by Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, Live, and MSN. The key to Wikipedia is that anyone can create and edit content, but all content must be evidenced with sources, modelled on the original format of the paper-based encyclopaedia form. Participation numbers are high; currently there are 300,000 active Wikipedia users who have edited more than 10 times, and nearly 130,000 users who have edited something on the site within the last month.

The large museums, libraries and archives are engaging with the Wikipedia community on a piecemeal basis; setting up projects at an organisation level to reap the benefits of this great resource. But how can smaller organisations engage with Wikipedia? The larger institutions have specialised IT teams and dedicated marketing departments. What if you are part of a small team of staff and volunteers?

There are plenty of examples of projects and events that can be adapted to suit regional, and specialist museum needs, and the needs of the communities that they serve. This article brings those examples together in one place and lists four things that you can do right now, and four things that you can plan for the future, to better use Wikipedia to support the work that you do.

Four things you can do right now

Task 1. Become a Wikipedia Editor

Wikipedia’s greatest challenge is motivating readers of content to become editors of content. The site has a huge readership, but the percentage of users who are actively contributing to the site is very low. The sustainability of Wikipedia relies on contributions from people like us, who can improve and augment content, creating links and references to the objects, buildings, events and archives that we hold.

Wikipedia may have lots of information in it, but it has always been conceived of as a place that people pass through. It is a conduit, through which a user gets to further information and knowledge. Wikipedia cannot hold all of the knowledge in the world, but it could link to some of that knowledge. There is information that can never be in Wikipedia, but that is within our museums’ collections, or our archives, or our libraries’ shelves, and this is where you come in.

The biggest contribution that any one person can make to Wikipedia is to sign up for a user account and to edit an article. Wikimedia, the organisation behind Wikipedia, can provide training for members of your organisation to start to contribute to Wikipedia. The Wikimedia project to provide Wikipedians-in-Residence is the best place to begin to request training. These individuals are highly motivated, and skilled users and advocates of Wikipedia. Generally based in large galleries, museums, libraries and archives, they can be contacted through the Wikipedian in Residence website. I can’t recommend this option enough. I recently organised a visit to our university department by Andrew Gray, then British Library Wikipedian in Residence, along with representatives of the Southampton Wikipedia community. The workshop that they ran was inspiring, as well as being practically useful.

Task 2.  Use Wikipedia referencing structure

Wikipedia has a strict rule, all articles must be validated. This means that any content on Wikipedia must have recognised references to evidence the veracity of claims being made. These references can take many forms, and present a great opportunity for regional museums. To find out what kind of an influence Wikipedia has in your museum’s area of expertise, use this online tool to visualise page visit figures for Wikipedia articles: http://stats.grok.se/ Not only is this a great indicator of people’s browsing habits in your area of interest, giving you hints as to which articles to add useful references to, but this can also be used as a way to bring traffic to your own online resources.

Take for example a museum based in Southampton, Hampshire. When we use the stats tool to search for articles about two similar heritage buildings in the city, we find that the article “Medieval Merchant’s House” was viewed 4 times more often than a page about “Southampton Tudor House and Garden”. The lesser viewed page has less information on it than the Medieval Merchant’s House. The lack of information means that there is a lack of links out to other websites. Using this information, staff from the Southampton museum could perhaps contribute to improving the Tudor House page by providing more information about the history of the house, creating references to relevant Historic Environment Records, or related Tudor objects in the county’s online collections database.  These references are links, and will help people to find this Wikipedia page, or to find the linked websites through this Wikipedia article.

Task 3. Engage with your local Wikipedia community

Chances are that in your area there is a group of Wikipedia editors (Wikipedians) who meet regularly. Most cities and larger towns have Wikipedia chapters meeting and deciding on locally-focussed drives for editing. These groups generally welcome support from other organisations. Check the UK Wikimedia chapter website to find out whether there is a group meeting near to you.

You could offer to host a Wikipedia meet-up at your museum, or run a Wikipedia event. One of the most popular forms of Wikipedia events is an editathon. An intensive editing session where a group meets and focussing on a topic for improvement in Wikipedia and together adds and edits content. In May 2013, the University of Oxford, Bodleian Libraries ran an editathon for Wikipedia pages relating to Queen Victoria’s Journals. The day-long event incorporated an exhibition visit, with a talk and an editing session; Introducing participants to the Queen Victoria Journals online resource. Check out the Wikipedia Loves Libraries pages for more information on how to get involved in editathons.

Other types of events that you could support through your museum include competitions that result in improving records. Wiki Loves Monuments, was awarded the Guinness World Record of the world’s largest photographic competition, with entrants from all over the world taking part in international and national awards, but there is currently no UK based branch of the competition. Now that’s an opportunity!

Task 4. Get to know GLAMWIKI

The GLAMWIKI project aims to create relationships between Wikimedia and galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The group runs events, including an annual conference, and is a great support network, as well as source of inspiration for project ideas.

Four things you can do in the future

Task 1. Enable Wikipedia to use your museum website

If you work on your own museum website, and you have a collections database that is accessed online, you might want to consider adding to any objects the option to copy Wikipedia Citation Code. This is a short snippet of Wikipedia styled code that allows anyone writing a Wikipedia article to easily reference a particular piece of online content. The Powerhouse Museum is a great example of this. Read Seb Chan’s excellent blog post on how it works.

Task 2. Engage with Wikipedia in your own museum

Increasingly, museums are using Wikipedia inside their buildings. Ways to do this include using Wikipedia articles to supplement labelling for exhibitions. Tablets displaying related Wikipedia content can be set up next to display cases. Or locations of Wikipedia articles in the form of URLs can be displayed allowing visitors to use their own mobile devices to scan quick links.  QR tags, as used by Derby Museum and Art Gallery, are a quick way to do this, although they are not the most attractive option!

Task 3. Link with Wikipedia outside of your museum

The hugely successful MonmouthpediA project embarked on a large scale attempt to improve content relating to Monmouth on Wikipedia, and involved the use of signage throughout the town that linked to particular articles using QR tags. Since the project started, over 550 articles have been created, and there are over 1000 QR tags up within Monmouth.  You could try this approach on a smaller scale, providing heritage buildings of interest with QR tagged signage.

Task 4. Host a Wikipedian at your museum

The Wikipedian in Residence programme is ongoing. You could consider having a Wikipedian work with your museum for a few weeks to encourage Wikipedia use and improve coverage of particular topics of interest.


Despite their global successes, the Wikimedia team is friendly and responsive to individual contact. There is often Wikimedia funding to set up projects, so if you have an idea, contact them.



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