I have blogged before about Wikipedia and both the positive and negative “professional” reactions to the resource. Returning to that thread, one of the more interesting sessions I attended at the American Association of Museums meetings last week in Minneapolis dealt with Wikipedia – specifically the GLAM-Wiki Initiative (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums with Wikipedia) that aims to help “cultural institutions share their resources with the world through high-impact collaboration alongside experienced Wikipedia editors. It is an unparalled opportunity for the custodians of our cultural heritage to present their collections to new audiences.”
A GLAM promotional flyer distributed at the session cites articles in The Chronicle of Philanthropy that report on the work of Smithsonian Wikipedian in Residence Sarah Stierch, an article in the The Atlantic on National Archive Wikipedian in Residence Dominic McDevitt-Parks, and a New York Times piece on Wikipedia in the British Museum. A monthly GLAM newsletter demonstrates the international, albeit western, scope of the GLAM Initiative.
So what does all of this mean for enhancing either the visitor experience in museums or outreach beyond an institutions walls. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has been in the forefront in the U.S. in employing QR codes, videos, and other tools to access Wikipedia-based information in multiple languages on museum objects. New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Wikipedia page provides an example of the extensive museum-based on-line information. Visit the MoMA Wikipedia entry for Van Gogh’s Starry Night to see the potential of information exchange.
Perhaps to best visualize the potential, check this page from the National Archives that lists the over 100,000 images in queue for loading to a WikiCommons site. Impressive as well are the number of images categorized to date by the public. The editathon concept is used to check and upgrade the accuracy of Wikipedia entries. An example of an editathon in New York City is found here or at the British Library here.
The GLAM initiative is a prime example of how Wikipedia and user-generated content continues to move front and center as a mainline information resource. Today, those wringing their hands over user-generated content with the dire warnings of the Cult of the Amateur hold as much weight as those who argue if we had been meant to fly we would have been born with wings. End of story.
In other web-based offerings, this week Jennifer Carey at Indiana Jenn posted about Stanford’s new Orbis Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. Check this one out for certain – a very impressive tool for modeling exchange networks and travel in antiquity. Such an application to model exchange in Eastern North America from the Archaic period to Contact would be incredibly useful. Given the pace of online resource development, I suspect that a North American prehistory edition of Orbis is not a long way off. Jennifer also links to the new Edx project where this fall Harvard and MIT will partner to offer free online courses where you can get a grade, but not a degree – not yet anyway.
What are your favorite new online research tools?