Possibilities, opportunities and advantages for scholars and museums[]

Thomas Tunsch

Keywords: wikipedia, documentation, collaborative, community, scholars, interconnections


The importance of Wikipedia for the documentation and promotion of museum holdings is gaining acceptance, and the number of references to articles is growing. However, the museum world still has much less attention for the Wikipedia project as collaborative community and for its intentions, structures, and special features.

Although these observations are based on museums in Germany and focus on the German Wikipedia, they are just as important and applicable to other museums and other editions of Wikipedia.

Universities and libraries have already taken advantage of the Wikipedia and have established functional links. In that the mission of museums is closely related to that of universities and libraries, the value of Wikipedia for museum professionals is worthy of consideration. In order to define the possible advantages of utilisation and cooperation, both the museum world and the Wikipedia world can be considered communities dedicated to the expansion of knowledge. This knowledge is targeted at the large and not very specific audience that we commonly call "the general public."

Museums collect objects, provide documentation and produce knowledge about those objects and the representing fields of sciences or other scholarship. Wikipedia collects data and information pieces, provides articles, and at the same time offers insight into the process of how knowledge grows. Along these similarities, the Wikipedia shall be examined in the following areas:

  • methods (discussion, conventions, manuals, standards)
  • practical experience (interaction, stable knowledge/process)
  • content (metadata, SWD (english), PND (english), templates, structure, quality management, languages)
  • contributors (scholars and other museum staff, visitors, students)

This consideration will provide information to discuss the following questions in the Professional Forum:

  • Which parts of the DIKW chain (data, information, knowledge, wisdom) provide the most efficient connections between museums and the Wikipedia?
  • Where are the easiest access points for scholars, and how can connections been built?
  • Which museum activities can be seen as related to Wikipedia with mutual benefits for both communities, and how can scholars be part of these activities? In this context, consideration would be given to museum documentation, research, public access to information in the museum, publications, and educational material.
  • What are possible tools that would enable the use of Wikipedia, and which tools are missing?

The results of reflections and discussions can outline the map of interconnections between these two communities and thus provide orientation for scholars, museum activities, and projects.

Additional References[]

After completion of the conference paper the following resources have been considered to supplement the list of references:

See also[]

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