What links fashion designer Fong Leng with a festival organiser, a member of the Dutch Costume Society and Wikipedia? The answer – the Europeana Fashion editathon in Utrecht on 13 May 2013.
Europeana Fashion is a project which aims to provide Europeana with outstanding and rich material about the history of European fashion, including more than 700,000 fashion-related digital objects, ranging from historical dresses to accessories, photographs, posters, drawings, sketches, videos, and fashion catalogues. At this event, its second editathon, 40 fashion enthusiasts gathered at Europeana Fashion partner Centraal Museum. From journalists and curators to students and bloggers, all attendees spent a full day editing fashion-related articles on Wikipedia. The event was co-organised by Europeana Fashion partner, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, and Wikimedia Netherlands with support from the Dutch fashion project, ModeMuze.
The day included a guided tour of the Centraal Museum. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg. Image used under Creative Commons License Attribution http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
So what is an editathon? Quite simply – it’s an event at which a group of people come together to add or update Wikipedia pages. This one was themed around fashion and involved working with, amongst other resources, images from the collections of Europeana Fashion partners that those partners had made available on Wikimedia.
Fong Leng, jacket and dress. From Collection Centraal Museum Utrecht. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg. Image used under Creative Commons License Attribution http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en Find out more about this object here: http://centraalmuseum.nl/ontdekken/object/?q=fong%20leng#o:18163
We spoke to a couple of the people who came along to the event to find out exactly why they got involved.
Leonie Sterenborg is a Junior Curator at the Amsterdam Museum, and a Coordinator and Board Member of the Dutch Costume Society Bulletin. Leonie says she jumped at the chance to attend because ‘I am researching accessories and I often find that information in a thesaurus or on Wikipedia is incorrect. So this was a good opportunity to contribute. I was worried that I might not have enough knowledge, but that fear was taken away because you are writing for a general audience. The explanation and introduction to the day made it very easy to start editing on my own. I think I’ll continue writing and editing on Wikipedia. I am currently working on crinolines and I can see that there is room for improvement there.’
Leonie Sterenborg (second from left). Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg. Image used under Creative Commons License Attribution http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
Iris Loos, Founder of ‘In-Fashion’, the Utrecht fashion festival was another first-timer. So how does she feel about Wikipedia now? Iris says, ‘I really enjoyed learning more about Wikipedia and how to actually work on an article. I have more ‘feeling’ with Wikipedia now. I used to be a passive user, but now I have more insight into how it actually works and the philosophy behind it. I would like to organise something similar with In-Fashion.’ Iris concludes, ‘I think it is a great initiative to have at Centraal Museum. Museums can be quite traditional in their role of preserving and presenting, so working with Wikipedia enriches them.’
Iris Loos. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg. Image used under Creative Commons License Attribution http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
By the end of the day, 40 new fashion Wikipedians had been born and more than 25 articles were written or edited. Topics included designers such as Fong-Leng, Iris van Herpen, Dirk van Saene and techniques like corded quilting. Attendees worked on Dutch, English and Polish articles. We had writers from Australia, Poland and the UK as well as a strong presence of Dutch newcomers to the platform.
But the day yielded more results than new information and new Wikipedians. Attendees mentioned how they learned more about copyright and intellectual property. Some indicated they could see themselves using Wikimedia in their personal or professional research. Attendees also expressed they now felt more confident to update inaccuracies on Wikipedia if they came across them. And, they said, it was a great opportunity to meet people from the fashion community.