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portrait of Wendy Byrne

Wendy Byrne

Former Editorial Officer a.i. , Europeana Foundation

portrait of Liam Wyatt

Liam Wyatt

Program Manager for WikiCite, Former Europeana GLAMwiki Community Manager , Wikimedia Foundation

Wikimania 2019

Every year during the Northern summer holidays, approximately 1,000 members of the Wikimedia community – the worldwide group of volunteers and professionals behind projects including Wikipedia and Wikidata – gather for their annual event: Wikimania. This year’s event, hosted in Stockholm, had as its theme the relationship of open-access information to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The event's program was chaired for the second year running by Europeana’s own Wikimedia liaison Liam Wyatt, in a voluntary capacity. Today he fills us in on this year’s gathering.

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Wikimania 2019 Opening Ceremony
Mike Peel

A new and diverse format

The program for the three-day main conference consisted of approximately 250 sessions and 300 speakers, scheduled across more than a dozen independently curated ‘spaces’. This format – borrowed loosely from Mozilla’s MozFest conference was a first for the Wikimedia community, and was designed to encourage greater diversity: of content, of session format, and of presenter. Two of these thematic tracks were of particular relevance to Europeana – the GLAM Space, and the Library Space – both of which heavily featured content about Wikidata and included presentations from current and former members of the Europeana Members Council.

Sharing the conference content

Swedish broadcaster Utbildningsradion (UR) produced recordings of the opening day's ‘spotlight sessions’ by invited experts discussing their relationship to the theme – from agriculture to mapping, from education to journalism... These are now available online and soon to be broadcast across national TV. In collaboration with Wikimedia Sweden, and for the first time, UR has also released its own footage under a free license (CC By-SA). Video recordings (both official and crowdsourced) of many of the other conference sessions have also been made available

What else was happening?

There was a series of official side-events to the main conference – both before and afterwards – during which Europeana played a visible role. As part of the series, many local cultural heritage organisations led free guided tours for Wikimania participants, and Europeana partners the Nationalmuseum and Riksantikvarieämbetet (RAÄ) hosted well-received pre-conference events. The Nationalmuseum led an editathon, while RAÄ hosted an all-day training event for 30 small and regional affiliates to learn about how Wikidata can be useful to their organisation. The latter event built on last year’s successful experience running an equivalent training with Dutch aggregator partner NDE. 

'Wikidata is an excellent tool for working life museums. Through Wikidata and Wikipedia, the cultural heritage of industrial society can be made visible and made available globally.'
- attendee feedback from the RAÄ event

The training included: a general introduction to Wikidata and SPARQL querying; briefings on the impact and development of the ‘structured data on [Wikimedia] Commons’ project; and various GLAM-specific projects built on top of Wikidata – notably the UNESCO-backed ‘FindingGLAMs’ database.

Convening the third biennial GLAMwiki Coordinators Meeting during the pre-conference as Europeana’s Wikimedia liaison coordinator, the meeting followed on from the success of the 2017 edition hosted by UNESCO in Paris. The 2019 meeting was attended by cultural-sector partnership coordinators representing 30 Wikimedia affiliates from across the continent. Each received training and updates on the state-of-the-art tools and processes for effective, efficient and sustainable open-access partnership projects. The training sessions covered: briefings on UNESCO OER recommendations; the Creative Commons certification program; the proposed Open GLAM declaration; and various technical tools currently under development. 

A third event – focusing on the use of Wikidata and its underlying software Wikibase for National Libraries’ cataloguing needs – was also held. Look out for a follow-up news post later this week with more on that. 

For a summary of all three side-events, check out Wikimedia’s own monthly GLAM newsletter.