The concept of Wikipedia Towns is spreading across Japan—first in Yokohama in February 2013, then in Ina, Mori and Kyoto. The first Wikipedia Town was created in Monmouth, UK in 2012, but Japan’s towns have taken an approach different from the original one. In this post, I would like to share practices from Kyoto, where I’ve helped with organizing a series of events.
In Kyoto, Open Data Kyoto Practice Group (ODKP) was established after International Open Data Day Kyoto in February 2014. ODKP hosts Kyoto Town Trail Open Datathon approximately every two months. We organize a town trail, followed by two kinds of editathons—Wikipedia Town and OpenStreetMap mapping parties. OpenStreetMap, established in 2004 in the UK and sometimes explained as the map version of Wikipedia, is a free map that anyone can edit. Participants can choose to edit either Wikipedia or OpenStreetMap to share local information.
During the town trail, participants are given lectures by local volunteer guides. They learn the local history, discover interesting things that they would want to write about. However, you cannot just add to Wikipedia articles what you have learned and discovered—participants would therefore go to a library to find sources, and then edit articles and add references. Experienced Wikipedians are ready to explain Wikipedia’s relevant editing guidelines on-site.
Among the ODKP members organizing regular events are experienced Wikipedians and OpenStreetMap mappers, people involved in the promotion of open data, and those involved in local activities and IT experts. I participate the group as a librarian, preparing sources on topics worthy of articles, giving lectures on how to find local sources and serving as a reference librarian on-site. Public libraries collect reference works about the region and thus a best place for a Wikipedia Town. Kyoto Prefectural Library has hosted three editions of Kyoto Town Trail Open Datathon. As the first edition this year, it took place in Fujimori Jinja on September 13th, focusing onto Fushimi, a neighborhood in Kyoto. In that occasion, Kyoto City Library provided us with a lot of books about the local community.
Wikipedia Town helps people find local information and edit Wikipedia articles—and those are the people who used to be merely readers of Wikipedia. Many of them enjoy expressing ideas to the world. Every one of them enjoys working in their own roles: People enjoy working on the same articles as a team, helping each other. Some may not be good at using computers, but other participants can jump in to help uploading their photographs taken during the trail to Wikimedia Commons. Others discuss how to make the content better. It also helps promoting the region because the articles they produce will be new local and tourism assets.
In April, we hosted a new event called Wikipedia ARTS. During Parasophia 2015, or Kyoto International Festival of Contemporary Culture 2015, participants enjoyed modern arts exhibited at Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art, and walked across the street to Kyoto Prefectural Library where they edited the Wikipedia articles on the artists they found in the exhibition. In this way, people can find their favorite artists while appreciating the exhibition, study about them at the library using the resources available there, and edit Wikipedia articles—I believe it is an accessible and insightful way to appreciate modern arts.
Wikipedia Town allows people from various backgrounds to get together, study regional topics and edit articles, through collaborative discussions. It also prompts people to meet each other, rediscover what they love about their towns, exchange ideas and create something new. With Wikipedia, people can produce things that can be used freely by people around the world—we would like to make the best use of this advantage and continue hosting attractive events.
Kumiko Korezumi, Librarian, Kyoto Prefectural Library