EduWiki Conference Reflections

260px-Wikimedia_UK_logoLast week Cetis’ Brian Kelly attended the 2013 EduWiki Conference in Cardiff, run by Wikimedia UK. There’s a full write up of the conference on Brian’s UK Web Focus blog, and many of the themes raised are of direct relevance to Open Scotland. The event led Brian to reflect on the role of Wikipedia in open education and to conclude

“I’m now convinced of the importance of Wikipedia in open educational practices.”

One of the themes to emerge from the conference was the library sector’s changing attitude towards Wikipedia. This can certainly be seen in parts of the library sector in Scotland, and the National Library of Scotland is to be applauded for appointing a Wikimedian in Residence earlier this year.

I was also particularly interested to hear about efforts in Wales to engage with Wikimedia and to support the uptake of minority languages. This from Brian’s conference report:

Welsh and Other Minority Language Wikipedia Sites

Robin Owain, the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK gave a talk in Welsh with instant translation for English speakers via headsets. Robin’s talk provided the political and cultural context for the following keynote talk and made the links with Wicipedia, the Welsh language version of Wikipedia. “Wales is a small country. That’s our greatness. “Do the small things” is our motto” explained Robin, who went on to inform the audience that “Wales is the land of open content“. Such approaches to openness and doing small things, but doing them well has led to Wicipedia being the most popular web site in the Welsh language.

Robin Owain’s talk focussed on Wicipedia, which is unsurprising for the Wales Manager for Wikimedia UK. A wider context was provided by Gareth Morlain (@melynmelyn), the Digital Media Specialist for the Welsh Government. In his keynote talk on “Getting More Welsh Content Online” which highlighted how a public pressure resulted in Amazon changing their policy on providing Welsh language access to Kindle ebooks.

I was fascinated to learn about use of minority languages, such as Catalan, Basque, Galician, Welsh, Breton, Irish, Gaelic and Cornish, on the Web. I was particularly interested to note that Catalan appears to be punching above its weight. Since I have professional contacts in Catalonia I sent a tweet to Miquel Duran, a professor at Girona University, about this. It seems that his son is president of @amicalwikimedia which promotes Catalan Wikipedia. This suggests that small-scale advocacy can have a significant effect on the creation of articles on minority language Wikipedia sites. Since we heard how the number of Wicipedia articles need to grow by 400% for Google to take Welsh language seriously as a search language I hope that Robin Owain and others involved in encouraging take-up of Wicipedia are successful in their advocacy work.

It’s very encouraging to see Wikimedia supporting both open practice and minority languages in the UK and I hope we will see similar advocacy work undertaken in Scotland.