Last month, my colleague Sara Frank Bristow and I finished our first run of the free online course, Writing Wikipedia Articles: The basics and beyond. This course is part part Communicate OER, a project to improve the coverage of open educational resources on Wikipedia. We introduced it as part of the launch of Peer to Peer University’s School of Open in March.
The course was designed to help those new to Wikipedia learn to write, edit, and improve articles, in the context of the site’s history and philosophical underpinnings. Of the 100 students who signed up initially, 25 went on to add themselves to the course roster on Wikipedia. During class sessions and optional lab sessions, we guided them through both technical and cultural challenges, and emphasized that the best way to learn about Wikipedia is to “be bold” and start trying things out.
The Cato Institute, a think tank and policy research outfit based in Washington, DC, is designing a system for organizing and indexing bills going through the U.S. Congress using XML. And they have invited Wikipedians to the party. I will be joining them next month in hosting a meeting to explore how a project of theirs can best serve Wikipedia, among other web services.
Cato Institute is not known as a neutral organization; indeed, their mission statement mentions limited government, individual liberty, and free markets. Their political positions often differ from my own, and maybe from yours.
So, skepticism is certainly called for. What can Cato and Wikipedia to do together, without either entity compromising its principles? It may not be immediately apparent; but I’d encourage you to take a closer look. Continue reading →
Why did Wikipedia move from GFDL to Creative Commons?
A core piece of what makes Wikipedia and similar broadly collaborative projects work is the concept of a free content license: an explicit agreement by every contributor to forego many of their rights as copyright holders, and permit widespread reuse with few requirements beyond simple attribution.
When Wikipedia was established, the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) was the only applicable and widespread free license. The GFDL was initially designed specifically for software manuals, and in some ways was not ideal or practical for a project like Wikipedia, which hadn’t been envisioned when it was created. Continue reading →
Can I use Wikimedia Commons to host images, audio, and video for my blog or business?
How does WC handle external usage of their public resources? If their work is CC licensed, could someone effectively use WC as a free media host?
Excellent question. The Wikimedia community is delighted to have freely licensed, educational material uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, and if it also happens to serve your business interests, so much the better. However, you should make sure you carefully consider the pros and cons before doing so.
Last week, I had the honor of talking on Brian Lehrer TV along with Seb Chan of the Cooper Hewitt Museum. We were asked about efforts among museums and cultural institutions to be more open and engaging in their practices, and how the topic relates to the legacy of Aaron Swartz.
Pete Forsyth presenting on Wikipedia in Boston. Photo by Sage Ross, CC BY-SA
Next Saturday (Feb. 9) in Portland, Oregon, I will be hosting an Introduction to Wikipedia and edit-a-thon. This is a great way to learn how the most successful peer-produced project in history works, and specifically, how it might relate to your job.
You can find a more detailed writeup on the Mac’s List blog. Mac’s List, a cosponsor of the event, is a weekly email update on “great jobs for Portland and beyond.” It’s a project of Portlander Mac Prichard, founder of Prichard Communications.
To sign up for the event, click here. We’re looking forward to seeing you!
Last year, Wiki Strategies helped the respected non-profit Consumer Reports (CR) explore working with Wikipedia to advance the shared goal of providing factual, verifiable information to the public. As a result, CR launched a “Wikipedian in Residence” program in conjunction with the Choosing Wisely initiative. (See announcement, April 2012) CR chose longtime Wikipedian Lane Rasberry for the role, seeking his advice on how to effectively and ethically improve Wikipedia articles. Lane proved so valuable that his position was extended twice, from three months to a full year. I asked Programs Director Chuck Bell of CR to recap Lane’s work, and reflect on the value of hosting a Wikipedian in Residence. —Pete Forsyth, Wiki Strategies
Lane Rasberry • photo: Sage Ross/CC BY-SA
Lane Rasberry worked closely with Consumer Reports staff and the Wikipedia community to expand access to evidence-based consumer health information, including information produced through Choosing Wisely, a health education campaign led by the ABIM Foundation and Consumer Reports, and rooted in non-controversial information backed by broad support from health professionals.
Lane advised Consumer Reports and partner medical associations about how patients use Wikipedia to inform decisions about the risks and benefits of health procedures. He also presented the Choosing Wisely concept to Wikipedia volunteers who edit health care articles, including WikiProject Medicine, with favorable results. Specific resources he created include: Continue reading →
Today was the funeral for Wikipedian and information activist Aaron Swartz. Rest in peace, Aaron.
Aaron made substantial contributions to how the Internet functions as a young teenager, and continued his efforts to build the kind of world he wanted to live in until his untimely death at 26. Along the way, it appears that some of his choices caused harm to some people, and the causes he was seeking to advance. There has been, and will be, a lot of discussion about that, but I think it’s best understood as merely one facet of a complex and passionate person’s evolution and growth. (See his Wikipedia user page for a list of articles he worked on, to get a sense of the scope of his work and interests.)
Aaron’s story has thrust the word “hacker” into the public discourse in the last few days. It’s an important word, one that carries several meanings. The Wikipedia article “Hacker (programmer subculture)” captures its divergent meanings well: Continue reading →
Wiki Strategies hosted this event, along with the California League of Women Voters, at Tech Liminal, a coworking space that generously donated the use of its space to bring people interested in Wikipedia, as well as longtime wiki enthusiasts, together for an afternoon of learning and experimenting.
I’ve helped lead similar events in San Francisco and elsewhere. This time, we tried a new variation on the format: we invited Wikipedia beginners to come an hour early for a lesson and introduction, so they would be better prepared to jump into the kind of free-form editing that usually emerges at an edit-a-thon. This is an approach I’ve seen work well for dance events; I was pleased to see a similar dynamic, as experienced Wikipedians began to join us as the intro session was wrapping up. The beginners were starting to come up with more and more sophisticated questions, so having an increasing and diverse group to address their questions was a perfect fit. Continue reading →