|Rachel Atherton, the new Collections Officer, introduces|
Derby's archaeology collections at our GLAM-Wiki Event
We met and agreed to take forward a plan to demonstrate what we could achieve. We aimed at producing three brand new Wikipedia articles, based on subject knowledge and references that I, as a natural historian, already had freely to hand in the museum. With the forthcoming 10th anniversary of Wikipedia the following January, we were tempted to try and arrange an event to coincide with that date. But there simply was not the time; Derby's museums were undergoing significant changes to its buildings and staffing structure, and a number of posts were to be lost by the end of March. (It turned out that mine was to be one of them!) So instead we scheduled in a GLAM-Wiki Backstage Tour day for 9th April 2011 - a time by which we hoped the literal and metaphorical dust had settled on Derby Museums.
Having been made suddenly and unexpectedly redundant at the end of March (see previous post), Wikimedia invited me back to finish off organising the day itself, and to give a presentation from the museum's perspective of how I saw our collaboration. (See video of my talk below) .
The day included a number of optional backstage tours. Archaeologists, art and social history curators, and myself as a former natural history curator brought out items from the collections or took people on trips behind the scenes - the most popular of which was to the recently mothballed Silk Mill Museum.
Tours of the gallery gave everyone the chance to witness a trial we had run whereby we'd installed QR codes in out Geology and Joseph Wright of Derby galleries. Initially these all linked different rocks, minerals and geologists just to the English Wikipedia website, but some innovative work by Terence Eden and Roger Bamkin over the previous couple of weeks had resulted in the development of "QRpedia.org" This amazing creation allowed one QR code to be used whatever the language of your phone. This is how Terence Eden explained the development, and you can read more on his blog.
We managed to get a rather rough video of the process in action at Derby Museum using one phone set to the French language, and another set to English. We also ran a race between two code readers: Google Goggles and Quickmark.
|- The King of Rome -|
InWest End Derby lived a man.
He said "I can't fly but my pigeons can"
The Wright Challenge
The day ended with the announcement of The Wright Challenge - an innovative competition with prizes to see how many articles can be produced in non-English languages by Wikipedians who sign up for the Challenge. Points will be awarded according to the size and number of articles produced or enhanced by the close on 3rd September 2011. A prize of £50 UK (or its equivalent) plus a book on Derby signed by Jimmy Wales will be amongst the prizes on offer. This is the first such challenge of its kind, so all you wikipedians around the world will rise to the occasion.
I think all twenty five participants at our GLAM-Wiki event appreciated the opportunity to come together in Derby. We shared with them a number of valuable lessons through our admittedly rather rushed foray into QR codes. But the museum staff also learnt a lot about working with wikipedians to improve articles about our museum (and vice versa), and perhaps these will interest most people. I set them out below for those who can't face listening to me speaking!
Lessons learned (1) Using QR codes
- Write on the back the topic of the printed QR code as soon as it is cut out.
- A template able to select and print codes with both the Wikipedia name and the topic would be ideal, as would the ability to select size, or having it in a jpeg format.
- Fix codes at reasonable heights, and not too far away from a case front
- We laminated our QR codes that were going on open display, and we printed those to go inside cases on gloss photocard, equivalent in texture to existing labels and panels. Comments from Terence Eden's blog post, critiquing our installation, pointed out that matt codes would have caused less glare and be easier to scan (especially had they been larger)
- QR codes need to be larger if they are further from the viewer.
- Google Goggles is the most flexible code reader tested out of Quickmark, Neoreader and GG.
- Get yourself a smartphone and don't do this blind, like we did to start with!
- Check with a QR code reader as you go along. It's easy to make mistakes.
- QR codes need to be incorporated into proper museum labelling, not fixed as an add-on.
- Check the webpage really is worth linking to. (Maybe you can improve it if it's not)
- Making minor edits to Wikipedia articles is incredibly easy to do
- Adding hyperlinks is pretty straightforward, too
- Understanding how to add references can be tricky at first
- Ensuring factual statements are traceable is a pain
- Never state something you know to be true without being able to prove it. This can incur the wrath of other wikipedians.
- Don't use Wikipedia to advertise your organisation. Just link to it whenever appropriate to do so.
- Image rights can be complicated. Be willing to supply images at a sensible resolution - this won't damage your income streams.
- Wikipedians are immensely enthusiastic.
- Museums have lots of stuff they can use (give them access to history files and reference books)
- Wikipedians aren't out to steal our stuff
- Wikipedians want to help museums improve their offer
- Wikipedians can do immensely clever stuff
- They love complexity!
- The opportunities for collaboration between us are immense
- Why has it taken so long for curators to start dating Wikipedians? We were made for each other.