GLAM-Wiki: Finding Common Ground

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GLAM-WMAU header.jpg

The purpose of this conference was to formally open discussions between the cultural sector (specifically: art galleries; libraries; archives and museums – GLAM) and the Wikimedia community about how the two could and should collaborate.

A secondary purpose was to announce the arrival of Wikimedia Australia with our first major event. By these measures the event was a success on both qualitative and quantitative measures.

The conference ran for 1.5 days (6–7 August) at the facilities generously provided by the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.

International speakers were Jennifer Riggs from the WMF and Mathias Schindler from WM-De. Local speakers included representatives of the National Library, AustLII, Creative Commons, Department of Education, PowerhouseMuseum, DEWHA, NZ National Digital Forum, University of QLD, Swinbourne University, Education.au.

Also, representatives of the three major political parties were in attendance and Senator Kate Lundy gave the keynote address. (Full schedule)

The event drew a venue-capacity crowd with attendees coming from nearly every major GLAM institution in the country and several attendees from New Zealand.

Whilst being greatly outnumbered by the GLAM attendees, there were Wikimedians in attendance from every State and almost all were able to introduce themselves and their particular wiki-expertise on stage to the audience and/or moderate one of the discussion sessions.

Feedback from the conference indicated that the GLAM representatives were impressed with the variety of interests and genuine passion that the Wikimedians had for their subject.

This personal interaction proved to be possibly even more valuable than the presentations themselves as it humanised the Wikimedia projects for the GLAM representatives.

Panelists on the "Politics & Policy" session

Finances[edit]

Originally it had been planned to charge a fee for industry attendees but, on the advice of potential sponsors this fee was dropped.

This was a difficult decision to make but proved to be a good one as it not only set the correct tone for the event but also enabled more sponsors and in-kind assistance.

Thanks to this in-kind assistance the only costs needing to be covered by the Chapter were bursaries, catering and security fees.

Commercial sponsorship was received from "CustomWare", academic sponsorhip from "CCi" (a research institute of Queensland University of Technology, which also houses Creative Commons Australia) and major support was received from the WMF.

Factoring in new membership fees received at the event the total budget was very slightly below break-even.

Press and reporting[edit]

During and after the event a reasonable amount of local and national press coverage was generated. A list of all press reports and blog posts about the conference has been kept here and includes several attendees giving their personal reactions to the conference as well as several positive newspaper columns and radio interviews.

This introduced the concept of a Wikimedia Chapter to many people and has generated subsequent repeat press coverage.

Attendees at the opening session

Outcome[edit]

The specific outcome of the event was the publication of a series of recommendations broken down by the four themes of the conference (education, business, law, technology) both from the GLAM sector to the Wikimedia and also vice versa.

These can be found as the Published Recommendations on Meta-Wiki and PDF version.

Whilst these are non-binding and merely recommendations, they represent the first formal requests from either community to the other and therefore carry some weight behind them.

Several Australian GLAM organisations are planning on making policy changes using these recommendations as proof to management of the public desire for the change and at least one organisation of national significance has formed an executive-level committee to make a formal response on behalf of their sector.

Internationally, the event was followed with interest by many in the sector and it has been said that it "gave legitimacy to the discussion" about what the cultural sector would do to respond to Wikipedia.

Three Wikimedia Chapters in Europe (UK, Netherlands and Germany) are investigating running their own equivalent events using the Australian model. The conference was a major discussion point at several international meetings since (including the recent Paris Wikimedia Usability meeting and also the NZ NDF conference).

Furthermore, the forthcoming international Museums and the Web conference in Denver will feature a full day workshop based heavily on the structure of GLAM-WIKI.

Statistics[edit]

  • 21 Wikimedian attendees from all States including 3 receiving Chapter funded bursaries
  • 21 Presenters over 2 days
  • 4 Sponsors investing $8,800 plus in-kind support


-- Liam Wyatt (Witty Lama)