Wikimedia and the cultural sector: two days of talks in Paris.
Overview of the Rencontres Wikimédia venue
Rencontres Wikimédia 2010 was held in Paris on 3–4 December 2010 in an annexe of the Palais Bourbon. Organized by French chapter Wikimédia France and coordinated by Bastien Guerry, this event aimed to gather "as many cultural actors as possible to discuss new online collaborative practices and opportunities to take free access to culture a step further". The conference was part of the Glam-Wiki series and a follow-up to GLAM-WIKI:UK (see Signpost coverage). It consisted of a series of talks and panels given by wikimedians, professionals from the cultural sector, local representatives, and representatives of government cultural agencies.
Real-time French–English and English–French translations were provided. Overall, the conference welcomed 194 people on Friday and 228 on Saturday, amounting to nearly 300 unique attendees, including speakers and chapter members. The Twitter hashtag #GlamWiki proved so popular that it ended in second position in the Trending Topics, just behind Wikileaks. Audio recordings of the proceedings will be available in January, and video footage in February.
Adrienne Alix, president of Wikimédia France
On the first day, Adrienne Alix, president of Wikimédia France, gave an introductory talk, in which she described the chapter and its activities. She highlighted the common goals of the Wikimedia movement and the cultural sector, and set out the objectives for the contents and outcomes of the Rencontres. Florence Devouard, a board member of Wikimédia France and former chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, talked about the Wikimedia projects, their mission, and their core values. Erik Möller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, spoke on the Foundation and its bonds with the cultural sector.
The first session was a panel about past and current cultural partnerships with Wikimedia around the world, feedback received from these, and the lessons that have been learned. Wikimédia France member Benoît Evellin spoke on how WikiProjects work and how partnerships may be built with cultural institutions, taking the example of Monument historique (culture heritage buildings). Beatriz Busaniche, founding member of Wikimedia Argentina, talked about the ongoing dissemination of Argentine public television archives, which now illustrate articles about defining eras of the country's history. Osmar Valdebinito of Wikimedia Chile detailed a project with the Library of the National Congress of Chile to use Wikisource to recreate the political and historical heritage of Chile, with the digitization of the proceedings of the Legislative Bodies of Chile between 1810 and 1845. Mathias Schindler of Wikimedia Deutschland (German Wikimedia) stressed how governments should make their content freely available, reminding the audience of the irony that articles on European politics are often illustrated with images from the US government. He talked about the donation of 100,000 images by the Bundesarchiv, highlighting the importance of metadata. Gerard Meijssen of Wikimedia Nederland talked about cultural heritage preservation and the benefits of cooperation with Wikimedia, using the example of the Tropenmuseum. Émilie Laffray, board member of OpenStreetMap Foundation, described how this project is building a freely licensed map, and how this relates to Wikipedia's mission. The morning ended with Liam Wyatt, who reflected on his five-week residency at the British Museum, and the projects he led there.
The first session of the afternoon was about the partnership between Wikimédia France and the City of Toulouse. This agreement, signed on 2 October, is an umbrella for various cooperation projects with cultural institutions. Francis Duranthon, head curator and newly appointed director of the Muséum de Toulouse, presented the genesis of the Phœbus project. It consisted of mobilizing Wikimedians to take high-quality photographs of objects in the non-permanent collections of paleontology and prehistory. Wikimedian Ludovic Péron explained the details behind this project. He spoke about how Wikimedia and cultural institutions can bring human and equipment resources together to realize high-quality work and showcased a sample of the 300 pictures already uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. François Bordes, director of the Archives of Toulouse City, presented its project to upload 200 photographs from the "Fonds Trutat" to Wikimedia Commons from the famous French photographer Eugène Trutat.
In the Digital cultural policies session, Michel Briand from the council of the city of Brest talked about initiatives taken by the inhabitants themselves, such as local wikis and OpenStreetMap "mapping parties". According to him, citizens should question their representatives about the use of public data. Xavier Crouan, head of information and digital innovation director for the city of Rennes, described the open-data projects that have recently been implemented in Rennes. Philippe Barbat, deputy director of the Archives de France, presented a talk on the current policy on archive digitization and dissemination. He focused on the demands and legal pitfalls of data re-use, emphasizing how private data is an issue for free dissemination. Anne Fauconnier, project manager at the French Agency for intangible state heritage, talked about their work in standardizing legal references on the websites of French government agencies. She presented a set of icons that will be used to regulate the reuse of public data, stating that commercial and non-commercial re-uses had to be distinguished. David Monniaux, a member of Wikimédia France, concluded with a history of the lengthy talks between the chapter and government agencies, reminding the conference how while on Wikimedia decisions may be taken overnight, the processes and decisions can take a long time in the institutions.
The partnership with the French National Library − From left to right : Wikimedians Rémi Mathis (speaking), Alexandre Moatti and Nicolas Vigneron, and Arnaud Beaufort, deputy director general of the Library
The first panel was dedicated to the partnership between Wikimédia France and the French National Library (see Signpost coverage). Rémi Mathis and Nicolas Vigneron, board members of Wikimédia France, explained in their presentation what is at stake in this project. They highlighted the mutual benefit for Wikimédia France, the French National Library, and Wikisource, and gave technical details on how books are processed on Wikisource. Arnaud Beaufort, deputy director general of the French National Library, spoke about the objectives and future projects of the Library, including how its authority data can be used in Wikipedia articles. He revealed that from now on, the scans displayed in the digital library Gallica will link to Wikisource pages, to invite readers to proofread the plain text version.
In the second session, four speakers dealt with the topic of free licenses and their use in GLAM projects: Benjamin Jean, PhD student in law and expert in free licenses; Mélanie Dulong, researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Creative Commons France legal lead; Olivier Hugot, lawyer and adviser for the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimédia France; and Lionel Maurel, lawyer curator at the French National Library. One key point was the validity of copyright claims often used by cultural institutions, pointing to the Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp. case and the National Portrait Gallery copyright dispute. They highlighted how the situation is different in France, since apart from copyright, there is the issue of the re-use of data produced by government agencies (which include book digitizations), which is regulated by a dedicated law. They touched on the Licence information publique librement réutilisable, a free license created by the French government.
The third session introduced the notion of "metadata", from their use on Wikimedia projects to the technologies used, opening on the subject of the semantic web. Alexandre Monnin, head of metadata project at the Institute for Research and Innovation ("Institut de recherche et d'innovation") of the Centre Georges Pompidou, gave in his introduction, the definition and history of metadata. Jean-Frédéric Berthelot, a member of Wikimédia France, gave an overview of how metadata is handled on Wikimedia Commons, highlighting the multilingualism achieved and the lack of structured data. Andrea Zanni, board member of Wikimedia Italia, explained what was done on Wikisource and what work still lies ahead. Calling out to GLAM professionals, he made a case for cooperation with Wikimedia, stating that, "you provide conservation, we provide conversation". Gautier Poupeau, consultant in semantic web technologies, talked about structured data and interoperability, taking the example of DBpedia (a project aiming to extract structured information from Wikipedia). Emmanuelle Bermès, curator at the French National Library, presented the notion of Linked Data. Grégoire Blanc, IT engineer, showcased the "T-ma-tic" search engine, which makes use of Wikipedia to add new semantic concepts in usual search engines.
The first afternoon session was titled "Free Access to Scientific Research and Collaboration". Currently, most scientific journals are published by for-profit publishers. Authors are not paid by the publisher; quite the contrary, their employers (universities and other scientific institutions) are often made to cover publishing costs, and yet academic institutions also have to pay expensive subscriptions for access to these journals, which some panelists say just fattens a few international publishing groups. In contrast, open access journals do not charge readers. Panelists described various actions in open access, including the revues.org journal site and the TGE Adonis site, both of which are associated with the CNRS, as well as ideas about science as a wiki.
The second session dealt with video, collaborative editing, and technical challenges. Michael Dale, contractor for the Wikimedia Foundation, presented the features recently introduced to video usage on Wikimedia projects, such as the universal subtitles editor or the Sequencer, which allows users to remix existing and new video, audio, text and images into single video sections (see Signpost coverage: 18 October, 27 September). David Harris talked about Global Lives, a project to "build a video library of human life experience". Vincent Puig, deputy director of the cultural development department at IRI, demonstrated "Ligne de temps", an open source software that enables users to share annotations and analysis of movies. Roei Amit, head of multimedia publishing at the Institut national de l'audiovisuel (National Institute for Audiovisual), presented the multimedia strategy for the INA archives. He argued that the INA video player could easily be embedded in Wikipedia articles and stated that Wikimedia was at fault. Wikimédia France president exercised her right of reply to retort that the copyright status of the archives did not permit that. Amit then suggested that Wikimedia should be less strict on licensing terms if they really wanted to use video archives, comments that were met with vehement opposition from the audience.
The last session was dedicated to museums and how they use modern tools to engage the public. Samuel Bausson, webmaster of the Museum of Toulouse, presented various experiences implemented there, using services like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter. They aim to "make the visitor the actor of his visit". Diane Drubay, consultant in cultural communication, talked about the communication strategy of the Musée national Jean-Jacques Henner. They reach new audiences by making use of social networks, and organizing special sessions, where students and bloggers are invited. Régis André, an engineer and entrepreneur, demonstrated smartphone audioguides based on Wikipedia data, especially those on geolocation. Ian Padgham, Digital Engagement Associate at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, recapped his personal story and how he created the museum's social media presence. He stated that on social media, their unusual or even amusing use of it, drove more traffic to their website than simple announcements. Speaking in French and using a comic-strip for his presentation, Padgham received overwhelmingly positive reactions from the audience. Emmanuel Mahé, employee of Orange in charge of cultural and digital partnerships, showcased the applications they developed for the Palace of Versailles for visits to the gardens, as well as for distance learning.
During the closing session, Pete Forsyth of the Wikimedia Foundation presented the foundation's various Public Outreach initiatives, such as the Public Policy Initiative (engaging students in Wikipedia editing), and the Bookshelf project (creating documentation for new editors). In her closing speech, Adrienne Alix told the audience that, "we all share the same goal: spreading knowledge. We have to find the best way to do it together". She closed the conference by assuring that "the worst thing that we could do is spreading too much culture. Shall we take the risk?"