The Power & Privilege of Editing Wikipedia

8 December 2021, 10:00:00 pm

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Session Convenors

Dr Sam Bowker, Senior Lecturer in Art History & Visual Culture, Charles Sturt University

Session Moderators

Dr Sam Bowker, Senior Lecturer in Art History & Visual Culture, Charles Sturt University

Session Speakers

Jessi England, National Gallery of Australia
Caddie Brain, Wikimedia Australia
Amanda Stojanov, Assistant Professor of Digital Media, Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA
Elizabeth Elwell-Cook, Charles Sturt University and TAFE Western NSW

For maximum impact across our research and cultural practices, we should collaborate with our colleagues and students to edit Wikipedia and actively contribute to other open-source online resources. Wikipedia is the world’s leading platform for accessible commentary on history, art and visual culture. It is continuously undergoing revision, yet we are in the best position to lead these changes – especially for aspects of art history and visual culture from Australia and Aotearoa / New Zealand. Developing assessment items in which students identify, research, edit and ethically enhance Wikipedia instills the values of public scholarship and critically engages with pressing issues. This is an important space for inclusion and decolonization, where new voices can contribute to global discourse. Building on the legacy of collaborative Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, Trove APIs, Facebook, and the work of the #KnowMyName initiative and the Historians of Islamic Art Association (HIAA), this panel considers the impact of contributions to online open-source resources. How might your work be better represented in these spaces, and what can we do to measure or improve the impact of our online representation on continuously changing platforms?

PAPER #1
Know My Name and Wikimedia Australia: A case study

PRESENTERS
Jessi England, National Gallery of Australia and Caddie Brain, Wikimedia Australia

In 2019 the National Gallery of Australia established an ongoing partnership with Wikimedia Australia in association with the Gallery’s gender equity initiative Know My Name. The partnership aims to address the under-representation of Australian women artists on Wikipedia as part of the Gallery’s strategy to increase understanding of the contributions of women and gender diverse artists. To date the partnership has included two Know My Name Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, volunteer training workshops, the establishment of the National Gallery Volunteer Wiki Club and staff information and training sessions. The Know My Name project has so far resulted in 200,000+ words being added to Wikipedia including the creation of 115 new pages on Australia women artists, 431 existing articles being edited, and 2,320 new references added. 176 volunteer editors have so far participated nationally and new and edited articles have been viewed 513,000+ times on Wikipedia. The partnership has made an internationally significant contribution as part of gender equity movements Art+Feminism and Women in Red. It also offers a best practice case study about how GLAM sector organisations can use collections and expertise to grow representation, inclusion and equity on the world’s biggest online knowledge platforms.

PAPER #2
"Not an Acceptable Source": Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons and Higher Education

PRESENTER
Amanda Stojanov, Assistant Professor of Digital Media, Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA

Within the worldwide collaborative encyclopedia project Wikipedia, there is a network of volunteers who edit the site. Within this globalized network, there still lacks a diversity of voices. “In a 2011 survey, the Wikimedia Foundation found that less than 10% of its contributors identify as female; more recent research puts that number at 16% globally and 23% in the United States” (Mandiberg, M., Prajapati, S., & Schrock, R., 2020). Who contributes to this database matters. Especially when in 2015, that database was “the 7th most visited website in the world” (Paling, E., 2015). A 2011 study from the Pew Research Center shows that "the more educated someone is, the more likely he or she is to consult Wikipedia. Almost 70 percent of Americans with college degrees read Wikipedia" (Paling, E., 2015). If college-educated people and students rely on Wikipedia as a primary source of information, students will benefit from learning how to edit and contribute to the site. This paper will discuss the structure and usefulness of Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons to educate students on the collaborative nature of the site, as well as its attempts to increase their media literacy through project-based learning.

PAPER #3
Facebook as a Socially Engaged Research Tool

PRESENTER
Elizabeth Elwell-Cook, Charles Sturt University and TAFE Western NSW

This paper uses the author’s postgraduate experiences to reflect on the wider usefulness of social media for research in the digital humanities. While attempting to piece together the poorly documented and disjointed history of an endangered collection of 300 historic Girl Guide uniforms, it became known that diverse custodians had access to vital details, personal experience, and undigitized documents in their own collections. Thus, the team working on the collection turned to Facebook as a place to locate data, reassemble uniforms dissociated from their histories and provenance, and critically compare or showcase the finds unearthed during their work. The growth of this group, and a more longitudinal examination of other groups it has spawned beyond the end of the original project, demonstrate that social media can make a significant contribution to research. Cross-cultural and interdisciplinary communication is enhanced when active, even ubiquitous open-access social media sites such as Facebook are harnessed for research. Participants with current and historical understanding have shared perspectives from their own experiences and disciplines. This case study highlights the impact of online outreach programs as a model of socially engaged strengths-based research, particularly applicable for specialist museums, community-led organisations and regional communities.

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Biographies

Dr Sam Bowker, Senior Lecturer in Art History & Visual Culture, Charles Sturt University

Dr Sam Bowker is the Senior Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture for Charles Sturt University. His research and teaching includes Australian and 'Islamic' art, the history of design, and the cultural history of the screen. He recently curated "Windowless Worlds" for the National Art Glass Gallery, which responds to the metaphors of broken glass, centered on the shattered windows of Beirut. As co-editor with Onur Ozturk and Xenia Gazi, his current book is "Deconstructing the Myths of Islamic Art" (Routledge, 2021), and his previous book was "The Tentmakers of Cairo" with co-author Seif El Rashidi (2018).


Jessi England, National Gallery of Australia 

Jessi England has been working in the arts, cultural and creative industries sectors for over 20 years and is currently Program and Campaign Manager, Know My Name at the National Gallery of Australia. She has managed the development and delivery of the initiative and the National Gallery’s industry leading Gender Equity Action Plan.


Caddie Brain, Wikimedia Australia

Caddie Brain is the Executive Officer of Wikimedia Australia. Following journalism and community technology projects, her work explores how communities can co-design, reappropriate and reclaim technologies to centre their histories, stories, and languages online. She has coordinated the National Gallery of Australia’s Wikimedia partnership since 2019.


Amanda Stojanov, Assistant Professor of Digital Media, Monmouth University, New Jersey, USA

Amanda is a media artist and educator who investigates how innovations in communication technologies affect perceptions of identity, agency, and visibility, emphasizing concepts of embodiment and the "historically constituted body" within a networked-society. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in venues such as the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and Ars Electronica, Linz. Her work has also been featured in publications like Artillery magazine, The New York Times, and The Associated Press.


Elizabeth Elwell-Cook, Charles Sturt University and TAFE Western NSW

Elizabeth Elwell-Cook is a costumier, historian, and specialist in historical Girl Guide uniforms. She is a lecturer in design history, theory and aesthetics, as well as costume design and construction for stage and screen. More general interests include the history of working men’s fashion of the 14th-16th centuries, and textile design during the Arts & Crafts Movement. She has served as a consultant for the ABC and Warner Bros., and spoken at conferences in Australia, England and Switzerland, after conserving 300 historic Girl Guide uniforms in conjunction with her Masters in Creative Practice (Charles Sturt University).