Tag Archives: iGLAMsterdam

Lightning Talks Strike Twice

I very much enjoyed attending Local Gov Camp North West last weekend. Although it was attended by fewer people than other unconferences I’ve been to (due to people crying off for fear the impending snowpocalypse would leave them stranded in northern wastelands; I mean Preston), this meant it was a more intimate event, the smaller groups allowing everyone a chance to speak more. I curated lots of links tweeted during the event, using Pinboard.

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Rapt attention at Local Gov Camp North West — pic © John Popham, CC-BY-NC-SA

With some attendees also leaving early as news of snowbound roads and delayed trains filtered through to us, it seemed that we wouldn’t be able to fill the final hour’s worth of breakout sessions. This gave me the chance to propose trying something I’ve wanted to do at a GovCamp since experiencing them at GLAMCamp Amsterdam last December: lightning talks.

The three-day GLAMCamp event had one hour of such talks scheduled, but they proved so popular that it was agreed to set aside another two. Anyone who had an idea to pitch, a story to share or a problem they wanted help to solve, could speak for a maximum of five minutes (less if that was all they needed), but unlike most unconference sessions, they could speak to most of the attendees at once.

Details of the GLAMsterdam lightning talks were captured on an Etherpad for Saturday and an Etherpad for Sunday, which have links to individual videos of several of the talks.

Because the lightning talks were only a few minutes long, there wasn’t really time for people to grow bored if a particular talk wasn’t relevant to them, and they could always check their mail or social media, grab a drink or take a comfort break if they did. I gave a quick, inpromptu talk on my deployment of microformats on Wikipedia. Many people, who wouldn’t have elected to come to a full session on the topic, told me they found it useful.

I’m glad to say people at #LocalGovCampNW (as we hash-tagged it) readily accepted my proposal and am grateful for that, and their participation. We restricted the talks to just three minutes (I was ruthless with my stopwatch app), and despite people having had little time to prepare (which I think was a disadvantage), and no use of Powerpoint (unlike at GLAMcamp), we managed to cover several topics in about 20 minutes, ranging from SMS alerts to data visualisation and from promoting an upcoming event, the Eureka Festival of Resources, to my talk on BrewCamp. While some talks were curtailed after the allotted time, conversations could be and were continued afterwards, and online; the interested participants having had the opportunity to identify one another.

John Popham caught the talks on video, as part of his “celebration2.0” project :

Daniel Goodwin, Chief Executive of St Albans City & District Council, said they “provided an interesting insight into people’s concerns“.

Why not try a session of lightning talks at your next unconference?

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.