Tag Archives: GLAM

What have I been up to, lately?

I really ought to blog more often (cobbler’s children’s shoes and all that…), but in the style of a back-to-school, what-I-did-on-my-holidays essay, here’s a round-up of some of my recent activity. And inactivity.

In June, I suffered a detached retina, and had to undergo emergency eye surgery. This happened again, in the same eye, a couple of weeks later. My eye is recovering well, but I’m likely to need a further operation for the resultant cataract, at some point in the future. Thanks to everyone who expressed good wishes.

The first detachment happened around the time I was speaking, twice, at the WikimediaUK AGM in Lincoln. There’s a video of my talk on Wikipedians-in-Residence.

I subsequently received a grant from WikimediaUK for a digital recorder to assist with my project asking Wikipedia subjects to contribute recordings of their spoken voices.


Institution of Civil Engineers - One Great George Street - Library

My picture of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ library

Following my surgery, I was laid up for a few weeks, but managed to get out and help at a couple of local Social Media Surgeries (thanks to Si Whitehouse and Steph Clarke, who acted as my chauffeurs). As my recovery progressed, I also visited London, and ran a Wikipedia editathon at the prestigious and historic Institution of Civil Engineers.

Shortly after my first operation, the Museum Association published a series of case studies (some behind a paywall) of collaboration between Wikipedia and British GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), including one about my work as Wikipedian-in-Residence at the New Art Gallery, Walsall, which is freely viewable.

I also took the train to Shrewsbury, to teach Shropshire County Archives staff there to edit Wikipedia. At the “Skill Share Jamboree“, where ‘hacktivists’ came together to share practical knowledge in a number of disciplines, I taught a session on recognising garden birds, and another on how to edit Wikipedia.

The BrewCamp meetings which I and a small group of friends run in and around Birmingham, to allow public sector activists to meet and discuss digital engagement topics, were successfully spun off by us and local collaborators into Dudley (as “BostinCamp“) and Stafford (as “OatCakeCamp“), and will no doubt both now develop independent lives there.

I helped launch the “Best by West Midlands” white paper and website, including case studies of social media use in local government. One of the case studies was about my work as Wikipedian-in-Residence with Staffordshire Archives and Heritage Service. At the launch, I ran a discussion session for the attendees, on “trust in social media”, with a subsequent on-line write-up.


Library of Birmingham - interior 2013-08-28 - 34

Inside the Library of Birmingham, in the week before opening

I was kindly invited to a preview of the new Library of Birmingham, where I took a lot of photographs, which are now available on Wikimedia Commons, under an open licence, and so freely available for reuse.

More recently, I attended State of the Map, the annual international OpenStreetMap conference. I volunteered to “captain” some of the sessions, acting as timekeeper, but was honoured to be asked to chair the main strand for all three days, introducing keynote and other speakers from Japan, the USA, Australia, Indonesia and across Europe. Not only was it a great opportunity to catch up with friends, and to learn, but I was able to find people to work collaboratively on a number of tasks, such as automating links from OSM to Wikipedia, which I’ll be writing about soon.

The very next day, I was back at the New Art Gallery, Walsall as the MC for “GalleryCamp13”, the inaugural unconference for people working at or with, or simply interested in, art galleries. I also spoke there, about my Wikipedian in Residence work. There’s a Storify post about the event.

I’m now working on a number of other projects, about which more in the future, and am available to help your organisation to understand Wikipedia and open content, or social media more widely, or to plan and host (un) conferences.

Day 10 (Friday) in Washington DC

The weather cooled somewhat. I arrived at George Washington University by Circulator bus, then spent the morning in two GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sessions, listening to presentations on a collaboration with the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and a panel with various national GLAM project coordinators. I also met the editor who put up the first QRpedia code in Australia.

For a change from GLAM, the post-lunch session I chose to attend was about anther area of interest if mine, mobile access to Wikipedia, where I learned that Wikipedia’a Android app is already fully translated in Welsh, and the mobile website just a handful of phrases away from being so. My Welsh-speaking colleagues back home have already agreed to my suggestion that they close that gap. That will be important for our Geovation bid and other projects using the Welsh language.

My final conference session of the day was about mapping, including OpenStreetMap. Earlier, I’d added some features of the Congressional Cemetery (including the “restroom”!) to that project, and a mapping party on Sunday should finish the job.

A walk to historic Georgetown followed, for a fringe event, the Wiki in Education meetup, generously hosted by the Saylar Foundation, who fed and watered the unexpectedly large crowd at their riverside premises. It was great to meet so many people, including a lot of professors and other educators, who are passionate about using Wikipedia and sister projects in their teaching. I picked up a lot of tips for my plans to liaise with language educators in the UK, to get Wikipedia article translations set as homework for their students.

On leaving Georgetown, a screaming flock of (Chaetura pelagica) flew over us. Though I’d already seen individuals, this was the first time I’d heard them. They’re very different to the Swifts we get in the UK, being smaller and paler.

A group if us took the Circulator back across town to 6th Street for a couple of beers at the “Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar“, a pop-up venue created as part of a fringe festival. I enjoyed a Doggie Style (!) Classic Pale Ale by Flying Dog and a Pitch Black IPA by Widmer Brothers. For the first time here, I saw moths flitting about, but wasn’t able to get close enough to any to recognise, or photograph them. We also saw a couple of historic buildings, jacked up in mid-air, on Jenga-like piles of wood, as the area around them is redeveloped.

Day 9 (Thursday) in Washington DC

Thursday was the first day of Wikimania proper, and I arrived at George Washington University by bike. The day began with keynote speeches. Sad to say, while Jimmy Wales is clearly a confident and proficient speaker, the content of his talk was quite uninspiring. The talk on increasing Wikipedia’s diversity, and in particular attracting more female contributors was far more interesting and thought-provoking. We all have a duty to do more in this regard.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get into either of the first two sessions I wanted to, at first, as both rooms were packed to overflowing. Clearly, larger rooms should have been available. However, as the crowds thinned, I did manage to hear the end of the first GLAM session.

I was then interviewed on camera, for a Wikimedia promotional video. Though only seconds are likely to be used, I was questioned under bright lights for over half an hour, after first being subject to a makeup session, “to cover up blemishes”. Cheek — I don’t have any!

I then found two of my female friends, both upset that only male-fit T-shirts were left available to them, due to under-ordering. So much for doing more to increase diversity!

After lunch, I took my seat for a set of GLAM presentations, only to be asked to facilitate the session, with just a couple of minutes notice. The non-arrival of one speaker and technical issues with another’s laptop left me having to fill time, so I took the opportunity to again proselytise about QRpedia (thankfully, the audience were mostly different to that I’d spoken to on the previous day).

A brief rest at a fellow delegates’ neighbouring hotel was followed by a Metro ride to the Newseum, an interactive museum of news and journalism, for another reception, where I had an interesting chat about our comparative health care systems, with American doctor, Roy Poses, President of the Foundation for Integrity and Responsibility in Medicine, one of the session panelists, and chatted to a high-school student from Pennsylvania, who was attending Wikimania, chaperoned by her non-Wikipedian mother. Truly, a fascinating spectrum of people were attending, and made welcome.