NEXT projects and GLAM projects: a proposed model

Designing NEXT on a writeable wall inside the INSPIRE Centre, University of Canberra.

The NEXT-GLAM schema is a suggested model to help Chapters control the scope and funding of projects in the broad spectrum of cultural outreach and to provide appropriate support to volunteers in that work. The model developed is called "NEXT" (News, Events, eXhibitions, Travel). This model is all about helping Chapters to support Wikipedians' activities when there is pressure on funds and time.

The NEXT-GLAM schema was created at RecentChangesCamp Canberra 2012.

Rationale edit

The GLAM acronym is being applied to every type of cultural outreach activity. While it is intellectually justifiable to have a definition of “culture” that is essentially anthropological and includes everything, such inclusiveness may well be too broad to help Chapters manage cultural outreach projects and the funds they provide to support them. While it is fine to be involved in everything, (and it is quintessentially Wikipedian to do so), the conflation of the various meanings of “culture” could result in funds that are earmarked for one sector being used for another. Furthermore, participation in unique events is so different from working in an organisation such as a GLAM, that it needs different kinds of support.

Involvement by Wikimedians in NEXT and GLAM projects generates articles, images, documents, lists etc. for the encyclopaedia (and also for Commons, Wikisource, Wikinews). Putting the two into a temporal relationship produces a model that could be useful to Chapters and volunteers, enhancing that production of content. The essential difference between them is that NEXT activities have an end point; whereas in organisations, (GLAMs and others) work is ongoing. That is, news, events and exhibitions start; but more importantly, they finish. On the other hand, organisations including GLAMS continue with their work. Wikimedians need longer term, more sustainable relationships with them. If these distinctions are made, funds allocated to involvement or participation in these two sorts of activities can be better monitored. Furthermore, Chapters can better identify the different supports needed and provide them.

Distinguishing two types of project edit

A central point of difference among cultural outreach activities is that some projects deal with current, not historical events. Working with current events (such as breaking news, definable events and temporary exhibitions) is different from working with organisations. After an event or an exhibition, things are historicised, records collected, material archived, books written - sometimes this will happen in a GLAM organisation that was established for the purpose. Wikipedians write about things using these records. For example, after a major sporting event, collated data and catalogued photographs may be stored in an archive or exhibited in a gallery. They may be contextualised in a history. (In special cases, an event such as a disaster or political protest unfolds over a period of time long enough for an article to be formed by participation in it. However, such events are not predictable enough to seek support from Chapters and so are not the kind that is being referred to here.)

The corollary of the distinction between unique events versus ongoing work with a collection of organisations that have common expectations is that different types of support are needed from the Chapter for NEXT projects compared with organisations such as GLAMs. Moreover, organisations that are not GLAMs, such as those working in sport, theatre, television, government or science, may have different needs and expectations of any partnership with Wikimedia. For "NEXT" projects, connections with Wikinews are particularly important. Wikimedia Australia is providing grant money to fund professional journalist accreditation cards for accredited reporters in Australia, New Zealand, Oceania and other regions not being supported by established chapters. Wikinews support also helps existing projects like the Australian Paralympic Committee project.

Contrasting NEXT and GLAM activities edit

News, Event, Exhibitions and Travel happen across all fields. Examples of “NEXT” Projects for which Wikimedians might use Chapter support to produce Wikinews or other content include:

- In Astronomy, an eclipse occurs;
- In Sport, a competition takes place;
- In Art, an exhibition opens;
- In Geology, a volcano erupts;
- In Politics, an election is run.

“GLAM” (and other) organisations range from large to small; public to private; general to specific in theme. They encompass:
- large public institutions, such as the British Museum or the Palace of Versailles;
- specific or regional galleries or museums, such as the Indianapolis Children’s Museum or the Derby Museum and Art Gallery;
- galleries or museums established as part of a parent organisation, such as sporting, scientific or medical history museums or archives, such as the Millennium Seed Bank Project or the Olympic Museum;
- galleries or memorials of art works, photographs or archives set up following an event, such as the Anne Frank House.

Usefulness of the model edit

In the absence of a model that distinguishes types of cultural outreach projects, (and for example, labels everything as GLAM), there might be negative effects on three important things:
1) funding;
2) credibility; and
3) effective transfer of learning.

In regard to funding, the Chapters need to know what funds are being expended in what areas. It is important that funds allocated to a project are expended in the service of that project and are not used by a different project whose partner organisations have different expectations or expertise. Chapters need to be able to decide priorities, allocate funds, and support willing volunteers. They also need to be able to assess how well a project went.

In regard to credibility – the Chapters need to build (not compromise) credibility with the different sorts of organisations they partner with or seek support from. This means recognising a partner’s mission, acknowledging its expertise and accommodating its needs. GLAMs are one type of organisation for which this understanding is being well developed. Other types of organisations, whose mission and expertise are different, could be grouped in future if necessary. Scientific organisations or theatrical organisations (all broadly speaking cultural organisations) are different from sporting organisations, for example, and political organisations are different again.

In regard to transferring what was learned to new projects, if it is clear what the limited funds and efforts are being used for in cultural outreach, and also what the organisational needs of the proposed partner are, it will be easier to recommend appropriate strategies to volunteers and support those who want to give their time to them.

In practice edit

An example of how this model might work is that a Chapter decides whether the proposed activity is a NEXT one or a GLAM one. Sending a Wikipedian to the Paralympics or to the Oscars or to the Opening of Parliament, means allocating funds from its bucket for NEXT activities in accordance with identified priorities for content or volunteer interest. Supporting a Wikimedian working with an organisation means using funds from the GLAM/orgs bucket. Outside of GLAMs there are, for example, educational organisations (sometimes called EDU for the sake of acknowledging their differences from GLAM and their similarities with each other). GEO is another useful grouping of organisations. Science research organisations may be so different from GLAMs or from EDU as to warrant a closer look at their needs. It is not so much the discipline or field of study that connects things for the purposes of this model. It is rather the type of ongoing work and what the organisations expect from any of their partners. Thus, zoos and botanical gardens are more like GLAM than they are like EDU.

Many of the strategies useful to GLAM organisations are relevant to other sorts of organisations – Wikipedians-in-residence; Wiki-Academies; Wiki-Ambassadors etc. What was learned from them can be transferred via documentation and records of the projects. On the other hand, NEXT projects are different and probably require different supports, such as for example, press passes and reporter accreditations that the Chapter could help to negotiate.

If the Chapter wants to support involvement in an organisation with significantly different mission and expertise, it could certainly borrow from the GLAM experience, but needs to be alert to possible differences while experience is being cumulated for that type of organisation. The important thing about any new type of organisation, just as it was with GLAMs, is to recognise their mission, acknowledge their expertise and accommodate their needs in order to develop respectful partnerships and facilitate a transfer of learning through the community about working with them.

The point is to:
- assist Chapters support their members;
- build credibility with partners/outsiders/organisations; and
- use what has been learned as well as possible.
These three things, more formally speaking, are the objectives of the model. If the Chapter does not need to provide help with funds or advice or best practices and everything is going along just fine, then the model does not need to be called into use.

A worked example in practice edit

Taking some examples from the red links in the Monmouthpedia page, shows how the model might work in the case of a large project supported by a Chapter.

a) If the Chapter had a community member(s) who wanted to attend a commemorative event at one of Monmouth's war memorials in order to include information or pictures about it on an article that is under construction, the Chapter might negotiate an invitation or press pass or some sort of accreditation/approval and to take pictures. That would be a NEXT activity that would end when the event was over. (The material gathered from the event is then made available to the article writers.)

b) If the Chapter had a group of willing volunteers who wanted to run an edit-a-thon further away (such as Monmouth's new hydro scheme) and a bus was needed to take them there, it could allocate funds from the GLAM bucket (because it is an ongoing activity) and also point the volunteers to the accumulated experience with edit-a-thons. The Chapter could also decide whether its bucket of GLAM funds needs to be divided into GLAM/EDU/GEO for its own monitoring.

c) If the Chapter had a group of volunteers who wanted to work with an organisation of which it had no understanding or previous experience (examples might be currently employed railway engineers for the purposes of working on the heritage railway articles or the Church for the purposes of working on the cemetery article), then the Chapter could decide if it needed to put more thinking into how best to work with such organisations and then allocate funds to someone to start working on a relationship with them. It could decide whether setting up such a relationship is a NEXT activity (because it is largely a one-off thing) or a GLAM activity (because it is ongoing). If the latter, then the strategies already tested in GLAM may be appropriate (Wikipedians-in-Residence etc).

Chapter options edit

So there are two possibilities:
1) individuals might be asking the Chapter for help; or
2) the Chapter might be offering help because someone's interest is aligned with the Chapter's (or a bigger project's) goals.
In any of the examples above, the Chapter can check the balance of its fund allocation. It might observe that all its funds and support had been allocated to one sort of thing rather than another and decide whether this was an outcome it intended or one it needed to alter.