News and notes
Institutional media uploads to Commons get a bit easier
The promenade deck on the German steamer König Albert
, newly uploaded from the Library of Congress thanks to the new GLAMwiki Toolset Project.
This video of a Eurasian spoonbill is now used in over 50 Wikipedia articles.
From the Rijksmuseum: Katsukawa Shunei, a Japanese samurai who died in 1819.
Alexander Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, seen between 1890 and 1900.
Galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAMs) today are facing fewer barriers to uploading their content onto Wikimedia projects now that the new GLAM-Wiki Toolset Project has been launched. The tool, which is the fruit of a collaboration between Europeana—the Internet portal providing access to millions of digitized files from all over Europe—and several Wikimedia chapters, relieves GLAMs from having to write their own automated scripts and gives them a standardized method of uploading large amounts of their digitized holdings.
Despite the large amount of work involved, Commons has a long history of partnering with outside institutions for media donations. The largest include the Dutch Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, the US National Archives, and the first mass image donation, Germany's Bundesarchiv.
In an email to the Signpost, Europeana's relatively new GLAM-Wiki coordinator Liam Wyatt noted that "the current system", which forces these GLAMs to write customized scripts or find a rare editor willing to do all of the work for them, "is not sustainable." The toolset, "for the first time", changes that dynamic, allowing "the reasonably-technically competent and motivated GLAM to share large amounts of multimedia to Commons ... this is a giant leap forward in giving GLAMs the ability to share with Commons on their own terms."
They will still need editors to donate their time to facilitate these partnerships, as someone needs to explain the value of Wikimedia projects and overcome objections. Still, as Wyatt says, both sides will no longer have to "spend considerable time managing the technical side of uploads ... all built by themselves by hand."
On the GLAM side, there is a fairly large amount of work that needs to be done prior to uploading any images, most of which revolves around the media's metadata. While a simple concept, it is exceedingly complex in practice; as a previous Signpost op-ed noted, "there will be no single unifying metadata 'standard' ... biosharing.org lists just under 200 metadata standards for experimental biosciences alone. ... any solution to handling digital objects must have a mechanism for handling a multiplicity of standards, and ideally within an individual object". Between that and the MediaWiki software, which does not natively come with simple methods of uploading metadata, much of the toolset's multiyear development was spent on this problem.
Wyatt told us that the tool's overall impact will be to make Commons more palatable to GLAM managers who are deciding between Commons and its chief competitors, Flickr and Google Art Project. "If you're a busy GLAM multimedia manager, both of those platforms are significantly more user friendly in their upload usability to a non-technical person", Wyatt says.
"We can talk about the value of free knowledge and the massive visibility that Wikipedia provides until the cows come home, but if we can't enable those GLAMs that do want to share their content with us to do it by themselves, with their own metadata, at their own pace... then we are placing ourselves at a significant disadvantage."
While still in its infancy, the toolset has already allowed Fæ, a London-based Wikimedian and former trustee of Wikimedia UK, to upload hundreds of thousands of images from the New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Rijksmuseum, and historical American Buildings Survey. The Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid (Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision), the first GLAM to use the tool, uploaded 500 videos of Dutch birds (cf. press release).
Four Wikimedia chapters (Netherlands, UK, France, and Switzerland) provided funding for the project, which Europeana has spent four years developing. It was first announced in 2011.
How does it work?
The toolset's software developer, Dan Entous, told us that the toolset:
||... uses a flat xml file, containing metadata related to all of the items you intend to upload to commons, and a step-by-step process of mapping that metadata to a mediawiki template on commons. The mediawiki template will display a thumbnail or medium size representation of the digital file and a table of mapped metadata.
The initial step-by-step process walks you through setting up the batch upload process, and once you are satisfied with the results (after having tested the process on Commons beta), will run a background process on Commons that will upload all of the items listed in the metadata file.
- The tool requires permission to use it; make sure you have permission
- The tool requires a flat xml file that contains all of the metadata you intend to include on the media file page including but not limited to:
- URL the media file online
- Commons categories
- Licensing information
- Source information
- Once you have access to the tool and a prepared metadata file, you can:
- Test a batch upload on Commons beta
- Modify your metadata file as necessary
- Finally run the batch upload on Commons
From the New York Public Library: a 1700s map of what they called the "Far East". In contemporary terms, you are seeing India, China, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other nearby countries.
- Eligible affiliates: The WMF has determined which affiliates will be eligible to apply for funding in the FDC's first round. The only entity categorically denied at this stage is Wikimedia India, while six have outstanding requirements. These include Hong Kong, which has still not returned unused funds from two previous projects—a 2010–11 grant for education toolkits, which caused the FDC to deny the chapter's 2012–13 fiscal year funding request (sparking an angry protest), and Wikimania 2013, which we previously understood to include only a missing financial report. Serbia is facing similar issues with unused funding and unsubmitted financial information.
- Understanding Wikipedia articles: Phoebe Ayers has released a YouTube video explaining how to assess the quality of Wikipedia articles.
- Media Viewer request for arbitration: The Arbitration Committee accepted the Media Viewer request for comment case initiated by 28bytes. An RfC to make the Media Viewer disabled by default was implemented by administrator Pete Forsyth, then reverted by WMF deputy director Erik Möller who further threatened to temporarily remove Forsyth's administrator rights (see Signpost coverage: "Echoes of the past haunt new conflict over tech initiative"). The committee is being asked to answer several questions about policy and community norms, the consensus-forming process, and implementing community consensus against WMF wishes. The evidence phase of the case closes 27 July, and the workshop phase closes 31 July.
- Wikimania scholarship recipients announced: The WMF has published the usernames of individuals who received scholarships to Wikimania 2014, which will be held in early August in London.
- New quarterly reviews: The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has conducted three new quarterly reviews: Wikipedia Zero, Core features (Flow), and the MediaWiki Core team.
- "Victory" in Italian legal case: The WMF has declared "victory" in a long-running lawsuit between the WMF, Wikimedia Italy, and an Italian politician. After two allegedly defaming statements were published on the Italian Wikipedia, the politician, Antonio Angelucci and his son sued the two organizations for €20 million. According to the linked post, the court wrote that the WMF "offers a service which is based on the freedom of the users to draft the various pages of the encyclopedia; it is such freedom that excludes any [obligation to guarantee the absence of offensive content on its sites] and which finds its balance in the possibility for anybody to modify contents and ask for their removal." The WMF alone has been exonerated with this; a ruling on Wikimedia Italy is expected "shortly".
- US train the trainers event: Wikimedia DC is hosting a workshop facilitator event over the US Labor Day weekend, 29 August to 1 September. Funded slots are available for ten participants, with a deadline of 15 August for applications.
- Free access: The New Yorker will make available everything they publish on or after the the end of July, to anyone with an Internet connection. Calling it a "summer-long free-for-all", they plan to stop in "the fall". Given the Northern Hemisphere's summer, that means that all new content should be available for at least one month, and maybe two.
- Content translation: The Wikimedia Foundation has released a content translation tool, a development that could revolutionize content creation on the Wikimedia projects. A beta version of the software is available for testing in Spanish and Catalan, including support for references and templates.
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