From 22 to 24 November 2013, the German-speaking Wikimedians were invited to South Germany’s minor metropole Karlsruhe. Under the denominator “WikiCon” people (finally) met offline, exchanged ideas, and left with a lot of tasks for the nearby future. Sue Gardner called Wikimania a place for practitioners, well, that’s exactly what WikiCon is all about. Seeing it, who could ever complain about a lack of cooperation between the Germanophone Wikimedia organizations?

A little more than 200 participants came together at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, with a surprisingly weak wi-fi. My contributions were an “Entzücklopädischer Abend”, a kind of late night show; a lecture about wiki theory (called “Popular myths about Wikipedia”, to attract some listeners); an introduction to the wiki:team session; and I have been asked to lead a discussion about the so-called “Botpedia”, the mass creation of Wikipedia articles with bots (automatic programmes).

Most memorable: the presentation of two KIT collaborators about academic writing for the technical student. Students of the sciences and mathematics don’t like writing or even reading, he KIT writing trainers said, and probably they have chosen those subjects so that they never have to write again. Then, when the final thesis approaches, they see themselves in big trouble. I learned about different writing styles in different disciplines and will try to keep that in mind when I meet a different taste in Wikipedia.

A team of volunteers has taken over the responsibility just a few months before, and we are all very grateful. We do ask to consider putting more time into the timetable of the next WikiCon to get from session to another.

The ancient Middle East and the ethics of archaeology

17:20, Friday, 16 2019 August UTC

Many of the advances that we enjoy and even take for granted nowadays have come from the Middle East. Love coffee? The earliest credible evidence of coffee drinking or knowledge shows that a monastery in Yemen during the 15th century enjoyed or knew about coffee. Have you performed in a marching band? The origins of this comes from the Ottoman military band from the 16th century. Several forms of surgery and algebra itself also came from the ancient Middle East. As such, it’s important to study the cultures, histories, and heritages of this region – as well as to review the fundamentals and ethics of archaeology. This past spring students in Dr. Heather Sharkey’s The University, the Museum, and the Middle East class at the University of Pennsylvania chose to edit or create several articles along this vein.

For those who perked up at the mention of music as well as those who love history, you may find the Bull Headed Lyre of Ur intriguing. One of the oldest stringed instruments ever discovered, this was excavated in the Royal Cemetery of Ur during the 1926-27 season of an archeological dig led by Leonard Woolley and carried out in what is now Iraq jointly by the University of Pennsylvania and the British Museum. Woolley was assisted in his work by his future wife Katharine Woolley, whom he married in 1927, and who also helped by working as an illustrator for the objects catalog. The lyre dates back to the Early Dynastic III Period (2550–2450 BCE) and was found along with several other such instruments in “The King’s Grave,” near the bodies of more than sixty soldiers and attendants. As a group, these instruments are the second oldest surviving stringed instruments. It is currently held at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, which also took great pains to conserve and restore this historical treasure. There is much that can be learned from these instruments, such as how they were constructed, the available materials, and the preferred styles of the people from that era.

The ethics of archaeology have often been debated, as there are questions such as whether or not it is ethical to excavate a grave site or whether or not sites should be preserved in hopes that future generations will have less invasive techniques. There is also the question of what happens to artifacts once they’re taken from the site and what the responsibility is for museums that obtain them for their collections. To this end the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology issued the Pennsylvania Declaration on April 1, 1970. With this declaration the institution swore to not accept any items that lacked provenance or collection histories. This was done in order to foster and maintain trust with the countries where the university engaged in field research, as well as to distinguish it from illegal antiquity trading. It was presented by Froelich Rainey, director of the Penn Museum, at the meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in conjunction with the issue of its treaty known as the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. Rainey, who had performed field research throughout the world – including his early work in Arctic Alaska, had been invited by UNESCO the prior year to help draft the convention. However as he did so, he realized that the UNESCO convention would lack legal accountability and would not suffice in ending looting, regulating the importation of cultural material, and providing guidelines for legal trade. This realization influenced his decision to draft the separate Pennsylvania Declaration.

Students and instructors have a lot of knowledge to offer the world! Wiki Education provides tools, online trainings, and printed materials to help them channel that knowledge into the public resource that is Wikipedia. If you’re interested in getting involved, visit teach.wikiedu.org to get started.


Header image by BabelStone, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wikimedia Foundation and the United Nations’ Human Rights Office (OHCHR) are partnering to support the creation of human rights-related content on Wikimedia sites.

We believe that free access to knowledge is a fundamental human right—that anyone, anywhere should have the ability to learn more about the world around them. We are proud to be part of a wider Wikimedia movement that is committed to cultivating a diverse, enduring, and thriving movement of leaders, contributors, advocates, and partners.

This partnership came about because of the work of Wikimedia Argentina, an independent affiliate organization. Their WikiDerechosHumanos project has been expanding Wikimedia’s human rights-related holdings for several years now, and they piloted this new initiative at a Buenos Aires edit-a-thon with volunteer editors and UN officials in July. Wikimedia Argentina will be taking a lead role in promoting and facilitating this wider partnership to take it to a global scale.

Katherine Maher, Wikimedia Foundation. and Laurent Sauveur, UN Human Rights Office.

By partnering with the UN’s Human Rights Office, we hope to empower Wikimedians from around the world to create, improve, and expand content about human rights in all Wikimedia projects, across all of the more than 300 languages Wikipedia is available, and adapted it to local contexts. In doing this, we will be giving people around the world freely accessible tools to learn about their basic human rights and how to uphold them.

The announcement of the partnership was made at the 2019 Wikimania, an annual conference for Wikipedia, the Wikimedia projects, and the hundreds of thousands of people who curate all of them, and was celebrated with the signature of an MOU by Katherine Maher and Laurent Sauveur, Chief of External Relations at the UN’s Human Rights Office. A global campaign will be launched in December.

If you want to be part of this initiative or would like to learn more about this collaboration, please send an email to jvargas@wikimedia.org and de@wikimedia.org.ar, or reach out to Wikimedia Argentina on Twitter at @wikimedia_ar.

Yesterday, the Wikimedia Foundation announced a new member and leadership appointments to its Board of Trustees.

Shani Evenstein Sigalov, currently an EdTech Innovation Strategist and lecturer at the School of Medicine in Tel Aviv University, will be the newest member of the Board of Trustees. Nataliia Tymkiv will begin her second term on the Board of Trustees. The Board also re-elected María Sefidari to the role of Board Chair, and elected Nataliia Tymkiv as Vice Chair. The announcement was made at the 2019 Wikimania conference, an annual international conference held this year in Stockholm, Sweden, that brings together nearly a thousand Wikimedia contributors from around the world.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees oversees the Wikimedia Foundation and its work, and serves as the organization’s ultimate corporate authority. As an incoming trustee, Shani will serve a three year term effective immediately.

Shani assumes the seat formerly held by outgoing Trustee Christophe Henner, whose term of the Board concluded yesterday after serving for two years as Chair of the Board and one year as Vice Chair. The Board thanks Christophe for his service to the Board and his long-standing commitment to the Wikimedia movement and mission.

Shani joins the Board with a depth of experience in creating successful collaborations between Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects and educational, cultural and government institutions. She has designed and led for-credit academic courses focused on Wiki projects, and to date, her students have created hundreds of new articles in Hebrew and Arabic that have been viewed over 7 million times.

Shani has been a part of the Wikimedia movement since 2011, and has focused her contributions on closing gender and knowledge gaps by supporting female contributors and thematic groups, working with indigenous communities and promoting equitable access to knowledge. She has served leadership roles in several Wikimedia affiliates and thematic groups, including as the Chairperson for both Wikimedia Medicine and the Wikipedia and Education User Group, and as a Board member of Wikimedia Israel. She is also currently part of the Wikimedia 2030 partnerships working group as part of the Movement Strategy. Shani joins Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Board Chair María Sefidari, Vice Chair Nataliia Tymkiv, and Board members Esra’a Al Shafei, Raju Narisetti, Dr. James Heilman, Lisa Lewin, Tanya Capuano, and Dr. Dariusz Jemielniak.

• • •

“Shani is a passionate, longtime Wikimedian who brings her enthusiasm for her mission to her colleagues, friends, and her students,” said Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director, Katherine Maher. “Her work on identifying gender and diversity gaps and welcoming new voices into our movement makes her a valuable addition to the Board as our movement continues to grow. I look forward to her contributions as Wikimedia moves forward to achieve our 2030 strategic direction.”

“Since joining the movement in 2011, it has become an integral part of my life,” said incoming Board Trustee Shani Evenstein said. “I believe we have enormous potential to amplify the impact of free knowledge through partnerships and collaborations. Together, we can create a source for free knowledge that is truly representative of all people and all cultures.”

“Our 2030 strategy process is our most ambitious initiative we have ever done as a movement, and this next year we’ll be moving from developing and discussing big ideas to implementing them,” said Board Chair Maria Sefidari. “It will be a period of laying the groundwork for the future. I am looking forward to continue supporting this movement as the Foundation’s Board Chair, as we move forward towards our vision for 2030.”

The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees

  • María Sefidari, Board Chair
  • Nataliia Tymkiv, Vice Chair
  • Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia
  • Dariusz Jemielniak
  • Esra’a Al Shafei
  • James Heilman
  • Raju Narisetti
  • Tanya Capuano
  • Shani Evenstein
  • Lisa Lewin

 

About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

About Wikimania

Wikimania is the annual conference centered on the Wikimedia projects (Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge websites) and the Wikimedia community of volunteers who contribute to them. It features presentations on Wikimedia projects, other wikis, free and open source software, free knowledge and free content, and the social and technical aspects which relate to these topics. Wikimania 2019 marks the fifteenth year of the conference.

Wikimedia Foundation press contact

Samantha Lien
Communications Manager
press@wikimedia.org

About Shani Evenstein Sigalov

Shani Evenstein Sigalov is an educator, researcher and Free Knowledge advocate, focusing on bridging gender, language and social gaps in free knowledge projects. Shani currently serves as an EdTech Innovation Strategist at the School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University (TAU) since 2011, and has served as a lecturer on campus since 2013. During her tenure, Shani has designed and led academic courses focusing on Wikimedia projects; as a result of her courses, her medical students have created more than 10% of the medical content available on Hebrew Wikipedia. Shani received her BA and MA from TAU, and is now pursuing a PhD in Education and Technology, researching Wikidata as a learning platform. She was recently elected to be a fellow of the esteemed PhD Program of the Azrieli Foundation.

Prior to joining the Board of Trustees, Shani served as the Chairperson for both Wikimedia Medicine and Wikipedia & Education User Group. She is also a founding member of the Wikipedia & Libraries User Group, and a former board member of Wikimedia Israel. Shani is also an active member of the Partnerships Strategy working group.

About María Sefidari

María is a professor in the Digital Communications, Culture and Citizenship Master’s degree program of Rey Juan Carlos University at the MediaLab-Prado. María graduated with a Psychology degree from Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and later a Master’s degree in Management and Tourism at the Business faculty of the same university.

María started contributing to the Wikimedia projects in 2006, and has since served in many different roles across the Wikimedia movement. She was a founding member of Wikimedia España and Wikimujeres Grupo de Usuarias, and also created Spanish Wikipedia’s LGBT Wikiproject. She has served on several Wikimedia governance committees, including the Affiliations and Individual Engagement Grants committees. In her time on the Affiliations committee, María served as the first Treasurer of the committee, effectively overseeing and monitoring disbursement of the committee’s budget. María served a prior term on the Wikimedia Foundation board from 2013 to 2015.

About Nataliia Tymkiv

Nataliia currently serves as Financial Director of the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law, a Ukrainian media policy and human rights nonprofit. Nataliia has a Masters degree in Public Administration and a Specialist degree in Records Management and Information Activities.

She has in-depth experience in executive leadership and financial management. Prior to her current role as Financial Director, Nataliia worked at a manufacturing firm and later, in finance at a construction company. Prior to her current role as Financial Director, Nataliia worked at a manufacturing firm and later, in finance at a construction company. On the Wikimedia projects, she’s been an active contributor since 2011, and shortly after became an administrator of Ukrainian Wikipedia. She has also been a member of the Wikimedia Ukraine community for nearly four years, and has served as the chapter’s Board Treasurer, Vice Chair, and volunteer Executive Director.

Building Chromium for Windows ARM64

16:24, Thursday, 15 2019 August UTC

I heard a couple months back that someone had confirmed that you can build Chromium (open-source version of Chrome browser) for Windows ARM64… Since there’s still no general release, figured I’d give it a shot to test things in.

You have to build on Windows x64 (it won’t build on-device, it’d be too slow and may require running some x64 binaries from the tooling which wouldn’t work) and then copy the output over to an ARM64 device.

Some resources:

Tricky bits:

  • I built with Visual Studio 2019, but something in the build setup seems to want Visual Studio 2017’s C runtime library? Or something? Anyway I had to change a couple references in build/vs_toolchain.py from ‘Microsoft.VC141.CRT’ to ‘Microsoft.VC142.CRT’ and *.DebugCRT because I could not get it to look in the directory where the VC141 files were.
  • If you don’t turn on use_jumbo_build it will take a vveerryy lloonngg time. If you do, though, it will use more memory. Beware.
  • I had a lot of problems with the provided python instance not picking up imports from the depot_tools package, even after removing my other Python instances. Had to set PYTHONPATH=C:\src\depot_tools

My gn args for the build were:

# Required or else it defaults to x64
target_cpu = "arm64"

# To get a release-quality build for benchmarking
is_debug = false
is_component_build = false

# Coalesce multiple files and skip the Native Client stuff which won't be used in testing
use_jumbo_build = true
enable_nacl = false

I copied the resulting output directory over to the ARM64 machine in the morning; cd into the out dir and just run “chrome” and bam it works!

After enabling SIMD in chrome://flags, I tested ogv.js’s WebAssembly version of the dav1d AV1 decoder, with excellent results. Matching my earlier experiments with the Linux version under WSL (where I couldn’t get playback working due to missing audio and slow X11 drawing, but decoding benchmarks worked) I see decode times about 2x as fast as Firefox (which only uses a baseline compiler on ARM64, so isn’t as well optimized).

Enabling SIMD roughly doubles the throughput… and enabling threading roughly doubles it again.

As a result, I can get 720p24 AV1 video decoding and playing in WebAssembly fairly stably, with a few dropped frames here and there:

That’s not bad!

Very very much hoping that WebAssembly threading and SIMD will come to Safari, where we use ogv.js to play Ogg/WebM/VP9 (and in future AV1) video clips for Wikipedia. The recent model iPad and iPhone ARM64 chips are already amazing, and both desktops and mobiles will benefit from the performance improvements.

Also very much looking forward to Chrome and Edge coming to native ARM64 Windows. And looking forward to Firefox’s next-gen code generation engine, cranelift, improving their situation on these chips…. :)

Want to follow along? Much of Wikimania 2019 will be recorded and livestreamed, and you can follow the conference on social media with the hashtag #Wikimania19, on Facebook, and on Twitter. For more information about the conference, please visit wikimania.wikimedia.org.

More than 800 attendees from nearly 80 countries have gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, for the start of the fifteenth annual Wikimania.

Taking place from 14–18 August, Wikimania brings together the community of volunteers who make Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects possible. Over 5 days, attendees will come together to discuss Wikimedia’s future and the role of free knowledge in creating a more equitable world.

This year’s Wikimania is focused around a broad theme. Stronger Together: Wikimedia, Free Knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals emphasizes the shared aspirations of Wikimedia, free knowledge, and the United Nations global goals to address some of the world’s greatest issues.

The 17 sustainable development goals were enacted by the United Nations in 2015. They call upon the world to join together and create a better world for everyone living in it. Wikimania 2019 aims to inspire its attendees to consider how the Wikimedia movement can participate in fulfilling these goals, including in quality education, gender diversity, environmental sustainability, and more.

“Wikimania is a celebration of our global free knowledge movement and what we can accomplish when we all come together,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Only through collaboration will we achieve the ambitious goals we have set for 2030 and create a world that is stronger, more equitable, and sustainable for generations to come.”

In a nod to Sweden’s commitment to sustainability and the theme of this year’s conference, Wikimania will introduce several new sustainability measures throughout the event.  For the first time, the conference will be entirely carbon neutral through carbon offsets from Terrapass, a social enterprise organization. In addition to utilizing carbon offsets, conference organizers have introduced other sustainable measures into the event including name badges printed on seed paper,  reusable water bottles, no single use plastic, and an online-only program for this year’s conference to minimize paper use.

• • •

Much of Wikimania 2019 will be recorded and livestreamed to the world, and you can find sessions to attend in the conference program. Highlights include:

  • Michael Peter Edson, the co-founder and Associate Director of The Museum for the United Nations — UN Live, will deliver the opening keynote address
  • Katherine Maher, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Executive Director, will give a speech about the future of the Wikimedia movement and the execution of our 2030 strategy
  • A series of “spotlight sessions” about the role of free knowledge within the sustainable development goals, including:
    • Liv Inger Somby, journalist and scholar, on the Sámi people and bringing indigenous languages online
    • Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, on “how a radically open approach will let us move more quickly, with greater innovation, towards a more equitable result”
    • Annika Söder, State Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, on inspiring current and future generations with examples of amazing women throughout history through the #WikiGap campaign
  • The presentation of the 2019 Wikimedian of the Year, awarded by Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, and Farhad Fatkullin, the 2018 recipient

“We’re excited to welcome Wikimania to the Nordics for the first time,” said John Andersson, Executive Director of Wikimedia Sverige. “This year’s conference is a unique opportunity to learn and collaborate with global partners and cultural institutions to protect free knowledge and to discuss how the Sustainable Development Goals can be supported by the Wikimedia movement.”

This year’s Wikimedia also includes the Equal Edit, a campaign to make Swedish history more gender equal on Wikipedia by Wikimedia Sverige (Sweden), the Wikimedia Foundation, Swedish Wikipedia volunteers, and collaborators such as Historiskan, Sweden’s first women’s history magazine.  On Saturday, Wikipedians and experts in gender equity will join a panel conversation about the campaign and broader efforts to address gender inequality.

The conference comes to Stockholm on the heels of the decision by the European Court of Human Rights to expedite Wikimedia’s case against Turkey for blocking Wikipedia more than 2 years ago. We ask that conference attendees show their support for lifting the ban and advocating for access to free knowledge by sharing their thoughts on social media using #ForFreeKnowledge.

The conference will also include a dedicated strategy track in the program for attendees to learn more about Wikimedia’s future, and our vision to become the essential infrastructure for free knowledge by the year 2030. Over the past year, a group of Wikimedia volunteers researched the movement, analyzed community input by hosting 39 strategy salons in 33 countries, and evaluated trends that impact Wikipedia and the free knowledge movement. Together, they have created a series of draft recommendations for how we might evolve to achieve our goal. The recommendations focus on a number of themes, including advocacy, partnerships, and diversity among others. Throughout the conference, attendees are encouraged  to join discussions and review these recommendations so we can meet the direction we collectively identified for our future.

Data for all: share your collection

17:07, Wednesday, 14 2019 August UTC

Do you work with linked data or teach data literacy? Are you looking to increase the impact of your collections? Do you need new methods of gaining insights about your data and tools for visualizing those findings? Are you just curious about the open data movement?

If you answered yes to any of the above, Wikidata is important and relevant to you. Our upcoming online courses dive into how Wikidata functions. In them, we’ll help you apply open data practices to your particular professional goals.

Participants in these courses meet virtually to learn how to use, as well as contribute to, the global data repository that is Wikidata. Each course is six weeks and includes one hour synchronous sessions with peers, as well as access to hands-on support and technical training from Wikidata experts.

Registration for courses beginning in September and October is now open! Register before August 16th to get $100 off tuition.

 

Join the Open Data Movement

An online course for those new to linked data, or for those looking for a curriculum that covers data ethics, the advantages of linked data, and an overview of Wikidata policies.

  • Register here for: Tuesdays 10-11am PST, September 17 – October 22, 2019
  • Register here for: Tuesdays 1-2pm PST , October 22 – November 26, 2019

 

Elevate your Collections

An online course for anyone already familiar with linked data or Wikidata, or those looking for a project-based course that explores specific Wikidata tools and approaches.

  • Register here for: Wednesdays 11am-12pm PST, September 18 – October 23, 2019
  • Register here for: Mondays 11am-12pm PST, October 21 – November 25, 2019

 

Why Wikidata?

“Contributing to Wikidata has a ripple effect. It’s a great way for institutions to contribute our resources to a wide variety of communities and meet users where they already are.” – past course participant

Wikidata is the centralized, linked data repository for all Wikimedia projects. It’s machine readable, which means that digital assistants, AI, bots, and scripts can interact with Wikidata’s structured, linked data. (And they do!) Software uses this open data repository to answer your questions, provide more context when you search, and link you to related sources in an efficient way. Because the repository is still growing, Wikidata presents powerful opportunities for professionals to get involved across industries. Here are just a few applications:

If you work in civic data

Amplify your data through Wikidata. By contributing to Wikidata digital assistants, stable URLs, and existing linked data will allow for more people to access, interpret, and share your data. In coming years Wikidata will have an impact on government agencies – local, state, and federal. By contributing civic data holdings to the public repository, you can educate the public about information that matters to them. Get involved!

If you work in museums or libraries

Wikidata will have an impact on research, metadata production, collection visibility, representing information in a more equitable way, and will enrich works by connecting them to related linked data. Wikidata can enhance your collection with new information including identifiers and references in hundreds of languages.

The Library of Congress tracks items in Wikidata, making it an authority whose reliability has improved significantly in recent years. The ARL, IFLA, and the PCC have all identified Wikidata as being of strategic importance to librarians. And the Met, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and MOMA have already taken advantage of Wikidata. Join them!


For more information about our Wikidata offerings and customizable options, visit data.wikiedu.org.

One year ago, Farhad Fatkullin was at home gifting his time to simultaneously translating the speeches being given at Wikimania, the annual conference that celebrates Wikipedia, the Wikimedia projects, and the volunteers who contribute to them.

Up on stage for the closing ceremony was Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia who at each year gives out an award for the Wikimedian of the Year, someone whose achievements exemplify the vision and mission for Wikimedia that we all share: Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.

As Jimmy spoke, Farhad translated. And then Jimmy read out Farhad’s name.

• • •

Farhad lives with his wife and two children in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, one of Russia’s over 80 federal subjects. For the last nineteen years, he’s been a freelance conference interpreter, primarily translating between Russian and English but capable of handling another four languages when required, including Tatar.

On Wikimedia projects, he is what Jimmy last year called the “bridge” between several different language communities. Farhad focuses on translating global messages, usually in English, into Russian, which is understood by the members of smaller language Wikimedia communities within the Russian Federation.

“I happen to speak a number of languages and I want my world and that of future generations to be multilingual and multicultural,” he told me. “I am bored by living in one or two linguo-cultural worldviews. Once you have food on the table and safety, we want quality of life—and that’s about creating and experiencing diversity. I love supporting those who help make our world more colorful.”

He added:

Thanks to my great love for the languages and cultures of the world, … I am deeply convinced that “the sum of all knowledge” includes every human language and related cultural knowledge. Unfortunately, we are living in the period of possible mass extinction of languages and loss of cultural diversity. Closing our eyes and letting all this wealth of accumulated knowledge vanish by not making it work for today’s and tomorrow’s generations would be like having only the choice of McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurant chains for catering.

Farhad first learned about the Tatar Wikipedia in 2008, back when he was a United States State Department-sponsored intern within the Tennessee General Assembly, but did not begin to consistently edit the encyclopedia until 2012.

Inspired by his daughter, who was at that time about to start in a Tatar-language elementary school, Farhad said that as the smallest Wikipedia out of the languages he knows, editing it “was clearly the best application of my energy.” It also provided a “gym” where he could exercise and practice his command of the language.

Farhad also quickly became a fixture in Russia’s Wikimedia communities. Across the largest country in the world, many federal subjects choose to recognize a co-official language alongside the principal Russian, including Tatarstan’s Tatar. Farhad’s actions inspired both those communities, which represent nearly thirty Wikipedias, and the overarching Wikimedia Indigenous Languages group, whose mission is to “support and encourage efforts to develop specific Wikimedia projects in small and endangered languages.”

It was for contributions like those that Farhad was given the 2018 Wikimedian of the Year award. Over the past year, he said that the award had “changed his life in an unexpected manner,” although that came with some period of stress as well.

In the wake of the award, Farhad was thrust into being a public face for the Wikimedia communities in Russia, and was able to convert this new-found status into getting audiences with high-ranking officials in the region and country.  For instance, Farhad landed a meeting with Tatarstan’s deputy prime minister, and through that contact worked with the government to freely license their official website and establish a permanent Wikimedia working group.

An enthusiastic supporter of expanding access to education, Farhad also met with the former president of Tatarstan and the UNESCO Special Envoy for Intercultural Dialogue. Through these individuals, he was able to get additional backing for the Selet WikiSchool project, which organizes Wikimedia trainings for Tatar-speaking students. Finally, Farhad’s new contacts allowed him to present his “Wiki-Smart Region” project to Russia’s deputy prime minister, among other politicians. The project is aimed at engaging everyone, young and old, into shaping the  digital information society, thus both  encouraging the adoption of lifelong learning and developing local economies.

As Farhad looks out over the next few years, he’s looking forward to continuing his education-focused work. “All of my plans will take both effort and time,” he says, “but it’s worth it. Tatarstan’s authorities are interested in helping make them happen and advertising them around Russia and beyond, so I believe we should try to develop a reasonable roadmap and showcase it to them.”

You can catch Farhad on stage at the closing ceremony at this year’s Wikimania, taking place from 14–18 August in Stockholm, where he and Jimmy Wales will pass the torch to the next Wikimedian of the Year

Ed Erhart, Senior Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

Год назад Фархад Фаткуллин находился дома и осуществлял синхронный перевод выступлений, которые делались в ходе ежегодной конференции Викимания. Ему захотелось дать волонтёрам из разных уголков России возможность не только увидеть, но и понять, о чём говорят их иностранные коллеги, развивающие своим добровольным вкладом Википедии и прочие проекты Викимедиа на других языках.

Шла церемония закрытия конференции. На сцене был основатель Википедии Джимми Уэйлс  —  в ходе этой сессии он каждый год называет очередного участника проекта, чьи достижения олицетворяют разделяемые всеми нами идеалы и миссию Викимедиа “Представьте себе мир, в котором каждый человек может свободно делиться всей суммой накопленных человечеством знаний” , и вручает премию Викимедиец года .

Джимми говорил, а Фархад переводил. И тут Джимми назвал имя Фархада.

• • •

Фархад со своей женой и двумя детьми живёт в Казани, столице Татарстана — одного из более 80 федеральных субъектов России. В течение последних девятнадцати лет он трудится как синхронный переводчик – фриланс: работает преимущественно в паре русский-английский, но при необходимости способен использовать и четыре других языка, включая татарский.

Как сказал в прошлом году Джимми, в проектах Викимедиа Фархад выполняет роль “связующего мостика между разными языковыми сообществами”. Приоритетной областью своего вклада он выбрал перевод  на русский информации о международных вики-событиях, сделав её доступной всем членам малых языковых сообществ Российской Федерации.

“Так случилось, что я говорю на ряде языков, и мне хотелось бы, чтобы и мой мир, и мир будущих поколений были как мультиязычными, так и мультикультурными,” сказал он мне. “Мне скучно жить в мире одного или двух лингвокультурных взглядов. Когда на столе есть, что покушать, и вопросы безопасности решены, мы хотим качества жизни — а это про сотворение и наслаждение разнообразием. Мне нравится поддерживать тех, кто делает наш мир более красочным.”

И добавил:

Моя любовь к языкам и культурам мира … помогла мне осознать, что “сумма всех знаний” включает и каждый из человеческих языков и связанных с ним культурных знаний. Мы с Вами живём в период угрозы масштабной утраты нашим обществом своего лингвистического и далее культурного разнообразия. Если закроем на это глаза, будем лениться, а не заставлять всё это богатство накопленных знаний работать на благо сегодняшних и завтрашних поколений — значит мы позволим себе потерять их совсем. Представьте себе мир, где поесть можно только в McDonald’s или ресторане аналогичной сети быстрого питания.

О татароязычной Википедии Фархад впервые узнал в 2008 году, когда находился в США по программе международных профессиональных обменов и знакомился с работой Генеральной Ассамблеи штата Теннисси. Регулярные правки же в энциклопедию он начал вносить только в 2012-м.

На это его вдохновила дочь — она как-раз ходила на подготовительные курсы для поступления в начальную школу с преподаванием на татарском языке. Раздел Википедии на данном языке был наименее развитым среди тех, что развиваются на прочих известных и любимых Фархадом языках  —  он посчитал, что развивать её “будет наилучшим применением моей энергии”. Википедия на татарском также стала для него “физкультурным залом”, где он смог упражняться и улучшать своё владение этим языком.

Фархад довольно быстро стал завсегдатаем в сообществах викимедийцев России. Многие субъекты федерации самой большой страны планеты наравне с основным русским признают ещё и второй официальный язык. В Татарстане — это татарский. Деятельность Фархада вдохновляет как представителей этих языковых сообществ — на них сейчас приходится около тридцати активных разделов Википедии, так и иностранных коллег. Миссией более широкого международного сообщества Wikimedia Indigenous Languages является “поддержка и поощрение усилий по развитию отдельных проектов Викимедиа на языках малочисленных народов и языках под угрозой исчезновения.”

За подобный вклад Фархад был выбран “Викимедийцем 2018 года”. По его словам, за прошедшее с того момента время эта новая роль “изменила его жизнь неожиданным образом”, что, впрочем, сопровождалось определённым периодом стресса.

Как только стало известно о получении им этой “награды”,  Фархад невольно превратился в публичное лицо сообщества викимедийцев России. У него получилось “конвертировать” сей вновь обретённый статус в аудиенции с высокопоставленными государственными деятелями своего региона и страны. К примеру, Фархад был приглашён на встречу с Заместителем Премьер-министра Татарстана — благодаря усилиям последнего правительство Республики перевело свой официальный веб-сайт на свободную лицензию, а также была организована рабочая группа по возможностям Викимедиа.

Фархад горит желанием расширять доступ к образовательным возможностям — ему также довелось встречаться с первым Президентом Татарстана и Специальным посланником ЮНЕСКО по межкультурному диалогу. Благодаря вниманию этих личностей он смог заручиться дополнительной поддержкой проекта ВикиШкола Сәләт, что знакомит татароязычных школьников с возможностями Викимедиа. Эти новые контакты также позволили представить проект “Вики-Умный регион” заместителю председателя Правительства Российской Федерации и прочим политикам. Данная инициатива направлена на вовлечение всех — и стара, и млада — в сотворение целостного информационного общества цифровой эры, способствуя таким образом непрерывному самообразованию и вкладу в развитие экономики родного края.

Глядя вперёд, Фархад намерен и в последующие годы продолжать свои усилия на образовательном фронте. “Осуществление всех этих планов требует времени и усилий,” говорит он, “но оно того стоит. Власти Татарстана заинтересованы в том, чтобы сделать это реальностью и делиться своим опытом практической реализации с другими регионам внутри России и за её пределами — значит нужно постараться подготовить адекватную этой задаче дорожную карту и разными примерами подтвердить её обоснованность.”

Викимания этого года проходит с 14 по 18 августа в Стокгольме. Вы сможете увидеть Фархада на сцене в ходе церемонии закрытия, где он и Джимми передадут эстафету следующему Викимедийцу года.

 

Год назад Фархад Фаткуллин находился дома и осуществлял синхронный перевод выступлений, которые делались в ходе ежегодной конференции Викимания. Ему захотелось дать волонтёрам из разных уголков России возможность не только увидеть, но и понять, о чём говорят их иностранные коллеги, развивающие своим добровольным вкладом Википедии и прочие проекты Викимедиа на других языках.

Шла церемония закрытия конференции. На сцене был основатель Википедии Джимми Уэйлс  —  в ходе этой сессии он каждый год называет очередного участника проекта, чьи достижения олицетворяют разделяемые всеми нами идеалы и миссию Викимедиа “Представьте себе мир, в котором каждый человек может свободно делиться всей суммой накопленных человечеством знаний” , и вручает премию Викимедиец года .

Джимми говорил, а Фархад переводил. И тут Джимми назвал имя Фархада.

• • •

Фархад со своей женой и двумя детьми живёт в Казани, столице Татарстана — одного из более 80 федеральных субъектов России. В течение последних девятнадцати лет он трудится как синхронный переводчик – фриланс: работает преимущественно в паре русский-английский, но при необходимости способен использовать и четыре других языка, включая татарский.

Как сказал в прошлом году Джимми, в проектах Викимедиа Фархад выполняет роль “связующего мостика между разными языковыми сообществами”. Приоритетной областью своего вклада он выбрал перевод  на русский информации о международных вики-событиях, сделав её доступной всем членам малых языковых сообществ Российской Федерации.

“Так случилось, что я говорю на ряде языков, и мне хотелось бы, чтобы и мой мир, и мир будущих поколений были как мультиязычными, так и мультикультурными,” сказал он мне. “Мне скучно жить в мире одного или двух лингвокультурных взглядов. Когда на столе есть, что покушать, и вопросы безопасности решены, мы хотим качества жизни — а это про сотворение и наслаждение разнообразием. Мне нравится поддерживать тех, кто делает наш мир более красочным.”

И добавил:

Моя любовь к языкам и культурам мира … помогла мне осознать, что “сумма всех знаний” включает и каждый из человеческих языков и связанных с ним культурных знаний. Мы с Вами живём в период угрозы масштабной утраты нашим обществом своего лингвистического и далее культурного разнообразия. Если закроем на это глаза, будем лениться, а не заставлять всё это богатство накопленных знаний работать на благо сегодняшних и завтрашних поколений — значит мы позволим себе потерять их совсем. Представьте себе мир, где поесть можно только в McDonald’s или ресторане аналогичной сети быстрого питания.

О татароязычной Википедии Фархад впервые узнал в 2008 году, когда находился в США по программе международных профессиональных обменов и знакомился с работой Генеральной Ассамблеи штата Теннисси. Регулярные правки же в энциклопедию он начал вносить только в 2012-м.

На это его вдохновила дочь — она как-раз ходила на подготовительные курсы для поступления в начальную школу с преподаванием на татарском языке. Раздел Википедиия на данном языке был наименее развитым среди тех, что развиваются на прочих известных и любимых Фархадом языках — он посчитал, что развивать её “будет наилучшим применением моей энергии”. Википедия на татарском также стала для него “физкультурным залом”, где он смог упражняться и улучшать своё владение этим языком.

Фархад довольно быстро стал завсегдатаем в сообществах викимедийцев России. Многие субъекты федерации самой большой страны планеты наравне с основным русским признают ещё и второй официальный язык. В Татарстане — это татарский. Деятельность Фархада вдохновляет как представителей этих языковых сообществ — на них сейчас приходится около тридцати активных разделов Википедии, так и иностранных коллег. Миссией более широкого международного сообщества Wikimedia Indigenous Languages является “поддержка и поощрение усилий по развитию отдельных проектов Викимедиа на языках малочисленных народов и языках под угрозой исчезновения.”

За подобный вклад Фархад был выбран “Викимедийцем 2018 года”. По его словам, за прошедшее с того момента время эта новая роль “изменила его жизнь неожиданным образом”, что, впрочем, сопровождалось определённым периодом стресса.

Как только стало известно о получении им этой “награды”,  Фархад невольно превратился в публичное лицо сообщества викимедийцев России. У него получилось “конвертировать” сей вновь обретённый статус в аудиенции с высокопоставленными государственными деятелями своего региона и страны. К примеру, Фархад был приглашён на встречу с Заместителем Премьер-министра Татарстана — благодаря усилиям последнего правительство Республики перевело свой официальный веб-сайт на свободную лицензию, а также была организована рабочая группа по возможностям Викимедиа.

Фархад горит желанием расширять доступ к образовательным возможностям — ему также довелось встречаться с бывшим Президентом Татарстана и Специальным посланником ЮНЕСКО по межкультурному диалогу. Благодаря вниманию этих личностей, он смог заручиться дополнительной поддержкой проекта ВикиШкола Сәләт, что знакомит татароязычных школьников с возможностями Викимедиа. Эти новые контакты также позволили представить проект “Вики-Умный регион” заместителю председателя Правительства Российской Федерации и прочим политикам. Данная инициатива направлена на вовлечение всех — и стара, и млада — в сотворение целостного информационного общества цифровой эры, способствуя таким образом непрерывному самообразованию и вкладу в развитие экономики родного края.

Глядя вперёд, Фархад намерен и в последующие годы продолжать свои усилия на образовательном фронте. “Осуществление всех этих планов требует времени и усилий,” говорит он, “но оно того стоит. Власти Татарстана заинтересованы в том, чтобы сделать это реальностью и делиться своим опытом практической реализации с другими регионам внутри России и за её пределами — значит нужно постараться подготовить адекватную этой задаче дорожную карту и разными примерами подтвердить её обоснованность.”

Викимания этого года проходит с 14 по 18 августа в Стокгольме. Вы сможете увидеть Фархада на сцене в ходе церемонии закрытия, где он и Джимми передадут эстафету следующему Викимедийцу года.

Moving Plants

13:03, Wednesday, 14 2019 August UTC
All humans move plants, most often by accident and sometimes with intent. Humans, unfortunately, are only rarely moved by the sight of exotic plants. 

Unfortunately, the history of plant movements is often difficult to establish. In the past, the only way to tell a plant's homeland was to look for the number of related species in a region to provide clues on their area of origin. This idea was firmly established by Nikolai Vavilov before he was sent off to Siberia, thanks to Stalin's crank-scientist Lysenko, to meet an early death. Today, genetic relatedness of plants can be examined by comparing the similarity of DNA sequences (although this is apparently harder than with animals due to issues with polyploidy). Some recent studies on individual plants and their relatedness have provided insights into human history. A study on baobabs in India and their geographical origins in East Africa established by a study in 2015 and that of coconuts in 2011 are hopefully just the beginnings. These demonstrate ancient human movements which have never received much attention from most standard historical accounts.
Inferred trasfer routes for Baobabs -  source

Unfortunately there are a lot of older crank ideas that can be difficult for untrained readers to separate. I recently stumbled on a book by Grafton Elliot Smith, a Fullerian professor who succeeded J.B.S.Haldane but descended into crankdom. The book "Elephants and Ethnologists" (1924) can be found online and it is just one among several similar works by Smith. It appears that Smith used a skewed and misapplied cousin of Dollo's Law. According to him, cultural innovation tended to occur only once and that they were then carried on with human migrations. Smith was subsequently labelled a "hyperdiffusionist", a disparaging term used by ethnologists. When he saw illustrations of Mayan sculpture he envisioned an elephant where others saw at best a stylized tapir. Not only were they elephants, they were Asian elephants, complete with mahouts and Indian-style goads and he saw this as definite evidence for an ancient connection between India and the Americas! An idea that would please some modern-day Indian cranks and zealots.

Smith's idea of the elephant as emphasised by him.
The actual Stela in question
 "Fanciful" is the current consensus view on most of Smith's ideas, but let's get back to plants. 

I happened to visit Chikmagalur recently and revisited the beautiful temples of Belur on the way. The "Archaeological Survey of India-approved" guide at the temple did not flinch when he described an object in the hand of a carved figure as being maize. He said maize was a symbol of prosperity. Now maize is a crop that was imported to India and by most accounts only after the Portuguese sea incursions into India in 1492. In the late 1990s, a Swedish researcher identified similar  carvings (actually another one at Somnathpur) from 12th century temples in Karnataka as being maize cobs. It was subsequently debunked by several Indian researchers from IARI and from the University of Agricultural Sciences where I was then studying. An alternate view is that the object is a mukthaphala, an imaginary fruit made up of pearls.
Somnathpur carvings. The figures to the
left and right hold the puported cobs in their left hands.
(Photo: G41rn8)

The pre-Columbian oceanic trade ideas however do not end with these two cases from India. The third story (and historically the first, from 1879) is that of the sitaphal or custard apple. The founder of the Archaeological Survey of India, Alexander Cunningham, described a fruit in one of the carvings from Bharhut, a fruit that he identified as custard-apple. The custard-apple and its relatives are all from the New World. The Bharhut Stupa is dated to 200 BC and the custard-apple, as quickly pointed out by others, could only have been in India post-1492. The Hobson-Jobson has a long entry on the custard apple that covers the situation well. In 2009, a study raised the possibility of custard apples in ancient India. The ancient carbonized evidence is hard to evaluate unless one has examined all the possible plant seeds and what remains of their microstructure. The researchers however establish a date of about 2000 B.C. for the carbonized remains and attempt to demonstrate that it looks like the seeds of sitaphal. The jury is still out.
The Hobson-Jobson has an interesting entry on the custard-apple
I was quite surprised that there are not many writings that synthesize and comment on the history of these ideas on the Internet and somewhat oddly I found no mention of these three cases in the relevant Wikipedia article (naturally, fixed now with an entire new section) - pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact theories

There seems to be value for someone to put together a collation of plant introductions to India along with sources, dates and locations of introduction. Some of the old specimens of introduced plants may well be worthy of further study.

Introduction dates
  • Pithecollobium dulce - Portuguese introduction from Mexico to Philippines and India on the way in the 15th or 16th century. The species was described from specimens taken from the Coromandel region (ie type locality outside native range) by William Roxburgh.
  • Eucalyptus globulus? - There are some claims that Tipu planted the first of these (See my post on this topic).  It appears that the first person to move eucalyptus plants (probably E. globulosum) out of Australia was  Jacques Labillardière. Labillardiere was surprized by the size of the trees in Tasmania. The lowest branches were 60 m above the ground and the trunks were 9 m in diameter (27 m circumference). He saw flowers through a telescope and had some flowering branches shot down with guns! (original source in French) His ship was seized by the British in Java and that was around 1795 or so and released in 1796. All subsequent movements seem to have been post 1800 (ie after Tipu's death). If Tipu Sultan did indeed plant the Eucalyptus here he must have got it via the French through the Labillardière shipment.  The Nilgiris were apparently planted up starting with the work of Captain Frederick Cotton (Madras Engineers) at Gayton Park(?)/Woodcote Estate in 1843.
  • Muntingia calabura - when? - I suspect that Tickell's flowerpecker populations boomed after this, possibly with a decline in the Thick-billed flowerpecker.
  • Delonix regia - when?
  • In 1857, Mr New from Kew was made Superintendent of Lalbagh and he introduced in the following years several Australian plants from Kew including Araucaria, Eucalyptus, Grevillea, Dalbergia and Casuarina. Mulberry plant varieties were introduced in 1862 by Signor de Vicchy. The Hebbal Butts plantation was establised around 1886 by Cameron along with Mr Rickets, Conservator of Forests, who became Superintendent of Lalbagh after New's death - rain trees, ceara rubber (Manihot glaziovii), and shingle trees(?). Apparently Rickets was also involved in introducing a variety of potato (kidney variety) which got named as "Ricket". -from Krumbiegel's introduction to "Report on the progress of Agriculture in Mysore" (1939) [Hebbal Butts would be the current day Airforce Headquarters)

Further reading
  • Johannessen, Carl L.; Parker, Anne Z. (1989). "Maize ears sculptured in 12th and 13th century A.D. India as indicators of pre-columbian diffusion". Economic Botany 43 (2): 164–180.
  • Payak, M.M.; Sachan, J.K.S (1993). "Maize ears not sculpted in 13th century Somnathpur temple in India". Economic Botany 47 (2): 202–205. 
  • Pokharia, Anil Kumar; Sekar, B.; Pal, Jagannath; Srivastava, Alka (2009). "Possible evidence of pre-Columbian transoceanic voyages based on conventional LSC and AMS 14C dating of associated charcoal and a carbonized seed of custard apple (Annona squamosa L.)" Radiocarbon 51 (3): 923–930. - Also see
  • Veena, T.; Sigamani, N. (1991). "Do objects in friezes of Somnathpur temple (1286 AD) in South India represent maize ears?". Current Science 61 (6): 395–397.
  • Rangan, H., & Bell, K. L. (2015). Elusive Traces: Baobabs and the African Diaspora in South Asia. Environment and History, 21(1):103–133. doi:10.3197/096734015x1418317996982 [The authors however make a mistake in using Achaya, K.T. Indian Food (1994) who in turn cites Vishnu-Mittre's faulty paper for the early evidence of Eleusine coracana in India. Vishnu-Mittre himself admitted his error in a paper that re-examined his specimens - see below]
Dubious research sources
  • Singh, Anurudh K. (2016). "Exotic ancient plant introductions: Part of Indian 'Ayurveda' medicinal system". Plant Genetic Resources. 14(4):356–369. 10.1017/S1479262116000368. [Among the claims here are that Bixa orellana was introduced prior to 1000 AD - on the basis of Sanskrit names which are assigned to that species - does not indicate basis or original dated sources. The author works in the "International Society for Noni Science"! ] 
  • The same author has rehashed this content with several references and published it in no less than the Proceedings of the INSA - Singh, Anurudh Kumar (2017) Ancient Alien Crop Introductions Integral to Indian Agriculture: An Overview. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy 83(3). There is a series of cherry-picked references, many of the claims of which were subsequently dismissed by others or remain under serious question. In one case there is a claim for early occurrence of Eleusine coracana in India - to around 1000 BC. The reference cited is in fact a secondary one - the original work was by Vishnu-Mittre and the sample was rechecked by another bunch of scientist and they clearly showed that it was not even a monocot - in fact Vishnu-Mittre himself accepted the error - the original paper was Vishnu-Mittre (1968). "Protohistoric records of agriculture in India". Trans. Bose Res. Inst. Calcutta. 31: 87–106. and the re-analysis of the samples can be found in - Hilu, K. W.; de Wet, J. M. J.; Harlan, J. R. Harlan (1979). "Archaeobotanical Studies of Eleusine coracana ssp. coracana (Finger Millet)". American Journal of Botany. 66 (3):330–333. Clearly INSA does not have great peer review and have gone with argument by claimed authority.

Academia is changing its mind about Wikipedia

18:16, Tuesday, 13 2019 August UTC

“Most medical students use Wikipedia, yet most medical schools do not train students to improve Wikipedia or use it critically.”

So begins the research study published by MedEdPublish this spring about the use of Wikipedia in medical education. The article ultimately encourages the implementation of Wikipedia writing assignments “across all health professional schools.”

Attitudes toward Wikipedia’s place in higher education have evolved quite a bit since our Student Program began in 2010. Early adopters of Wikipedia writing assignments were questioned by their colleagues at best, and mocked at worst. Occasionally someone would walk up to a Wiki Education representative at a conference hiding their face so “my department head doesn’t see me talking to you guys.”

What academics can all agree on, though, is that their students are using Wikipedia constantly, regardless of faculty attitudes or class policies. And those students don’t necessarily have the media literacy skills to critically consume the information they find. Instructors are looking for ways to teach those critical skills. A Wikipedia writing assignment is one of the best ways.

The movement of Wikipedia in education has grown one instructor at a time. Institutions have begun recognizing their instructors for the ways they utilize the assignment to engage students. Students have received awards for their contributions to Wikipedia. And now academic journals are publishing articles commending the approach for teaching critical media literacy, science communication, collaborative writing, and research skills across disciplines.

These journal articles span a wide range of disciplines: archaeology, English, feminist theory, and politics, just to name a few. The influx of peer reviewed arguments encouraging academics to implement Wikipedia assignments in the college classroom points to the growing acceptance of Wikipedia-based assignments in academia.

Amin Azzam–a full professor at three San Francisco bay area health professional schools and contributor to the MedEdPublish article–writes about this shift in a recent guest blog post,

“Reflecting back on when I first created my course 5 years ago, I used to warn my medical students about being ‘out’ about my course on their interview trails for their next professional steps. I’d say, ‘Most of your faculty and senior professionals still shun Wikipedia as inadequate and unprofessional.’ But more recently I’ve stopped that caveat. My students—and all health professional students who edit Wikipedia—SHOULD be OUT and PROUD about making the world’s most heavily used health information source more accurate and thorough. Can you imagine a world where everyone has access to high quality health information for free? I sure can, and I’m grateful to be a part of that movement.”

Let Wiki Education and the vast community of educators we support help you become a part of that movement too. Join us!

Ask Alice? Not about medical content!

17:01, Tuesday, 13 2019 August UTC

Would you trust a university’s advice column to provide trustworthy medical content? Probably not. And while Wikipedia policies require high-quality sources for medical articles, the guidelines aren’t always followed, and there are too few volunteers editing medical topics to keep all such articles at a high standard. That’s why the article for the medical procedure tubal ligation, also known as getting one’s “tubes tied”, was using an “Ask Alice” advice column to support a sentence about side-effects of the procedure for the past six years.

Enter an OB/GYN and Wiki Education-trained Wiki Scientist, supported through our partnership with the Society of Family Planning: Colleen Denny, MD. Colleen is a Clinical Assistant Professor at New York University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. When asked why she took the time to learn how to edit Wikipedia, she said “Wikipedia is such a common first source of information on the internet. It’s remarkable how widespread and accepted it is as a reliable source (or at least a place to start) for just about everything. Our patients are using it for their health questions, so the more health professionals we have editing, the better and safer information they get.”

Colleen saw that Wikipedia’s article for tubal ligation just wasn’t up to scratch. In addition to having poor medical references such as advice columns, several paragraphs lacked citations of any kind. And with an article that’s viewed more than five hundred times every day, she knew that the public needed a better and more reliable article. Not only that, though, but it’s a medical procedure that she performs on a weekly basis. As a medical doctor, her training and education helped her quickly see parts of the article that were inaccurate or outdated. As a participant in our 12-week course for professionals, she was equipped with the tools to fix the errors and inaccuracies she saw.

With Colleen’s recent edits, the article is now nearly twice the size as it was in June 2019. Instead of twenty-two sources, some of which were unreliable, the article is now referenced with forty high-quality sources that meet Wikipedia policies for medical articles. Instead of having “advantages and disadvantages” lumped together at the bottom of the article, Colleen created an easy-to-follow article structure, with detailed sections and subsections for the many benefits of tubal ligations, as well as its risks and complications.

Table of contents before and after Colleen’s edits.
Colleen is now responsible for nearly 90% of the article for tubal ligation.

This experience resonated with Colleen as she realized her ability to quickly make expansive impacts: “In academic medicine, we spend a lot of time focused on writing articles and submitting papers to formal journals, and we spend a lot of time educating patients. And that all is a slow process and takes a lot of time and effort. But contributing to Wikipedia gives you a huge audience, all of whom are interested in your topic and have sought it out, almost immediately. There’s almost nothing else I could do or write that would get 500 page views every day, and it happens as soon as I hit ‘Publish’. Such a huge, immediate impact.”

Through updating old content, removing bad references, and covering new topics with detail, Colleen is now responsible for nearly 90% of the article for tubal ligation. When you click through the content, it’s her words you’re reading: a physician, a women’s health expert, and now, a Wikipedian.


If your institution is interested in sponsoring a Wiki Scientists course for its staff or members, send an inquiry to contact@wikiedu.org for more information about pricing and curriculum customization.


Feature image by VideoPlasty, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce that Ryan Merkley will be joining the organization as the new Chief of Staff to the office of the Executive Director. Ryan joins the Foundation from Creative Commons, the nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the availability, re-sharing, and accessibility of creative works, where he served for five years as Chief Executive Officer. While there, he led the collaborative development of Creative Commons’ (CC) five-year strategic plan, the Global Network revitalization, and built a more sustainable organization.

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single person can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. Together, Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects are visited by 1.5 billion unique devices every month from around the world. “Ryan has been a champion of the open movement and a longtime partner in building the sustainable digital commons,” said Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “His leadership experience and deep expertise in open communities will be invaluable to the Wikimedia movement as we prepare for this next phase of our mission.”

As Chief of Staff, Ryan will enact strategic initiatives originating from the office of the Executive Director. First among these will be to support the Wikimedia 2030 movement strategy, including the implementation of recommendations from the global Wikimedia community to evolve Wikimedia’s structures and systems. Ryan will also take up the role of Board liaison, ensuring smooth and effective functioning of board initiatives and communications between Trustees and Wikimedia Foundation staff. He will be the leader on special interdepartmental projects as they arise, and support the office of the Executive Director with decision-making and operational efficiency.

“I’m thrilled to join the Wikimedia team as Chief of Staff,” Ryan said. “It’s never been more urgent to provide trusted, free knowledge to every person. With its strong commitment to independence, neutrality, and transparency, Wikimedia wields tremendous public trust to help communities around the world. The Wikimedia movement’s goals are ambitious, and I can’t wait to help realize them.”

Prior to his work at CC, Ryan was Chief Operating Officer of Mozilla, served as Director of Corporate Communications for the City of Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games, and was a Senior Advisor to Mayor David Miller in Toronto, where he led the Mayor’s budget policy and initiated Toronto’s Open Data project. Ryan is an experienced campaigner and advocate for social causes, and has advised political campaigns at the local and national levels. He is an affiliate of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society for the 2019–2020 academic year.

Ryan lives in Toronto, where he will be based, with his daughter, his wife Kelsey, and their dog Barkley. He will join the Wikimedia Foundation on 16 September.

Monthly Report, June 2019

23:15, Monday, 12 2019 August UTC

Highlights

  • Wiki Education’s board of trustees unanimously approved our plan & budget for 2019/20 at our board meeting this month. The senior leadership team was excited to report the organization’s already substantial progress toward its three-year strategic plan and we all look forward to continuing our work to actualize it.
  • In June we not only received notification that our grant proposal to the Heising-Simons Foundation was approved, but that they will triple their support of our Communicating Science initiative this year. With this $300,000 grant, we will expand our impact on the scientific content on Wikipedia, with a particular focus on three topic areas of interest to the foundation: astronomy, physics, and biographies of women scientists, in particular astronomers and physicists.
  • This month we developed brand new training modules for our Wikidata professional development courses, which roll out next month. The trainings cover an introduction to linked data, orientation to Wikidata, how to work with Wikidata’s community, querying, and more. We hope they will be useful teaching tools and create a space for new editors to have a meaningful impact on Wikidata.
  • Our newest Wiki Scientists course registration went live with the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS). The course is open to members of the NYAS community, mostly graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and will begin in September. It’s a great opportunity to further engage scientists in our expanding course offerings, providing them with the expertise needed to leverage Wikipedia as a science communication and public education tool.
  • Director of Partnerships Jami Mathewson and Customer Success Manager Samantha Weald joined employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in a recruitment workshop, as a first step to hopefully launching a Wiki Scientists course to add biographies of scientists to Wikipedia. The event allowed interested employees to get their feet wet on Wikipedia and start exploring LANL’s rich archives.
  • In June, our Google Summer of Code and Outreachy interns completed the first stages of their summer projects. Khyati Soneji updated the Dashboard to import more complete data about each tracked revision, which is the foundation for including “references added” as once of the Dashboard’s statistics; as a result, users of our software now know how many references were added or removed in each edit (as an indicator for the verifiability of content added to articles)

 

Programs

Wikipedia Student Program

Status of the Wikipedia Student Program for Spring 2019 in numbers, as of June 30:

  • 400 Wiki Education-supported courses were in progress (237, or 59%, were led by returning instructors).
  • 8,345 student editors were enrolled.
  • 66% of students were up-to-date with their assigned training modules.
  • Students edited 7,800 articles, created 839 new entries, and added 6.6 million words to Wikipedia.

The Spring 2019 term has officially come to an end, and Wiki Education is incredibly proud of this cohort of dedicated students and instructors. 6.6 million words is no small feat, but it’s business as usual here at Wiki Education.

Though the term has come to a close, Wikipedia Experts were still busy reviewing the work from our more than 8,000 students. They’re making sure good work gets moved out of sandboxes and that each of our courses is internally closed out. Wikipedia Student Program Manager Helaine Blumenthal begun to comb through the results of our newly revamped instructor survey and will be making program recommendations based on this invaluable instructor feedback. She was also busy getting in touch with instructors about the coming Fall 2019 term.

Though the summer is relatively quiet for us, we are currently supporting 39 courses — a veritable break for the Student Program team!

Student work highlights:

Personification of the Americas, an article created by a student in Calvin College’s Baroque and Rococo Art course, was featured on Wikipedia’s main page as a Did You Know! The day that it was featured on the main page it received nearly 12,000 unique page views!

If you’ve ever parked in a city, college, or any place where your parking is timed, you may have noticed some chalk markings on your tires. These marks allow parking enforcement officers to determine how long you’ve been parked and whether or not you have stayed longer than the allotted time. However were you aware that the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that this constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution? A Stanford Law School student in Kevin Rothenberg’s Advanced Legal Research class saw that there was no article on the case of Taylor v. City of Saginaw and chose to edit this for their class assignment. During 2017 Alison Taylor filed suit against the City of Saginaw in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, alleging that the City violated her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches when it chalked her tires without her consent or a search warrant. The case was dismissed, as the courts found that while chalking did constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment, the search was reasonable. Taylor successfully appealed the decision and the Court of Appeals ruled that “The practice of marking the tires of parked vehicles with chalk to track the duration of time for which those vehicles have been parked, constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.” This was not the only article created by the class; another student created an article on the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018. This aims to create an effective system suited for the unique nature of child pornography crimes by adding four key protections for victims of child pornography offenses. The protections includes a floor of $3,000 in restitution that defendants must pay to victims, creates a Child Pornography Victims Reserve Fund within the federal Crime Victims Fund, clarifies that the “full amount of the victim’s losses” for trafficking in child pornography cases, and allows child pornography victims to enjoy equal rights with criminal defendants to review the child pornography in question in the case.

In the same class, another student saw that the article for prosecutorial vindictiveness was severely underdeveloped, as it was only a paragraph long, and chose to flesh it out into a larger, more comprehensive piece. For those unaware, prosecutorial vindictiveness occurs where a prosecutor retaliates against a defendant for exercising a constitutional or statutory right by increasing the number or severity of the charges against them. This is a major issue, as the United States Supreme Court has held prosecutorial vindictiveness to constitute a violation of a defendant’s right to due process. Prosecutorial vindictiveness was predated by the establishment of judicial vindictiveness, which the United States Supreme Court established in 1969 as a result of the case of North Carolina v. Pearce, and can be proven in one of two ways: actual or presumed prosecutorial vindictiveness. With actual prosecutorial vindictiveness the defendant must produce objective evidence showing that the prosecutor intended his actions punish a defendant for asserting a right, whereas when it’s presumed they may show that the circumstances of the prosecutor’s charging decision posed a realistic likelihood of vindictiveness.

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 capturing the world’s attention, it’s no surprise that one of Timothy Henningsen’s Research, Writing, and the Production of Knowledge students at the College of Dupage chose to write about a soccer player. The athlete in question is Zoey Goralski, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars. Born in Naperville, Illinois, on January 22, 1995, Goralski began playing soccer at a young age. This interest would continue to grow and while she was enrolled at UCLA, played for the UCLA Bruins, and brought the UCLA team to the national championship game in 2017. During her professional career she was a part of the U-15 and U-17 player pool for the women’s national team and played for the U-20 women’s national team and the U-23 women’s national soccer team. Her dedication and talent eventually caught the eyes of the Chicago Red Stars, who drafted her as a third team pick in January 2018.

An image from the 2016 Chicago Pride Parade, uploaded by a College of DuPage student in Timothy Henningsen’s Research, Writing, and the Production of Knowledge class. Image by Ashleyjoost, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Mars has long loomed as a figure in human mythology and art. In the age of space exploration, though, Mars has taken on a new role: potential destination. It’s possible that, someday, humans may live on the Red Planet. To prepare for such an adventure, we must understand the ways in which Mars differs from our own planet. A student in University of Washington’s Planetary Atmospheres course drastically improved Wikipedia’s coverage of the Atmosphere of Mars, nearly doubling the article’s size. The student is also responsible for four out of every five words on the article, which is viewed 500 times per day or more. Not only did the student meet their educational goals by researching and learning about Mars’s atmosphere, but they were able to enhance public knowledge by sharing their knowledge on one of the web’s biggest platforms.

Does this photo by a Boston University student in Malavika Shetty’s Language and Technology make you hungry for food from Hai Di Lao Hot Pot? Image by Hollyhe888, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Scholars & Scientists Program

Chief Programs Officer LiAnna Davis wrapped up a project where Wiki Education brought in instructional design consultant Michael Atkinson to evaluate the content and teaching in our Scholars & Scientists Program. Michael created both best practices documentation for us around things like running courses, using virtual learning environments, and hiring new trainers, as well as offering content suggestions and a framework for improving the content of our trainings based on competencies we’re teaching. The project has been helpful in giving us a roadmap for quality improvements we can make to our existing Wikipedia products as well as a framework we can use to create high-quality products as we build out Wikidata courses and expand our Wikipedia course offerings.

Wikipedia courses

This was a busy month for the Scholars & Scientists Program with the start of four new courses. The first group joins us via the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, a non-profit consortium of 16 libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. Wiki Education has long understood the vital role librarians play in the higher education ecosystem, and value the opportunity to help representatives of the Alliance’s member institutions better understand Wikipedia. Two other courses continue our relationship with the National Archives and Records Administration. Spurred on by their exhibit Rightfully Hers, celebrating the centennial of women’s right to vote in the United States, Wiki Education has been training historians, archivists, educators, and independent researchers to contribute to Wikipedia’s articles on women’s suffrage. In the past, we have run three courses as well as an Advanced Wikipedia course on this theme, and planned to run one more. However, interest was substantial enough that we decided to add a fifth, concurrently. Finally, we launched the first course in partnership with the Society of Family Planning. In this course, Wiki Education staff are working with medical practitioners and communicators to improve Wikipedia’s articles on abortion and contraception. Medical articles on Wikipedia can be challenging to edit, given not just the technical subject-matter but the special rules for evaluating sources and content. For these reasons subject-matter expertise can be very valuable, and we are excited to help these extremely knowledgeable professionals improve articles in these high-traffic areas.

Lila Meade Valentine’s article was dramatically improved by a Wiki Scholar this month.
Image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Since all four courses just started this month, the Wiki Scholars and Wiki Scientists are still working up to making substantial contributions. Here are some of the articles participants have selected to improve:

 

Wikidata courses

We have been busy marketing and announcing our new Wikidata offerings. We plan to facilitate a one-day workshop in New York City and launch two virtual Wikidata courses next month – a beginners course and an intermediate level course for participants with more experience with linked data. Each of these virtual courses will last six weeks, consisting of an hour-long class session each week and assignments lasting a few hours in between classes. In launching a new program, we are curious whether or not participants will be more interested in our traditional approach of facilitating courses online or if in-person workshops will prove to be another option for these kinds of opportunities.

The curriculum for the workshops and online courses is designed for participants with little-to-no experience with linked data as well as for participants with some experience. We want these Wikidata offerings to speak to different levels of familiarity of Wikidata in libraries to reach as many people as possible.

These courses will feature seven new training modules (in addition to a brief course orientation module). The training will cover an introduction to linked data, orientation to Wikidata, how to work with Wikidata’s community, querying, and more. We hope they will be useful teaching tools and create a space for new editors to have a meaningful impact on Wikidata. We’ve also been making tweaks to our Dashboard to have it better track Wikidata items in addition to the Wikipedia articles it already tracks. Encouraging the library community to join the Wikidata community will have a positive impact on both Wikidata and library collections. We’re looking forward to sharing out trainings, and monitoring the impact these new editors will have on Wikidata!

Wiki Education Wikidata training module library

Visiting Scholars Program

Regular readers of our Monthly Report will recognize the name Gary Greenbaum, Visiting Scholar at George Mason University, as a frequent writer of Featured Articles. Most Wikipedia editors have not written one Featured Article, a designation reserved for the highest quality content on the project. This month, Gary added not one but three Featured Articles to his collection. Two are about coinage: the Maryland Tercentenary half dollar, issued in 1934 honoring the 300th anniversary of the arrival of English settlers in Maryland, and Grant Memorial coinage, a gold dollar and silver half dollar from 1922, commemorating what would have been Ulysses S. Grant’s 100th birthday. The third article was Apollo 9, which receives almost 1,000 views a day. It was the first flight of the full Apollo spacecraft, with both the command and service module and the Lunar Module. James McDivitt, David Scott, and Rusty Schweickart were in space for a ten-day mission largely in preparation for a later moon landing.

The Apollo 9 crew
Image by NASA, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight, Visiting Scholar at Northeastern University, wrote several great biographies of women writers and suffragists this month. Lizzie Holmes (1850–1926) was an anarchist, writer, and key figure in Chicago’s labor movement. Celeste M. A. Winslow (1837–1908) was an author known for her poetry and contributions to periodical literature. Martha McClellan Brown (1838–1916) was a lecturer, educator, reformer, newspaper editor, and a leader in Ohio’s temperance movement. As usual, Rosie’s contributions are too numerous to cover in this report. She keeps track of some of them on Wikipedia here.

 

Advancement

Fundraising

In June we received notification that our grant proposal to the Heising-Simons Foundation was approved. With this $300,000 grant, we will expand our impact on the scientific content on Wikipedia, with a particular focus on three topic areas of interest to the foundation: astronomy, physics, and biographies of women scientists, in particular astronomers and physicists. We will engage in this work in both our Student Program and our Wiki Scientists Program.

We also received a request this month to meet with the President of the WITH Foundation regarding our proposal submitted in May.

We received verbal confirmation from our Program Officer at the Hewlett Foundation that our general operating support grant will be renewed later this summer.

We also provided a brief report and had a productive check-in call with our Program Officer at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Our primary fundraising goal is to confirm renewal of this grant in November.

Late in the month, Chief Advancement Officer TJ Bliss had a productive phone call with contacts at the United States Department of Agriculture. We are requesting funding from USDA to support a Wikidata competition related to agricultural topics in the heartland of the United States. This request was warmly received and a follow-up phone was scheduled for July.

Finally, we identified several new funders in media and civic engagement that we intend to reach out to in the coming months.

Partnerships

This month, our newest Wiki Scientists course registration went live with the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS). The course is open to members of the NYAS community, mostly graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Scholars and Scientists Program Manager Ryan McGrady will begin teaching the course in early September, guiding the participants through their first Wikipedia edits as they add scientific content to Wikipedia.

Jami and Samantha joined employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in a recruitment workshop, as a first step to hopefully launching a Wiki Scientists course to add biographies of scientists to Wikipedia. The event allowed interested employees to get their feet wet on Wikipedia and start exploring LANL’s rich archives.

Communications

Student Program news

We featured quite a few guest authors on our blog this month.

Sarah Mojarad, who teaches science communication at the University of Southern California, wrote a blog for us about her pedagogical motivations for conducting Wikipedia assignments and the impact it has on her students.

Sarah Mojarad wrote a guest blog post about her experience in our Student Program.
Image by Smojarad, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

We also featured Dr. Gardner Campbell, who says teaching Wikipedia writing assignments at Virginia Commonwealth University has “far exceeded” his expectations. He offers an inspiring reflection on overarching, human lessons to be gained through working with Wikipedia.

Kitty Quintanilla, a medical student at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, shared her personal story for why she’s passionate about increasing access to free information.

And Dr. Amy Carleton was honored this month with MIT’s Teaching With Digital Technology Award. Read our write up about it here!

Scholars & Scientists news

We also wrote about a particular success story to come out of our professional development course with the National Archives: before six Wiki Scholars began working on the Nineteenth Amendment article as part of the course, the narrative focused on white, male change-makers. It now tells a much fuller story. Read all about the improvements here!

In another post, Wikidata Program Manager Will Kent described how Wikidata is becoming the next big tool for library staff to utilize. Our new Wikidata professional development courses help newcomers see how Wikidata best supports their needs and projects.

Blog posts:

External media:

Technology

In June, our Google Summer of Code and Outreachy interns completed the first stages of their summer projects. Ujjwal Agrawal converted his prototype Dashboard Android app into the Kotlin programming language, laying the groundwork for a maintainable codebase, and built many of the core features in preparation for a first release. Khyati Soneji updated the Dashboard to import more complete data about each tracked revision, which is the foundation for including “references added” as once of the Dashboard’s core statistics; after more than a day of continuous data importation, both the Wiki Education Dashboard and the global Programs & Events Dashboard have backfilled data for all current and previous courses about how many references were added or removed in each edit (as an indicator for the verifiability of content added to a Wikipedia article). Amit Joki completed an update of the Dashboard’s interface for selecting a wiki, in preparation for a clear way to choose which wikis to track for each course or program.

We worked with the Advancement and Programs teams to deploy new trainings modules for our professional development courses. Software Developer Wes Reid also created application and interest forms that integrate with Salesforce to automate key steps of the sales and onboarding process for these courses.

Our major medium-term project, an overhaul of the student user experience focused on the core stages of an article-writing assignment, saw some significant developments this month as well. With our early planning, we discovered that many of the things we need to change are compatible with an incremental rollout, which means we can build and deploy many of these changes without needing to wait for the start of a term. Wes began work on the interface for students to assign themselves, in preparation for a rollout of these first improvements in July.

Finance & Administration

The total expenses for June were $214,000, $3K below the budgeted $217,000. General and Administrative was under $2K due to shifts in expenses +$8K for professional fees including 990 preparation, +$7K in other direct costs, while underspending in employee related costs ($2K), Rent ($2K), Furniture ($2K) and Indirect Cost allocation ($11K). Governance was over +$3K due to timing. A portion of Board Meeting costs were budgeted for May, and fell in June +$5K, while annual dues were budgeted for June, but were allocated for the following Fiscal Year ($2K). Fundraising was under by $19K as there was a decision not to add another member to the department ($10K), reduced travel ($7K), and reduction in staff training ($1K). Programs was over budget by +$20K, as expected, with the decision not to reduce staff +$6K, the addition of outside professional work +$6K, increase in travel and conference costs +$3K and Indirect expenses +$8K, while deciding against printing a publication budgeted in June (3K). Technology was under budget by $4K, a combination of Travel ($6K) and increase in Indirect Costs +$2K.

Wiki Education expenses by area for month of June 2019.

The Year-to-date expenses are $2.143M, $275K under budget of $2.418M. It was known that Fundraising would be under by $212K due to a change in plan for professional services ($149K) and deciding not to engage in a cultivation event ($10K) and subsequent travel ($21K) as well as being under budget in payroll ($27K) and associated rent ($3K). Overall spending for Programs were right on track, just over +$2K for the Fiscal Year, however due to a few changes in processes-Professional Services ($5K), Travel ($27K), Printing and Reproduction and software ($18K) Communication ($7K) and Indirect expenses ($17K) while reporting an overage in Payroll +$72K and furniture and equipment +$4K. General and Administrative are under $27K due to a reduction of payroll ($21K), Occupancy ($15K), and furniture ($8K), while over +$2K in Communication and +$11K in Indirect Costs. The Board is under budget by $6K with a reduction in Board Meeting Costs ($6K) with an uptick in Payroll +$1K and Travel +$2K while under in Software costs ($4K), as it is accrued to next Fiscal Year. Technology is under budget by $32K as there was a change in plans in utilizing the budgeted professional fees ($19K) and payroll ($10K) and additional rent ($10K) and instead increased Furniture and equipment +$4K, Travel +$3K, and Communication +$2K.

Wiki Education expenses by area, year to date as of month of June 2019.

Office of the ED

  • Current priorities:
    • In-person board meeting in Tiburon, California
    • Getting the organization ready for the next fiscal year

In June, the members of Wiki Education’s board of trustees met in the small town of Tiburon, north of San Francisco. The meeting started with Executive Director Frank Schulenburg’s report of the organization’s progress towards its three-year strategic plan. Then, senior leadership reported on the highlights of fiscal year 2018/19 and presented the annual plan & budget to the board. After a short discussion, the board unanimously approved the plan & budget for 2019/20. The first day ended with an Audit Committee report and a number of administrative items. On the second day, board and senior leadership discussed new ways of broadening Wiki Education’s donor pipeline, followed by a discussion about the recruitment of new board members. After the renewal of board terms and committee membership, the meeting concluded.

Members of Wiki Education’s board at the annual meeting in Tiburon

Also in June, TJ and Frank met with Prasad Ram, founder and CEO of non-profit education technology start-up Gooru. Ram, who previously led Google Books for Education, described Gooru’s approach of empowering students with real-time data about their proficiencies and choices of learning activities, so they can choose their own best learning path and pace.

Visitors

  • Prasad Ram, founder and CEO of non-profit education technology start-up Gooru

 

* * *

Dr. Amin Azzam, MD, MA, Adjunct Professor at the UCSF School of Medicine shares how health professional students are improving Wikipedia as part of their formal curricula.

Dr. Amin Azzam, MD, MA

Since 2013 I’ve had the great privilege of running a Wikipedia-editing elective course for fourth year medical students at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine. My course has a month-long “immersion rotation” structure—the students do not concurrently enroll in other courses, and my entire course is dedicated exclusively to Wikipedia efforts.  Between the fall of 2013 and spring of 2019, I’ve had 160 students, ranging from as few as 5 to as many as 39 in a course. Collectively, my medical students have made 6,138 edits to 147 pages, adding 344,058 words to pages viewed 4,113,057 times during their course’s active days. I’m proud of all of my students’ tremendous efforts. 

Beginning in 2016, I’ve also been supported by grants from the Hewlett Foundation to promote Open Educational Pedagogy (OEP).  I like defining OEP as a curricular strategy where students learn by producing open educational resources. And since we all know Wikipedia is the quintessential open educational platform, it should come as no surprise that I encourage other health professional school faculty to embrace editing Wikipedia with their students in their schools.  Through Wiki Education’s “Students in the Health Professions” campaign, there have now been 857 students across 30 courses that have added 613,000 words to 406 health-related Wikipedia pages. And those pages have been viewed a whopping 16.1 million times since students improved them.

As I’ve helped innovative faculty at other health professional schools, I’ve been struck by just how many creative strategies they’ve employed in bringing Wikipedia to their curricula.  With apologies to any that I’ve inadvertently left out, here’s my explicitly unscientific categorization of their approaches:

  • As an assignment within an existing course (e.g. a “health policy” course)
  • Embedded into an “educator track” (e.g. for students interested in becoming future teaching faculty)
  • As a component of information seeking & application threads (a critical skill for all health professionals to develop)
  • As a service learning option (e.g. learn while also providing services to patients that you’re learning from)
  • As part of a profession-specific competency-based framework (most often practice-based learning or systems-based practice)
  • As a component of required patient education activities (another skill all health professionals should develop)
  • As an optional “edit-a-thon” in partnership with faculty and staff, and
  • As a stand-alone course (similar to my own approach).

I’ve also been struck by the diversity of number of and year-in-training of students in these courses.  I’ve seen independent 1:1 student-faculty efforts, and courses of over 100 students. The students range from early first years to those imminently graduating into their future health professional roles.  I’ve also seen truly collaborative efforts with local librarians as co-instructors or even lead instructors. The health professions that have already joined the movement include medicine, pharmacy, public health, and physical therapy. Lastly, a huge shout out to a consortium of 7 dental schools in the UK.  They’re systematically dividing up the dental content on English Wikipedia—so there’s no accidental duplication of student efforts across their schools.

Reflecting back on when I first created my course 5 years ago, I used to warn my medical students about being “out” about my course on their interview trails for their next professional steps.  I’d say, “Most of your faculty and senior professionals still shun Wikipedia as inadequate and unprofessional.” But more recently I’ve stopped that caveat. My students—and all health professional students who edit Wikipedia—SHOULD be OUT and PROUD about making the world’s most heavily used health information source more accurate and thorough.  Can you imagine a world where everyone has access to high quality health information for free? I sure can, and I’m grateful to be a part of that movement.

 

 


Students are making a real impact with their work. For an example, read this piece by Dr. Azzam’s recent student about his editing Wikipedia’s vaccination article. Or this research published in MedEdPublish in July of this year.


Medical content on Wikipedia must adhere to stricter sourcing standards than other content. That’s why Wiki Education has a medical-specific training for students and why on-Wikipedia groups like WikiProject Medicine exist.  Our medical topics training joins Wiki Education’s suite of resources, accessible for free through our Dashboard. Sign up at teach.wikiedu.org to utilize these tools and to receive staff support for your next Wikipedia project.

For centuries, much of our recorded history has been written by men. Even in Sweden, which is considered a leader in gender equity, less than ten percent of the people mentioned in the main article about Swedish history on the Swedish language Wikipedia, “Sveriges historia”, are women. With Wikimania, the annual conference celebrating Wikipedia and free knowledge, coming to Stockholm, Sweden this week, we wanted to do something to help change this.

The Wikimedia Foundation is collaborating with Wikimedia Sverige, the independent Wikimedia affiliate in Sweden, to launch a new initiative that shows how powerful it can be when our history is truly representative of our people. The Equal Edit is made possible by volunteer Swedish Wikipedia editors who have come together to update articles about Sweden’s history and highlight important women throughout the country’s history.

Working together with key partners such as Historiskan, the first journal in Sweden focusing on women’s history, Wikipedia editors have compiled a list of influential women and are adding them to articles about Swedish history. Together, they will write a more accurate and inclusive history.

The launch of the Equal Edit is timed with Wikimania, the annual international conference celebrating Wikipedia and the Wikimedia free knowledge projects. This year Wikimania is taking place in Stockholm from 14–18 August 2019, the first time the conference is held in the Nordics. The Equal Edit also builds on this year’s conference theme: “Stronger Together: Wikimedia, free knowledge and the Sustainable Development Goals.” This initiative is one example of how Wikimedia contributors and partners can come together to drive lasting change on global goals like gender equality.

Wikimedia Sverige has worked with gender gap related projects for many years.  They have, for example, worked with the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Swedish embassies, and civil society organizations, and Wikimedia affiliates on “WikiGap,” a campaign that aims to add more articles about female figures, experts, and role models to Wikipedia. The Equal Edit builds on these successes with its work to drive more gender equality on Wikipedia.

With significant disparities in the biographies of women represented on Wikipedia versus men, and fewer than 20 percent of Wikipedia editors identifying as women, our movement still has much work to do in making Wikipedia reflective and equitable for women. This initiative aims to complement efforts like WikiGap, alongside the many global efforts undertaken by Wikimedia volunteers around the world to continue to build greater gender equity and representation on Wikipedia.

Throughout the week, we will be highlighting notable Swedish women on our social media accounts and encouraging everyone to share their recommendations on notable women to be included on Wikipedia using #theequaledit.

For those attending Wikimania this year, a panel discussion will also be held on Saturday from 14:45-15:30 in the Aula Magna hall at Stockholm University to discuss the Equal Edit initiative and the challenges and opportunities of working in gender equity. For details on attending, please see the program session.

Samantha Lien, Communications Manager, Wikimedia Foundation 
John Andersson, Executive Director, Wikimedia Sweden (Sverige)

Image design credit: Wenderfalck Kommunikation AB, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Inset image credits: Anna Lindh by Demokratska Stranka, CC BY-SA 3.0; Astrid Lindgren, public domain; Axel von Fersen, public domain; Ellen Key, public domain; Greta Thunberg by European Parliament, CC BY 2.0; Gustavus Adolphus, public domain; Gösta Ekman by Frankie Fouganthin, CC BY-SA 4.0; Hans Rosling by Gapminder Foundation, CC BY 3.0; Heliga Birgitta, public domain; Hilma af Klint, public domain; Kerstin Hesselgren, public domain; Margareta Leijonhufvud, public domain; Mia Skäringer by Jan Ainali, CC BY 3.0; Carl Milles, public domain; Moa Martinson, public domain; Olof Palme by Bert Verhoeff/Anefo, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL; Raoul Wallenberg, public domain; Selma Lagerlöf, public domain; Sofia Gumaelius, public domain; August Strindberg, public domain; Tage Danielsson, public domain; Gustav I of Sweden, public domain.

Tech News issue #33, 2019 (August 12, 2019)

00:00, Monday, 12 2019 August UTC
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How to value open data and why Wikidata won't go stale

08:46, Sunday, 11 2019 August UTC
The data in Wikidata is data everyone knows or could know. A lot of awful things could be said of its content and quality and all of it misses one important point. It is being used, its use is increasing, it is increasingly used by Wikipedias and that provides an incentive to maintain the data.

What Wikipedia indicates is that most data is stable, not stale. A date of birth, a place of birth so much remains the same. When we bury data in text, it is always a challenge to get the data out. When we bury data in Wikidata it just takes a query to bring it back to life. Who was a member of multiple "National Young Academies, Similar Bodies and YS Networks" for instance; you do not find it in the texts of those organisations but you will increasingly find it in Wikidata. Once the data is in there, it is stable and available for query.

As GLAMS make their content available under a free license, their collections gain relevance as the collection gains an audience. Just consider that only a small part is available to the public in the GLAM itself and on Commons it is there for all to find. Commons is being wikidatified and those collections become available in any language gaining additional relevance in the process.

The best example is what the Biodiversity Heritage Library does. It is instrumental in the digitisation of books, it makes them publicly available and gains the collections they are from an audience. Volunteers prove themselves in this process and both professionals and the wider world benefit. From a data perspective the data is new because only now available.

When a publisher mocks Open data, it is self serving. It is in their interest that data is inaccessible, only there for those who pay. There are plenty of examples of great data initiatives that went to ground and obviously when the data does not pay the rent, publishers will pull the plug. It is different for the data at Wikidata. It is managed by an organisation that has as its motto "share in the sum of all knowledge". The audience the WMF has makes it a world top ten website, it is not for sale and it is not going anywhere. As long as there are people like me who care about the availability of information, the data at Wikidata may go stale in places waiting for another volunteer to pick up the slack.
Thanks,
      GerardM

weeklyOSM 472

08:38, Sunday, 11 2019 August UTC

30/07/2019-05/08/2019

Logo

How to carve OSM data into a slade plate – by Harald Hartmann 1 | Foto © Harald Hartmann | Map data © OpenStreetmap contributors

Mapping

Community

  • Roland Olbricht introduced (automatic translation) us to the user manual for the Overpass API. Although the manual is still a work in progress, the important chapters “Introduction”, “Spatial Data Selection”, and “Finding Objects” are ready for use. Roland welcomes feedback which you can give to him directly, on the mailing list, or on the GitHub issue tracker.
  • Harald Hartmann wrote a guide on how (automatic translation) to carve a map on a slate. He outlines how to take data from OpenStreetMap and convert it to a format that can be used to program a CNC mill; which then inscribes the slate.
  • Cepesko opened a very lively discussion on the existence, or not, of a Bavarian Spessart Nature Park. (automatic translation)
  • Ilya Zverev is once again organising the election for the OSM Awards 2019. He announced that voting has started.

Events

  • GeoForAll are holding a meeting on Wednesday 28 August 2019 from 18:00 to 19:30 (Bucharest time) at FOSS4G 2019 where ideas for the future will be discussed and planned. The meeting will be similar to the FOSS4G 2018 GeoForAll meeting and aims to bring together colleagues from around the world to plan ideas for expanding open principles in science and education.

Humanitarian OSM

  • Felix Delattre presented an update on recent work being to improve the HOT Tasking Manager. A user experience survey was carried out in February and March to better understand how users used the software and how users were spending time within the software. Based on the results of the survey HOT plans to better integrate the Tasking Manager with iD in order to improve the experience for mappers and provide user instructions in one tool. This will allow mappers to report back from a task directly from inside the integrated iD editor. Integration also opens the way to dynamically populate the iD editor with tagging presets and specific validation rules depending on the map features that are requested by humanitarian organisations in each of the different projects.

switch2OSM

Licences

  • Nuno Caldeira complained, in an ironic way, that neither Mapbox nor Facebook follow the attribution rules for OpenStreetMap.
  • Takayuki Ishino drew attention to a discussion taking place in the Japanese mapping community about proposed changes to the list (ja) of data sources suitable for using in OpenStreetMap. The main point at issue is whether we are allowed to use official websites that provide primary information or not. The answer would appear to be a matter of how many items you can copy before a website becomes protected by database rights. (automatic translation)

Programming

  • Jason Manoloudis gave us an update on the progress made on implementing 3D Traffic sign rendering capabilities for OSM2World, a converter that generates 3D models of the world from OpenStreetMap data. The completion of the traffic sign catalogues task brings a long-desirable feature in OSM2World: being able to define and configure materials solely through the configuration file, without the need for them to exist in Materials.java.
  • Wikidata, Wikimedia’s project to create a store of structured knowledge, has the potential to improve the calculation of importance scores in Nominatim. For instance, where real-world items have identical names, the ability to differentiate between OSM locations using properties not covered by OSM could help with returning more relevant geocoding results.tchaddad, who is working on a Google Summer of Code project, gives an introduction to Wikidata and how entries are stored and extracted using the Eiffel Tower as an example. How Wikidata could be used to assist Nominatim is described.

Releases

  • OsmAnd has released a new version of their OsmAnd Tracker app. The Tracker app allows users to share their location via Telegram. The new version has live track which shows real-time tracks of your contacts on an OsmAnd map.

Did you know …

  • … the various ref tags on public transport stops? ref typically gets the reference number of the local operator while ref:IFOPT is a (in continental Europe) international unique identifier. If the different platforms (in a bus, tram, metro or train station) have numbers or letters to mark them, this can be tagged as local_ref.
  • … how to tag how visible a path is on the ground? The tag for this is trail_visibility. This property is independent of the other properties of the path like width, smoothness, surface – a way on a salt lake may be like a paved way, wide, smooth, but also hard to see.
  • …the LightningMaps? In real time, thunderstorms flash on an OSM-based map.
  • … the Regional Directorate of the Environment, a service of the Regional Government of the Azores, in Portugal, provides the website On My Island, where all citizens can report environmental occurrences (pollution, abandoned waste, noise, endangered fauna and flora, …). The geolocation of occurrences is carried out using OSM data and with due attribution.

Other “geo” things

  • Azavea has released an online comparison of the building footprints in the Microsoft Bing dataset with those in OpenStreetMap.
  • Mapbox is taking the price offensive by offering email support with guaranteed response times for $50 per month. Paul Ramsey comments on Twitter that Mapbox is burning money to increase its market share. There is some more speculation around this topic.
  • In 1969, two companies opened their doors and began their journey toward developing some of the most effective technologies used today. Intergraph, now Hexagon (but began operations as M&S Computing), and Environmental Systems Research Institute, now Esri, were launched in that year. Directions Magazine has a two-part article by Joe Francica in which he tells us the story of the development of commercial GIS over the periods 1969-1994 and 1994-2019 from his perspective.
  • Deep and machine learning are becoming more popular in the field of map making. Benjamin Herfort reports on work undertaken to combine crowdsourced data from MapSwipe, with data derived from deep learning applied to satellite imagery and OpenStreetMap data, to delineate human settlement areas. The combined method produced maps that were more accurate than the crowdsourced only version but reduced the volunteer efforts needed by at least 80 percentage points for all study sites.
  • In March this year at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Australian government joined The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to announce a funding scheme to establish a Data Cube for Africa reports Space in Africa. The Data Cube, developed by Geoscience Australia, is a cloud-based, open-source platform for processing and analysing earth observations.
  • The Polish company TatukGIS is now providing their own hosted OSM (world map) web tile server as a free service for use with their software. The map tiles are available as four different styles: standard with native language name labeling, standard with English name labeling, hillshade with native language name labeling, and hillshade with English name labeling.
  • The German city of Wuppertal’s hanging train, or Schwebebahn, which had been shut down for almost nine months has reopened. With a 24-hour ticket for €7.10 you can once again take an airy flight on the back of a “steely dragon” along the Wupper River.

Upcoming Events

Where What When Country
Stuttgart Stuttgarter Stammtisch 2019-08-07 germany
San José Code for San José Summer Mixer [1] 2019-08-08 united states
Cottbus 134. Brandenburg-Berlin Stammtisch 2019-08-09 germany
Fortaleza 15th Birthday in Fortaleza-CE 2019-08-09 brazil
Salt Lake City 15th Birthday Salt Lake City Mapping Party 2019-08-10 united states
Taipei OSM x Wikidata #7 2019-08-12 taiwan
Bordeaux Réunion mensuelle 2019-08-12 france
Salt Lake City OSM Utah 15th Birthday Drinks 2019-08-13 united states
Zurich OSM Stammtisch Zurich 2019-08-13 switzerland
Hamburg Hamburger Mappertreffen 2019-08-13 germany
Munich Münchner Stammtisch 2019-08-14 germany
Wuppertal OSM-Treffen Wuppertaler Stammtisch im Hutmacher 18 Uhr 2019-08-14 germany
Osaka みんなで東淀川区の魅力を発信しよう! 2019-08-18 japan
Melbourne Indigenous name mapathon 2019-08-20 australia
Cologne Bonn Airport Bonner Stammtisch 2019-08-20 germany
Lüneburg Lüneburger Mappertreffen 2019-08-20 germany
Lübeck Lübecker Mappertreffen 2019-08-22 germany
Kameoka 京都!街歩き!マッピングパーティ:第11回 出雲大神宮 2019-08-24 japan
Bremen Bremer Mappertreffen 2019-08-26 germany
Salt Lake City SLC Map Night 2019-08-27 united states
Düsseldorf Stammtisch 2019-08-28 germany
Minneapolis State of the Map U.S. 2019 [4] 2019-09-06-2019-09-08 united states
Edinburgh FOSS4GUK 2019 2019-09-18-2019-09-21 united kingdom
Heidelberg Erasmus+ EuYoutH OSM Meeting 2019-09-18-2019-09-23 germany
Heidelberg HOT Summit 2019 2019-09-19-2019-09-20 germany
Heidelberg State of the Map 2019 [5] 2019-09-21-2019-09-23 germany
Dhaka State of the Map Asia 2019 2019-11-01-2019-11-02 bangladesh
Wellington FOSS4G SotM Oceania 2019 2019-11-12-2019-11-15 new zealand
Grand-Bassam State of the Map Africa 2019 2019-11-22-2019-11-24 ivory coast

Note: If you like to see your event here, please put it into the calendar. Only data which is there, will appear in weeklyOSM. Please check your event in our public calendar preview and correct it, where appropriate.

This weeklyOSM was produced by Nakaner, Polyglot, Rogehm, SK53, TheSwavu, derFred, geologist, jinalfoflia, keithonearth, mueschel.

Hacking vs Editing, Wikipedia & Declan Donnelly

16:22, Saturday, 10 2019 August UTC

On the 18th of November 2018 the Wikipedia article for Declan Donnelly was edited and vandalised. Vandalism isn’t new on Wikipedia, it happens to all sorts of articles throughout every day. A few minutes after the vandalism the change made its way to Twitter and from there on to some media outlets such as thesun.co.uk and  metro.co.uk the following day, with another headline scaremongering and misleading using the word “hack”.

“I’m A Celebrity fans hack Declan Donnelly by changing his height on Wikipedia after Holly Willoughby mocks him”

Hacking has nothing to do with it. One of the definitions of hacking is to “gain unauthorized access to data in a system or computer”. What actually happened is someone, somewhere, edited the article, which everyone is able and authorized  to do. Editing is a feature, and its the main action that happens on Wikipedia.

The word ‘hack’ used to mean something, and hackers were known for their technical brilliance and creativity. Now, literally anything is a hack — anything — to the point where the term is meaningless, and should be retired.


The word ‘hack’ is meaningless and should be retired – 15 June 2018 by MATTHEW HUGHES

The edit that triggered the story can be seen below. It adds a few words to the lead paragraph of the article at 22:04 and was reverted at 22:19 giving it 15 minutes of life on the site.

The resulting news coverage increased the traffic to the article quite dramatically, going from just 500-1000 views a day to 27,000-29,000 for the 2 days following then slowly subsiding to 12,000 and 9,800 on day 4. This is similar to the uptick in traffic caused by a youtube video I spotted some time ago, but realistically these upticks happen pretty much every day for various articles for various reasons.

Wikimedia pageviews tool for Declan Donnelly article

I posted about David Cameron’s Wikipedia page back in 2015 when another vandalism edit made some slightly more dramatic changes to the page. Unfortunately the page views tool for Wikimedia projects doesn’t have readily available data going back that far.

Maybe one day people will stop vandalising Wikipedia… Maybe one day people will stop reported everything that happens online as a “hack”.

The post Hacking vs Editing, Wikipedia & Declan Donnelly appeared first on Addshore.

Wikidata Map October 2018

16:22, Saturday, 10 2019 August UTC

It has been another 6 months since my last post in the Wikidata Map series. In that time Wikidata has gained 4 million items, 1 property with the globe-coordinate data type (coordinates of geographic centre) and 1 million items with coordinates [1]. Each Wikidata item with a coordinate is represented on the map with a single dim pixel. Below you can see the areas of change between this new map and the once generated in March. To see the equivalent change in the previous 4 months take a look at the previous post.

Comparison of March 26th and October 1st maps in 2018

Daniel Mietchen believes that lots of the increased coverage could probably be attributed to Cebuano Bot. (link needed).

Areas of increase

Below I have extracted sections of the map that have shown significant increase in items.

If you know why these areas saw an increase, such as a wikiproject or individual working on the area, then please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to add explanations for each area.

If you think I have missed an area also please leave a comment and I’ll add that too!

Africa

Some areas within Africa can be picked out as having specific increases:

  • Republic of Cameroon
  • Gabonese Republic
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
  • Republic of Djibouti

The increase in the coverage on the African continent in general by Wikidata could be down to Wikimania 2018 which was held in Cape Town. Cape Town itself doesn’t show any real increase in items in the 6 month period and is not included in the image above. Mexico also so an increase to the number of items in Wikidata in the area when Wikimania was hosted there in 2015.

Asia

The main areas of increase here appear to be:

  • Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • Bangkok
  • North Korea

Europe

The main areas of increase here appear to be:

  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • Norway
  • Finland
  • Latvia
  • Greece
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus (while not in europe) can be seen in the bottom right

North America

There is a general increase across the whole of North America. Most notably the west of continent and Canada.

The Dominican republic can also be seen in bright colour to the bottom right of the image.

South America

South America has a general increase throughout, however various areas appear highlighted such as:

  • Columbia
  • Chile
  • São Paulo & Brazil

Smaller snippets

Iceland

Sri Lanka & Maldives

Fiji

Footnotes

[1] Number of items with coordinates based on grepping the generated wdlabel.json file used by the map generation.
addshore@stat1005:~$ grep -o ",\"Q" wdlabel-20181001.json | wc -l
6765828
addshore@stat1005:~$ grep -o ",\"Q" wdlabel-20180326.json | wc -l
5764875

Links

The October 2018 images: https://tools.wmflabs.org/wikidata-analysis/20181001/geo2png/

The post Wikidata Map October 2018 appeared first on Addshore.

Wikibase extensions on Wikidata.org

16:15, Saturday, 10 2019 August UTC

Wikidata.org runs on MediaWiki with the Wikibase extension. But there is more to it than just that. The Wikibase extension itself is split into 3 different sections, being Lib, Repo and Client. There are also 6 other extensions all providing extra functionality to the site and it’s sisters. The extensions are also loaded on a different combination of Clients (such a Wikipedia) and the Repo itself (wikidata.org).

A diagram of current dependencies between the various Wikibase extensions running on wikidata.org

Of course wikidata.org runs even more extensions than this, but they are not specific to Wikibase functionality. The full list can be found on the Special:Version page. That page also provides a list of all libraries used on the site, many of which are specific to the Wikibase extensions being used, for example all data-values/*, and wikibase/* libraries.

Wikibase itself

The Wikibase extension can be thought of as the main element of the Wikibase machine. It is split into 3 rough sections, being repo, client and lib. Repo allows storing of structured entities within MediaWiki pages. The client allows access to the data stored within entities from regular MediaWiki pages (even from other sites). And Lib contains shared code that is used by both of these.

Wikidata itself is both a Repo and a Client, whereas sister sites such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary only run the Client code.

The Wikidata repo as standard contains the Item and Property entity types.

Q36875340

Quality extensions

WikibaseQuality and WikibaseQualityConstraints are two of three extensions created by a students bachelor project at Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Potsdam, Germany. The third extension, WikibaseQualityExternalValidation, was never loaded onto wikidata.org and is currently in the process of being archived.

WikibaseQuality aims to be the ‘Lib’ of the three extensions containing code shared between them, and thus must be loaded when either of the others is. However the current plan is to merge the two remaining extensions into a single WikibaseQuality extension.

The QualityConstraints extension helps users to ensure the quality of data within a Wikibase by running various constraint checks across entities on their statements.

An example constraint report page
File:Douglas Adams Constraint Violation.png
An example on page constraint violation (by 
Lucas Werkmeister CC BY-SA 4.0)

PropertySuggester

PropertySuggester does exactly what it says on the tin, it suggests properties to use for statements on entities. For example, if you create an item and give it a statement saying that it is an instance of human, it is highly likely that you will want to also set the “sex or gender” value.

Lexeme & MediaInfo

These two extensions provide extra entity types with specific uses in mind.

WikibaseLexeme is the new development providing Lexeme entities allowing structured lexicographical data. It could be thought of as a more structured Wiktionary. The Lexeme entities introduced a collection of new concepts, such as Forms, Senses, Glosses and more.

L4

WikibaseMediaInfo is currently in development by the Wikimedia Foundation and will be used on Wikimedia Commons to provide structured information within file pages.

Wikidata.org & WikimediaBadges

Finally we have the two smallest extensions.

Wikidata.org provides a small amount of message customization for wikidata.org itself, as well as some custom assets that we want to have loaded.

WikimediaBadges provides badge icons to be used on Wikimedia client sites in the “In other languages” sidebar.

These badges can differ from site to site, and if you want to make use of the sitelink badges functionality provided by wikibase you will probably have to load some assets in a similar way.

The post Wikibase extensions on Wikidata.org appeared first on Addshore.

Grafana, Graphite and maxDataPoints confusion for totals

16:15, Saturday, 10 2019 August UTC

The title is a little wordy, but I hope you get the gist. I just spent 10 minutes staring at some data on a Grafana dashboard, comparing it with some other data, and finding the numbers didn’t add up. Here is the story in case it catches you out.

The dashboard

The dashboard in question is the Wikidata Edits dashboard hosted on the Wikimedia Grafana instance that is public for all to see. The top of the dashboard features a panel that shows the total number of edits on Wikidata in the past 7 days. The rest of the dashboard breaks these edits down further, including another general edits panel on the left of the second row. 

The problem

The screenshot above shows that the top edit panel is fixed to show the last 7 days (this can be seen by looking at the blue text in the top right of the panel). The second edits panel on the left of the second row is also currently displaying data for the last 7 days (this can be seen by looking at the range selector on the top right of the dashboard.

The outlines of the 2 graphs in the panels appear to follow the same general shape. However both panels show different totals for the total edits made in the window. The first panel reports 576k edits in 1 week, but the second panel reports 307k. What on earth is going on?

Double checking the data against another source I found that both numbers  here are totally off. For a single day the total edits is closer to 700k, which scales up to 4-5 million edits per week.

hive (event)> select count(*)
            > from mediawiki_revision_create
            > where `database` = "wikidatawiki"
            > and meta.dt between "2018-09-09T02:00Z" and "2018-09-10T02:00Z"
            > and year=2018 and month=9 and (day=9 or day=10)
            > ;
.....
_c0
702453
Time taken: 24.991 seconds, Fetched: 1 row(s)

maxDataPoints

The Graphite render API used by Grafana has a parameter called maxDataPoints which decides the total number of data points to return. The docs are slightly more detailed saying:

Set the maximum numbers of datapoints for each series returned when using json content.
If for any output series the number of datapoints in a selected range exceeds the maxDataPoints value then the datapoints over the whole period are consolidated.
The function used to consolidate points can be set using the consolidateBy function.

Graphite 1.14 docs

Reading the documentation of the consolidateBy functions we find the problem:

The consolidateBy() function changes the consolidation function from the default of ‘average’ to one of ‘sum’, ‘max’, ‘min’, ‘first’, or ‘last’.

Graphite 1.14 docs

As the default consolidateBy function of ‘average’ is used, the total value on the dashboard will never be correct. Instead we will get the total of the averages.

Fixes for the dashboard

I could set the maxDataPoints parameter to 9999999 for all panels, that would mean that the previous assumptions would now hold true. Grafana would be getting ALL of the data points in Graphite and correctly totaling them. I gave it a quick shot but it probably isn’t what we want. We don’t need that level of granularity.

Adding consolidateBy(sum) should do the trick. And in the screenshot below we can now see that the totals make sense and roughly line up with our estimations.

For now I have actually set the second panel to have a maxDataPoints value for 9999999. As the data is stored at a minutely granularity this means roughly 19 years of minutely data can be accessed. When looking at the default of 7 days that equates to 143KB of data.

Continued confusion and misdirection

I have no doubt that Grafana will continue to trip me and others up with little quirks like this. At least the tooltip for the maxDataPoints options explains exactly what the option does, although this is hidden by default on the current Wikimedia version.

Data data everywhere. If only it were all correct.

The post Grafana, Graphite and maxDataPoints confusion for totals appeared first on Addshore.

Hue, or Hadoop User Experience is described by its documentation pages as “a Web application that enables you to easily interact with an Hadoop cluster”.

The Wikimedia Foundation has a Hue frontend for their Hadoop cluster, which contains various datasets including web requests, API usage and the MediaWiki edit history for all hosted sites. The install can be accessed at https://hue.wikimedia.org/ using Wikimedia LDAP for authentication.

Once logged in Hue can be used to write Hive queries with syntax highlighting, auto suggestions and formatting, as well as allowing users to save queries with names and descriptions, run queries from the browser and watch hadoop job execution state.

The Wikidata & maxlag bit

MediaWiki has a maxlag API parameter that can be passed alongside API requests in order to cause errors / stop writes from happening when the DB servers are lagging behind the master. Within MediaWiki this lag can also be raised when the JobQueue is very full. Recently Wikibase introduced the ability to raise this lag when the Dispatching of changes to client projects is also lagged behind. In order to see how effective this will be, we can take a look at previous API calls.

Within the Hadoop DataLake there is an apiaction table that contains all API calls to Wikimedia sites (which includes Wikidata) along with the parameters used (with some data redacted) and other details such as user agent.

The query below counts the number of calls that were successful to the Wikidata API, using the Wikidata writing API actions for June 2016 that did not come from internal services.

SELECT COUNT(*) AS COUNT,
       params["maxlag"] as maxlag
FROM apiaction
WHERE wiki = "wikidatawiki"
  AND haderror = FALSE
  AND params["action"] RLIKE '^wbl?(create|edit|set|add|remove|link|merge)'
  AND useragent != '127.0.0.1'
  AND YEAR = 2018
  AND MONTH = 06
GROUP BY params["maxlag"]
ORDER BY COUNT DESC LIMIT 25;

In Hue this looks like:

The play button to the left of the query can be used to start the job, and the running query will then appear in the “Query History” section of the page:

Once the query has completed the raw results can be viewed in the browser under the “Results” tab:

And the results can even be quickly visualized in the browser (using more than just a pie chart…):

This shows us that the majority of writing API calls use a maxlag of 5, however around 1/3 of calls in June 2018 either passed no maxlag value or a maxlag value that is so high it would probably never be reached during regular operation.

The post Using Hue & Hive to quickly determine Wikidata API maxlag usage appeared first on Addshore.

This Month in GLAM: July 2019

08:22, Saturday, 10 2019 August UTC

#Statistics or how many researchers are a #physicist

06:02, Saturday, 10 2019 August UTC
At @Wikidata most "researchers" are given this "occupation" out of convenience. We do not know how to label them properly, there are too many, so as all scholars must be researchers we make them so.

Nothing inherently wrong here; it is better to know them for what they also are then to know nothing about them at all. One issue though; we do not know the physicists from the chemists, from the behaviorists or any other specialism in science. We can query for physicists anyway but we will not catch them all.

Queries that show the numbers for a profession are easy enough to make. The value of such one time wonders is minimal, the results are fleeting, any moment now another scientists like Walter Hofstetter may become known to be a physicist and the numbers are no longer true. They are useful when we run queries like these regularly, save the results and present them like Magnus does for Wikidata itself.

What it takes is a mechanism that mimics Magnus's approach. We gain an insight in how Wikidata is performing over time and it provides motivation for people who care, for instance about physicists.
Thanks,
       GerardM

The panther chameleon is native to northern and eastern Madagascar, and has also been introduced to Réunion and Mauritius.

According to its entry on Wikipedia, “Like most species of chameleons, the panther chameleon is very territorial. It spends the majority of its life in isolation, apart from mating sessions. When two males come into contact, they will change color and inflate their bodies, attempting to assert their dominance. Often these battles end at this stage, with the loser retreating, turning drab and dark colors. Occasionally, the displays result in physical combat if neither contender backs down.”

The photo comes to us from Wikimedia Commons, the freely licensed media repository whose holdings are extensively used on Wikimedia’s many projects, including Wikipedia. You can use the photo for just about any purpose as long as you credit the author (Charles J Sharp/Sharp Photography), copyright license (CC BY-SA 4.0), and link to the original URL.

Ed Erhart, Senior Editorial Associate, Communications
Wikimedia Foundation

This post is the sixth installment of a weekly series. We’ll be off next week for Wikimania, the annual conference behind Wikipedia, but tune back in two weeks for another photo selection from Wikimedia Commons. If you’d like, you can sign up for our MailChimp mailing list to be notified when the next edition is published.

Why a Wikipedia assignment: a student’s perspective

14:56, Friday, 09 2019 August UTC

Sienna Stevens was a student in Dr. Rachel Miller’s Baroque Art class at California State University Sacramento this spring, where she expanded a Wikipedia article as an assignment. Here, she talks about what the experience means to her.

Sienna Stevens.
Photo by SStevens97, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Before taking this class, I honestly had no idea that anyone could edit a Wikipedia page. Sure, I knew that Wikipedia’s whole concept was the fact that volunteers around the world could contribute to the cause and content of the website, but I thought that those “volunteers” were people either paid to do it, or people who had degrees in whatever subject their Wikipedia communities were devoted to–people who knew certain subjects inside and out, and had the credentials to prove it. Certainly, I never stopped to think that these Wikipedia editors could potentially be fellow students like myself. Students who, with some guidance, had the power to change a platform that educates millions of internet-users on the daily. 

When my professor announced to us on the first day of class that we would be forfeiting the traditional route of writing a research paper, and instead, embarking on a nearly 15-week journey in which we were to edit, improve upon, and/or start a Wikipedia page of our choice, I was certainly nervous…yet intrigued. I thought back to all of the years I have been using Wikipedia: as a kid, I used to spend hours on the website, starting with an article that interested me, such as the basic “Henry VIII of England” and clicking links until I’d somehow find myself on completely different pages that had nothing to do with my original search. I’d venture to say that Wikipedia was a huge part of my internet education and one of the first websites I was introduced to–one I had relied on countless times–and I had taken it for granted all of these years. I had no idea that Wikipedia was a platform for a huge online community of people looking to make the internet a more informative place.  

There is a certain stereotype Wikipedia has, seemingly haunting the website throughout the years–we are told from an early age that Wikipedia is not a valid resource, that it can be a catalyst for false information, and that students should avoid it at all costs. I never believed that. Instead, I have used Wikipedia as the base for formulating my general knowledge on certain subjects. Whenever I have come across a topic I am not familiar with, I first go to Wikipedia to read the article and gather the beginnings of my understanding; I acquire the cold, hard facts such as dates, names, locations, etc so that I can begin my descent into knowing what to look for in accredited primary and secondary sources. I’m certain a lot of students operate in the same fashion. In that way, it becomes vitally important that the information on Wikipedia is as fleshed out and accurate as it can possibly be, which is where the Wikipedia community of editors comes in. 

As the project was explained, it became clear that the process in which we would be writing our page would be vastly different to what we were used to in a traditional essay or paper format. I will be the first to admit that I am an art history student who is incredibly guilty of saying too much in my sentences and excessively describing myself ad nauseam–as you can probably get a sense from my statement here. On Wikipedia, that kind of flowery language is discouraged, and you are certainly not permitted to give more of an opinion than necessary–the goal of the site is to give facts and only facts–you can offer up different opinions given by various historians/authors, but you are encouraged to do so in a way that does not push a particular belief or conclusion on the reader. It took some time and practice to break sentences apart, reword phrases to be as concise as possible, and overall just be aware that I wasn’t writing a research paper, but rather a stand-alone article that functions as an encyclopedia page. In this way, I believe that utilizing a Wikipedia project is 100 percent beneficial in classroom settings, giving writers who prefer that concise, succinct style a chance to perform and express themselves in an engaging way. Many of my classmates in my Baroque art history class this semester were not art history majors, but rather other majors who took the class to expose themselves to art. Our Wikipedia project was surely a welcoming, inviting introduction to a subject that traditionally is word-heavy. 

The research aspect of the project was very educational, and encompassed work outside of the classroom. Several times, our class met in a library room with our professor and the Fine and Performing Arts librarian to discuss research strategy, familiarize ourselves with Sac State’s wonderful library, and learn about different sources available to us at the university. We participated in different activities that had us on our feet, going to the book shelves, and retrieving books after finding them on the library website. Also covered were how to access online databases, ArtStor, and more. We were also made aware of the fact that we have a great inter-library loan programme–I utilized that service several times during my research. As a transfer student beginning my first year at a 4-year university this semester, I appreciated this opportunity to be exposed to and to actually utilize resources available to students; the overarching message of these exercises in the library were that we always have a place to begin and conduct our research, no matter what subject or class it may be in. 

Anthony van Dyck’s self portrait.
Image in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

I chose my article, Anthony van Dyck’s “Self Portrait with a Sunflower”, originally because I admired the portrait aesthetically, as well as the fact that I have a soft-spot for self-portraits in general. What I knew of Van Dyck before this project was that he was Flemish, and that he was somewhat associated with Peter Paul Rubens, an artist I had covered extensively in an art history course before. My chosen article had a whopping total of three sentences to begin with before I began my expansion–one sentence being a very generalized statement on the fact that the painting holds several meanings (whatever that means). That lack of information did not sit well with me, and I immediately felt compelled to deep-dive into research in order to encapsulate the various questions this portrait proposes, and the answers analysis provides. I had no idea that this portrait in particular had such a history of confounding art historians on the symbolism of the objects Van Dyck holds in the portrait–that being a gold chain, as well as the sunflower. Van Dyck’s life in the court of King Charles I of England was also an unexpected surprise to read about–the fact that Van Dyck was able to rise to an incredible amount of fame in such a short time painting portraits of the royals in the early 17th century, only to have that taken from him with the dramatic execution of the English king certainly fueled my desire to understand the whole scope of this tumultuous time in European history. The portrait captured a Van Dyck in his prime, sporting his pride in himself, his abilities, and his status as court painter. Going off of that, in my research, a reoccuring point associated with Van Dyck’s numerous self portraits was the power of the “Van Dyck” facial hair, and how his portrayal of himself sporting a particular manicured beard and mustache (as seen in Self Portrait with a Sunflower) had the power to influence English portraiture for centuries. Quickly, I began to understand that sometimes, art is so much more than just an aesthetic work on canvas, but has the ability to tell more of a complete history than what is superficially on the surface. 

One of the biggest fears I had when I first posted my revisions of my article to Wikipedia’s “mainspace” was the fact that now, my writing was technically “published”. Usually, when you write a research paper, the only two people to ever read it happen to be yourself (the author), and your professor; on Wikipedia, anyone has the potential to stumble upon that article and read what you wrote–this is definitely intimidating when you think about it! On top of that, Wikipedians can comment and critique your words within the Talk Page feature, changing your formatting and suggesting revisions. Within a few hours of posting my article, a user had come on to my page and revised a typo, suggested an edit, and fixed some formatting issues. My heart dropped at first when I saw those slight changes, but I soon grew to be grateful of those users because they were taking the time, just as I had, to be actively working on the website to make it better and more user-friendly. Because the work is public, you are held accountable for your information, and might have to answer questions submitted by community members. It’s a hard curve to get over the anxiety of knowing your writing is subject to way more overt critique than it otherwise would be if it were just a research paper, but the reward of knowing you can benefit others outweighs that emotion. 

I cannot stress enough how much I learned from this project. I truly believe it gave me a chance to push myself, my writing, and my research skills. I gained a deep satisfaction in the work that I and my fellow classmates did over the semester. We were all given a unique chance to step outside the box and embark on an academic adventure together. I hold a deep appreciation for the Wikipedia articles I have read in the past and will continue to read, because I know now how much goes into creating a great, well rounded work. I am grateful for my professor, who devoted an enormous amount of time breaking down the basics of Wikipedia, troubleshooting technical issues as they arose, and helping us express our research clearly and concisely. I am proud to represent my class today, and encourage others to consider adopting a Wikipedia project in class environments in the future. 

On a germ trail

16:43, Wednesday, 07 2019 August UTC

Hidden away in the little Himalayan town of Mukteshwar is a fascinating bit of science history. Cattle and livestock really mattered a lot in the pre-engine past, especially for transport and power,  on farms and in cities but also and especially for people in power. Hyder Ali and Tipu were famed and feared for their ability to move their guns rapidly, most famously, making use of bullocks, of the Amrut Mahal and Hallikar breeds. The subsequent British conquerors saw the value and maintained large numbers of them, at the Commissariat farm in Hunsur for instance.

The Commissariat Farm, Hunsur
Photo by Wiele & Klein, from: The Queen's Empire. A pictorial and descriptive record. Volume 2.
Cassell and Co. London (1899). [p. 261]
The original photo caption given below, while being racy, was most definitely inaccurate,
these were not maintained for beef :

BEEF   FOR   THE   BRITISH   ARMY.
It is said that the Turkish soldier will live and fight upon a handful of dates and a cup of water, the Greek upon a few olives and a pound of bread—an excellent thing for the commissariats of the two armies concerned, no doubt! But though Turk and Greek will be satisfied with this Spartan fare, the British soldier will not—not if he can help it, that is to say. Sometimes he cannot help it, and then it is only just to him to admit that he bears himself at a pinch as a soldier should, and is satisfied with what he can get. But what the British soldier wants is beef, and plenty of it : and he is a wise and provident commander who will contrive that his men shall get what they want. Here we see that the Indian Government has realised this truth. The picture represents the great Commissariat Farm at Hunsur in Mysore, where the shapely long-horned bullocks are kept for the use of the army.
Report of the cattle plague commission
led by J.H.B. Hallen (1871)

Imagine the situation when cattle die off in their millions - the estimated deaths of cows and buffaloes in 1870 was 1 million. Around 1871, it rang alarm bells high enough to have a committee examining the situation. Britain had had a major "cattle plague" outbreak in 1865 and so the matter was not unknown to the public. The generic term for the mass deaths was "murrain", a rather old-fashioned word that refers to an epidemic disease in sheep and cattle derived from the French word morine, or "pestilence," with roots in Latin mori "to die." A commission headed by Staff Veterinary Surgeon J.H.B. Hallen went across what would best be called the "cow belt" of India and noted among other things that the cattle in the hills were doing better and that rivers helped isolate the disease. Remarkably there were two little-known Indians members - Mirza Mahomed Ali Jan (a deputy collector) and Hem Chunder Kerr (a magistrate and collector). The report includes 6 maps with spots where the outbreaks occurred in each year from 1860 to 1866 and the spatial approach to epidemiology is dominant. This is perhaps unsurprising given that the work of John Snow would have been fresh in medical minds. One point in the report that caught my eye was "Increasing civilization, which means in India clearing of jungle, making of roads, extended agriculture, more communication with other parts, buying and selling, &c, provides greater facilities for the spread of contagious diseases of stock." The committee identified the largest number of deaths to be caused by rinderpest. Rinderpest has a very long history and the its attacks in Europe are quite well documented. There had been two veterinary congresses in Europe that looked at rinderpest. One of the early researchers was John Burdon Sanderson (a maternal grand-uncle of J.B.S. Haldane) who noted that the blood of infected cattle was capable of infecting others even before the source individual showed any symptoms of the disease. He also examined the relationship to smallpox and cowpox through cross-vaccination and examination for resistance. C.A. Spinage in his brilliant book (but with a European focus) on The Cattle Plague - A History (2003) notes that rinderpest belongs to the Paramyxoviruses, a morbillivirus which probably existed in Pleistocene Bovids and perhaps the first relative that jumped to humans was measles, and was associated with the domestication of cattle. The English believed that the origin of rinderpest lay in Russia. The Russians believed it came from the Mongols.
Gods slaandehand over Nederland, door de pest-siekte onder het rund vee
[God's lashing hand over the Netherlands, due to the plague disease among cattle]
Woodcut by Jan Smits (1745) - cattle epidemics evoked theological explanations
The British government made a grant of £5,000 in 1865 for research into rinderpest which was apparently the biggest ever investment in medical research upto that point of time. This was also a period when there was epidemic cholera epidemic, mainly affecting the working class, and it was noted that hardly any money was spent on it. (Spinage:328) The result of the rewards was that a very wide variety of cures were proffered and Spinage provides an amusing overview. One cure claim came from a Mr. M. Worms of Ceylon and involved garlic, onion, and asafoetida. Worms was somehow related to Baron Rothschild and the cure was apparently tested on some of Rothschild's cattle with some surprising recoveries. Inoculation as in small pox treatments were tried by many and they often resulted in infection and death of the animals.

As for the India scene, it appears that the British government did not do much based on the Hallen committee report. There were attempts to regulate the movement of cattle but it seems that the idea that it could be prevented through inoculation or vaccination had to wait. In the 1865 outbreak in Britain, one of the control measures was the killing and destruction of infected cattle at the point of import. This finally brought an end to outbreaks in 1867. Several physicians in India tried experiments in inoculation. In India natural immunity was noted and animals that overcame the disease were valued by their owners. In India natural immunity was noted and animals that overcame the disease were valued by their owners. In 1890 Robert Koch was called into service in the Cape region on the suggestion of Dr J. Beck. In 1897 Koch announced that bile from infected animals could induce resistance on inoculation. Koch was then sent on to India to examine the plague leaving behind a William Kolle to continue experiments in a disused mine building at Kimberley belonging to the De Beers. Around the same time experiments were conducted by Herbert Watkins-Pitchford and Arnold Theiler who found that serum from cattle that recovered worked as an effective inoculation. They however failed to publish and received little credit. Koch, a German, beating the English researchers was a cause of hurt pride.

The Brown Institution was destroyed in 1944
by German bombing
Interesting to see how much national pride was involved in all this. The French had established an Imperial Bacteriological Institute at Constantinople with Louis Pasteur as their leading light. This was mostly headed by Pasteur Institute Alumni. Maurice Nicolle and Adil-Bey were involved in rinderpest research. They demonstrated that the causal agent was small enough to pass through bacterial filters. In India, Alfred Lingard was chosen in 1890 to examine the problems of livestock diseases and to find solutions. Lingard had gained his research experience at the Brown Animal Sanatory Institution - whose workers included John Burdon Sanderson. About six years earlier, Robert Koch, had caused more embarrassment to the British establishment by identifying the cholera causing bacteria in Calcutta. Koch had however not demonstrated that his bacteria isolate could cause disease in uninfected animals - thereby failing one of the required tests for causality that now goes by the name of Koch's postulates. There were several critiques by British researchers who had been working for a while on cholera in India - these included David Douglas Cunningham (who was also a keen naturalist and wrote a couple of general natural history books as well) and T.R. Lewis (who had spent some time with German researchers).  The British government (the bureaucrats were especially worried about quarantine measures for cholera and had a preference for old-fashioned miasma theories of disease) felt the need for a committee to examine the conflict between the English and German claims - and they presumably chose someone with a knowledge of German for it -  Emanuel Edward Klein assisted by Heneage Gibbes. Klein was also from the Brown Animal Sanatory Institution and had worked with Burdon Sanderson. Now Klein, the Brown Institution, Burdon Sanderson and many of the British physiologists had come under the attack of the anti-vivisection movement. During the court proceedings that examined claims of cruelty to animals by the anti-vivisectionists, Klein, an east European (of Jewish descent) with his poor knowledge of English had made rather shocking statements that served as fodder for some science fiction written in that period with evil characters bearing a close resemblance to Klein! Even Lingard had been accused of cruelty, feeding chickens with the lungs of tuberculosis patients, to examine if the disease could be transmitted. E.H. Hankin, the man behind the Ganges bacteriophages had also been associated with the vivisection-researchers and the British Indian press had even called him a vivisector who had escaped to India.

Lingard initially worked in Pune but he found the climate unsatisfactory for working on anti-rinderpest sera. In 1893 he moved the laboratory in the then remote mountain town of Mukteshwar (or Muktesar as the British records have it) and his first lab burnt down in a fire. In 1897 Lingard invited Koch and others to visit and Koch's bile method was demonstrated. The institution, then given the grand name of Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory was rebuilt and it continues to exist as a unit of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute. Lingard was able to produce rinderpest serum in this facility - producing 468,853 doses between 1900 and 1905 and the mortality of inoculated cattle was as low as 0.43%. The institute grew to produce 1,388,560 doses by 1914-15. Remarkably, several countries joined hands in 1921 to attack rinderpest and other livestock diseases and it is claimed that rinderpest is now the second virus (after smallpox) to have been eradicated. The Muktesar institution and its surroundings were also greatly modified with dense plantations of deodar and other conifers. Today this quiet little village centered around a temple to Shiva is visited by waves of tourists and all along the route one can see the horrifying effects of land being converted for housing and apartments.


The Imperial Bacteriological Laboratory c. 1912 (rebuilt after the fire)
In 2019, the commemorative column can be seen.
Upper corridor
A large autoclave made by Manlove & Alliott, Nottingham.
Stone marker
A cold storage room built into the hillside
Koch in 1897 at Muktesar
Seated: Lingard, Koch, Pfeiffer, Gaffky

The habitat c. 1910. One of the parasitologists, a Dr Bhalerao,
described parasites from king cobras shot in the area.

The crags behind the Mukteshwar institute, Chauli-ki-Jhali, a hole in a jutting sheet of rock (behind and not visible)
is a local tourist attraction.
Here then are portraits of three scientists who were tainted in the vivisection debate in Britain, but who were able to work in India without much trouble.
E.H. Hankin

Alfred Lingard

Emanuel Edward Klein


The cattle plague period coincides nicely with some of the largest reported numbers of Greater Adjutant storks and perhaps also a period when vultures prospered, feeding on the dead cattle. We have already seen that Hankin was quite interested in vultures. Cunningham notes the decline in adjutants in his Some Indian Friends and Acquaintances (1903). The anti-vivisection movement, like other minority British movements such as the vegetarian movement, found friends among many educated Indians, and we know of the participation of such people as Dr Pranjivan Mehta in it thanks to the work of the late Dr. S. R. Mehrotra. There was also an anti-vaccination movement, and we know it caused (and continues to cause) enough conflict in the case of humans but there appears to be little literature related to opposition to their use on livestock in India.

Further reading

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