Our online collections have a relatively small number of visitors compared to the whopping 470 million unique visitors to Wikipedia each month. Every day, hundreds of thousands of people collectively make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles on the free-content Internet encyclopedia. While we should and do raise questions about the quality of its information, these numbers confirm that Wikipedia provides the opportunity to reach millions worldwide. By participating in Wikipedia, we seize this opportunity and simultaneously gain a measure of control over the accuracy, depth and nuance of the encyclopedia’s content.
As I write, I am nearly five months into my nine month tenure as part of a project funded by Kress to make scholarly and curatorial information about the Museum’s collections available to the public on Wikipedia. Bridging these two very different worlds, each with its own priorities and languages, presented a challenge. As we embarked on our current initiative, we looked to past projects as a starting point for moving forward.
Throughout these nine months, I will be working on a number of projects that fall under the umbrella of this initiative. Each of these is concerned with augmenting areas of Wikipedia that are weak (in terms of both the number of articles and the quality of those articles) with knowledge and images from specific areas of our collections that are strong. In a series of blog posts to follow, I will describe some of the hurdles and especially gratifying moments in each of these different projects. Stay tuned!
Alexandra Thom is coordinating a Kress-funded project at the Brooklyn Museum where she works to make scholarly and curatorial information about the Museum’s collections available to the public on Wikipedia. Prior to joining the Museum, Alexandra was the Curatorial Assistant at The Water Tank Project. She is also the co-founder of Archer&Leo, a Brooklyn-based creative agency, and a published author of short fiction. She earned her M.A. from The Courtauld Institute of Art and B.A. from Vassar College.