Due to fiscal constraints we (understandably) have to write justifications for travel requests at $work, to make it clear how the conference/meeting fits in with the goals of the institution. I am planning on going to Wikimania for this first time this year, which is happening a short metro ride away at George Washington University. The cost for the full event is $50, which is an amazing value, and makes it a bit of a no-brainer on the cost-benefit scale. But I still need to justify it, mainly because of the time away from work. If you work in a cultural heritage organization and ever find yourself wanting to go to Wikimania maybe the justification I wrote will be of interest. I imagine you could easily substitute in your own organization’s Web publishing projects appropriately …

The Wikimania conference is the annual conference supporting the Wikipedia community. It is attended by thousands of people from around the world, and is the premier event for discussions and research about the continued development of Wikipedia–and it is being held in Washington, DC this year. Wikipedia comprises 22 million articles, in 285 languages, and it has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, ranking sixth globally among all websites.

Wikimania is of particular interest to cultural heritage institutions, and specifically the Library of Congress, because of the important role that collections like American Memory, Chronicling America, the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog and the World Digital Library (among others) have for Wikipedia editors. Primary resource material on the Web is extremely important to editors for verifiability of article content–so much so that the Wikipedia community is specifically conducting outreach with its Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) project. Several of the our peer institutions are involved in the GLAM effort, including: the National Archives, the Smithsonian and OCLC. Wikipedia remains one of the top referrers of web traffic to the Library of Congress web properties. LC’s multi-decade effort to put its unique collections online for the American people naturally aligns it with the mission of Wikipedia, and Wikimania is an excellent place to learn more about this collaboration that is going on with cultural heritage organizations.

I will be presenting on the value of open access to underlying datasets when conducting a real-time visualization of Wikipedia edits. There is a track of presentations for the cultural heritage community which I plan on attending. There is also a workshop on the Wikidata project, which has particular relevance for LC’s historic involvement in subject and name authority control files. In addition there is a Wikipedia Loves Libraries workshop being sponsored by OCLC to explore the ways in which libraries and Wikipedia can support each other in enriching discoverability and access to research material.