Wiki loves Monuments is (should be) more than just a Photo contest
Wiki loves Monuments is in its 10th year. It is considered by some as a big success. Is it? By what metric? Entry in the Guiness Book of Records, total number of uploads going into the millions, 10,000's of participants in a few dozen countries around the globe. But what does the international, or each national Wikimedia Community draw from it? Some critics point out that we get the same kind of coffee table book, calendar or poster kind images year in and year out with ever repeating motives. But is there an actual value added towards Wikipedia as an encyclopedic project by these images?
Yes there is! But we should make more of it!
There are some countries in the world that still lack a proper catalogued list of their national heritage. I can only talk about my own: Germany. What are the experiences in other countries?
To properly upload images in the Contest Wiki loves Monuments, we need to define and identify the object first. We have to localize it and describe it, so that it can be found in the first place. When the image is uploaded this identifier needs to be tagged with the image to ascertain its legibility for the contest.
In some countries this is an easier task than in others. Where there is a National Register of Historical Monuments we find Map-based upload tools that aid photographers in easily finding their photographic objects and than add proper descriptions and categories to these images.
In countries where we don't have this infrastructure we need the effort of dedicated Wikipedians to gather the sum of all knowledge about their cultural monuments.
It is at this point where I want to put my emphasis on what Wiki loves Monuments should be beyond a mere photo contest.
For me Wiki loves Monuments should be a project that brings together Wikipedians from Wikidata (cataloguing the data sets), Open Street Maps (putting them on the map), Commons (documenting them) and Wikipedia (describing them).
To my knowledge we have only one country where this has happened well. It is Austria and they have expanded their Contest to an even broader basis. For example incorporating other contest, like Wiki loves Earth, who work on the same principle and share similar problems. See WikiDaheim
I would like to break the Ennui that I start seeing in my home country towards Wiki loves Monuments (the same kind of pictures every year, but we are not getting done with the basics). I would like to ask for international cooperation where good practices from one country could be carried over to others. I would like to utilize the contest as a community building effort to bring together the talents of coders, photo and videographers and editors to work on a common, local goal that is easily manageable, viable, and gives faster rewards because of faster results. The division of labor in the process, I believe should also encourage the diversity of the participants in this effort.
To some extent the effort to make National Heritage Open Access all over the world is also a political effort. We as a Wikimedia Movement have to cooperate on an international level with the big players like UNESCO down to the local level with the local administration on the one hand and often private historical societies on the other. Here we have the chance that with the clout that stands behind the Idea "Wikipedia" we can also convince the guardians of National Heritage to provide Open Access to their data regarding Cultural Heritage Monuments.
At Wikimania this topic could be addressed in round table discussion or working sessions, where participants share their experiences, successes and shortfalls. Their tools that worked well, and their needs where things are not working. The wheel doesn't need to be reinvented over and over again, so we should seek to share our know-how with different organizers in different countries. Even, or especially with those who haven't even got started yet. As pointed out above, this Contest can apply to different Wikimedia projects and can further the cooperation between these projects. So especially in small and starting Communities this brings a great chance to utilize different talented people into the realization of a common goal. The results achieved at Wikimania could be presented in a final presentation, but most definitely should be put into a concluding summary to be made available after the conference.
This topic does not fit into one single Space, so I put down my submission in different spaces. Here is the reason why I think it belongs to each space:
The GLAM movement within the Wikimedia Movement is the one most closely related to Cultural Heritage. Some Cultural Heritage Monuments are, or harbor GLAM institutions. The political curators of cultural monuments are most often the same as the ones politically in charge for GLAM institutions. Within my Wikipedia acquaintances I see a big overlap in their interest for GLAM-projects and Wiki loves Monuments. With regards to documenting objects of art and cultural heritage monuments we are faced with the same problems in Wikipedia, Commons and Wikidata. Lessons learned in one field can and should be applied to the other. When it comes to our Community activities at local levels we should bundle our interests.
Wiki loves Monuments has so far reached mainly photographers. It is not sure how many have stayed on beyond the contest. But Wiki loves Monuments is also about creating lists of monuments, coding the monuments, mapping them. Articles can be written about monuments. Monuments are something close to the heart of the people who engage about them. This engagement on a local level can be utilized for local community building. Photo walks, Coding events, article workshops. All within close horizon of the participants and with easily measurable results and feeling of success. We therefore can reach a diverse group of people and offer them diverse possibilities for participation in our community.
Wiki loves Monuments has lately collaborated with the Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz and with the Deutsche UNESCO Kommission. How effective where these collaborations. Have we made the best of it. What was the return they got from this collaboration. What kind of collaborations have we had in other countries. What results can be reported about there? To reach Open Access for Data about Cultural Heritage Monuments we need to partner with the relevant institutions. We have to make sure that we bring our and their demands into line, so that such partnerships are seen as mutually beneficial.
Wiki loves Monuments strives for quantity on the one hand, trying to amass as many images as possible with each contest and in the end seems to be satisfied to have found the best (in which regard?) images for each participating country, out of which there will be selected 10 top price winners. At least in the German Community the criticism sited very frequently, is that these images are great for coffee table books and calendars, but not necessarily for illustrating the relevant article in the encyclopedia. As a matter of fact re-use is rare and also not a criteria for their selection. I don't even want to debate that. There should be, in my opinion, more than one goal for the contest. So what about the ten thousands of other images we harvest every year? What's their use? Do we accomplish our goal to give each and every cultural monument in the world its representation, by image, by Wikidata entry, by its own Wikipedia entry at least in the language of its country of origin? Or do we get ever repeating images of the easily accessible monuments, but lack images of others even after all those years? What needs to be done to accomplish that goal? Is the money we spend on Wiki loves Monuments in terms of organizational expenses and in prices well spend? Do we need to expand on our goals and reallocated resources (both monetary and human) in a more efficient way?
Especially the situation in Germany has shown me how important advocacy is in the context of Wiki loves Monuments. Culture in Germany is treated as a matter of the individual federal state and not as a national policy. In fact as ever more policy is made on a trans-national level, local governing bodies, like communities, counties, or states hold ever more firmly onto these rights. That doesn't have to be bad, but it doesn't make things easier for us. There is no National Register of Historic Monuments in Germany. Each State has their own legislation, its own policy of publicity for these list. From a very open approach on the one hand to a policy that Data Protection and Privacy Laws forbid publication of lists of cultural monuments altogether on the other. Here the individual Wikipedian can't make further progress by oneself. Here we have to advocate as an organization towards open access. Is this only so in Germany? Where else do we need help from Wikimedia as an advocacy group? Are there lessons learned in one part of our community that can be applied to others.
Wiki loves Monuments could be a motor to push diversity in the Wikimedia Movement, because of the diversity of the tasks that should be pushed by this contest. As outlined above we should take the preparation and some of the award-able task down to a local level. How well is your neighborhood represented in the encyclopedia, on images, on Wikidata and on the map? To accomplish this you need diverse abilities. If you don't like to write, maybe you like to photograph, or code, or map, or categorize. You can be part of a team, regardless of your background and utilize your talents in more than one way.
This is the space where most people would expect Wiki loves Monuments. But here I would like to ask the participants to ask themselves what other media, besides photographs they think could be part of the contest. We tried panorama images last year. Also selection criteria could be discussed here. Cross-cultural discussions about what makes a beautiful picture, or what makes a good image at the various national contests. What are the views regarding processing of images. What is considered permissible, what not? Why?
This session will address the conference theme — Wikimedia, Free Knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals — in the following manner:
- Goal 4: Quality education: Working in any Wikimedia project will broaden ones knowledge skills. Learning about the Cultural Heritage Monuments will enhance the learning of one's culture and history.
- Goal 5: Gender equality: Wiki loves Monuments is an open project, open to all people, with various skills. Everybody can contribute.
- Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth: The protection of national monuments helps to sustain a healthy environment for people to live and strive in. It is also necessary for a functioning Tourist Industry.
- Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities: The preservation of Cultural Heritage is often seen as a deterrent to urban development. But preserving the Cultural Heritage of a City can also strengthen a community and make a city more livable. In the area where I live the coal and steelmines that shaped the area, ensured the economic prosperity of the country, but also enabled the destructions of two World Wars are beeing closed. A lot of the remains are preserved as Industrial Heritage Monuments, used as museums, concert halls, new office and production space for new economies. The history and the heritage is perserved, newforms and culture thrives. This is true sustainabilty of architecture.
- Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions: A livable urban environment also ensures that people feel well and happy and identify with their heritage. This feeling of belonging to a strong society also ensures that the belief in peace and justice and the institutions of the state is exemplified by the deeds of a functioning state. A State that lets its Environment and Cultural Heritage deteriorate can not be viewed as functioning by its citizens.
- Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals: Wiki loves Monuments has partnered with Deutsches Nationalkomitee für Denkmalschutz and with the Deutsche UNESCO Kommission (see above)
At the end of the session, the following will have been achieved:
Since hopefully there will be multiple workshops in different spaces, the workshop in each space should concentrate on the space topic. If it is possible within the reigns of the overall Wikimania Organization to wrap up each Space-Workshop and coordinate with the others, a joint presentation to a larger audience at the last day of Wikimania could be attempted. But I reagard this as rather ambitious. But what could and should be done is to prepare a concluding summary that will be published shortly after Wikimania and that could serve as guideline for future instances of this or similar projects.
Each Space at Wikimania 2019 will have specific format requests. The program design prioritises submissions which are future-oriented and directly engage the audience. The format of this submission is a:
- Lightning talk
- Workshop to identify and try to solve problem
Minimum 45 minutes Workshop (10 Minutes Introduction, 20-25 minutes Working Time, 10 Minutes Conclusion)
The session will work best with these conditions:
A classroom with workshop seating around a large desk, or a set of smaller desks (depending on crowd size). Projector connected to online-computer for illustration , browsing and referencing. Etherpad for recording notes.
Between 5 to 30. Experienced Participators in Wiki loves Monuments from various countries. Organizers of the Competition. But also people who have never participated, but want to participate or organize a competition in their countries. Wikidata Coders, even those who never thought about the competition. We might need you
Notes on Writing boards or Think Pads posted on board should be photographed. Participants should leave their notes on Etherpads. The Session Leader(s) should write a summary. Filming, or recording makes less sense, since it is a workshop with results evolving over time.