The Social Web and Archaeology’s Restructuring: Impact, Exploitation, Disciplinary Change

I recently worked with Sara Perry on a paper for Jeremy Huggett’s topical issue for the Open Archaeology journal on Challenging Digital Archaeology.

The chapter is open access and is available to download here:

Museums and Wikipedia

This is a copy of a blog post I wrote for the University of Southampton Digital Humanities blog:

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:

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: 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.


Digital Futures 2012 – Day 1

Digital Futures 2012

Tweeting Note: I’ve stopped tweeting during the papers as there is a screen underneath the speakers showing all of the #de2012 hashtag tweets, which I’m finding really distracting. So I’m afraid no more tweets from me during the papers, but I’ll try to tweet in the breaks, and will blog instead.

Tuesday 23rd October 2012


These are my scruffy notes from the first day at DE2012. I haven’t blogged the talks in detail, as all of the papers are available on the website, so you can read them there. What follows is merely my own notes on the parts of the conference that I have found most useful.

Keynote: Edward Cutrell: Innovating in India: Disruptive Technology for the Developing World

Edward Cutrell (@edcutrell) of Microsoft Research India, gave an interesting talk about some of the projects that the organisation has been involved in. I live tweeted from this one, so have copied the tweets in below:

@edcutrell of #microsoftresearchindia at #de2012 telling about evaluating prototypes for expanding communities and then scaling with orgs.
@edcutrell at #de2012: We go from technology to people then back to technology again. #CGNetSwara for #citizenjournalism sounds v. cool.
@edcutrell at #de2012. Alternative to #onelaptoponechild. Have multiple pointers for multiple users for one pc. For collaborative learning.
@edcutrell of #microsoftresearchindia at #de2012. Look up #MultiPoint for info on project. Continuum of sharing: i.e. split screens.
@edcutrell at #de2012 now talking about micro finance self help groups in india. Creating digital records without moving away from paper.
@edcutrell #de2012 Trialled mapping a standardised form onto a tablet/digital slate. Uses audio validation. Improved accuracy & efficiency.
@edcutrell #de2012 Actually audio output proved very popular; Particularly for illiterate members. Paper copy still important bec tangible.
@edcutrell at #de2012 But slates are expensive… Cue Android phones.
@edcutrell #de2012 #CGNetSwara now: “Voice is the most important thing in the developing works right now.” Mobile internet not that common.
@edcutrell #de2012: How do you manage communicating via system where language literacy’s so mixed? 25% no literacy 25% Eng. 25% Other lang.
@edcutrell #de2012 A voice-based wiki for citizen journalism. Great oral histories! Transcribed online. But users don’t have web access.
@edcutrell #de2012 So I wonder does this voice wiki have a use for inadvertent political activism?
@edcutrell #de2012 Find this citizen journalism project:  Do you give people a voice if they can’t access the platform?
@edcutrell at #de2012: #ivrjunction is the platform for the system for citizen journalism. They’re looking for partners!
@edcutrell #de2012 Q&A now. On economic bus. models: Cutrell says there is no resistance to new tech. But additional work not appreciated.
@edcutrell #de2012 On justifying to stakeholders why R&D should happen. Unanticipated devs of course!
Ditto! MT:@PaulWatsonNcl: #de2012 Enjoyed @EdCutrell talk on MSR India.Exploiting low-tech solns, integrating w. current customs & practice

Session 1B: Tales of Engagement

Maria Angela Ferrario (Jon Whittle, Erinma Ochu, Jen Southern, Ruth McNally): Beyond Research in the Wild: Citizen-Led Research as a Model for Innovation in the Digital Economy


Team use PROTEE project management approach.

Sprint teams has same core panel members, but bring in others from the wider #CATALYSTAS network. Impressive NodesXL visualisation of the network on Twitter.

The team ask for submissions from organisations who would like a Sprint event to create something that is easy to make but deals with a difficult issue. Organisations do not need to submit a complication proposal, only a paragraph is needed. The panel selects a project to carry out. The team have completed seven projects, only one wasn’t suggested by this method.

Patchworks with Signposts

Example or an organisation supporting homeless people in Lancaster, called Signposts.

The project used RFIDs and Thermo Mini Printer to create a printer of timetables for visitors to Signposts.

Find it

The project is extended very soon in MOSI, Manchester in the form of a treasure hunt using RFID tags that explores the difficulties in locating resources that homeless people encounter. Look on the MOSI website for ‘#Pat Goes Wild’. See also #Patchworks


Marianne Dee on Tales of Technology

@SiDEResearch – has drop in centre in Dundee. With a focus on access to technology. Has a research pool of 800 users and 40 organisations to take part in research. Great for user perspectives.

The Tales of Technology project collected positive stories about use of technologies. The stories were recorded from a call out to all 800 users via email and newsletter.  Many responded by email, some by post. 80 respondents. Many felt that their use of technologies was not notable, but it became clear during the recorded interviews that there were lots of unexpected brilliant positive stories.

Marianne told two great stories. Adam was interested in genealogy so searched for people who shared his surname through the internet and then emailed them all. Over a period of time he communicated with relations in lots of different countries and then via email invited 70 people to Scotland to visit their ancestral home. The visitors had a big impact on the local economy.

Marianne also told a great story about a lady who lost her husband who left a large collection of books. She decided to sell the books on Amazon (having decided that eBay was too complicated to use). Following her success, she started to buy books in secondhand and charity shops to sell through Amazon. She has never bought a single thing on Amazon, but has sold thousands of books.

The videos have been transcribed and have subtitles.

Questions to consider

How does the project fit into social mobility?

Access to community groups?

Is there a model here for sharing stories and for giving training to people for using technologies?

Favourite Idea

The stories will be linked to information about the technologies mentioned in the videos, therefore providing a way to join up technologies with user experiences.

Digital Storytelling Model – and how to craft these.

Find it

They’re on YouTube, and then project has a website currently at: But soon to be at


Olga Fernholz: Innovation for Today While Innovating for Tomorrow. Perspectives on Building Ambidextrous Organisation

HORIZON, Nottingham.

Innovative Management

Olga talked about one of her case studies: Ordnance Survey. Olga interviewed 5 managers at OS, interested in the Agency of Leaders.

Innovative Ambidexterity:

Exploitation Exploration
Products Processes
Manipulating existing technologies/skills Shifting to new technologies/skills
OSMasterMapOSVectorMap District Linked Data Web – GeoVationOpen Data

Favourite Idea

Are exploitation and exploration mutually exclusive?

Connected Digital Economy Catapult Information Session

I attended the lunchtime briefing on the DE catapult for Connected Digital Economy. It was really interesting to hear about this scheme. I haven’t written notes as I found this pretty comprehensive record of the scheme elsewhere:

Workshop 5 (WS5): Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in the Digital Economy

Stephann Makri: Storytelling in Research

Identifying serendipity through storytelling. Carried out critical incident interviews as storytelling for data collection.

Interviewing techniques for conversational approaches to encouraging storytelling.  Stephann would summarise the story, email it to the participant, who could amend the record if they chose to do so.

How do we summarise? This is the data analysis part. By identifying patterns in the circumstances:

  1. Unexpected circumstances
  2. Insight (lightbulb moment)
  3. Valuable and unanticipated outcome

Presenting data: Multiple options: YouTube stories, narrated stories, illustrated stories, radio stories, poster stories. And finally, exploiting findings through drama.

Favourite Idea

Reflecting on stories, to reveal a metalayer on serendipity as a phenomenon.

Find it


Ruth Aylett

Heriott Watt University & SAGE

Persuasion: education can be about attitudes and behaviour as well as knowledge.  In schools, this takes the form of PSHE. In adults, this could be education of health.

Storytelling as a narrative loop. The loop is important. Linking events emotionally.

World state changes, causes Actions causes Affective Change, causes Events causes World state changes.

Persuasion is all about affective change. But there is a disconnect between story and reality.

One way to do this is to use role play. Experiential learning. Need a facilitator. Development of perspective taking. Thinking differently about points of view. Creation of empathy is essential. It won’t work if it is too predictable, or if it is too formulaic, or if the immersion is broken.

Sense of presence:

  • Summon up visualisation
  • Events fitting with logic of world
  • Challenges for user
  • Characters for feeling of social presence – it matters what you do; actions impact on characters. There are consequences.

You have to care about the digital character. Emotional involvement fostering.

Davis, 1994: Empathy is Cognitive (knowing) / Affective (experiencing).

Ruth gave the example of the FearNot project (virtual exploration of bullying for 9-11 year olds) and ORIENT project (Wii remotes on a large screen).

FearNot Project

Empathic agents – influencing behaviours.

Check out the RIDERS,, the next event is at QMUL.

Discussion Group

We split into groups to discuss how we used storytelling in our own research. Our group came up with the following uses that take place:

  1. Processes
  2. Inputs
  3. Outputs

And under these headings, we used storytelling for:

  • Reflection
  • Teaching
  • Communication of Work
  • Justification
  • Relationship Building
  • Story from Stories
  • Exploration
  • Different Audiences
  • Freeform

The other groups talked about:

  1. Validation of the story that you might tell. Cross-validation/triangulation from other sources.
  2. Mediating technologies to tell stories (tweets, photos, etc.).
  3. Different cultures for storytelling
  4. Different user groups – narrators, entrepreneurs, etc.

Colin Case

Colin facilitated an activity where we played the game Consequences, but using a conversation between a computer and a human. Then we discussed how collaborative storytelling occurs, in particular the role of chance and serendipity in this process.


We had a really good discussion at the end of the session for 15 minutes about the shift in focus from narrative to storytelling. Is this reflective of the shift in general? In museums, there is certainly much written about the shift from museum as knowledge producer, to the museum as a space/place/agent to facilitate knowledge production by/with audiences. E.g. User Generated Content.

Narrative is what you end up with when you combine:

  1. Story as collection
  2. Discourse is how it is expressed.

There is more of the author in storytelling than in narrative.

Passive Audience of… Active Participant in…
Engineered artefact Doing


What is the impact of storytelling?

Digital Economy Impact Panel Results

At the end of the day, I managed to get to the presentation on the results of the DE Impact Panel Review.  This has been the most thought provoking thing so far at #de2012 for me.

Paul Nightingale began the session.

Research to Practice takes time. We should get the research out there and ensure that VALUE is realised in society.

Haldane idea that Government doesn’t choose research may hold true, but impact will ensure funding from the Government.

Science Research Council, 1965: Achieving impact focus early on.

In the UK, DE is having a tangible impact on:

  • UK economy
  • UK society
  • UK research community


  1. DE – internationally excellent quality. UK research is in a leadership position.
  2. Quality of many of the students is ‘stella’. Beyond internationally excellent.
  3. Doesn’t neglect fundamental research because of applied focus.
  4. Was evidence of impact – but too early to assess.


Need to manage impact more strategically: Record, measure, communicate.

Some other thoughts from Paul Nightingale:

—  Monitoring process should be lightweight (when its going well!).

—  Cross portfolio networking

—  Academic research feeding into public policy debates is on Radio 4 all the time. Yet the average-spend on social sciences research for each UK resident is less than a gin and tonic worth per year.

—  Impact doesn’t happen at the end of a research project.

—  Early engagement is key.

Andrew Herbert then arrived and added the following thoughts:

—  Impact opportunistic. We’re not managing for it. There are no impact strategies. I.e. if you have a good idea, who do you tell? What/where do you go with it?

—  Too much digital, very little economy.

—  Define measurable desired long range target:

  • Goal to measure
  • You can see how you get there
  • Stages to get there (clear milestones with evaluation)

—  Link research and training strategies.

—  Business management and researchers needed. To think about:

  • IP
  • SWOT
  • Partner Relationships
  • Policy Input Development

— Attraction of critical mass is important

— Steering Boards with teeth as a model. Like an executive director. Keeping the PIs on track.

— Soft money is very important.

I’ve not been able to track down a digital copy of the report yet, but as soon as I do, I will put a link here.

Wednesday 24th October 2012

Today promises to be another interesting day, with poster presentations, a Dragons Den competition, and what look to be some great sessions. I will probably write up my notes for today on the train home tomorrow evening, so do look out for those here sometime on Thursday.


Tomorrow I am going to be at the Creative Digifest #SxSC2 event at the University of Southampton.

Digital Economy USRG University of Southampton

The full schedule is available here:

I’m not sure yet exactly what I am going to be talking about… As its a fantastic event for meeting new people and finding out about cool projects, I’ll probably be talking about various projects that I’m involved in and perhaps seeing if anyone is interested in getting involved in the strategy for social media working group.

Be great to see you there. It’s going to be a fun day, with lots of different presenters and demonstrators from across (and outside of) the university.  Some of the Web Science PhD students are going to be presenting posters, which promises to be really interesting stuff.

More information can be found on the sotonDE (Digital Economies at University of Southampton) website:

Dyroy Seminar – Day 2

Today I am working with the Web Science DTC at the #dyroy seminar in Northern Norway.

We are working with International Baccalaureate students and some seminar delegates to investigate different themes that address youth futures and the future of the web and how those two things work together and possibly against one another.

I’m going to try to live blog as much as possible. We’re in three groups today, looking at:

1. Youth Participation – politics

2. Identity – space, place, time.

3. Economic Development

I am in group 2 today, looking at identity. We’ve begun with an exercise to introduce ourselves. We’ve all used three words to describe our own identities. We’ve all used completely different ways to talk about ourselves.  Everything from where we were born, to where we work, the relationships we have, etc.

Now we’re breaking into two groups to think about words that describe digital identity.

We discussed how in different social networks we project other ideas about our identity.  Do the platforms provide an opportunity for control or for freedom? Its all about self presentation. Is there a difference between the online and offline world? Is its really that online gives you an opportunity to wear a disguise? Could it be that online you are removed from your own identity – so you could maybe find that multiple people use one identity online? Online offers opportunity to talk across other groups, so you might follow the same social rules as everyone else in your school, whereas in the online world, these rules are removed.

One major difference is that its only online that there are companies that are trying to learn something about your identity to sell you things.  In the future could this mean that we have the power to charge for information about our identity? What value could our identity have? Currently this is not the case at all. People are unaware that their identities are being tracked. People on the web are very task focussed, and the rules that we have in the real world are not so strong, and so for instance Google is tracking us, and we don’t expect that.

What about the difference between the friendships we have? We have 400 friends on Facebook. Are these all real friends? They wouldn’t be offline!

There is a friction between the fact that it looks like you can control your identity, but on the other hand there are companies trying to collect information about your identity. And this isn’t the identity that you’re TRYING to project! Its your prescribed identity. Your personas.

Reporting back

The other part of the group talked about:

  • Online personas – we are performing to other people online, and we might not want those to cross over.
  • Anonymity – and pseudonyms. Potential for taking on identities online. This links into identity theft.
  • Group community identity – you take on the characteristics of the culture of that group.
  • Filtering – who is doing the filtering? Potential for positive assertion of identity. Your identity as a commercial product. It begins to have value.
  • The internet never forgets.

Discussion back together

How do we actually manage practically things like a photo being sent to someone else. Once they have it, and send it onwards again, who has the right to ask for this photo to be removed. Its all tied into the freedom of expression.

Who owns our identity? Who do the files belong to?

Should everyone have a human right to protect their identity? Do we have a right to privacy?

Profiling – putting lots of information together.

Where does the responsibility lie?

Physical self – the mobile web. Both positive and negative possibilities for instant reporting. We don’t just have to rely on the news and the media – citizens report news via their mobile phones, instantly capturing videos and tweeting information e.g. the London riots – providing real-world information, however when this is put on the Web there is still the potential for misinformation to be reported. Opinions rather than real facts.

In the example of the Russian election, the web was the thing that spread the information. So the control was in the real world and the freedom was online.

Group 2 Questions – Identity

  1. Computer scientists – Will it be very difficult to be anonymous online? Will we be more traceable? Can we actually be anonymous back. Will it become easier to find people?
  2. Computer scientists – When building software do people consider the ethical implications – what about privacy protection? Will we get better at this?
  3. Is everything that’s on the web there forever? Does the internet never forget? If we can’t find the information, what will this mean?
  4. Who controls information about identity online? Is it that its not about the control of information about identity any more, but about what happens with that information?
  5. How can we use the information online to tell us more about ourselves? Will our notions of trust change? Or will be expect more of people?
  6. Education: Its seems to be more about moral panic than useful education about how to use the internet.  How do we fix this? Is it about educating people. The problem is that we’re seeing the web as a tool and not as a way of life, where we need to find ways to think about how to be safe online, but also about what the reprocussions of expressing identity online.
  7. Is there any risk of the internet actually being locked down because we are so worried about these issues? Do you think that we might start to try to identify an Internet regulator? As we’re removed from borders and jurisdiction doesn’t exist online, this would be very difficult.

Group 1 Questions – Youth Participation

Reporting back about questions to the panel. The group doing youth participation online said:

  1. What is the signal to noise ratio in political campaigns? How can we know what is actually going on?
  2. Do web campaigns need an offline activity at all to be successful?
  3. Can the web help to make young people more powerful?
  4. Do we think that the web can help people to be involved with political issues if they leave their own country?

Group 3 Questions – Economic Development

Looking at ideas for how to implement local economic development.

How can we incentivise education? The group came up with a business model for a digital online game to learn Sami language.

  1. Using gamification to incentivise this.  What are the effects of making it fun?
  2. Free software behind this. – Freemium and the longtail idea. If the web is free, how can we make money?

— Big thanks to Lisa for helping with these notes!

Panel Discussion

  • Nick Gibbins
  • Su White
  • Ramine Tinati
  • Stéphane Bazan
  • David De Roure

Stéphane Bazan

Talking from Lebanon on the Arab Spring and online mobilization.

Is the web a liberation technology? Do the technologies changing the balance?

Are oppressive states becoming less able to control things?

Let’s go back to co-constitution to look at this.  The web as a machine is impacting on real world organisation.

The Syrian government used the same channels that protesters were using to share electronic content. Is the web a safe place? How can we make it a safer place is a question for Web Science to think about.  Who should bear responsibility for all of this?

The outcome of online protests, are not reflecting what we expected to happen. The web is the same for everybody, but each user has a different experience of this.

David De Roure

David speaking about the social machine. On the feast of co-constitution.  Early on it was quite hard to make a website, and the numbers of site was low, the amazing thing about this was that this got easier. Over time we had blog software, etc. What is going to happen in the future? How is it going to get easier again? Can we look at the examples of successful things that are happening and use them to help us to see where the web as a social machine is going?

Users and underneath them machines. Fundamental notion of a machine (a socio-technical machine) is a combination of that.

David gives a definition of the social machine as the purposeful creation of online communities on the web.

Su White

Can you imagine a future without computers? We are all doing learning; learning how to use technologies in new ways. To enhance technologies in new ways. To use computers to solve a particular problem. There is much more to the interaction between learning and technology than someone making a website to teach something.

Instead we harness technologies to make our own personal learning networks. There are interesting things happening there, to see how we are modifying how we are learning as the technology develops, as we are doing things in many other ways.

Nick Gibbins

Linked data outline. The history of the web is all about hypertexts, documents linked together. The meaning of the documents is returned in natural language. By people.  But most of the stuff we do is not actually textual data. Looking at the directions that some communities are going in. such as eScience or Open Public Sector Information, can we do for data the same things that we have already done for documents? Can we tie two objects together? Can we treat links as a type of data?

Its not just navigationable links that we are interested in, but the meaning of those things? Could my computer make decisions based on that information? Machines could understand some of the linked data. Machines could do some reasoning / inferring.

But how can we make this linked data compatible with the rest of the web? How can we tell that something is referring to the same things as something else?

Ramine Tinati

People are starting to publish data in terms of their own business, more and more government data is being published. There are applications such as the ASBOmeter, FixMyStreet, etc.

How will linked data be used by the people? In its current state there’s a gap between publishing the data and using the data.

More tools for non-experts are needed to deal with this. And there needs to be an ecosystem around publishing the data. This needs to be established and normalised with regular data.

Multistakeholder network of stakeholders is needed.

There needs to be a form of return on investment.

Thank-you to all!

Discussion that followed was really engaging; so engaging in fact that I didn’t keep notes! I hope that you followed along online.

I’d like to say a big thank-you to the IB students from Troms Fylkeskommune Romssa fylkkasuohkhan who joined us today and helped to form our discussions.  And of course to the fantastic panel, who despite Skype-related issues, stayed with us and presented some fascinating things for us all to think about.


Dyroy Seminar – Day 1 – Live Blogging

This week I am very happy to be visiting the Dyroy seminar, with the Web Science DTC.

The hashtag is you want to follow on twitter is #dyroy. Follow along, its going to be great fun!

I am going to have a bash at live blogging. I’ve never done this before, so its quite an exciting challenge. There are a few of us here, in northern Norway, blogging and tweeting, etc. trying to support the English speaking back channel for the event.

In case you’re wondering where we are today, this is our ‘Press Office’, thanks to Tim Davies for the pic!

Find Us Today and Tomorrow

Tim Davies has set up a CoverItLive event, and Huw Davies will be curating all of the content from today and tomorrow into a Storify channel. I’ll get those links into here as soon as I can.

So, here it goes. . .

We’re using an Etherpad to collect our notes today, here: and will be at CoverItLive also.

Introduction to the event by the Mayor, followed by the Regional Minister (loose tranlsation of Tale v/Kommunal- og regionalminister), Liv Signe Navarsete.

Liv Signe Navarsete

The emphasis of today’s event is local level understanding of the issues, and increasing engagement with the youth.

Its all about young people having an impact on their local society, through projects such as youth councils. Not all municipalities are achieving this, and so we need to keep looking at this.

We need to change legislation so that youth councils and people with disabilities can have more involvement in decision making.

This should not be icing on the cake, just having a youth municipal council is not enough, we need to ensure that the resources can help, and that the hearings actually feed back and have impact on the municipal council.

We must not be going hat in hand, these outlying communities are contributing valuable resources to Norway, this is where we are safeguarding the ‘Good Life’.

Disproving Myth #1

Liv shows a map of the poppulation of Norway, comparing it to the economics development of other European countries. Norway doesn’t fit into the European economic framework. 81% of the country is devoid of people, but we are using ALL of our ressrouces to build the country. To further waht we have. We’ve made the best of what we have here, human development as well as other places.


Disproving Myth #2

We’re all moving into the cities into apartments. This is not in fact what is happening here. We are moving both ways, from outlying areas into towns, and vice versa.  We move for family, jobs, all kinds of reasons. We are not all moving in the same direction. This movement is equal, in and out. The challenge is in fact that there are soon going to be many many more of us and so we need to plan now to maintain a good balance between the cities and towns and smaller regional places.

We need to plan now long term for the future, so that we are supporting young people being born and growing up in the regional outlying places.

We need to find out why people are moving. We must be proactive to find this out, to develop a policy for inhabitants.


Finishes talking about Building Reputation at a Local Level.

Marie Skavhaug

What opportunities do young people to influence and engage in the development of their own communities? – Marie Skavhaug, KDU

I live blogged the next presentation over at: CoverItLive Copied in below, in case you look at this later on:

Nicole Beale: Bjarne Dæhli, talking about – How can Norwegian district municipalities to facilitate young people contributes to the place they live developing in a positive direction?He produced a major report: New knowledge from NOU 2011:20 “Youth, power and participation ‘v / committee . The report was presented to the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion in December 2011. The committee was chaired by Trond Viggo Torgersen.
Nicole Beale: Thanks for the handover Tim!
Nicole Beale: Apologies, this is in fact Bjarne Daehli speaking.Bjarne has a background in the voluntary sector.
Nicole Beale: This is all about the study of power and its effects.#1 Young people must be heard in society. They can help with developments in society.So Q1 is who do you call to find out about this. The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion.
Nicole Beale: This was set up, and we had one year to produce a report looking at schools, youth councils, and how digital media help strengthen and support the influence of young people.
Nicole Beale: So there is no contraversy with the fact that young people should have a voice. The problem is what channels they can use to do this.Voluntary orgs are offered one channel to make an impact – such as leisure activities provisions. Then there are the youth councils. And then we have the schools. And finally, the elections and the right to vote in local regional parties.
Nicole Beale: Young people here are between 12 and 26. You never really finish being young though!
Nicole Beale: SO, what do we mean by power or influence in this context. Its about being able to have an influence on society, such as through purchases you make, decisions you make, etc. For us, it was the Possibility of Options. To seek influence. And how you failictate that in the best way possible.
Nicole Beale: So its about the rights that you have – that you are entitled to , and that are given to you.
Nicole Beale: Its the opportunites that you have available to you when you are given space in forums.
Nicole Beale: And its about the attitudes that you encounter when you meet people representative of municipalities.
Nicole Beale: There is a legal obligation, in many areas in this topic. The municipalities want power to make their own decisions, about how much influence youth councils should have. Should they be legislatively required or not?
Nicole Beale: The problem is that there are many different age groups, and so its very difficult to decide how this could work.
Nicole Beale: The issue is to create good routines and specific rules so that we can safeguard these things.
Nicole Beale: Youth councils tend to recruit amongst their own social strata. This is not necessarily what the organisations want, but this is often how it pans out.
Nicole Beale: In schools, this often is problematic, as young people should be being supported to be able to participate in politics and the such. But the problem is that schools are not very good at doing this in the practical sense, although they support the theoretical teaching around being a good citizen.
Nicole Beale: In municipalities, the problem is that the process is being organised wrongly, where the youth council is not being used proactively. The youth council is also not setting the terms.
Nicole Beale: If you don’t give the young people enough information about what is going on around them, how can they really make informed decisions as part of the youth council and therefore have an impact?
Nicole Beale: Young people will become involved if they are given an opportunity to have a voice and a meaningful one at that!
Nicole Beale: Municipalities need to contact young people. Its currently quite rare to involve youth councils in policies such as health or education. They tend to be quite good with culture, roads, etc.
Nicole Beale: So think about why you want a youth council, what they will be doing, how it will be formed, and other things that have been covered in this talk.Can we institutionalise these councils?Bjarne Daehli rounds up by saying that we must say that every municipality deserves a youth council, because it is a way to improve the municipality itself.
Nicole Beale: Presentation ends

In the coffee break, Olivier Philippe taught Bjorn-ove, one of the pupils we were working with yesterday at the school, to use Twitter. Now he is covering the event, tweeting as @platinabobby, so please say hello to him as he is new to the platform.

Anders Waage Nilsen

Oppspark debate with participants from several youth political organizations – Anders Waage Nilsen, Media Rena/Dreis AS

Anders is introducing the model that his community is using – Sirkle community pinboard on screen. Anders blogs here:  Anders is talking about his blog, he uses it to make a difference.  His writings are going to be published as a blog soon. It is written for young people.

Exponentiality characterises the epoch within which we are living.  We are faced with enormous challenges.

Here is the question to politicians – how do we give young people confidence to contribute. How do we give young people the feeling that they can actually make a difference? We are today in a process of multiplicity. 97% of the population do not think that they are politically active. Obama’s WeGo political process is a good example. We need to try to do something like this, opening up the process so that several different processes can be included.

How can we cultivate more original people? (like this – We need to think about this. I choose to believe that I must exploit the resources from the world around me as much as possible. Ideas for life:


Sandra K. Nygård Borch

Sandra K. Nygård Borch, leder av Senterungdommen

Talking about how she became interested in politics. Initially there was an issue involving a need for a multiuse space, so Sandra joined the municipal representatives.  Sandra was the deciding vote for the multiuse space that she became involved in a campaign for.  It is important to say that democracy in Norway needs to be maintained. We must work to maintain it. Young people are the ones who have the most to say. Democracy should not be an exclusive project. Young people’s involvement needs to be facilitated by established politicians. Young people will be the ones who live here in the future. Young people can be elected into the municipal goverment, and there they can learn to prioritise. They will have to take responsibility and dcide which things to prioritise. Its good practice for the future.

Viljar Hanssen

Viljar Hanssen, Svalbard/Tromsø AUF

Two proposals:

1. What is it that youth involvement is about? We think about big international issues, but involvement can also be a football team, better payments in the municipality, etc. Everybody needs a spokesman for them. What better than to have a youth council? Setting up a youth council is not the be all – You need finances, to facilitate it, often you have to join two municipalities if there are not enough people, sometimes you need to support it. Young people bring a new perspective into the local municipalities.

2. Young people don’t want to be a burden to the municipality. But they do need to be in the municipal government, and to have a say.

Kristian Eilertsen

Kristian Eilertsen, Harstad FpU

I want to ask some questions for us to think about. We need to think about what the things are that we need to have an influence on. Is it just about what we are going to have for dinner and whether we are going to do our homework, or is it about making changes to our learning environment and other such things? It is very tiring to be proactive. I want to be controversial and say that the democratic process doesn’t always work for youth councils in the schools that I have been to. So why do some people seem not to give a damn. My claim is that young people who have a burning interest, they can get something done. We have many different platforms where young people are active, we can put our opinion out there just by saying ‘Like’. Its easy to communicate many things.

I want people to have an impact, by ensuring that they find a party that works for what they want to work for.

We also need more people like us. Politicians, you need to let young people in. Don’t look at us as a threat to the established order. If we are not included, we will be apathetic. Seek power to influence, join a political party.

There then followed a panel discussion. See the CoverItLive for the discussion details:

Very busy lunch talking to delegates and presenters at the seminar. Its raining a little, but that has not stopped us from enjoying the fire-cooked coffee outside and the delicious lunch provided by our hosts.

Slight amendment to the timetable, now up:

May Camilla Munk Earth

About the place of belonging, identity and what causes us to be in a place – May Camilla Munk Earth , a researcher at University College Finnmark

May begins her presentation talking about the different dimensions for places,

1. materiality: locality, social practice

2. everyday lives

3. lay discourses – this is what people say they belong to, defining who they are through where they are. i.e. stories that are talked about, about a place. Gas, adventure, mineral exploitation, the High North, the land of possibilities. Its related to reputation, in partiucular to how people outside think about you, and whether you can identify with that place. Its a concious thing.

4. representations (Halfacree, 2004).

In 2008 there was a study that asked people who had lived in a place for more than 7 years why they had chosen TO  move there. Until then, most studies had focussed on asking people why they had moved FROM their previous location. Family was the highest reason for people staying where they were. Only a 1/5th of responses were related to work. Work is not the most important factor, despite what is believed.

We can move clusters of highly skilled people into localities. This will not be enough to make people stay there. Example of the Kontorhotell –

These are the things that people said they wanted:

  • Nature
  • Culture and leisure time
  • Welfare, business and service – But people can do alot of this online.
  • Residences – Not a massive issue as people feel that they can sell places, even if they’ve done a lot of work on them.
  • Family
  • Educational possibilities.

I missed these, but will ask the translator in a moment to tell us what the points from the research are:
They included:

  • Important and inclusive place identity or location identity
  • Multilocality associations
  • Compactness

People who move to a place often are made to feel that everyone else is just waiting for you to leave. We need to make them feel more comfortable.

People who move in will feel that they can settle somewhere if they feel that they can be mobile. Mobility will mean that people feel that they can belong from many different places.
We must think about gender differences. In Norway there are gender barriers. For instance, in Norway it is mostly women working in healthcare. It is difficult for instance for a man in Norway to take a job as a hairdresser. We could create a local culture better supporting the breaking down of these barriers.
I live blogged the next two presentations, see below:

Charlotte Holberg Svenison

William Fyson: And that’s Mai Camilla Munkejord finished!Next up is Charlotte Holberg Sveinsen!
Nicole Beale: Charlotte is giving us some background about her upbringing, where she identifies with, and how she maintained connections with her childhood traditions, and then later the traditions of her husband and his family. Charlotte moved from Oslo to the rural countryside. She lives 1km from the nearest residence.
Nicole Beale: I trained as an actress, but could not keep this up in the countryside! So I sought for something that I could do…
Nicole Beale: My interests are making food, interior design, and gardens. I wanted to do something that incorporated all of this, but also I wanted to do something in my local area. There was not much tourism where I am based, and I thought that there was a potential to share this wonderful place with more people.
Nicole Beale: All places have positive qualities. There is always potential to tell people about something…
Nicole Beale: I wanted to have guests, and to promote the idylicness of living in the countryside. I set up a cafe.
Nicole Beale: I wanted people to feel that they were going on a personal visit that was in the countryside.
Nicole Beale: It had to be like it was historically, where people were generous and hospitable.
Nicole Beale: And it would be a praise to the Good Life, living in the country. To honour my village.
Nicole Beale: To improve the reputation of the village. And ensure that it was not thought (wrongly) to be a population of older people who were unwelcoming.
Nicole Beale: There was always a clear goal. It wasn’t just going to be a place where people could just buy things, or have a coffee.
Nicole Beale: The idea of the ideal life in the countryside had to be within the whole delivery.
Nicole Beale: There was lots of work, I had children over two and a half years, whilst working through lots of paperwork. There were lots of positive people who supported me. But there were people who were less certain that this idea would work.
Nicole Beale: In 2008 the idea became a reality.
Nicole Beale: I estimated with Innovation Norway that I would sell 28 cups of coffee a week when I opened. This is not what happened. Instead people have been making pilgrimages there. 30% increase in 2012 from 2011. We are the most popular visiting attraction in our area.
Nicole Beale: Why is this? Because its something new?
Nicole Beale: But I have stuck with my idea, and worked at it from the ground up. I now have 22 people on my payroll, and a full time baker.
Nicole Beale: We use local products and people are very positive about what we do. And this is where my energy comes from. People appreciate what I am providing. And this means it is important for me to continue in this way.
Nicole Beale: It has to be a total experience.
Nicole Beale: I have been intense in my marketing – perhaps overdone it a little! But what I really believe is that there are possibilities everywhere.
Nicole Beale: On my trip here I saw so many opportunities. You have to make your hope a reality. Just jump into it, there is huge potential. Since 2008 I have felt like I am hanging onto a rocket. Since 2012 it has REALLY taken off. I have had a cookbook published.
Nicole Beale: As a city girl, gaining the recognition of the Cinderella Prize from the farmers means so much to me. I have been accepted because I keep going, and do anything I can to have a place. You’ve got to give, and if you do that you will receive it back.
Nicole Beale: Presentation ends.

 Ragnhild Dalheim Eriksen

Nicole Beale: Next up is Ragnhild Dalheim Eriksen, she is a student and former leader of the indigenous festival Riddu Riđđu.
Nicole Beale: Ragnhild begins…
Nicole Beale: So, I WAS the festival leader, but this is still part of my identity.
Nicole Beale: Ragnhild talks about how beautiful Dyroy is, and how she wants to move here when she arrives. There is something special about Dyroy. I was in a cafe preparing to go to Dyroy and my friends said to me: ooo, they’re good out there, they get things done there.
Nicole Beale: Often its the negative things that people think about. But its much cooler to come from a place like Dyroy.
Nicole Beale: The reason I always want to come and live here when I visit is the thing about IDENTITY.
Nicole Beale: There are changeable and unchangeable things about identity.
2:37 Nicole Beale: Ragnhild shows some images of her wearing traditional Sami dress.
2:38 Nicole Beale: I wanted to dress like everyone else. But then as I got older I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what kind of a place I lived in. Living in an intersection, not belonging to a city. This made me proud, and came out in me. So I wear this necklace to make me feel more Sami.
2:39 Nicole Beale: The festival that I was part of was started to make Sami people feel proud of their identity. And it was a meeting place for people to encounter their own identity with others.
2:39 Nicole Beale: It is in our encounter with others that our identity is formed.
2:40 Nicole Beale: It is important to have an identity. Its tied into security. Especially important when you are young.
2:41 Nicole Beale: Its easy with me, as I have a Sami background, but everyone has something to relate to.
2:41 Nicole Beale: There are disadvantages too, but we can come back to that.
2:42 Nicole Beale: I took Graphic Design training as a student. And I quickly realised that what I had that the other students didn’t have was my Sami identity.
2:42 Nicole Beale: So my friend and I decided to take advantage of this, and we started a T-shirt business…
2:42 Nicole Beale: Shows a photo of a t-shirt saying ‘Pretty Girl’ in Sami.
2:42 Nicole Beale: Its important to have an identity. Then people expect things of you.
2:43 Nicole Beale: i.e. You’re from the village, people expect you to leave the village, get a good education, then come back.
2:43 Nicole Beale: I realise that i am not going to move back, because as the years go by, there is more to my identity.
2:44 Nicole Beale: I can still maintain my identity without moving back to the village.
2:44 Nicole Beale: The necklace that was mentioned earlier:
2:44 Nicole Beale: You can also help to support things from afar.
2:45 Nicole Beale: When some people say negative things, prejudices about Sami people, etc. These things touch your own identity and you get really angry and want to do something about this and defend your identity.
2:46 Nicole Beale: My last three bits of advice about identity.
2:46 Nicole Beale: For adults and young people.
2:46 Nicole Beale: Its what in your heart that has to do with your identity. And remember you are more than about your identity. We’re all more than that.
2:47 Nicole Beale: Presentation ends.

Afternoon Discussion Panel

The panel discussion in the afternoon focussed on the importance of being young at heart as well as being young.

Youth research and youth researchers were also discussed.  The emphasis being on the fact that young people ask different questions than older people.

Final Question of the Day – What is smart to do more of?

Paul Dahlo – Take young people and allow them to ask teh good questions. Take them with you to buerocratic agency visits. BEFORE we have reached our decisions.

Lise Ostby – Young people should not just be the icing on the cake. Have venues where you can find out about places where this has been done well. You must speak their lingo. Talk in a way that they find interesting.

Christine Kristoffersen – We must create this. To have participation you must think through it beforehand. At the end of the process, what do we do to maintain the contact – to keep the fires stoked. To get involved socially can effect your career. What can we give them that will make what they do a part of their growing up experience?

Anna Nyman Holgerson – Let’s not just create youth councils for the sake of having them. Its a responsibility to follow up and connect that up, making it work so that something comes of the proposals they make.

Social Media for Researchers – Workshop Writeup


Workshop Description

Last week I ran a workshop ‘Social Media for Researchers’ for the CITE group at the University of Southampton, which was great fun, despite the limited time that we had to talk about the issues covered. CITE are doing loads of cool stuff at the moment to raise awareness generally across the university within which I’m based around the use of technologies and I was really happy to work with them.

The idea behind the workshop was to begin to develop a pool of resources for staff and students alike to find out about the use of social media as researchers.  Through identifying areas where support is needed, a project could be put together to locate and link to already existing resources, but to also collect personal experiences with various social media from within and outside of the university.

I put together some slides designed to get people thinking about the kinds of issues relating to the use of social media that researchers come up against in their practice.  There were some great conversations around the different papers that I mentioned, and the group had much to say about the various issues that we discussed.


The slides from the presentation are available here:

The powerpoint is round-up of work that I have come across in the past six months that has informed my own approach to using social media in my research practice (not for my research; that’s another blog post!).

I refer to work by Joseph Thornley, Sarah Louise Quinnell, vitae (NorthWest hub), vitae and British Museum’s Digital Researcher project, Tim Kastelle, the University of York’s Research Impact project, the University of Bath’s Connected Researcher projectLSE Impact of Social Sciences group, and many other organisations and individuals.

There is a recording of the entire 2 hour workshop available here:

I imagine you don’t have a spare 2 hours (who does?!); there is a breakdown of the presentation on the lefthand side of the Coursecast, so that you can skip to the bits that are most relevant to you, .

The stack that has links to the resources that I have mentioned is available here:

I’m going to continue tweeting any follow-up resources under the hashtag #sotonsocmed and will add these to the delicious stack as I tweet them. So follow these if you are interested in this topic.


I’d like to say a big thank-you to the 30 or so workshop attendees, without your input, it wouldn’t have been the event that it was.

What happens next

We will be scheduling a follow-up workshop later in the summer to go through the strategy stuff that we ran out of time to cover in this first event, and will run another introductory workshop at the beginning of the next semester, so let me know if you want to be added to the list.  Both of these workshops will be half-day events, so that we have more time for discussion and cake eating!

If you would like to be involved in the project I’ve loosely outlined above, then drop me an email; I’d love to hear from you.

Wikipedia for Higher Education

On the 28th May I spoke (only for two minutes!) about possible mechanisms for including Wikipedia a bit more in our research practice and teaching and learning practice at the University of Southampton.  The talk that I hijacked was given by Dr. Les Carr (who knows much more about Wikipedia than I do!), as part of the regular Digital Economy lunch seminer series that the team here organise.  Their website can be found here:

I only spoke for a few moments, but I did reel off a number of examples, so I thought it might be useful to put the notes together here so that any of you who would like to follow up on them can do so more easily.

Wikipedia is a fantastic opportunity to curate some of the huge amount of content that exists on the web that relates back to, or hails from, our HE institutions.

A way to curate the web!!!

There are masses of data out there that are either totally undiscoverable, or discoverable, but for which the link back to the originating institution is not obvious.  Whenever we speak about Wikipedia, we tend to do so in terms of updating pages about famous alumni, or the key ‘University of…’ page for our own university.  We don’t tend to think of the other related pages; loads and loads of other content that is just as relevant to our institution, but does not have a clear link back to us.

So I took a look yesterday morning at the options for managing that content a little better.  Wikipedia is crowdsourced, and universities are educational institutions, and so it seems to make sense that we should be setting up numerous opportunities for facilitating crowdsourcing within our universities.

There follow a few examples of how we could improve our relationship with Wikipedia.  I should point out that I’m not saying anything new here, just pulling together a load of stuff from elsewhere into a sort of short review.

If you’re interested in the use of Wikipedia for research, I am not going to go into this here, but Wikipedia does host a page linking to papers and articles about that topic: 30 or so doctoral theses and over 1000 papers:

Potential uses of Wikipedia for HE

Firstly, get an idea of what the current situation for your institution is.  Without needing to do something technical, there are a few online tools that you can easily use to get an overview.  Although I would recommend asking someone with the technical knowhow to use the Wikipedia API and scrape out the data so that you know that you have an accurate picture.

Decide why you want to use Wikipedia

One option is to find out how often your pages are getting visited.  e.g. How often the University of Southampton page on Wikipedia get’s viewed (average of 400 a day for May 2012):

To find out what the current situation is, searching (cluster) for institution mentions on Wikipedia will give an initial idea of the kinds of content that exists.  In the instance of the University of Southampton:

The usefulness of DBpedia cannot be underestimated.  There must be alot of potential to improve Wikipedia presence of an organisation by looking at the DBpedia graph and identifying gaps.  For example, the DBpedia graph for University_of_Southampton shows that we have lots of content relating to alumni, but not much relating to our faculties/academic units:

Wikipedia as an index for the Web

<slightlyannoyinglecture>What is Wikipedia good for? Its not just for broadcasting about our institution’s research or for claiming ownership for prrevious students, its about improving the content that the resource holds generally, and contributing to improving the resource discovery.  Many many people use Wikipedia as an index of the web, and so it seems crazy that we would not see this as an opportunity to help to pull together all of this disparate information into one place. </slightlyannoyinglecture>

Mechanisms for improving the University+Wikipedia relationship

One approach could be trying to get Wikipedia into the university:

Using Wikipedia for educational exercises:
An example of a project:

Then, there is the option of taking the university out into Wikipedia:

If you’re worried about conflict of interest, you could contribute an open educational resource to Wikiversity instead:

Using Wikipedia to improve university resources internally and externally:

Using Wikipedia (DBpedia) to improve our own website:

Using Wikipedia at an organisational level to improve Wikipedia:

Curator requests for the British Library Wikipedia pages. Universities could do the same with their pages; particularly those relating to research themes, research groups, disciplines, and individuals:

A university could create faculty/research group based pages similar to this, and then improve those at a departmental/research group level:

Take an event-based approach:

Using an event-based approach to improve Wikipedia content seems a successful way to add lots of content very quickly. Its a good way for university experts to contribute to Wikipedia generally (I’m always thinking from a Humanities/Social Sciences perspective, hence this example, but the options are endless). The World War I editathon coming up in the middle of June is organised by the UK Wikimedia Chapter. :

Or take Wikipedia onto your campus/into your library/etc.:

Around campus (I’m thinking: next to buildings with an interesting history, portraits of important donors hung in corridors, or reminding local people who walk through the area of past events and current research): Monmouthpedia; the firrst Wikipedia town. Uses QR tags. This project is doing many things: Improving Welsh Wikipedia; Increasing awareness of noteable places and people; Geotagging so that Wikipedia apps can be used by visitors.

Within the library/archive/canteen: The British Library uses QR tags to link to pages within Wikipedia.  Pages such as ‘Domesday Book’ are linked to from the real world.

Outreach activities. 

Its all outreach really, but here are some activities that seem to lend themselves particularly to be referred to as outreach:

Wikimedia is doing a great job of seeking out outreach opportunities.  Find a summary of Wikipedia’s work to improve expert outreach: A nice example of science outreach from the Wikipedia page:

“Driving public interest in peer-reviewed research.Darren Logan, a scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, worked with the Wikipedia community to write an overview article on Major Urinary Proteins and take it through the review processes to Featured Article. As a result of being “Today’s Featured Article” on 2 August 2010, the article received 37,000 hits in four days. Its many footnotes included links to papers published by Logan and colleagues in peer-reviewed journals. Some of these were in open access journals including PLoS One and Biomed Central. The open licences for these papers meant that figures could be copied into the Wikipedia article. It also meant that Wikipedia’s general audience could follow the links and read the original papers themselves.” (From:

We should be seeking out collaborations. An example of a cultural partnership – the ARKive project, by Wildfire charity and Wikimedia:

Education related projects – Some good ideas here (, including:

  • Wikilounges for students – giving advice on informed use of Wikipedia,
  • University of Bristol’s paid internship,
  • PARTICULARLY COOL –> Wikipedia for sharing good practice with colleagues (University of Exeter Economic Classroom Experiments),
  • Imperial College London’s student Wikipedia society:

Things you can do RIGHT NOW

Not sure where to start? Do these things first to get your Wikipedia adventure underway on your way:

  1. Join the Wikipedia education mailing list:
  2. Find a Wikipedia article that you can edit and have a go!
  3. Plan to write a Wikipedia article about your area of expertise.  This is an invaluable experience.  Before you begin, read this: A useful guide for experts to using Wikipedia – its an open access article, so there’s no excuse not to take a look!: