New year started in the Netherlands

Teylers Museum, the 'Gehoorzaal'
Teylers Museum, the 'Gehoorzaal'

Wikimedia Nederland had its 2012 new year’s reception at the Teylers Museum in Haarlem. It calls itself the first and oldest museum of the Netherlands. Ca. 150 Wikimedians and Wikipedia fans came together and saw an amazing collection, including some of the rooms closed to the ‘ordinary’ audience.

In her welcoming speech Marjan Scharloo, general director, mentioned the political and philosophical implications of Teylers Museum’s mission in the 18th century: spreading knowledge to the people. As president of WMNL, I looked back at our activities of 2011 and presented some of 2012. Maarten Dammers explained about a ‘Challenge’ competition that will have prize winners in May.

A great beginning of the new year, with a lot of new people interested in a membership of WMNL.


GLAMcamp Amsterdam: mass upload

At Amsterdam, 60 Wikimedia activists and fans from 22 countries gather for the 2nd “GLAMcamp”: a seminar on cultural heritage. Now we listen to the experts on mass uploads. There is a problem for museums to upload pictures from their collection to the internet; of course, we want those pictures with metadata.

Wikimedia organizations are going to cooperate with Europeana, a EU network for cultural heritage institutions. It’s tricky – uploading must become easy and effective so that really everyone can use the new tools.

Wikimedia Nederland and Heemschut: partners in cultural heritage

Symposium on cultural heritage and new media at the open air museum, Arnhem

On November 11th, 2011, Heemschut ended the festivities of its anniversary year. The one hundred years old Dutch association is occupied with cultural heritage. In 2011, it was our partner with regard to Wiki Loves Monuments.

At a panel discussion I thanked for the collaboration and mentioned some strange facts about Wikipedia and Wikimedia: being in the top ten of the most popular sites in the Netherlands, we have only one part-time employee; we have a youth problem meaning that we have a lack of senior citizens; and if you have ever read a Wikipedia article, maybe it was written by a 13-year-old.

People were astonished but not as much as they were pleased when I reminded them that Wikipedia is only 10 years old, that Facebook and Twitter are huge for less than 5 years, and that 100-year-old Heemschut is possibly going to outlive them.

Wiki loves monuments: tools help, but still…

Franeker, Martena Museum and a lot of surroundings

September 2011 is the month of Wiki Loves Monuments, the great photo competition. Take pictures of monuments for Wikipedia, and win… they say. But uploading the right way is more work than you might think.

In July, I was on holiday in Friesland (the Dutch province). For example I walked through Franeker, and took photographs of old buildings. Occasionally I took pictures of street signs and house numbers, too. Still, it is not always easy home at the computer to find out which building is exactly which one.  I wasn’t as diligent as in a different municipality where I had printed out the monuments list in advance and checked out every building before taking the picture.

But there is a tool that shows me on Google Maps where the monuments in Franeker (or elsewhere) are. I follow on the map the way I went on my holiday, and identified the buildings. Sometimes I saw that a building houses a certain shop, for example a shoe shop, and googling the name of the shoe shop led me to its exact house number. That’s what I need to check whether this is the monument I was looking for.

The Google Maps tool provides me already with the monument’s identifier, a number given by the Dutch Office for Cultural Heritage. I copy it into the file name of the picture. Later, when I upload the picture, I don’t have to look for it again.

Uploading happens to Wikimedia Commons, the central media archive for Wikipedia. The guys from the Wiki Loves Monuments contest provided a special upload wizard. This tool attaches already some useful data and also has a field for the monument’s identifier. It takes some time to fill in everything, and usually you have to look for this or an other category.

And winning a price? Well, that’s for other’s to decide. I already got one, name I contributed to the largest collection of free media and made some Frisians happy.

Wiki loves monuments goes Europe

Example from WLM 2010: Havezate de Magerhorst, Duiven (Gelderland). Monument no. 14176

‘Wiki loves art’ was a Wikimedia initiative the Dutch took over in 2009: In June that year, people all over the Netherlands took photographs of art objects in museums and uploaded them to Wikimedia Commons, the Wikipedia media archive. In 2010, the hunt continued under the name ‘Wiki loves monuments’. In collaboration with the Dutch service for cultural monuments, Wikimedia Nederland created lists on Wikipedia and asked people to enrich our media archive.

The result of ‘Wiki loves monuments’ 2010 were more than 12,000 photographs of monuments and ten happy winners of our contest, honoured at the Wikiminiconferentie in Utrecht in November. And if it was such a success, why not repeat it on a Europe wide scale?

On Wikimedia Commons exists a place for the international cooperation, with interested Wikimedians already from Spain, Poland and other countries. In the single countries, the Wikimedians have made progress very differently. The Swiss already have great Wikipedia lists with many pictures and object data, the people in Luxembourg hardly anything. In Germany, cultural heritage is registered usually on state level, the Wikipedians will have to ask more than 16 institutions to share their data.

New and better lists on Wikipedia, much more photographs on Wikimedia Commons; more contributors, more attention for cultural monuments. It sounds like a win-win-opportunity for Wikimedia and cultural instituions as well.

Wikipedia Day in Amsterdam

A few days before January 15th 2011, the list for registration counted 200 participants - the maximum. Here Wikimedians and fans in the Schuttersgalerij of Amsterdam Museum.

The last couple of days I had the pleasure of being in Amsterdam. The Dutch Wikimedia chapter had invited to celebrate 10 years of Wikipedia, and two days before, it already gathered people to make new contacts and collaborate. Here a few lines about fun, fans and a fancy gift.

On Thursday (Jan 13th) some Wikimedians and representants of Dutch cultural heritage institutions met at the Kennisland seat in central Amsterdam. In the splendid Art Nouveau building we saw an introduction into the world of Free Knowledge, by Maarten Zeinstra (Kennisland and Creative Commons Netherlands) and Maarten Brinkerink (Wikimedia Nederland). The WMNL Maarten explained about the possibilities of collaboration and showed some examples, for example from the Tropenmusuem partnership.

The day next cultural managers (often the IT responsables) sat together in a Bootcamp with helpful Wikimedians, among them me. Actually the editing was not that a big problem, but the many rules and conventions. A spokesperson of Amsterdam Museum (previously Amsterdam Historisch Museum) thought of the Wikimedians being very strict with regard to copyright, and Hay Kranen from WMNL seconded: “Yes, we are more Roman than the Pope. Maybe we are the largest group of people who have copyright issues as their hobby.”

Me testing (passively) the new iPhone app

Many of the nearly 20 guests in the Filmzolder of the Amsterdam Museum represented famous Dutch museums, such as the Rijksmuseum and the Museum Boerhaave, but also the city archive of Nijmegen. The two nice guys from the latter, for example, wrote an article about the memorial plate for a local resistant hero and even added their geodata.

That same friday, more technically oriented people had their first Dutch Wikimedia Hackathon (page in Dutch, and TheDJ blog entry). Well known (for example Roan Kattouw, Siebrand Mazeland, Gerard Meijssen) and less known developers created new software tools to make easier to edit, to use or upload photographs, or have a better picture of a collection. There where even guests from England and France.

Wikisnaps” has a good chance to become the most famous result: With this Apple App, you can take a photograph with your iPhone and upload it within a few seconds to Wikimedia Commons. An Android version is about to come. At the presentation, this tool received a long warm applause.

Gusta Reichwein and Hay Kranen from WMNL

On Saturday, the big day, Wikimedians could attend four or more locations:

  • Some hackers and their lesser skilled entourage worked on at the Kennisland place.
  • WMNL had a short and not very populated members convention at a hotel which name I forgot. It was mainly about the budget for 2011: the chapter is going to have one or two employees.
  • At the Schuttersgalerij of Amsterdam Museum, the main event presented the hackers with their results and a panel discussion about cultural heritage collaboration issues. There was a ‘borrel’ (a kind of reception) in the museumcafé later.
  • Nearly 50 participants ate together at a Chinese restaurant, where we sang a Dutch birthday song for Wikipedia. A couple of us later went to Amsterdam pubs.

There was a nice media coverage, especially with WMNL main organizer Lodewijk Gelauff, and at the Schuttersgalerij the Amsterdam Museum surprised the crowd with a special birthday present: a usb stick with the entire pictorial collection of the museum, meaning 50,000 new files for Wikimedia Commons. WMNL helps the museum to pull down walls, to reach the public better, said Gusta Reichwein, head of the collection.

Some fans came, they said, because they wanted to see finally those people who write Wikipedia. And when I entered the restaurant with a Wikipedia ribbon, a waiter welcomed me with a sincere “Thank you, Wikipedia!”