A couple of weeks ago it was announced on the Wikimedia Foundation blog, that I had been given a one year fellowship to focus on Cultural Partnerships within the Wikiverse – informally known as “GLAM fellow”. Not surprisingly, I think this job is nine different flavours of awesome :-) In this blogpost I will attempt to outline my fellowship’s priorities as I currently see them, list some forthcoming relevant events, and pay homage to Bowie.
My role is to help create systems and processes to make outreach partnerships more efficient and effective. The key phrase is “capacity building” as described in my blogpost from a few months ago “How to make cultural collaborations scale“. I believe that now the cultural sector has seen that working with Wikimedia can be A Good Thing™, that we must have reasonably professional processes in place for managing those relationships. I would like to stress that this one-year fellowship does not make me the “Wikimedia GLAM manager” and does not mean that the WMF is centralising responsibility for multimedia content donations etc. This remains a community activity (and especially a Chapters activity).
As a first step in this I’ve built a bit of a GLAM hub on-wiki where I will document all my work this year. I can be accessed by this short URL
This hub is very much a work in progress, but it includes the main areas of activity that were mentioned in the aforementioned announcement. I’m making these the priorities for my fellowship.
* 1. Wikimedia GLAM ambassadors
This is based on the experience of the campus ambassador system whereby Wikimedians are trained to perform the task of being the local, in-person “official” contact for a university. The idea here is to see if it is also possible to have trained “ambassadors” in cities/regions around the world (affiliated with a local Chapter if there is one in their area) that GLAMs can call upon to ask questions, run projects and generally build a relationship with.
* 2. Documentation and Case studies
The first half of the idea here is to improve the quality, consistency and visibility of the how-to documents for many of the common tasks and questions that GLAM-Wikimedia relationships produce. These include legal things like “Why can’t we use Non-Commercial licensing” down to technical things like “How do I upload tens of thousands of images to Commons”. The second half of the idea is to ask the GLAMs themselves to explain the whys and wherefores of their past collaborations. Each relationship is different and it would be nice to hear, in their own words, what that relationship means to each cultural institution. My inspiration for this is a book produced by Creative Commons Australia that is a useful outreach tool because it is easily accessible, demonstrates the wide range of ways that CC licenses can be used and is above-all pretty. I think we can do the same thing in the Wikiverse and the British Museum, Al Jazeera and the National Library of Australia have already signed up!
Building an Australasian Commons: Case Studies Volume 1
* 3. Tools & Requests
This entails finding out what kinds of metrics data GLAM techies would like to see and also what kinds of tools our techies would like to have. Ultimately this will result in better kinds of reporting to demonstrate collaboration successes and also better tools to make the actual collaboration processes easier.
Imagine if every GLAM were easily able to create a “report card” of their organisation’s quantitative and qualitative relationship to Wikimedia projects! For example, the multimedia content donation from the State Library of Queensland now has some very detailed quantiative data being reported and the British Museum collaboration has some good qualitative analysis. Some of the tools that are most useful for analysing a GLAM-Wikimedia relationship include the amusingly titled baGLAMa GLAMorous and Linkypedia. I would love to see these kinds of things talked about in the same discussions as the Wikimedia Foundation’s work on Open Web Analytics.
* 4. Better Communication
That is, Wikimedians need to have spaces where they can share best-practice, discuss issues and plan projects.
The new “This month in GLAM” newsletter is an attempt to bring together in one place reports of all the activities that have bearing on GLAM activities. It is based on the very useful WMF monthly engineering updates and I’m hoping that it will be translated and incorporated into different Chapter’s newsletters in an effort to keep the wider Wikimedia and GLAM communities informed. Aside from the GLAM-hub’s useful on-wiki discussion board there is also the “cultural partners” mailinglist.
If you would like to join in on this work please have a look at that wiki hub and add your two cents to the discussions, join the cultural-partners mailing list or be BOLD and change the pages (and/or my project’s priorities) completely!
As it said in the announcement I will remain based in Sydney but will be visiting the global hotspots of the Wikimedia GLAM outreach community too. There are several real-world activities happening in the near future:
* Tomorrow I will travel to Canberra to give a presentation at the National Library of Australia in their “innovative ideas” series on the topic of the work I did at the British Museum. The NLA will add this to their podcast so I will link out to that when published.
* Then, that same night I fly to India! I’ve been invited to speak at the International Conference on the convergence of Libraries, Archives & Museums [ICLAM] in Delhi. The Indian Wikimedia community have been kind enough to organise outreach events next week in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi which I will attend. This will be as much a learning opportunity for me as anything. I hope to be of use in helping start GLAM relationships there but I also look forwards to learning what the specific problems/opportunities the Indian community have – especially as the Wikimedia Foundation has identified India as a strategic priority.
* In March the Barcelona Wikimedians have organised, in association with the Museu Picasso, a GLAM-WIKI conference I will assist with. This is made all the more important because today it was announced that Wikimedia España has been approved as an official Chapter! This event will be immediately followed by the Chapters meeting in Berlin where we can all share best practices.
* In early April Wikimedia New York and I are tentatively planning “GLAMcamp” (similar in style to the 2009 Paris Multimedia meeting). It is designed to bring people together for a focused weekend of work on the various aspects of GLAM-Wikimedia collaboration (described above in “priorities”). A few months later the Washington D.C. community is also looking into hosting GLAM-WIKI:USA which would be fantastic!
This job title also gives me the wonderful excuse to regularly make frequent references to slightly cheesy but oh-so-right music. This post is titled in homage to my favourite Swedish band, which just happens to be a glam-rock band, The Ark and their hit song “Clamour for glamour”! Of course, no one can beat the master of glam…
I’m looking forward to a very glamorous year!
p.s. If you happen to be in touch with a GLAM that doesn’t already have a relationship with Wikimedia and want to give them some contact details, send them to glam[at]wikimedia[dot]org. This is a new public email address to triage incoming “cold calls” for collaborations to the relevant chapter/ambassador/etc.