Open, Teaching & Learning

Happy Birthday Wikimedia Commons

Sunday was a big day for the Wikimedia Commons.

Wikimedia Commons is turning 10 years old this Sunday — will you help celebrate? We’re asking everyone to join the Wikimedia community by sharing a freely licensed image with world.

You know, I have contributed, edited and created Wikipedia articles. And I have spoken of the love I have for higher education researchers & faculty who engage with Wikimedia and create clever and creative methods to add content to Wikipedia and the Commons. But, for some reason, it has never crossed my mind to actually contribute something to the Commons. I do contribute photos to the greater “commons” (the web) via my Flickr account where I license many of my images with a Creative Commons license, but I have never contributed something to the Wikimedia Commons.

So let’s fix that right now….

The Wikimedia Commons maintains a page listing image requests. There are a lot of image requests that post-sec faculty could contribute, especially in the sciences. So, if you have any of these specific images (or any image for that matter) consider uploading it to the Wikimedia Commons and improving the Commons.

Or, you can do what I did and contribute a photo of an historical monument in your community. Right now,  Wikimedia Commons has a contest running encouraging Canadians to upload a photo of a Canadian monument. So, over lunch I poked around the Wikimedia map of heritage monuments in my city, found a couple close to my house, took a walk with my phone, snapped a couple shots of the historical monuments in my neighbourhood and uploaded them to the Wikimedia Commons.

In the process, I even learned a bit about a (what I thought was) common structure that I have seen on a regular basis for close to 20 years going back to when I first started working at Camosun College. Turns out, this structure….

Richmond Road Streetcar Shelter - front

…which I have walked by and through hundreds of times over the past 20 years on my way to work when I worked at Camosun College (and was/is used by students as a smoke shelter), is actually a historically significant structure in my neighbourhood. Apparently, this little structure is a leftover from the days when a trolly used to roll up and down Richmond Road.

The heritage value of the Streetcar Shelter is as one of the last two remaining streetcar shelters in Victoria, the third Canadian city to have streetcars. The Victoria and district streetcar system was inaugurated by the National Electric Tramway and Lighting Company in 1890. The system was later bought in 1897 by the British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) Company Limited, who operated it until 1948, when streetcars made their last runs. This shelter was constructed to service the Number 10 Streetcar, which made two trips a day to service the University School and then the Provincial Normal School.

I had no idea this little shack I used to walk through to get to work everyday for years was anything more than a fancy smoking structure.

I also grabbed a shot of another heritage structure at that location – the Provincial Normal School, now known as the Young Building at Camosun College, and contributed that.

Provincial Normal School (now known as Young Building)

But I digress because this isn’t about heritage structures. It is about contributing something to the greater good; something with educational value. By contributing to the Wikimedia Commons, I am, in a small way, making a bit of knowledge that much more accessible by making it visible in the web’s largest information repository. And it got me to thinking about why I share and how I share the stuff I create.

Like many of you, the reasons why I share my stuff on the web is multi-facted. To connect with others, to build relationships, to learn. But one of the really important reasons I share on the web is because I am an educator. I want others to be able to use the stuff I share to better understand their world. If a word I write, or a photo I take or a video I make helps someone somewhere understand something a bit better, then I am a happy man.

So, if by now I haven’t subtly encouraged you to contribute to the Wikimedia Commons, let me blatantly say it: contribute something to the Wikimedia Commons (which, right now, sits at around 22 million images in size). I know quite a few people who read this blog on a regular basis who share and contribute their content around the web (sometimes at the cost of using a particular service for free). Well, here is a chance to contribute something to a project that is a) non-commercial and b) educational. Share your content with the Wikimedia Commons and make it a stronger, better repository.

CC BY 4.0 Happy Birthday Wikimedia Commons by Clint Lalonde is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Comments

    1. Nice find! I was checking to see if there was an IFTTT recipe (or even the ingredients for a recipe) to be able to automate the uploads. I’ll let you know what I can find.

  1. Thanks for this post, Clint. I have been finding more and more images for my projects this year from Wikimedia Commons (usually via Google Images search with results licensed for reuse). I had some challenges with getting the map to load, but managed to find an image needed in the town right next to mine

    https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Old_Randall_Home.jpg

    I may try to just upload ones from my collection on a semi regular basis. It’s just a good thing to be doing.

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