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Biodiversity on Wikipedia - the Indian context


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Presentation made at WikiConference India 2011

Describes how a bunch of editors are adding to freely licensed content on Wikipedia

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Biodiversity on Wikipedia - the Indian context

  1. 1. “ Indian” Biodiversity Learning through Wikipedia Shyamal 2011
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  3. 3. <ul><li>&quot; Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and at the backs of books in libraries.“ </li></ul><ul><li>— Samuel Johnson </li></ul><ul><li>(Boswell's Life of Johnson ) </li></ul>Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)
  4. 4. Biodiversity richness <ul><li>Tectonic History </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Gondwanaland-KT-Collision-Upheaval </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Waves of immigrations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Tropical zone – energy, monsoon system </li></ul><ul><li>Conservation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Traditional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Preservation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Forestry </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Invaluable wealth <ul><li>Food </li></ul><ul><li>Fodder </li></ul><ul><li>Firewood </li></ul><ul><li>Fibre </li></ul><ul><li>Building material </li></ul><ul><li>Raw materials </li></ul><ul><li>Medicine </li></ul><ul><li>Aesthetic </li></ul><ul><li>… . </li></ul><ul><li>And sometimes </li></ul><ul><li>Competing with cultivation (weeds, pests) </li></ul><ul><li>Annoying, spreading disease (vectors) </li></ul>
  6. 6. 1678-1693
  7. 7. Allan Octavian Hume (6 June 1829 - 31 July 1912)
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  10. 10. http:/ /
  11. 11. Numerous attempts <ul><li>Plants - Hortus Malabaricus ( 1678-1693) </li></ul><ul><li>Birds – Alan Octavian Hume </li></ul><ul><li>Fauna of British India </li></ul><ul><li>Lepidoptera Indica </li></ul><ul><li>Modern works </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Handbook of the Birds of the World </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mammal species of the World (edition 4) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Half-hearted efforts by the Indian government </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Expensive, non sustainable, non-free license </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organizations not citizen/consumer oriented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Issues of quality, lack of transparency & review </li></ul></ul>
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  14. 15. Why Wikipedia ? <ul><li>Open to all </li></ul><ul><li>Open to progress – long term </li></ul><ul><li>The environment is “common” heritage </li></ul><ul><li>Free-license promotes long-term survival </li></ul><ul><li>Free-license promotes innovative (re)use </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic and connected – no boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Traceability – structuring (COinS, templates,…) </li></ul>
  15. 16. Conservation philosophy <ul><li>“ The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, &quot;What good is it?&quot; If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” ― Aldo Leopold </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold </li></ul></ul></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>“ One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” </li></ul><ul><li>― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac </li></ul>
  17. 22. Intrinsically Notable No deletion debates ! <ul><li>United Nations publication: UNEP-WCMC (2000). Global Biodiversity: Earth's living resources in the 21st century . Cambridge, World Conservation Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Alfred, J.R.B. (1998) Faunal Diversity in India: An Overview: In Faunal Diversity in India, i-viii], 1-495. (Editors. Alfred, JRB, et al., 1998). ENVIS Centre, Zoological Survey of India, Calcutta. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  18. 23. Total number of described species 1,750,000 Estimates of unknown species 14,000,000 A drop in the ocean At least 1,50,000 articles in the Indian context Mainly butterflies Group Indian species World total Endemics Plants (vascular) 19000 ? Fungi ? 72000 Protista 2600 32000 Arthropods 68000 987000 Insects 16000 Other inverts. 8400 87100 Fish 2600 22000 Amphibians 300 5200 200 Reptiles 500 5900 200 Birds 1250 9000 70 Mammals 400 4700 40
  19. 24. Structure <ul><li>Fauna of India </li></ul><ul><ul><li>List of birds of India </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>List of … of India </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Species </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Taxonomic hierarchy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Class – order – family – genus </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Others – ecology, behaviour, history </li></ul>
  20. 25. Local observation Upload photograph Identify Research Create article Improve article Therea petiveriana Polyrhachis gracilior
  21. 26. Image contributions <ul><ul><li>Uploader may or may not identify it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indentified / categories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Found </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sound/video recordings </li></ul></ul>Upload photograph Identify Research Create article Improve article
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  23. 29. Not without troubles
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  26. 34. Traffic spikes <ul><li>News coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Discussions on Internet groups </li></ul><ul><li>Spikes detected after the fact </li></ul>Sálim Moizuddin Abdul Ali [saːlɪm əliˑ] (November 12, 1896 – July 27, 1987)
  27. 35. Specialists <ul><li>Aid and encourage experts with resources </li></ul><ul><li>Guide in understanding policy, format and style </li></ul><ul><li>Campus initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Reverse – make specialist resources available </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Museums, libraries, instruments </li></ul></ul>
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  29. 37. Join Project Collaborations <ul><li>WikiProject Birds </li></ul>
  30. 38. Biodiversity Heritage Library <ul><li>A major initiative to digitize information </li></ul><ul><li>Sadly – no Indian organizations contributing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>libraries, archives, museums, collections </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Internet Archive </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Library of India (low quality scans) </li></ul><ul><li>Open Access Initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia Reference Desk </li></ul>
  31. 41. Specimen from Dublin museum contributed by Robert Nash (User:Notafly) Collected by C T Bingham from Chitral
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  33. 43. Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all. - Arthur C. Clarke
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  35. 46. Thank you <ul><li>Wikimedia Foundation – for the travel grant </li></ul><ul><li>Organizers of WikiConference India 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Biodiversity Heritage Library, The Internet Archive </li></ul><ul><li>Contributors to the Wikimedia Commons </li></ul><ul><ul><li>J M Garg, V Santharam, Sandilya Theuerkauf, Robert Nash </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Colleagues - both on and off Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dr. Prashanth NS, Col. Ashwin Baindur </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Developers of tools and templates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Citation template, taxobox, history-flow … </li></ul></ul>