On Editing Wikipedia in Museums

As a self-professed Wikipedia junkie, I love that there are people going to museums on edit-athons. An awesome New York Times article dives deeper:

Amid this vast ocean of bewilderment, however, a small group of volunteers managed to expand the well of shared human knowledge last week by joining a daylong group editing session sponsored by Wikipedia and the Smithsonian Institution’s American Art Museum in Washington. The gathering — called an edit-athon — was the latest collaboration between the online encyclopedia and cathedrals of culture like the Smithsonian to expand and improve Wikipedia entries, which are subject to the vagaries of volunteer contributions. At the same time, the Smithsonian is able to better publicize what’s in its extensive collections.

“Wikipedia is driven by this desire to share knowledge freely with the world, and that is in sync with our mission,” said Sara Snyder, webmaster at the Archives of American Art, a Smithsonian research center that held an editing session in March to beef up the digital encyclopedia’s entries on female artists.

These amateur-professional collaborations began in 2010 as the brainchild of Liam Wyatt, a former bartender, fire twirler, podcaster and vice president of Wikimedia Australia, during an unpaid five-week stint as Wikipedian in residence at the British Museum. The following year, the Archives of American Art appointed its own Wikipedian in residence and organized an edit-athon, enlisting local volunteers to create new articles using the archives’ resources. Other institutions, including the New York Public Library, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona have joined what has been called the GLAM-Wiki initiative. (GLAM stands for galleries, libraries, archives and museums.)

And in case you didn’t know, there are super dedicated Wikipedia editors out there. Take Gerald Shields, for instance:

Mr. Shields said he generally edited articles on North Korea and on feminism, primarily because few other people do. He combs through the English-language version of The Pyongyang Times for citations, and last year, even spent part of a trip to China trying to track down a photograph of Ri Sol-ju, the wife of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. At the museum, Mr. Shields, camera in hand, took on the role of the day’s official chronicler.

Don’t read the article if you aren’t prepared for a serious nerd alert.

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