Here is the introductory article from the front page of the first edition of the first newspaper in the Australian colony – The Sydney Gazette March 5, 1803. As the indefatigable director of the National Library of Australia’s “Australian Newspapers” digitisation project (ANDP), Rose Holley, said in her presentation at GLAM-WIKI – this is a manifesto that the Wikimedia movement would feel strong ties to. I can imagine that if the publishers of that newspaper had been alive today, they might well have been Wikimedians – and vice versa.
[Innumerable as the Obstacles were which threatened to oppose our Undertaking, yet we are happy to affirm that they were not insurmountable, however difficult the task before us.
The utility of a PAPER in the COLONY, as it must open a source of solid information, will we hope, be universally felt and acknowledged, We have courted the assistance of the INGENIOUS and INTELLIGENT :— We open no channel to Political Discussion, or Personal Animadversion :— Information is our only purpose; that accomplished, we shall consider that we have done our duty, in an exertion to merit the Approbation of the PUBLIC, and to secure a liberal Patronage to the SYDNEY GAZETTE. ]
Replace “political discussion with [[WP:SOAP]] and “personal animadaversion” with [[WP:NPA]] and you’ve pretty much got the essence of what the Wikimedia movement is all about. We’re even starting to “secure liberal patronage” through donations like the one announced today from the Hewlett Foundation!
I’d like to also point out how absolutely amazingly cool the “Australian Newspapers” project is. You might notice that the link given to find that image above is specific not just to the newspaper, not just to the daily edition, not just to the page – but specific to the article! They have made a persistent and stable URL to every single article in every single newspaper edition they have. Furthermore, all the newspapers they have scanned are in the public domain and have a “save as PDF” “save as picture” and “print” function. That’s how I made the above image. Too easy.
Furthermore – notice that they encourage the public to correct the text. That’s right – a national cultural institution that’s not afraid of asking the public for their help – and they have the most stunning statistics about how much (and how well) the public is helping. They even have their own hall of fame for the most prolific text-correctors.
Finally, if you go to the “about” page for any of their scanned newspapers you’ll see that they’re live-linking the first few sentences from the respective Wikipedia entry. See the page for the Melbourne Argus here for example. This is a fantastic use of what Wikipedia does best – simple descriptions of specific things. It’s not the National Library’s job to write descriptive passages for every single newspaper in Australia’s history – it’s ours.
Here are all the specs, usage stats, workflows, ORC and Metadata info, system architecture, CMS, correction system structure… http://www.nla.gov.au/ndp/project_detail and here’s their title availability info with a link to the tantilising “titles coming soon” list.