Today, the Wikimedia Foundation released its first ever year in review video, chronicling the celebration, pain, fear, resilience, and discovery that came to characterize 2014. More than anything, it celebrates those who come to Wikipedia to learn and understand the complexity of our world, and those who edit and contribute information so that others might do the same.
In watching the video, you embark on a journey through the world and Wikipedia, revisiting what you read and edited this year. From the FIFA World Cup to the Indian general elections, and the Ice Bucket Challenge to Ebola in West Africa, we follow threads of discovery through Wikipedia’s vast constellation of knowledge, finding opportunities to contribute along the way. We venture from Sochi to outer space in less than three minutes.
Wikipedia is among the most popular sites in the world, but the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a small non-profit. The video was put together on a shoestring budget, and in less than two months, through the generous collaboration and contributions of Wikimedians and Wikipedia supporters. The Wikimedia Foundation’s storyteller and video producer, Victor Grigas said, “We had to get creative to make this happen, we couldn’t just throw money at it. This video was made with everyday tools: a computer, an internet connection, lots of deep, patient thinking, research and collaboration, and the free content that ordinary people uploaded to Wikipedia.”
Every piece of imagery and video we use was uploaded by you. Wikimedia’s commitment to open access and free information meant we could only use freely licensed photos and videos when producing this video. While the Foundation may have edited the video, contributions came from users around the world.
You will see many amazing freely licensed images in the video — beautiful photographs of monuments, recordings of major world events from citizen journalists. At the same time, you will also see some grainy and dated images — such as those used to illustrate West Africa’s struggle with the deadly Ebola outbreak. The images used to illustrate that segment date back to 1976, from an outbreak in Zaire. Although other, more recent freely licensed images are available, most addressed things such as proper use of personal protective equipment or laboratory facilities, rather than the immediate impact on human lives.
With hundreds of millions of people relying on Wikipedia to learn and understand more about the world around them, the instance of Ebola highlights the immense need for freely licensed images of important world events. We encourage people everywhere to freely license and share images and photographs of the notable people, places, or historic events — and in doing so, help make the sum of all knowledge available to everyone. You can upload your pictures Wikimedia Commons (Wikipedia’s central media repository) under a free license.
While Ebola’s treatment in this video underscores the continuing need for people to contribute freely licensed images, it is also an inspiring true story about collaboration. As the Ebola outbreak raged, devastating the lives of people in numerous countries, Wikimedians looked for ways to contribute. Together with Translators Without Borders and the medical professionals at the WikiProject Med Foundation, volunteers translated the article on Ebola into more than fifty languages, including numerous African languages. In October, The New York Times reported that Wikipedia had emerged as a trusted internet source for Ebola information.
Wikipedia reflects the world around us. With each new event, it changes and grows, accommodating our human triumphs and losses. It is the largest collaborative knowledge project in human history, and it is made possible by even the tiniest of contributions from people around the world. Join us in rediscovering 2014, and consider contributing to Wikipedia’s boundless knowledge.
Together, we edit our common history.
Chief Communications Officer