Tag Archives: ARKive

Talking about GLAM, Wikipedia and QRpedia in Amsterdam and Hamburg

During the first weekend of December, I was in Amsterdam, at the invitation of Wikimedia-UK and Wikimedia-NL (two of Wikipedia’s many “chapters”, which support the work of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects). I was there — along with Wikipedians from 22 countries — to participate in GLAMcamp, an unconference about GLAMWiki collaborations, between Wikimedia volunteers and Galleries, Libraries, Archves and Museums (GLAMs), including my work as Wikipedia Outreach Ambassador to ARKive. Unlike most Wikipedia events, which are open, this one was an invitation-only event (though there was a public workshop on the Friday afternoon), so I was flattered to be invited.

I was asked to lead a workshop about QRpedia, the project with which I’m involved, which puts QR codes into GLAMs, linking to Wikipedia articles, but detects the language used by the GLAM visitor’s mobile device and serves them an article in that language or offers the alternative languages or a Google translation if none is available. Did you know Wikipedia exists in 272 languages? How many museums do you know that can afford to offer interpretive material in so many languages? Or even a few?

A square barcode

This QRpedia code links to the Hindi article about Qrpedia — but if you scan it with a phone set to use another language, such as English, guess what happens..?

Feedback about QRpedia was positive, and I was told of its use in India, though I’m still awaiting details. The biggest areas of concern expressed were the availability of statistics, so I was delighted to be shown this QRpedia stats tool created by the project’s developer Terence Eden; and the need to provide unique URLs for institutions, so we can distinguish, say, requests for the article on the industrial revolution from a museum in Amsterdam from one in Birmingham. We’re currently holding a consultation on how best to create custom URLs for that purpose, and input from museum colleagues would be especially welcome.

While at GLAMcamp, I also gave a brief talk on my work deploying , which aroused quite a lot of interest, and I’m now in discussion with representatives of a couple of non-English Wikipedias, who are looking to deploy them.

Our venue was Mediamatic, which doubles as an art gallery, and had an exhibition in progress about fungi. They kindly agreed to allow us, durng the event, to deploy the Netherlands’ first QRpedia code, on an exhibit about .

People using mobile phones to scan a QRcode, displayed above specimens of a fungus

Wikipedians from various countries queue to scan the first QRpedia code in The Netherlands

Of course, it wasn’t all work, and we managed to fit in two backstage museum visits, to the (whose staff were particularly accommodating) and , as well as some good meals and some local snacks, including broodje kroket, the moreish stroopwafel and the seasonal delights of banketstaaf, kruidnoten, and gevulde speculaas — all traditionally eaten on Saint Nicholas’ Day, the final day of my stay, when visits.

We also spent an evening at “Boom Chicago” an hilarious comedy improvisation show, delivered by US/Canadian crew, in English. And guess who they decided to pick on?

paunchy white male in blond wig, comedy glasses and massive false red beard

Boom Chicago: I have no idea who this is supposed to be…

Sarah Stierch kindly videoed “my” guest appearance, complete with references to an answer I gave earlier in the evening, when I was asked to name a profession, and replied “Saggar Maker’s Bottom Knocker “.

After my QRpedia presentation, I was surprised and delighted to be asked to repeat it — four days later, in Hamburg, Germany! A very quick turnaround by Wikimdia-DE, who kindly funded my trip, meant I was able to book flights immediately upon my return to Birmingham — flying out via Zurich and back via Copenhagen. Spending my first, brief, visits to Switzerland and Denmark wholly inside airports, was bizarre.

So, a few days after Amsterdam, I found myself delivering a localised version of my presentation to staff from the various museums that make up the Stiftung Historische Museen Hamburg (Foundation of Historical Museums of Hamburg), as well as enjoying a tour of the Hamburgmuseum and even a little birdwatching (my German bird list now includes Grey Wagtail, Fieldfare, Peregrine and Buzzard, among more common species) But best of all, we were able to deploy Germany’s first QRpedia code at the museum.

Young white woman scanning a QR code using a mobile phone

Martina Fritz of the Hamburgmuseum scans the first QRpedia code in Germany

So, two national firsts for QRpedia, and five airports in five countries, in five days for me. I have to say, much as I enjoyed it, speaking about Wikipedia in Dudley a few days later wasn’t quite so glitzy!

My thanks to everyone involved for making the two trips both possible and memorable, and especially Peter Weis in Hamburg, who sacrificed two days of his own time to make sure I was kept entertained. I came away from GLAMCamp with renewed enthusiasm for working with the GLAM sector, and a bunch of new friends and contacts with whom I can share tips and requests for advice and assistance.

I’ve been appointed ‘Wikipedia Outreach Ambassador’ to ARKive

I’m pleased to announce that for ten weeks from next Monday, 11 July, I shall be working, part time, as the Wikipedia Outreach Ambassador to ARKive, supported by Wikimedia UK.

ARKive is an initiative of the charity Wildscreen, based in Bristol, which aims to promote the protection of threatened species using the emotive power of wildlife films and photographs, which it obtains from its impressive list of donors and makes available through its website. ARKive’s patron is Sir David Attenborough. Its backers include BirdLife International, Conservation International, The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), The United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) , The World Wide Fund for Nature, the Natural History Museum, Royal Botanic (Kew) Gardens, and the Smithsonian Institution. You can also view an ARKive layer in Google Earth, built in collaboration with Google.

Wikimedia UK is a not-for-profit organisation (registration as a charity pending) which exists:

…to help collect, develop and distribute freely licensed knowledge (and other educational, cultural and historic material). We do this by bringing the Wikimedia community in the UK together, and by building links with UK-based cultural institutions, universities, charities and other bodies.

In other words, to support and promote Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and related projects.

As Wikipedia Outreach Ambassador, it will be my role to assist ARKive in working more closely with Wikipedia editors, improve Wikipedia articles about a number of endangered species, and work with the editors of the the many non-English versions of Wikipedia to have articles translated. You can read more about the role, and follow my progress, at the Wikimedia UK project page.

Maybe I'll be writing about Temminck's Tragopan, Tragopan temminckii: the Wikipeida article on Temminck's Tragopan is currently a bit thin, and here's the Temminck's Tragopan page on ARKive. Image by Matej Batha, taken at Prague Zoo with a camera funded by a Wikimedia grant, made avaialable at Wikimedia Commons, and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

I’m very much looking forward to working with my new colleagues at ARKive, and honoured to be involved with such a prestigious organisation. The role nicely bridges my professional web work, my Wikipedia activities and my love for wildlife, including being a trustee of the West Midland Bird Club (a registered charity) and a voluntary warden for the RSPB.

I’ll mostly be working from home, but plan at least six visits to Bristol, some overnight, where I shall also be running a couple of outreach events. I hope to meet some of Bristol’s local Wikipedia, geek and social media community while I’m there — please ask any contacts you might have, in such groups, to get in touch.

As the role is part-time, I’m still available if anyone else needs my help with web, social media or Wikipedia-related work.