When I read about the Wiki Loves Monuments initiative, I immediately started thinking about how Prince George (my hometown) could take part. The monuments that came to mind for Prince George were, of course, Mr. P.G. and the Prince George welcome sign: both of which are already represented on the Prince George City Wikipedia page. I was surprised at how quickly I was stumped on which other monuments necessitated representation — there had to be more than two. However, after a quick search on the internet of Prince George community art, I realized how many art installations there are in Prince George that I see every day and don’t truly notice.
Going through this experience showed me just how important it is to share the monuments and culture of our towns, cities, and countries; if we weren’t to share them with the world, they might go under-appreciated. I decided to go see the monuments and public art installations in town to put them into Wikimedia Commons because I feel they deserve to be shared with the world and celebrated. To put them on such a commonly used and high-profile resource such as Wikipedia puts these art works in the spotlight, and allows others to appreciate them: leading possibly to their interest in our northern town. I went and took photos of lots of the artworks in town, but this is not even close to the amount of public art we have in Prince George, so I would love if others went and shared some of the others in town! If you’d like to see the data/images I have submitted to wiki commons, you can see them here.
I had a lot of trouble with this project mostly due to the fact that I did not know where to put the images I uploaded to the commons to be relevant to the monuments initiative, especially since Prince George is not a listed area with qualifying monuments. In lieu of submitting them to the loves monuments page, I submitted them to the Prince George, British Columbia page in the same way one would submit to the loves monuments page. I chose my submitted images because I felt that these monuments and art installations should be represented on Wikipedia and they complied to the values of the Wiki Loves Monuments initiative of uploading data and images to the web to preserve and share them with the world. If I were to pick two of my images to submit to the contest specifically, I would choose my image of the Bridget Moran statue by Nathan Scott and of the Millennium Unity Pole by Ron Sebastian (Gwin Butsxw) and Peter George because I feel that they are the best photos out of the bunch, and they also reflect two very important and well-known monuments in Prince George that the community involves itself with quite commonly. What I mean by this community involvement is that people take photos with these monuments quite frequently: sitting beside Bridget Moran, posing with her and pretending she’s alive; and children poking their heads through the hole at the bottom of theMillennium Unity Pole and posing as if they were a part of the totem. I think that the community (and people from out of town too!) doing such things physically shows the values and ideas behind the monuments themselves. The Bridget Moran statue is there to celebrate her legacy, and people taking a moment to pose with her allows her to show them her legacy and to keep it preserved in the next generation. The totem pole is there to celebrate unity, and by people not being able to resist poking their heads through to take a photo, they embody that celebration of unity.
This assignment took me a lot longer than I expected (partly because I always think larger than I have to and submitted around 20 photos for 5 different art installations instead of 2 images… ). The initial steps were straightforward: first the photos had to be taken, then they had to be edited, then I had to upload them. And then I had to link them to the wikimedia page that was outlined in these instructions. This step proved very difficult and involved a lot of ripping hair and grinding my teeth because I could not figure out how to do it because I did not know where these images were supposed to go exactly. I tried multiple things including trying to set up a gallery of my images under a subheading on the Prince George, British Columbia Wiki page (which proved unsuccessful due to my lack of knowledge and direction on the subject — but I did figure out how to code a gallery though), linking the images to the wikimedia commons page that I searched in the wikimedia commons search bar (wrong place, back out, escape, help!), and uploading them to the wiki loves monuments uploader that stated that the 2017 contest had already been completed but I could share my images anyway. This last trial led me into the page that allowed me to find (finally!) the listed monuments not just from the UK but from Canada as well. Finding this page was also unsuccessful due to my previously stated reasoning however, because Prince George is not listed as having any points of interest. I finally decided that I would show the files having been uploaded in the Prince George page (linked above) and would also link my own personal uploads page (also linked above) to show which photos are mine should anyone else upload. I am still conflicted about this decision as when I go to the Prince George page, I do not see where my photos are displayed except for at the link at the very bottom of the page that says “Wikimedia Commons has media related to Prince George, British Columbia”, but I do not know where else to place them and I followed the instructions we were given for this post prompt (I hope it’s correct).
While I was embarking on this project I was thinking about the statement that “capturing data is not passively accepting what is given, but actively constructing what one is interested in” mentioned in the article “Big? Smart? Clean? Messy? Data in the Humanities” by Christof Schoch, as taking and distributing these photos plays into that idea. I have to actively take the photos, and then figure out how to navigate confusing and frustrating code in order to put them out there for everyone to see and appreciate in a substantial and academic/learning based context. The information from the articles we read this week explain how Wiki brings data and people together in order to create a DH project that helps the spread of knowledge and information. I thought that this connection that Wiki has made really illustrates what Scholoch says in the article about combining automatic annotation and crowdsourcing, as they have made it accessible to anyone who has the means and the want to edit the data to go ahead and share their knowledge and/or expertise and/or skills towards the big project. It also illustrates Scholoch’s notion of Big vs. Smart data, where each page or edit is Smart data and the project as a whole is Big data.
I enjoyed this project, and I feel that (as is mentioned in detail in Melanie Kill’s article Teaching Digital Rhetoric: Wikipedia, Collaboration, and the Politics of Free Knowledge”) it truly solidifies that we as students in the humanities have the ability and the responsibility to share our knowledge with other people, and not just in the classroom, but also in the wider world. I would love to contribute to the wiki loves monuments competition this September (especially since I’m going on an exchange to Scotland!!), and I hope that the initiative grows to support the sharing of monuments all over the world and in smaller areas, not just the larger well-known (and commonly photographed) ones already well represented on Wikipedia.