Glasgow/1 Wikimedia meetup

This post was written by Graeme Arnott (User:Oswin Oswald) and originally published here

Attendees of the first ever Glasgow Meetup on Sunday 12 May 2013.
Attendees of the first ever Glasgow Meetup on Sunday 12 May 2013.

I’ve done a little bit of editing on Wikipedia but not much. I don’t really have much confidence on it but I’ve now got a new user name I now feel better about contributing on a regular basis. (I was using my own name which increased the pressure not to publicly mess up). I’m going to do the P2P University’s School of Open course ‘Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics and Beyond‘ when it starts in July (for European times).

Anyway, getting back to the story. Whilst assembling the material for the TMA presentation I happened to find out that the very first Wikimedia meet up in Glasgow was taking place a fortnight or so before the TMA’s hand-in date, and this was too good an opportunity to miss. Eleven of us met in the Sir John Moore pub on Argyle Street on 12th May and I think it went really well, although you wouldn’t know it from my expression in this picture :-).

It transpired that the pub’s name was not insignificant. Dan and Julia looked up Wikipedia to get some background on Sir John Moore and found out that he was a Glaswegian who had first seen action for the British Army in the American War of Independence. One of his postings in the 1790s was to the West Indies under a certain Sir Ralph Abercromby. Now, bizarrely the Sir Ralph Abercromby is the pub where Wikimedia hold their meetups in Manchester. How odd is that? Was there then some strange hand guiding the choice of these pubs? If so, what was the pattern and what did it signify? Were these pubs in these similar ex-industrial cities effectively hyperlinked in a way reminiscent of psychogeographic ley lines? Were we like the people on Borges’ map only now were we living on a Wikipedia article? Was the fact that Wikimedia held their meetups on the territory of these one time opponents of liberation a tongue-in-cheek comment on web freedom? Perhaps the solution lay with a certain Richard John Blackler the gentleman after whom the Wetherspoon’s pub is named and where the Liverpool Wikimedia meetups are held. Would he also be a representative of the imperialist redcoats?

Wikimedia in Scotland
Wikimedia in Scotland

The truth in the end was rather prosaic, and a different sort of coat altogether. It transpired that Blacker is remembered for having once owned a department store in Liverpool, and so it turned out there was no mysterious hand at play after all. (This probably means in the future there will be a pub called the Sir Philip Green, although it won’t, of course, be owned by him). Even so, having read how exciting a Wikimedia meetup can be, can you possibly afford to stay away next time?

Seriously, I did actually enjoy the afternoon. Sometimes the admin talk was a little over my head but not alienatingly so, and people mingled and there certainly were no awkward group silences. For a first meeting I thought that we quickly built up a friendly welcoming atmosphere. I’m not sure that I know everyone’s name but we’re starting to think about Glasgow/2 in a couple of months so hopefully we can do it again, and build the group up a bit.

So, it was a good turn out for a first meeting and we can only hope and try to build on that. However it was noticeable that although Katie was there from Wikimedia in London, and Julia had travelled up from Manchester, there were no Glaswegian wiki women. Apparently though this is not something unusual and it seems like Wikipedia has a gender problem. (This will be another post at a later date. At the moment I don’t want to run the risk of parallel essay writing for the TMA). When I read about this edit-a-thon in the Biblioteca Salaborsa in Bologna I had the idea of doing something similar with the Women’s Library in Glasgow.

The library is currently in the process of moving to Bridgeton so this might not be possible until later and depending upon what stage the move is at. A successful edit-a-thon could achieve a number of goals, such as

  • an increase in women in Glasgow editing Wikipedia
  • an increase in articles about Glaswegian women
  • an improvement in the digital skills of Glaswegian women

Thinking ahead, it would be great if the Library could access funding to roll something like this out to the community libraries in Glasgow, and the suburbs of East Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

Maybe this is something we could discuss at the next meetup or in the Comments below.
Arrangements for Glasgow/2 are currently being discussed here.

(and yes I know it should have a circumflex but I couldn’t get it to work for some reason and gave up trying)

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