On Wikimedia projects, audio and video content has traditionally taken a backseat relative to text and static images (however, changes are underway). Conversely, more and more scholarly publications come with audio and video files, though these are — a legacy from the print era — typically relegated to the “supplementary material” rather than embedded next to the relevant text passages. And a rising number of these publications are Open Access, i.e. freely available under Creative Commons licenses that allow for the materials to be reused in other contexts.
Why not enrich thematically related Wikimedia pages with such multimedia files? That’s where the Open Access Media Importer (OAMI) comes in. It makes scientific video and audio clips accessible to the Wikimedia community and a broader public audience. The OAMI is an open-source program (or ‘bot’) that crawls PubMed Central — a full-text database of over 3 million biomedical research articles — and extracts multimedia files from those publications in the database that are available under Wikimedia-compatible licenses.
Such reuse-friendly terms are the key ingredient to making scholarly materials useful beyond the article in which they have originally been published. However, OAMI aims to make this material even more useful by making it accessible:
- in places where people actually look for them (Wikimedia platforms are a prime example),
- in one coherent format (in our case Ogg Vorbis/Theora, which isn’t encumbered by patent restrictions), and
- in a way that allows for collaborative annotation with relevant metadata. This makes it a lot easier to browse and search the media files.