Cornell to join edit-a-thon of women, arts on Wikipedia

Susette Newberry/Provided
A participant in the 2016 Wikipedia Art + Feminism edit-a-thon.

Cornell is once again participating in the Wikipedia Art + Feminism edit-a-thon, designed to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia.

On Saturday, March 11, members of the Cornell and Ithaca communities are invited to drop in for communal updating of Wikipedia’s entries on art and feminism. Advanced workshops as well as same-day training will be provided.

As reliance on the internet grows, so do the ways in which it shapes thinking. This underscores the importance of ensuring that women’s significant arts contributions are accurately represented on Wikipedia, organizers of this annual event say.

“This project will make Wikipedia better, and help correct the severe underrepresentation of women artists from all cultures,” said Susette Newberry, head of research and learning services at Olin Library.

The Wikimedia Foundation says that only around 10 percent of its editors are female.

“Technology in particular is guilty of not documenting the accomplishments of many women (and a few men) who have worked at the intersections of art, feminism and technology,” said Renate Ferro, visiting assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies in the College of Architecture, Art and Planning’s Department of Art. With the guidance of visual resources librarian Marsha Taichman, students in Ferro’s Art 2701 class, Introduction to Digital Media, will learn how Wikipedia works, Ferro said.

Organized by Cornell University Library and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, the event is one of hundreds of edit-a-thons scheduled to take place around the world. In 2016, around 2,500 participants convened in 175 locations in 28 countries. At Cornell last year, 49 articles were improved and 10 new Wikipedia articles created, including pages for Ithaca artist Alison Mason Kingsbury, Cornell art historian Claire Holt and 13th-century Icelandic sculptor Margret the Adroit.

Editing will take place March 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Olin Library and the Fine Arts Library in Rand Hall. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops, but a limited number will be available for checkout by Cornell students and faculty at the libraries’ circulation desks.

“The Johnson Museum of Art is thrilled to support Cornell’s Art + Feminism efforts to improve representation of women and the arts on Wikipedia,” said Stephanie Wiles, the Richard J. Schwartz director. “We invite museum friends and visitors to drop by and participate in this year’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon, hosted in the museum’s main lobby.”

All gender identities and expressions are encouraged to participate.

Before the edit-a-thon, Cornell University Library will offer two Art + Feminism Wikipedia editing workshops, on Feb. 22 and March 3. This year, organizers hope to add a small number of articles to Wikipedia, including one on architect Olive Tjaden ‘25, who designed more than 400 homes, including grand mansions, in Garden City, Long Island, New York, and in whose honor a College of Architecture, Art and Planning building was named in 1981. Because entire articles are difficult and time-consuming to create, editors will focus on improving existing Wikipedia pages in need of greater detail.

Those who are already Wikipedians are encouraged to register here; updated information can also be found on the Facebook event page. Additional sponsorship for these events is provided by the Society for the Humanities and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Melanie Lefkowitz is a writer for Cornell University Library.

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