Category Archives: in English

GLAMs and GLAMWiki Toolset

GLAMWiki Toolset project is a collaboration between various Wikimedia chapters and Europeana. The goal of the project is to provide easy-to-use tools to make batch uploads of GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives & Museums) content to Wikimedia Commons. Wikimedia Finland invited the senior developer of the project, Dan Entous, to Helsinki to hold a GW Toolset workshop for the representatives of GLAMs and staff of Wikimedia Finland on 10th September. The workshop was first of its kind outside Netherlands.

GLAMWikiToolset training in Helsinki.

GLAMWikiToolset training in Helsinki. Photo: Teemu Perhiö. CC-BY

I took part in the workshop in the role of tech assistant of Wikimedia Finland. After the workshop I have been trying to figure out what is needed for using the toolset from a GLAM perspective. In this text I’m concentrating on the technical side of these requirements.

What is needed for GWToolset?

From a technical point of view, the use of GWToolset can be split into three sections. First there are things that must be done before using the toolset. The GWToolset requires metadata as a XML file that is structured in a certain way. The image files must also be addressable by direct URLs and the domain name of the image server must be added to the upload whitelist in Commons.

The second section concerns practices in Wikimedia Commons itself. This means getting to know the templates, such as institution, photograph, artwork and other templates, as well as finding the categories that are suitable for uploaded material. For someone who is not a Wikipedian – like myself – it takes a while to get know the templates and especially the categories.

The third section is actually making the uploads by using the toolset itself, which I find easy to use. It has a clear workflow and with little assistance there should be no problems for GLAMs using it. Besides, there is a sandbox called Commons Beta where one can rehearse before going public.

I believe that the bottleneck for GLAMs is the first section: things that must be done before using the toolset. More precisely, creating a valid XML file for the toolset. Of course, if an organisation has a competent IT department with resources to work with material donations to Wikimedia Commons, then there is no problem. However, this could be a problem for smaller – and less resourceful – organisations.

Converting metadata in practise

Like I said, the GWToolset requires an XML file with a certain structure. As far as I know, there is no information system that could directly produce such a file. However, most of the systems are able to export metadata in XML format. Even though the exported file is not valid for GWToolset, it can be converted into such with XSLT.

XSLT is designed to this specific task and it has a very powerful template mechanism for XML handling. This means that the amount of code stays minimal compared to any other options. The good news is that XML transformations are relatively easy to do.

XSLT is our friend when it comes to XML manipulation.

XSLT is our friend when it comes to XML manipulation.

In order to learn what is needed for such transforms with real data, I made couple of practical demos. I wanted to create a very lightweight solution for transforming the metadata sets for the GWToolset. Modern web browsers are flexible application platforms and for example web-scraping can be done easily through Javascript.

A browser-based solution has many advantages. The first is that every Internet user already has a browser. So there is no downloading, installing or configuring needed. The second advantage is that browser-based applications that use external datasets do not create traffic to the server where the application is hosted. Browsers can also be used locally. This allows organisations to download the page files, modify them, make conversions locally in-house, and have their materials on Wikimedia Commons.

XSLT requires of course a platform to run. There is a javascript library called Saxon-CE that provides the platform for browsers. So, a web browser offers all that is needed for metadata conversions: web scraping, XML handling and conversions through XSLT, and user interface components. Of course XSLT files can also be run in any other XSLT environment, like xsltproc.


Blenda and Hugo Simberg, 1896. source: The National Gallery of Finland

Blenda and Hugo Simberg, 1896. source: The National Gallery of Finland, CC BY 4.0

The first demo I created uses an open data image set published by the Finnish National Gallery. It consists of about one thousand digitised negatives of and by Finnish artist Hugo Simberg. The set also includes digitally created positives of images. The metadata is provided as a single XML file.

The conversion in this case is quite simple, since the original XML file is flat (i.e. there are no nested elements). Basically the original data is passed through as it is with few exceptions.  The “image” element in original metadata includes only an image id, which must be expanded to a full URL. I used a dummy domain name here, since images are available as a zip-file and therefore cannot be addressed individually. Another exception is the “keeper” element, which holds the name of the owner organisation. This was changed from the Finnish name of the National Gallery to a name that corresponds to their institutional template name in Wikimedia Commons.

example record:
source metadata:
conversion demo:
direct link to the XSLT:

Photo: Signe Brander. source: Helsinki City Museum, CC BY-ND 4.0

Photo: Signe Brander. source: Helsinki City Museum, CC BY-ND 4.0

In the second demo I used the materials provided by the Helsinki City Museum. Their materials in Finna are licensed with CC-BY-ND 4.0. Finna is an “information search service that brings together the collections of Finnish archives, libraries and museums”. Currently there is no API to Finna. Finna provides metadata in LIDO format but there is no direct URL to the LIDO file. However, LIDO can be extracted from the HTML.

The LIDO format is a deep format, so the conversion is mostly picking the elements from the LIDO file and placing them in a flat XML file. For example, the name of the author in LIDO is in a quite deep structure.

example LIDO record:
source metadata:
conversion demo:
(Please note that the demo requires that the same-origin-policy restrictions are loosened in the browser. The simplest way to do this is to use Google Chrome by starting it with a switch “disable-web-security”. In Linux that would be: google-chrome — disable-web-security and Mac (sorry, I can not test this) open -a Google\ Chrome –args –disable-web-security. For Firefox see this:
direct link to the XSLT:


These demos are just examples, no actual data has yet been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. The aim is to show that XML conversions needed for GWToolset are relatively simple and that in order to use GWToolset the organisation does not have to have an army of IT-engineers.

The demos could be certainly better. For example, the author name must be changed to reflect the author name in Wikimedia Commons. But again, that is just a few lines in XSLT and that is done.

Building an Open Finland

Open Finland 2014. Image: Kimmo Virtanen. CC-BY.

Open Finland 2014. Image: Kimmo Virtanen. CC-BY.

During 15-16 September Finnish open knowledge and open data practitioners gathered in Helsinki at the Open Finland 2014 event. Wikimedia Finland participated with a joint exhibition stand together with the Finnish OpenGLAM network. We presented the various Wikimedia projects from different standpoints. The GLAM activities were also showcased with the Open Cultural data course’s recently published online contents. Wikimedia participated also at the Finnish eLearning Centre’s exhibition stand.

The main purpose of the Open Finland event was to showcase different open data projects and to encourage civil servants to open up their contents. Open knowledge is clearly valued by the Finnish government, demonstrated by the fact that the event was organised by the Prime Minister’s Office. PM Alexander Stubb was also present and gave the opening speech at the event.

What can Wikimedia offer to public sector organisations? Wikimedia does open knowledge on a practical level. Wikimedia projects Wikipedia and the media file repository Commons are already well-known international and multilingual platforms. With these platforms cultural heritage organisations and government offices can open up and link their own data. Wikimedia is non-profit and its pages are ad-free. This autumn Wikimedia Finland organises Wikipedia education together with Finnish cultural heritage institutions.

Wikidata is a new way to open machine-readable structured data for free use. Wikidata is becoming a comprehensive linked database that includes data used by Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects. For civil servants and researchers it would be useful to use Wikidata as a reference tool. It will be utilised for example in the British ContentMine project that uses machines to mine and liberate facts from scientific literature. This autumn Wikimedia Finland will organise a Wikidata workshop. If you are interested, please sign up here!

Historical maps are an excellent example how governmental and cultural heritage institutions can partner with non-profit organisations. Wikimaps is an initiative by Wikimedia Finland to gather old maps in Wikimedia Commons, place them in world coordinates with the help of Wikimedia volunteers and start using them in different ways. The project brings together and further develops tools for the discovery of old maps and information about places through history. At the Open Finland event Wikimedia was not the only participating organisation that is dealing with old maps. For example Helsinki Region Infoshare and the National Land Survey of Finland have a wealth of historical maps and other geospatial open data, and some of them have already been published online free of charge.

Wikimedia Finland exhibition stand. Image: Kimmo Virtanen. CC-BY.

Wikimedia Finland exhibition stand. Image: Kimmo Virtanen. CC-BY.

At the event there was a clear desire that digitalisation and opening up government data would lead to new kind of entrepreneurship and thus to economic growth. Indeed there were interesting product launches, such as Nearhood which brings together news and other information related to a specific neighbourhood, or the environmental data project Envibase by the Ministry of the Environment.

Demonstrating the societal value of open data has been somewhat difficult. This is especially common in cultural heritage projects where in many cases there are no tangible financial benefits. Beth Noveck, one of the event’s keynote speakers, emphasised the need to search for evidence about the societal and financial value of open data. So far the arguments supporting open data have been too heavily based on faith, not evidence. Noveck displayed many projects in the UK and in the United States. Perhaps these examples could offer good ideas to circulate in Finland too.

Personal data was one of the key topics during the event. The MyData panelists pondered about the citizens’ possibilities and limitations to use data about themselves. Open Knowledge Finland has also published a report about the topic. Personal data is an interesting topic that raises differing opinions. On the one hand the public opinion is clearly in favour of individuals’ right to control data about themselves. On the other hand for example the Wikimedia Foundation has clearly criticised the recent “right to be forgotten” European Union legislation because it can lead to censorship that distorts online source material.

Wikimedia Finland would like to thank Samsung for lending us IT equipment for exhibition use.

Happy New Year!

Today is the first operative day of the new board of Wikimedia Suomi. Welcome new board!

Tommi Kovala continues as a chairman in the board of 2014. Kimmo Virtanen is the second to continue from the previous board. Founding member Niklas Laxström and Ulpu Pajari are quitting, as well as Joonas Suominen. Susanna Ånäs changes roles to become a part-time employee of the association. We are welcoming 7 new members, representing widely the domains of open knowledge and culture in Finland.

Work will be carried out in novel working groups. The board will focus on Wikipedia in education (EDU), partnerships with cultural and memory organizations (GLAM) and cooperation and strategic work in open knowledge and culture (OPEN). This year we look to foster a funnier and more friendly Wikipedia, and there’s a group for that (<3). PR and communications are looked after on many areas of responsibility: newsletters and association’s incoming mail (WMFI), press (PRESS), social media (SOME) and the Wikimedia community (WIKI).

We shall introduce the board members more closely in the coming blog posts.

Chairman Tommi Kovala, EDU (lead), PRESS
Vice chair Kimmo Virtanen, WIKI
Secretary Iivari Koutonen, WMFI
Treasurer Tarmo Toikkanen, EDU

Sanna Hirvonen, GLAM (lead), SOME
Johanna Janhonen, EDU, SOME, <3
Jyrki Lehtinen, WIKI, <3
Jessica Parland-von Essen, GLAM, OPEN, SV-PRESS
Henrik Saari, GLAM, EDU, OPEN, <3

Susanna Ånäs, half-time employee of the Wikimaps project in January–June, GLAM, OPEN (deputy), SOME, <3

Image: Godt Nytaar. The National  Library of Norway, 1916.

Wikimaps around the World

The Wikimaps project was involved in a chain of international events. First in series was State of the Map Baltics organized in Tartu, Estonia. The series continued to Wikimania in Hong Kong ja finally the project was part of a code sprint organized to celebrate the 9th birthday of OpenStreetMap.

In Tartu

Together with the Baltic mappers we arranged a workshop on historical maps of Tartu. The Estonian National Archives, the National Library and Tartu University provided us with the old maps. They depict the city of Tartu over the years 1892–1986. All maps used in the workshop are now available in hi-res in Wikimedia Commons.

Pharus-Plan Dorpat, 1910

Pharus-Plan Dorpat, 1910

Tartu’s history is multifaceted: The fortress, that was known as Tarbatu in the first centuries AD, was renamed Yuryev when Yaroslav the Wise, the Grand Prince of Kiev renamed it after his Christian name Yuri. Conquerors and names kept changing since. In the end of the 13th century Tartu was a member of the Hanseatic League under the name Dorpat. For the Swedish rulers Tartu was known as Dorpat, as well as for the Polish ones. The Estonian name Tartu was adopted since Estonia detached from Russia in 1918. This was good material for our workshop.

OpenStreetMap actives from Estonia, Finland, Russia, Belarus and Poland were gathered in the main building of the Tartu University. OpenStreetMap Foundation representatives from western Europe attended also.

Wikimaps-työpaja SotM Balticsissa CC BY-SA 3.0 Pekka Sarkola

Wikimaps workshop in SotM Baltics CC BY-SA 3.0 Pekka Sarkola

We started the workshop early Sunday morning. I presented the maps and the challenges

  • Who would use old maps?
  • How could the historical maps be used?
  • Comments on a specific section of the Wikimaps plan

We worked with a tight schedule in five groups. Attentive sounds of discussion filled the space. Two of the groups managed to get their thoughts on paper.

The first group discussed the properties that are to be collected from a map. As an example, when a mapper traces the Tartu Town Hall, there is no way of knowing the start_date, the construction year of the building – only that it existed at the given date. Or maybe the map is not truthful. In one of the maps from the Soviet era the geographic features had been falsified.

Rautatiestä lenkkipoluksi. Mitenkäs nyt matka-aika lasketaan?

Jogging track from old railway line. What happens to travel times?

We discussed routing and calculating travel times along historical itineraries. Routes emerge and disappear: bridges are bombed, railway tracks removed and a cycling track is built in place, new highways are built.

The proposal for mapping Paris of the Musketeers triggered more ideas of placing literature on a map: Pubs of Joyce’s Ulysses, Sherlock Holmes’ London, Robin Hood in Nottingham and mapping the land of Kalevala, the national epic of Finland. Biographies of historical figures could be placed on a map in Wikipedia.

Wikipedisti ja kartoittajat samassa veneessä. State of the Map Balticsin veneretki. CC BY-SA 2.0 SK53 OSM

Wikipedian and mappers in the same boat. The boat trip in State of the Map Baltics. CC BY-SA 2.0 SK53 OSM

In Hong Kong

Later the same week hundreds of wikipedians gathered in Hong Kong for Wikimania from all over the world. During the event the participants in the multitude of Wikimedia projects can exchange experiences and tighten their collaboration. On the other hand it is an opportunity for the Wikimedia Foundation staff to discuss developing the environment together with the volunteers. For Wikimaps it was an chance to show what we have done and start establishing the project.

Round table discussion

The first thing done in Hong Kong was organizing a round table discussion about geodata in Wikimedia. Particiapants were people from Wikimedia projects that use geodata as well as people from the Wikimedia Foundation.

  • Maarten Dammers presented the Geographicus map donation he has helped to upload in the Commons.
  • Barbara Fischer presented a work in progress for a time-based animated map of Römisches Limes representing the erection and disappearance of Roman fortresses in Central Europe. The German Wikimedia organized an interesting event Wikidata trifft Archäologie 2013 this spring that gathered together the people working with definitions of place in the Ancient world.
  • Hugo Lopez is starting a project where maps for Wikipedia articles could be created from GIS data dynamically.
  • Daniel Kinzler explained the state of geodata in Wikidata.
  • Wikimaps presented briefly.
  • Tim Alder ja Daniel Schwen were present. They have been creating connections between Wikimedia and OpenStreetMap over the years. WikiMiniAtlas, OSM-Gadget, Geohack and WIWOSM have been made by them.

We discussed the needs of the projects and created a document.


By the end of the week Susanna presented Wikimaps together with Maarten Dammers. Maarten is a volunteer of great projects in the Wikimedia Commons and he has originally proposed a project by the name Wikimaps.

Wikimaps Warper työssä

Wikimaps Warper at work

We presented the Wikimaps Warper that has been customized for Wikimedia Commons by it’s original developer Tim Waters. It is now possible to georeference images in the Wikimedia Commons. The maps that have been georeferenced, can in turn be used in Open Historical Map for mapping historical features with OpenStreetMap tools.

OpenStreetMap Birthday Sprint

With all we had done and presented over the course of the week, we were part of the OpenStreetMap code sprint. 12 hour time zone difference made it impossible for us to do things together, simultaneously. The maps of Tartu had travelled from archives in Tartu via Hong Kong to an event in the US.

Tarton kartta Open Historical Map -ympäristössä, jossa voi käyttää OpenStreetMapin uutta iD-työkalua

A Map of Tartu in the Open Historical Map environment, where you can use OpenStreetMap’s new iD tool.


Wikipediaklinik in Brages Pressarkiv, Helsinki

Article in Finnish

Brages Pressarkiv is a newspaper archive that has been collecting clippings from the Swedish press in Finland since 1910. Brages has collected and arranged the clipping based on time, location, theme or person – since 1990 in digital form. Older clippings are neatly organized in folders or brown envelopes within brown cardboard boxes. Real sense of an archive!

The archive classifies and geolocates all Swedish news material daily: the media houses don’t provide that information. Since cuts in financing the archive has been forced to argue and align the activities to the national preservation tasks for the press.

Brages Pressarkiv

Brages Pressarkiv

Wikipediaklinik brought a full house of interested attendants. Mikael Böök, a father figure of open knowledge and Wikipedia in Finland, presented the basic guidelines for Wikipedia editing. Fear not, grab the topics!

Jessica Parland-von Essen, the leading lady of the archive, edited the Swedish article about J. G. Granö, a Finnish geographer. The article is significantly shorter than the same article in Finnish.

This topic was raised in the post event discussion: The need to be informed, if an article does not exist in your own language. This applies especially to minority languages with local topics. One of the participants brought up Manypedia! On the other hand we discussed the possibilities of using Wikidata information for bringing up especially missing articles.

Read more about the event Serendipitet bland arkivhyllorna arranged by Brages Pressarkiv, in Swedish


Artikkeli suomeksi
nummelin_raitaWe have been advocating a proposal for creating a web mapping service for historical maps within the Wikimedia project family.

Imagine you could select a place on a map and rewind it to a moment in time. You could see maps that have been drawn at the time, but you could also see the place names, routes and buildings of the time, in your preferred language. You could take those maps and composite them with any geoinformation available on the net.


You could participate in creating the maps: take old maps, place them in their right place on Earth, draw and store the information. The information would be linked to articles in Wikipedia, through time, place and subject matter. Wikipedia articles would sample a map with just the right data layers, titles and style.

We are joining forces to see this happen. Most of the technological pieces needed for this are already present in the Wikimedia project family. We want to work together with OpenStreetMap Historic in finding out how to store information about the past places. We are creating communities for discussion. Are you a wikipedian, historian, designer, mapper, collector or GLAM looking after a map collection? Maybe you should join?

Wikimaps in Wikimedia Commons (English)
Wikimaps Facebook page (English + Finnish)


All maps and original aerial images Helsinki Region Infoshare

Wikimaraton at Kiasma

More than 50 students of journalism and mass communication, literature, art education, art history, museology, architecture and others are gathered at Kiasma, the museum on contemporary art in Helsinki. Wikimaraton is about to start. During 24 hours of the day and the night, the participants will improve the old and start new Wikipedia articles on contemporary art.

3 pm, February 1st, 2013

Wikimaraton starts with introductions. Arja Miller from Kiasma outlines the collections and the nature of the event. Wikimedia Finland chair Tommi Kovala describes different types of wikipedians and introduces the editing environment. Kiasma’s collections and history are further explored in sound and image by Leevi Haapala and Jonna Strandberg. Oh, those were the times!

We are taken to tour the library. Kiasma has the country’s most complete collection of exhibition catalogues, a result of an exchange agreement between museums internationally.

Piia Pitkänen presenting the library. Photo: Petri Virtanen / CAA. CC-BY 3.0

6 pm

The authors enter into writing. Silence and the faint tap on keyboards is interrupted by the presentations of Heikki Kastemaa and Pilvi Porkola. Heikki Kastemaa is an art critic who has contributed to Wikipedia for a number of years. He says that the most difficult thing has been to adopt neutrality, as opposed to criticism art writers are more accustomed to. He guides the participants to the principles of Wikipedia: the use of references, the tone of voice, neutrality.

Writing has started. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen / CAA. CC-BY 3.0

Writing has started. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen. CC-BY 3.0

Pilvi Porkola presents the Esitys magazine on performing art. She starts by telling how she met her father when he was moving house. The father was in the process of tearing his books: ”No-one wants to buy these anymore. All information is retrieved from the Internet. At the recycling center they want the books torn.”

While Tommi Kovala presents the works by graphic design students to enhance the infographics in Wikipedia, he is interrupted by an announcement: ”Dear museum guests. The museum will be closed in 15 minutes.” A sigh sweeps the room. Ulpu Pajari continues by telling about the earlier cooperation with Ateneum Art Museum, the national gallery of Finland.

11 pm

The first crisis. User Velma’s comments appear in User KaijaKai’s unfinished article: ”Where are the references?” ”According to whom?” After a short turmoil and placing an {{ Underconstruction }} template in place grinning Velma reports from the other side of the hall. The conflict resolves.

Wikimedia troops at Sanahirviö. Image: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

Wikimedia troops at Sanahirviö. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0


A new event interrupts the quiet work: it’s time for a midnight guided tour. We witness the dark halls of the exhibition, silent Helsinki in the background. We get to take a look at Steven Holl’s original toilet furniture in the women’s restroom between the third and the fourth floors, as well as a huge painting lift, which takes you to the fabulous personnel space overlooking Helsinki.

Midnight in Kiasma. Image Susanna Ånäs. CC-BY 3.0

Midnight in Kiasma. Photo: Susanna Ånäs. CC-BY 3.0

2 am

Two in the morning it is time to confess to each other what articles have been made, what difficulties have been encountered. Many admit getting hooked on editing. Some of the personnel go to sleep on their office floor, some participants sleep on the giant cushions in the hall, some sneek home for a nap, others continue editing.

Night at the museum. Image Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

Night at the museum. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

7 am

Floor waxing begins! The ones that are not woken up by the machines are shaken awake to attend the next event.

7.30 am

Sleepy encyclopedists are refreshed gently by crisp frost on the morning guided tour outside the building. We see that Kiasma is no longer the lantern lighting the environment since the surroundings are buing built. The lighting of the house requires new principles, explain Kiasma’s lighting engineers Heikki Paasonen and Jani-Matti Salo, whose light installation Linear Array illuminates the house.

Kiasma early Saturday morning. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

Kiasma early Saturday morning. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

8 am

An unforgettable brekkie with fresh bread and fruit.

Breakfast rewards the toughest. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

Breakfast rewards the toughest. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

10 am

The morning brings more presentations. Otso Kantokorpi, Teemu Mäki and Saara Hacklin discuss writing about art. Otso Kantokorpi’s provocation wakes: ”Does such cooperation emphasize Kiasma’s hegemony? Is the integrity of art jeopardized if writers are rewarded by the institution?”

The breakfast is still in mind when Dan Perjovschi, an art world wall scribbler currently exhibiting in Kiasma gives his presentation. His career covers the period from the collapse of Eastern Europe to the economic collapse of Western Europe. His way of writing on the gallery walls is in an interesting way contradictory to Wikipedia. Compared to Wikipedia, he expresses his views on public walls, where only few people can write, while in Wikipedia one must refrain from expressions of opinion, but writing is permissible for anyone. He says that in spite him being political, he is not an activist, but activists are interested in his political opinions. Regarding his role in society he states: ”As an artist I have the history behind me. I descend from Rubens.”

Dan Perjovschi and Maria Rantamaula, who was the one to sleep on the office floor. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

Dan Perjovschi and Maria Rantamaula, who was the one to sleep on the office floor. Photo: Kimmo Virtanen CC-BY 3.0

In the final discussion objections to Otso Kantokorpi’s allegations are easy to argue: the work is not for Kiasma, but for the common good. Everyone rushes to thank each other. Thank you also for the guards!

Wikimaraton was a win-win-win-win-win for Kiasma’s outreach, Wikipedia, open knowledge, connecting visual arts interest groups to name a few. Kiasma’s 5 different sectors produced the event together with a desire to be active in the field of open culture. The work resulted in 68 edited Wikipedia articles, of which 36 new ones.

It is a good start, as in a figure of speech in sports. But wasn’t this a marathon?