2011-10-06

Italian Wikipedians go on strike to protest national law, motivate change

Italian Wikipedians, Over the past 2 years, the Italian legislature has been steadily moving towards passing a law nicknamed "the blog-slayer", which would require publishers online and offline to broadcast a correction if someone they reported about demanded it -- regardless of the accuracy of the original information. They would have to publish the correction within 48 hours, in a similar place and as visibly as the original information was published.

Considering the fines for non-compliance, this would cause many people to stop blogging about anything possibly controversial. It would have even more drastic effects on collaborative sites such as Wikipedia.

After discussing how to protest this situation, Italian Wikipedians decided to "go on strike".  They updated the javascript of it.wikipedia.org two days ago to redirect all visitors to a letter explaining the problems with the pending law, and how this could destroy the Italian project. They kept this message up for 48 hours, the same timeframe that would be mandated by the law.  It was covered widely in the international press.

This protest drew over 270,000 likes on Facebook in those 2 days, one of the most rapid protests in modern Italian history.   And the legislature responded - with a number of amendments proposed (but not passed) within a day that would exempt blogs and shared websites from the law.

The intensive discussion about how to handle a critical situation, and the outpouring of support from across Italy and around the world, were a perfect example of viral wikilove. The Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Serbia, and a number of other community groups all published letters of support for the community action.

We will find out later today what the final outcome is, when the legislative session decides on what language it will pass. The community is currently planning to restore normal read access to the site around 1800 UTC.

2011-07-20

Portraits of WikiLovelies

Few things make me happier than making portraits of Wikimedians.
Wikipedia is what got me into photography. And Wikipedia meetups are what got me into portraits.
There are a lot of warm fuzzies in the world of Wikimedia when you see your work used and appreciated, but the one I like most comes when I see a portrait I made of another editor show up as their profile pic on a social network.
It's like, the person they are around other Wikimedians, that's them at their best, the version of them they want to share with the world.
I know that's the case for me. This photo by another editor, taken at the first New York Wiknic, is, well, it's just me.
For a lot of Wikimedians, deeply weird people that we are, meetups and wiki events are among those rare times when we feel at home, among our own people.
Over the last four years or so, I've met and photographed hundreds of Wikimedians. It never gets boring. Wikipedia meetups are among the densest gatherings of shining, beautiful souls.See a few of my favorites. And whenever you meet a Wikimedian, take a picture!

2011-07-05

Wikimedia India hits the international blog scene

Ayesha Saldanha of global news service Global Voices talked to Tinu Cherian recently about the future of Wikipedia and India.  It's a nice interview, getting in a plug for the new Wikisource DVD and reminding me to subscribe to Tinu's delightful Twitter feed.

Asked about where he would like to see the new Wikimedia India office (covered recently in WikiPatrika), Tinu was diplomatic:
As a true Bangalorean, personally, I would love to see the Wikimedia office in Bangalore. Bangalore has a vibrant Wiki community contributing to different language Wikipedias... Bangalore is also the seat of the Wikimedia India chapter. But for the growth of the pan-India Wikimedia movement, it is advisable to be Mumbai or Delhi. But it is entirely up to the Wikimedia Foundation to decide where they find it feasible and suitable. The foundation is now actively considering it in Delhi or the National Capital Region (NCR).
I hope to hear more from the growing community in India. They make their first-class work and organization look easy, and inspire me to do more in my own part of the world.

2011-07-04

Exploring Tourette's through Wikicompulsion

As noted in today's SignpostMichaelas10, a former Wikipedia admin with mild Tourette's, shared a private and remarkable aspect of his life as a Wikipedian a few years ago, and what it helped him discover about himself.

It is a lovely vignette, one I will remember for some time to come.

2011-06-23

From Medvedev, with love

Wikimedia Russia recently ran a campaign on the need to change Russian copyright law to include a "freedom of panorama" clause allowing anyone to take public photos of monuments and buildings (whose designs might otherwise be considered under copyright).  This received broad support, including a word from President Dmitri Medvedev (Дмитрий Медведев).

This morning, Russian news agency RIA Novosti celebrated its 70th anniversary by launching an "Eternal Values" project in partnership with Wikimdia Russia, through which it will publish the most valued images from its digital archive on Wikimdia Commons.  (ceremony video, Commons announcement)

At the launch of the project, the first 100 images were uploaded to Commons. Roughly 800 of the most popular or requested images will be uploaded by the end of the year.

President Medvedev attended the ceremony and personally uploaded image #100 - an image of recruits heading to the front lines in 1941.  Talk about nation-changing wikilove!


Requests for specific images from the RIAN archive can be left on the project page on Russian Wikipedia.  Support for the project, in any language, can be left on its Commons talk page.

2011-06-20

A CD of books from Malayalam Wikisource: hot off the press

Congratulations to the Malayalam Wikisourcerors, who last week released the 2011 Malayalam Wikisource CD with a selection of books from Malayalam Wikisource and art from Wikimedia Commons.  This CD, a sequel to last year's release of Malayalam Wikipedia on CD, is by far the biggest collection of free Malayalam texts available offline - and beautifully illustrated by Rajesh Odayanchal.
2011 ML-Wikisource CD sticker
By Rajeshodayanchal via Commons

Now, a week after its release, the download page has received over 40,000 hits.  As mentioned in the release announcement, this project is particularly important because a majority of households in Kerala do not yet have a reliable connection to the Internet, and so need access to digital works offline.

The CD release was announced on June 11, at the 4th annual Malayalam Wikimedia Meetup in Kannur, Kerala.  The community gave the first CD to their youngest contributor (7-yr-old Sai Shanmugham), and recognized others who contributed to this collection and to ml:wikisource over the past five years (including Atma, Su, Thachan Makan and Manojk), and the many other participating Wikimedians who helped illustrate and produce the CDs.
Hisham hands Sai a CD, as Bishakha looks on.
Image by Fotokannan, via ShijuAlex


The CD creation Process

Shiju Alex wrote about the overall process and release, and Santosh Thottingal shared a detailed description of the technical steps needed to produce the CD.  The selection was chosen and produced in just over three weeks!  Books were selected via a wikiproject starting on May 20, and released three weeks later.

The collection includes:
  • Selected poems by Kumaranasan, Cherusseri, Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, Kalakkaththu Kunchan Nambiar, Irayimman Thampi, and Ramapurathu Warrier
  • A Malayalam Grammar, Kerala Paniniyam
  • Folklore and Novels, such as Aithihyamala and Indulekha 
  • Native art, such as Parichamuttukali pattukal dances
  • Religious texts, including the Bhagavad Gita, Adhyatma Ramayanam Kilippaatu, Harinama Keerthanam, Geetha Govindam, the Bible (Sathya Veda Pusthakam), the Quran, the works of Sri Narayana Guru
  • Devotional songs for Christian, Hindu and Islamic worship
  • Philosophical texts, including Marx and Engels
  • Collections of images of food, plants, birds, maps and celebrations from Kerala
The CD can be downloaded as an .iso image, or browsed online (currently down due to high traffic).

2011-06-17

Please donate to to the Harris-McLaughlan fund

Why you should donate, like, one dollar to Wikimedia: To elevate people around the world.  Because Brandon Harris is looking at you.  And because the panza cervecera and Sarah McLaughlan* says so:

* Sarah McLachlan's funnier & guiltier alt

2011-06-16

Wikistream : node.js, live recentchanges, Ed and Ward

Ed Summers, Library of Congress hacker extraordinaire, DPLA contributor, and r2d2 fan, recently took the IRC-channel stream of recentchanges from major language-versions of Wikipedia and made a web version of it.  The following exchange on the wiki-research-l list deserves preservation:


I've created a little toy webapp that displays updates from the major language wikipedias in real time:
   http://wikistream.inkdroid.org   -- Ed

I've written this app several times using technology from text-to-speech to quartz-composer. I have to tip my hat to Ed for doing a better job than I ever did and doing it in a way that he makes look effortless. Kudos to Ed for sharing both the page and the software that produces it. You made my morning. -- Ward

Wow, thanks Ward. You made my professional career :-)

Major props to node.js, redis and socket.io.  I really just put the lego pieces together. It feels like the tools are getting better and better some days.   -- Ed

2011-06-05

New mobile skin added

A mobile skin for this blog is now used by default for mobile browsers.  Now you can get a regular dose of wikilove on your pocket pc, handy, video-twiddler or other mobile device.

2011-06-02

How do you print "WikiLove" in Italian?

<< Wikipedia books are like star constellations in a universe of knowledge. >>  – pediapress

A few years ago, when the Extension:Collection was first launched, I was quite critical about it. The one with PediaPress was among the very first partnerships signed by WMF, and I recall writing worried blogposts about this trend.  Since then, my views have changed.

Recently, we have all read about Amazon.com selling more e-books than print books, so it might seem ill-timed... but this year I decided to give the "Wikipedia Books" feature the attention it really deserves on my home wiki, it.wp.  In 2011, Wikipedia turned 10 - I think it also went "physical" : more than ever before people around the world gathered for parties, talks, meetups and so on, allowing our online projects to enter newspapers, classrooms, cultural institutions, in many cases for the very first time.

In a moment of optimism, I asked PediaPress, as the official WMF partner for printing contents from our projects, if they were interested in a reprise of the coupon giveaway they launched last year on en.wp.  I could not believe my eyes when I read their enthusiastic reply, some weeks ago!

...So now we have a Wikipedia Books project scheduled for this June.   This will enable us to showcase our best contents, both featured articles and the "quality articles" which it.wiki has recently adopted... to get a free copy of our favourite collection of articles... and above all, to get together to do something useful and funny for Wikilove's sake.


guest post by: elitre

2011-05-30

Featured photo of hyperrealistic painting of photo... self-nom with virus?

The most fascinating candidate for the Wikimedia Commons Picture Of The Year, if not the best image, is this photograph of a painting of a photograph of sliced honeydew melon on crystal and silver:

Fruttiera di cristallo con meloni (1999), by Mauro David
David died in January 2007.[0]  In February, someone claiming the rights to the work created a Commons account named Mauro David and uploaded the image there, tweaking its description in Italian.  45 minutes later – perhaps time spent browsing Commons and learning how it works – the uploader tried twice to nominated it as a featured picture, but did not understand how to create the nominating page and was reverted.[1]

It is a high-resolution version of one of the thumbnails in the the Mauro David catalog.  Last March Xhienne finally nominated it properly, and it was soon featured and used as an illustration of hyperreaslism.

I am a great fan of hyperrealism, and admire David's work.  I find it tremendously uplifting that we have a high-quality image of his donated to Commons.  To his estate: thank you.  To Commons: may you attract many more gems of contemporary art.


[0] For an English summary, see the Humanities Reference Desk discussion about this story from en:wp.

[1] Reverted twice by two different editors for being listed improperly; neither had time to leave the uploader a personal message.

2011-05-29

Wikimedia Picture of the Year


While the current Wikimedia Board elections may be dry and esoteric for some, the Commons Picture of the Year contest is anything but.  36 extraordinary images - selected through the first round of voting - are finalists in this contest to determine the best of 2010.  


You can only vote once in this round -- and how hard that is!  Even though you are warned about this in an enormous font twice before getting to the voting page, my eyes were drawn only to the images and I voted for many images before catching myself.  The portal pages are laid out beautifully - works of art themselves. And while there are some glorious photos taken by government groups and for other purposes, some of the best photos of all were taken exclusively for Commons.

Even if you cannot vote in this round (200 global edits/uploads required :-/ ) you're sure to find something to write home about, or at least a glorious bit of desktop wallpaper[0], in this lineup. 


[0] computer jargon comes up with the silliest mixed metaphors, no?

2011-05-28

Archivist love: NARA Wikipedian in Residence + Ansel Adams

Here's a little story about photography, Archives, and love.

In 1941, Ansel Adams was commissioned by the U.S. National Park Service to take photographs of national parks, for a mural that was never made.  220 gorgeous images were preserved in the U.S. National Archives (NARA), where they remained for 70 years.[0] Low-resolution versions were published on the Library of Congress site and later on Flickr.

At the end of 2009, David Ferriero, then
Director of the New York Public Library, was appointed Archivist of the United States and head of NARA.[1]  When he learned of Liam Wyatt's work as Wikipedian in Residence at the British Museum, he had his staff ask about recruiting a Wikipedian of their own.  They felt a WiR could exemplify their values of "transparency, participation, and collaboration."

By the Ides of March, a call for applicants went out.  They selected Dominic McDevitt-Parks, Campus Ambassador, member of the Boston Wikipedia Enclave, and all-around lexicobibliotechnohistoriographile.  He arrived at NARA to start the summer residency this week, in time for a talk by Liam on the possibilities for collaboration with Wikipedia (and pointers from the Archivist on how to win a staring contest).


One NARA WikiProject later, Dominic noticed a batch upload request for the 1941 Adams photos.[2]  He replied, offering the full set of photos in high resolution, and requesting help migrating them to Commons.  
 
That was yesterday evening.  Today, he posted 220 high-resolution images to Flickr by hand, Kaldari transferred them + metadata to Commons, and Aude and high-res maven Peter Weis made attribution templates and pages recognizing NARA's image donation.  At least one project page was set up for Wikipedians to include the new photos in articles on their subjects.  True cross-project wikilove, in under a week.  And the summer has just begun...

Ansel Adams photographs from Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Carlsbad Cavern, Glacier and Zion National Parks; and Death Valley, Saguero, and Canyon de Chelly National Monuments.


Notes:
[0] NARA provides images depicting American and global history which are public domain or freely licensed. It is responsible for "safeguarding and making available for study all the permanently valuable records of the Federal Government."

[1] The NYPL is both one of the largest U.S. public libraries, and one of the most important research libraries in the world. Under Ferriero, it greatly expanded its digital department, and committed to supporting online access, reuse, and metadata standards with a passion to make any free knowledge zealot proud.   Among other things, they launched the prize-winning NYPL Digital Gallery of almost 1 million images, replaced their unique Billings classification system, and merged the catalogs of the research and public sides of the library. 

[2] A request from February.  The Commons Clock runs at its own pace.  For anyone interested in learning how to run an upload bot, there are over 40 unresolved batch upload requests.

2011-05-27

SEO Dragons, Wikimeetups, and the Big Apple

There is so much love in this newbie's report about a NYC Wikimeetup, it made me smile.  It's from a social sphere that gets little love in return on the projects - a newly minted online marketer and SEO analyst, musing among other things on how businesses can best contribute to Wikipedia.

But I hear the same questions from all of our potential partners -- from libraries and public-domain archives to universities and teachers who already give their work away online for free.  And this author seems to get the spirit and ethos of Wikimedia (not just Wikipedia!) better than many educators I have met.

So: three cheers for the Dragonum Jilliacoptica.   I can't wait to hear what you make of your first wiki academy.


2011-05-12

2011-05-10

10th Anniversary of 9 new Wikipedia domains

Tomorrow (May 11) is another anniversary date: it's been 10 years
since the first large group of non-English Wikipedias came online.
Originally with spelled-out names rather than language codes, these
sites were:

chinese.wikipedia.com
esperanto.wikipedia.com
french.wikipedia.com
hebrew.wikipedia.com
italian.wikipedia.com
japanese.wikipedia.com
portuguese.wikipedia.com
spanish.wikipedia.com
russian.wikipedia.com

(from http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2001-May/000116.html)
(deutsche and catalan had been created earlier that year)

The idea of having Wikipedias in multiple languages came from Jimbo in
March 2001 (http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2001-March/000048.html);
note that the original German Wikipedia was actually set up at that
time, making it the second-oldest Wikipedia. Though the idea of using
two-letter domain codes was first raised then, after the above sites
were brought online in May there was further discussion, and the sites
were switched to two-letter codes a few days later:
http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikipedia-l/2001-May/000132.html.

Wikipedia Argentina also celebrated the es:wp10th anniversary today.  
Happy tenth birthday, Wikipedias! (and many more!)  May all of our
language editions flourish.

2011-05-07

In which I discover new love for John Brown

I love discovering new authors through Wikisource.  Adam Szostkiewicz, a Polish journalist and blogger, reflected recently on union vs. confederation, and conflicted American narratives about the US Civil War:
Tak jak w Polsce nie ma zgody na jedną wspólną "narrację" o dramacie własnej historii, za to są rewizjoniści, uwznioślający temat z jednoczesnym pomniejszaniem centralnej kwestii, w przypadku wojny  secesyjnej jest nią oczywiście niewolnictwo...

Wklejam tu wiersz polskiego poety związany z tą wojną a napisany przez Norwida tysiące mil od Nowego Świata. http://pl.wikisource.org/wiki/Do_obywatela_Johna_Brown
Był politycznym wygnańcem i był za wolnością. Ja też, gdybym miał wybierać w Ameryce rozdartej między konfederatów i unionistów , wybrałbym unię.

As in Poland, there is no consensus on a common "narrative" about the drama of its own history. The revisionists elevate their history while diminishing the central issue, which in the case of the Civil War is of course slavery...

Here are the lines associated with the war by the Polish poet Norwid, written thousands of miles from the New World. http://pl.wikisource.org/wiki/Do_obywatela_Johna_Brown.
("To Citizen John Brown")  He was a political outcast, and was for freedom. I, too, if I had to choose in America, torn between the Confederates and Unionists, I would choose a Union.

If you can translate the poem into English or German, please post it here or to Wikisource - I should like to understand it better.

2011-04-03

WikiLove: the small projects edition

[[user:Krinkle]], a Dutch hacker and small wiki monitor, has started a 2011 "Tour de Wiki" for developers to go through our smallest wikis and make sure everything is functioning properly post 1.17 deployment. As he says on Wikitech, the small projects that don't have a big in-house technical community often have a hard time of it...
More often than not, the smaller the wiki – the worse the local site wide resources are.

Blindly copied mess from one wiki to another, in some cases (the better ones) messed with until they work.
But we want our small projects to thrive! So if you are someone who understands things like  "if a css class for .wikitable is defined, go to an article with a wikitable and inspect it in Web Inspector or FireBug and see if the core rules match the wiki's," then I encourage you to join the Tour de Wiki. And kudos to Krinkle for starting it.

2011-04-02

WikiLove: the gadget

WikiLove screenshot 2

On their day off, two wiki hackers recently made a neat little gadget for sharing the love: the WikiLove gadget. It lets you give out barnstars, kittens, brownies, cookies and more, with just a few clicks. No edit window, no messy wikicode.

The best feature is one that doesn't jump out as important at first: the option to automatically send an email to the recipient, letting them know about the WikiLove you've shared with them. Barnstars, in particular, are powerful symbols of appreciation in the Wikipedia community, and at first glance you might think that making it easier to give them out would cheapen them. But what I've found in using it over the last few weeks is just the opposite: the gift of a barnstar becomes more personal and powerful, because the automated email--more often than not--becomes the beginning of a conversation, the kind of thing that usually wouldn't happen in the public space of a talk page.

So go, spread the WikiLove!

2011-03-30

South African Wikilove

We approved the 31st Wikimedia chapter and first (!) African chapter this past weekend: Wikimedia South Africa. Huzzah! They have an amazing list of potential activities, ideas and reasons for being on their meta page.

Students translating Wikipedia at Software Freedom Day 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa. By Slashme (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2011-03-27

WikiWeek è lanciato

Elitre recently started publishing WikiWeek, a regular summary of news across Wikimedia.  Here is number 4, out last week.   (Bonus points for starting at n.0 and sharing the love!)




  • Fradeve affronta in un post la questione Wiki Loves Monuments, un'iniziativa wikimediana cui gli italiani non potranno partecipare perché praticamente tutto quello che si trova alle nostre latitudini è coperto da qualche tutela e quindi irriproducibile liberamente in foto. fradeve.org
  • Una serie di figate scoperte questa settimana: si comincia dalla funzione di Commons che visualizza i nostri upload come gallerie utente personali. gpaumier
  • WP offline, è ora possibile scaricare le voci o le raccolte in formato ZIM, e la selezione in inglese Wikipedia 0.8. Notare la prontezza di reazione di WMF. WMF blog
  • Per tutti gli incompresi che hanno la ricetta per migliorare Wikipedia, qualcuno vuole ascoltarvi. briswiki
  • Ci saranno una ventina di posizioni aperte presso WMF mentre sto scrivendo questo post. wmf
  • Non sono mai stata abbastanza femminista da potermi interessare ai dibattiti di genere, e finora il risultato più evidente di quello sul mondo wikimediano sembra essere stato l'aver esacerbato le discussion (update di Sue: wikisignpost), e l'interesse dei media verso un paio  di wikidonne magari non è nemmeno correlato (via Twitter, su pcworld  e themarysue).
  • I video dell'assemblea di WMI sono al momento disponibili sul canale della Redazione Turismo Emilia Romagna. livestream
  • Update: le slide sono su SlideShare.
  • Durante il pomeriggio è stata annunciata la creazione dell'account Twitter @wikiquoteit, gestito da Gac, che propone quotidianamente la citazione del giorno presa da Wikiquote in italiano; si ipotizza di fare lo stesso in futuro in altre lingue. E' già attivo, per seguirlo http://twitter.com/wikiquoteit .
  • SJ, board WMF, ha creato il blog Wikilove. Obiettivo: "to chronicle the joyful aspects of Wiki nature". Ad esempio, il post odierno racconta di quanto siano stati bravi i tedeschi a pubblicare i loro wikireader quando ancora PediaPress non c'era. wikisignpost 
  • Magnus, citato nel blog di cui sopra, ha creato un widget per siti/blog per mostrare in un riquadro link, prima riga e immagine da una voce di Wikipedia a ns scelta. Ok, la mia descrizione fa schifo, però valutate anche che c'è voluto il 2011 prima di concepire un tool così... wikisignpost 
  • Vocabolario gratis. E' disponibile in più formati, compreso il PDF, il già citato Vocabolario della lingua italiana Zingarelli 1922 (credo grazie ad un progetto WMI, ma non lo sapremo mai). archive.org 
  •  Quelli che Wikipedia non l'hanno mai potuta soffrire, anche se ancora non possono cancellarla dalla faccia della terra, possono almeno dire a Google di non mostrare mai più risultati dal sito dopo una ricerca. wikisignpost 
  • Anche chi non conosce il caso National Portrait Gallery vs Wikipedia per violazione di copyright può sorridere all'idea che i primi abbiano fatto altrettando plagiando un po' di voci. wikisignpost  
  • Stefan Kühn ha appena lanciato un progetto sul Toolserver che permette di visualizzare Wikipedia un po' più come fosse un "dizionario" visualizzando solo l'incipit di ogni voce, anche se forse nello screenshot sarà qualcos'altro a colpirvi. Imperdibile anche l'indice  che vi farà riflettere sull'utilità di certi redirect. wikisignpost  
  • Report di febbraio da WMF. meta 
  • Il Signpost del 14/03 
  • Cosa ho dimenticato...?

2011-03-22

A Wiki History of World Events in 100 seconds

In January, Gareth Lloyd and Tom Martin produced the Best Visualization at Matt Patterson's History Hackday by visualizing the History of the World using 14,000 events from the English Wikipedia.  These were all events that their parser could match to both a date and a geocoordinate.  The result is this gorgeous (CC-SA) animation, in which continents slowly emerge over time : 




A History of the World in 100 Seconds
from Gareth Lloyd on Vimeo.


Guillermo Carvajal
summarizes the results:
Podemos ver como la mayoría de documentos entre ese año y 1492 corresponde a Europa, con algunos pocos emergiendo en Asia. Hacia 1492, con la llegada de Colón a América, comienza a aparecer gran actividad en el continente americano.

2011-03-21

La WikiGuida di Wikimedia Commons

Last year, Wikimedia Italia developed a delightful video tutorial for using Commons.
Se conosci Wikipedia, magari ti sei chiesto dove staranno tutte quelle foto e animazioni che illustrano le voci... La risposta è Wikimedia Commons, un unico archivio multilingue di file multimediali che fornisce immagini a tutte le Wikipedie del mondo e non solo!  Speriamo che questa "WikiGuida" sia apprezzata [e] migliori la percezione e l'uso di Commons...

If you are familiar with Wikipedia, you may have wondered where all the pictures and animations are found... the answer is Wikimedia Commons, a unique multilingual repository of media providing images to all the Wikipedias of the world and more! We hope that this"WikiGuide" is appreciated and helps improve the use of Commons...
The same team has made a Wikipedia guide, and is planning UPDATE: has now published one for Wikisource.  Below is a repost of a review from Brianna Laugher's All the Modern Things, dating from it's original release. 

Lest anyone miss this, I thought I must post it – it’s a video explaining and showing Wikimedia Commons (Italian with English subtitles):



 
 

This is so well done! Ben fatto, Wikimedia Italia! I can’t imagine how long it must have taken to plan the text and choose the images. The text is nicely concise, doesn’t belabour any points, and is quite comprehensive – from OTRS to Meet our photographers … I thought it was quite funny at first, seeing the narrator in the menu on the left, but it is a nice way to see him and also see lots of colourful images. :)

Elegant visual snapshots of expanses of knowledge

The ideal of beautiful print editions of article collections has inspired generations of Wikipedians, like centuries of encyclopedists before them.

German Wikipedia enthusiasts first took single topics and made WikiReaders out of them, finding a national publishing house willing to bind and distribute the results under the "WikiPress" label. They even considered printing a keywords and short descriptions for the entire encyclopedia, though that did not come to fruition.

Then in 2008, Håkon Lie (the original proposer of CSS, and a font and layout geek) spent time making his Prince XML tool generate beautiful PDFs out of Wikipedia pages. He has also dreamed of printing summaries of all Wikipedia articles in the style and layout of a traditional encyclopedia, and has joined our offline-wp mailing list.

PrinceXML's layout of the Norway article

And today Stefan Kuhn shared his latest script, called simply "The Book", which generates a multi-column view of a set of articles, with thumbnails and a bit of text. Like the short well-attributed summaries produced by Magnus's tool that I reviewed earlier, these efforts all try to convey the beauty and detail of a large work in a simple package.

The Book: KinoschKirk Hammett from the Luxembourgish Wikipedia

What are your favorite print layouts for dense knowledge? What variations on the "Wikipedia 1.0" and printed Wikipedia theme would you like to see come to pass?

2011-03-20

Creating beautiful references to Wikipedia articles

Magnus just finished a draft of a widget that generates beautiful references to Wikipedia articles. These can include a thumbnail of one of its images, a canonical link to it, and a line of text from the lede -- all with appropriate attribution.

Schwarzwald on Wikipedia
Der Schwarzwald ist Deutschlands größtes zusammenhängendes Mittelgebirge und liegt im Südwesten Baden-Württembergs.

Wikipedia article CC-BY-SA-3.0. Image has an unknown license.

WikiLáska je termín, který vznikl časem v e-mailových konferencích a který označuje ducha kolegiality a vzájemného porozumění.
Wikipedia article CC-BY-SA-3.0. Image has an unknown license.

purim on Wikipedia
Purim (Hebrew: Pûrîm "lots", from the word pur, related to Akkadian pūru) is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from destruction in the wake of a plot by Haman, a story recorded in the Biblical Book of Esther (Megillat Esther).
Wikipedia article CC-BY-SA-3.0. Image license is PD Old.

We need more tools like this -- to help reusers summarize, attribute, and embed text, images and other media outside of the Projects on- and off-line. A recent Commons discussion asked for ways to make proper attribution easier, honoring the original creators of a work rather than the Commons uploader. This relates to another great tool released this year -- the OpenAttribute widget for generating one-click attributions.

2011-03-19

(Why I love) Wikipedians

Here's the thing that I love about Wikipedians. No matter where we live, or our backgrounds, we share a few things in common.

Being smart:
Being smart, and being willing to learn new things, is respected. Whether you're an isolated nerdy kid or a public intellectual, it's hard to underestimate the power of a group people being willing and eager to seriously talk about -- not just ideas, but new things they've learned. I have never met another group of people anywhere (though librarians have this tendency too, which makes us kindred souls) who can get so excited about talking about what they were reading lately, or what they've learned, or some cool new thing that was discovered. Personal failings are trumped by having something good to bring to the discussion.

It's pretty fun.

Recognizing kindred souls in any circumstance:
I have been to hundreds of Wikipedia meetups over the years, on four continents. Here's what often happens:
  • the participants meet each other, order beers or coffee or whatever, and then sit around somewhat awkwardly. Perhaps there are introductions. Everyone wonders why they didn't just stay home.
  • Some common ground is found. "You worked on that wikiproject, too?"
  • After the ice is broken, after an hour or two, you couldn't shut people up if you tried. Laptops have been broken out, to the bemusement of the other patrons of the cafe/bar/whatever. Someone has shown off some ridiculous page or discussion to much amusement. There has been (at least one) argument about an unfair banning/AfD/etc.
  • Assuming the meetup goes on long enough, the probability of the discussion turning to copyright is pretty much 100%.

Everyone's a Wikipedian:
"Wikipedia syndrome" is what I call that sort of obsessiveness and un-ironical pedantic seriousness (about whatever) that many conflate with being nerdy. But here's the thing -- everyone's a Wikipedian. Some just express it more strongly than others :)

Think about it: you've encountered that kind of happy obsession before. Your uncle who collects stamps, your aunt who is a serious crafter, your second cousin who does community volunteer work, your other cousin who plays video games or listens to music -- whatever it is, everyone has something they're passionate about, and could certainly bring to the project with the right incentive. And that passion translates to long-term interest, to hanging out with others of like mind, to making things.

Making things:
And this is meaningful: Wikipedians want to make things. They want to make an encyclopedia, a perfect article, a beautiful photo, even just a good process for doing these things. Making something great is our highest value, the end goal. Some people are interested in meta-making: a better world, a strong Foundation, a great meet-up. But all that energy harnessed in the service of getting something done? That's pretty powerful. Which leads me to...

It's never finished (but you can help):
There is a great collective sense that things aren't done, there's still more to do, and the energy that brings. Of course there's more to do -- have you looked at this crappy article, this broken process?! Let me get out my laptop....And yes, of course you can do this too. What are you interested in?

Azulejos: Sharing artistic beauty

Tudor Mihăescu writes (on his Romanian blog) about the joy of discovering and sharing the beauty of azulejo, an art form that Portugal has produced for over five centuries. Beauty often inspires a longing to share it.
Le-am văzut în Portugalia pe clădiri, palate şi biserici. M-au surprins prin răcoroasele nuanţe de albastru, mi-au plăcut în mod special. Când m-am întors în România, cu ocazia unui concurs de scriere pe Wikipedia, am redactat un articol pe acest subiect. Ulterior, în cadrul acestui concurs, am obţinut locul întâi la secţiunea Arte...

I saw them in Portugal on buildings, palaces and churches. I was surprised by their variegated shades of blue, which I particularly liked. On returning to Romania, I wrote an article about this for a Wikipedia writing contest, which won first place in the Arts category. Remembering these azulejos, I recently searched through Google to see them again. Many reproduce scenes of heroism in the history of the old Portuguese empire. Beyond the historical stories documented on them, these painted tiles are known for their astonishing artistic value.

Wikipedia: Making the Internet not suck since 2001

For a decade, Wikipedia and its sister projects has brought joyful order to knowledge out of what was once a constellation of fansites, narrowly-focused (and soon abandoned) project sites, opposing cliques of academic and religious doctrine, gossip, and online 'zines.   Other large-scale efforts at knowledge organization existed before and continue today, but Wikipedia truly managed to help the Internet not suck -- making it comprehensively useful at least in the narrow realm of reference knowledge.

Since then, as a global society we've found other ways to share in the glories of interlinked distributed effort, from Flickr and YouTube to Facebook.  But no effort has been as intentionally permanent, universal, and collaborative as Wikipedia, where the number of pages of policy, process, and standards rival the number of major topics and categories.

However we face a great hurdle in the growth of this knowledge-focused community of editors, reviewers, philosophers, reusers, and other readers -- participating in Wikimedia projects is becoming thorny, complex, sometimes frustrating.  The original meaning of "quick" editing and the early freedom to experiment is fading.  And it is not being replaced with smooth next-generation tools, visualizations, or other interfaces that make standard atoms of paticipation easy.

Messaging, editing, uploading, commenting, and tagging are all becoming harder (with extra process and guidelines), not easier, with time.  It's becoming easier to make a change that is deleted, or met with critical comment.  And the community's self-image, which once revolved around ways to promote participation and consensus and wikilove, to hold barnraisings across Projects, and to encourage communication in many languages, is being fragmented.  

At the same time, many things are getting easier -- there is a tremendous body of scripts and expertise in bulk uploading of images, collaboration with existing archives, posting a set of scans of a primary source into a neatly ordered set of numbered pages, checking and correcting typos, combating standard spam and vandalism, and maintaining interlanguage links between related articles; to mention just a few.

This blog aims to chronicle the joyful aspects of Wiki nature, identifying the most excellent memes from knowledge-focused wikis (from Wikispecies and Wikisource to Wookiepedia and WikiHow).  Along the way we will touch on facets of these projects that should be improved to make them awesome... building on what we've learned from the last generation of web design.

Your input is welcome -- I am looking for writers who are fired up about things that they love.

2011-03-09

Wiki Loves Everything

Starting with "Wikipedia Loves Art", the meme of WikiLove has been associated with art in public places, and with a certain type of photo-contest/scavenger-hunt, for years. The "Wiki Loves Monuments" hunts (started in 2010) are somewhere between a contest and a travel plan.  In both cases, participants try to capture photographs of monuments or works of public art, and upload them to Commons.

The spirit of "Wiki Loves FOO" as a way of saying to the world, "Wikimedia would love to have images of your FOO and share it with the world", is a fabulous message that we need more of.  While we've largely done it for fun within our own community, we should also consider making this a more explicit love letter to the culture and artists that created this art in its original medium, usually intending it to be shared with the public for generations to come.

2011-02-01

Planet Wikimedia: in 11 delicious languages

Here are 11 Wikimedia planets, most of them in a single language.  A link to the planet is followed by an estimate of activity - the average # of posts per month.  The GMQ blog is for all Scandinavian languages.

The most active planet is the English OpenPlanet, which reads from an editable feed on a public wiki page.

OpenPlanet (120)
English (80)
French  (60)
German (30)
Polish  (15)
Italian  (15)
 
Scandinavia (7)
Czech (5)
Chinese (3)
Arabic (2)
Romanian (1)
Portuguese (0.5)

OTHER FEEDS
Russian  (0.5) stopped after 10/2010
Spanish (20) - only active in 5/2010, then stopped.
Planet incubators (5 of them) - the Russian and Chinese incubators have recently been active.

2011-01-25

Crisp, concise reports and news

We are lucky to have some fine periodicals in our community, especially for English and German readers.

Wikizine was most active in 2008/9, and came back briefly for two issues in January around the 10th anniversary.  More than any other publication, it has focused on summarizing a lot of information, from many different angles, into a tiny package.  In principle, this makes it easy to translate and share.  I have always been a fan of the 'zine; thank you, Walter.

The Wikipedia Signpost has continued to mature into a solid periodical, worthy of its active and detail-focused community.  Its templates for article layouts are excellent, and it has managed to keep individual beats short and sweet without sacrificing content. The archives are a powerful and condensed way to follow the pulse of the English Wikipedia, and to a lesser degree Wikimedia as a whole.

Monthly periodicals exist as well -- the German Kurier is the closest equivalent to the Signpost in another language, updating on a rolling basis with its own narrative style.  And the quarterly magazine Wikimedium (originally in German) has spawned a Czech version, and both pay attention to excellent layout for the print versions that they hand out to members and at meetings.  I keep copies of the last two; they are gorgeous.

And last but not least, the Wikimedia Monthly Report also focuses on summarizing a wealth of activity into a small package. It began in early 2008 as the ED's monthly report to the Board.  Sue, then still fairly new as the Foundation's Executive Director, started making these public, saying on foundation-l:

You may know that I send regular reports to the Wikimedia board. Starting this month, I'm going to experiment with sending them here as well.
Why am I doing this? I generally want the work of the staff to be visible & transparent to anyone who's interested. I don't see a really compelling reason _not_ to send the reports to foundation-l, and I'm assuming people here will appreciate being kept in the loop.
[...] I'd like to try this out for a couple of months and see what happens. Let me know if you find it helpful :-)
  Sue Gardner, January 31, 2008 
We found these very helpful, and since then this has become the most beloved staple of the Foundation's publications.  It has also provided a good model for transparency and detail for other groups publishing regular reports on their own work.  Three cheers for this sustained success!

2011-01-17

Wikipedia Just Turned 10!

Wikipedia celebrated its 10th anniversary on Saturday, and the world's press turned out to cover the festivities, held by some 400 groups around the world.  If you saw an amazing photo from a Wiki-10 event that deserves a wider audience, please link to it in a comment.

2011-01-16

(10 Years Of) That Wiki Love

Lady San Pedro writes "I am proud and happy to say that my thirst for knowledge and belief in the importance of research has grown significantly since gaining access to what I believe to be one of the greatest inventions in human history."