Two weeks ago, Centre Pompidou and Wikimedia France signed a new partnership: it’s the next step of a former project begun in 2011. This first test was completely different because it involved a small number of participants, art works and workshops. But the project succeeded: 4 articles were created with the infobox – this formal part of the page is important, because it allows the exchange of data and includes these on the semantic web.
There was a long time between this former project and the new one. The digital staff of Centre Pompidou was busy, working on the launch of this new website. But now, it works and it’s a huge project!
The partnership is designed with two principle goals: the first is the creation of articles on Wikipedia, and the second is the building of the Centre Pompidou community. To reach it, the partnership has 3 parts:
The technological aspect
This first part has not started yet. Wikimedia and Centre Pompidou will be able to create links between the two websites. This part will be facilitated by the Dbpedia project of Wikimedia France, which allows the data of Wikipedia to be crawled by other websites, like the one of Centre Pompidou for example. But to use the data of the free encyclopedia, Centre Pompidou has to study the viability of the process, quality of data, and a lot of others things. It’s not so easy for an institution which includes a museum known for scientific excellency to accept this kind of crowdsourced data and information. So Centre Pompidou will launch this technological aspect when the two others have ended.
We have to notice that contemporary art is not the best treated theme on Wikipedia: the project is to improve it. So, it’s necessary to work on this before using data on the Centre Pompidou websiteof course: that’s the purpose of the second part of the project!
This second part is actually divided into three parts.
First, there are workshops for audience. 20 workshops of 2 hours are planned, with classes about the interface and spirit of the free encyclopedia, and classes about the writing of contemporary art texts dedicated to audience. There will be a lot of visits with curators and documentation prepared by librarians from Bibliothèque Publique d’Information and Bibliothèque Kandinsky. The program is as important as a university cursus but each participant can personalize it, picking up classes from his needs. They will also choose the subject of the article from a large list of works of art from Centre Pompidou collection.
The first goal is to write 50 articles on Wikipedia, including 2 “good articles”, and 2 “quality articles”. The second goal is to observe the dynamic of the group, the involvement of each participant, and how it’s possible to make quality contributors from basic public.
Second, there are workshops for Centre Pompidou professionals. They will be focused on different forms of publishing, including digital publishing. The group will ask a lot of questions with case studies: what is the impact of collaboration on publishing? Is it possible to use creative commons and other free licenses on the publishing activity, even on paper? Can we imagine a new business model for publishing while the business model for the Internet is beginning to be dominant?
And a last part was added recently, to compare the first kind of workshops with more traditional ones. It will involve researchers linked to Bibliothèque Kandinsky, the library of the museum for people with accreditation. It will be composed of just 5 longer workshops, including a short moment of learning of the interface like in the others. The subject of articles will be 10 former Centre Pompidou exhibitions. So these last 5 workshops will be more strictly framed and composed by professionals or future professionals, so it will be very interesting to compare dynamics of collaboration during these workshops.
Workshops are a very important part of the project, but another one is conferences : they are important steps in the project! Each conference is composed of two moments: the first is a balance sheet of workshops, and the second is a theorical approach to the theme. For example, the second conference will be about publishing and will begin showing the results of the professional workshops. After, 3 specialists from the the publishing industry will debate on a round table.
The first conference, last week, was about digital labour and Louise Merzeau (professor at Paris X University), Antonio Casilli (Professor at ParisTech) and Henri Verdier (director of Etalab) debated about changes and benefits of the collaborative work for cultural institutions.
The last conference will be about the “digital forgotten”, to ask if an institution dedicated to preservation and curation can use the Internet to reach it’s goals.
Conferences are a way to interrogate the new and massive adoption of collaborative projects. It’s particularly important in France, when culture is still a part of the legitimate and dominant class, instead of temptatives of democratization.
As the architect of this project…
I’m really proud that Alain Seban, President of Centre Pompidou, encourages it. It’s a part of the idea of a digital Centre Pompidou, an area where publics can find personalized information about art, at any moment. This digital Centre Pompidou will include different interfaces, like the web site, the future app, digital and social networks and so on. The project is an important step in involving publics in the production of contents and in creating a polyphonic area, where the voice of the museum will be added to the voices of users. It will be an area with different points of view where anyone could find any information, fitted to his needs and his abilities to understand any kind of language.
There are a lot of things to say about it yet, but I think the most important is to know how significant the opening of such an institution, is considering the work of non-professionals and even art lovers.