archiving

Dear friends! Please help me brainstorm ideas about the best way to approach this situation.

I am interested in doing something about Wikipedia’s and the WMF’s archives. These are in several parts:

  • our on-wiki project archives: the long-standing pages, proposals, essays and discussions that make up our history. Some pages are marked “historic”; some are going full-steam; some are only in our collective memory these days (BJAODN?)
  • our on-wiki meta archives: as above, discussions over the years about how the organization and movement should grow, including mailing lists. Again, while most of these pages still do exist (nothing ever really goes away on the wiki…), much of the memory of how each piece developed and was implemented is held by individual participants who were ‘there at the time’.
  • our corporate archives: the WMF (and each chapter and organization, though I am personally most familiar with the WMF) has internal documents that trace both our essential history (incorporation documents, hiring records) and the more informal history of our discussions and decisions, both by the Board, staff and community. Many of these documents are public, but many more are not; while some are safely filed and findable, many records of discussions are held by individuals, from private documents to email threads. (It should be noted that there are accepted corporate archiving and record-keeping policies, some of which we have in place and some of which we could implement; I’m more interested in archiving of those informal things that otherwise would fall through the cracks).
  • Wikimania (and other get-together) archives: everything from t-shirts to receipts to amazing photosets, the records of these extraordinary events are in a myriad of organizer closets and various websites.
  • our physical archives: from printed WMF annual plans to schools WP cds to outreach fliers in Arabic, we have a huge range and diversity of physical artifacts from our 10+ years. Again, many of these things are in individual closets, or stashed in boxes in offices, or in souvenir collections.

Unsurprisingly I also personally have a great deal of physical artifacts in my own closet: project notes, Wikimania organization notes, chapter publicity material. It’s all a bit haphazard and I am hesitant to throw any of it out.

So I’m starting small: organizing my own stuff, my own personal archives. I’ve got a pile for the Board, a pile for Wikimania, and a pile for miscellaneous other Wikimedia-related stuff. We’re talking everything from a flier about the Library of Alexandria to meeting notes. How would you go about it?

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One Response to archiving

  1. Wittylama says:

    I recall that a couple of years ago one of the technology curators at the Smithsonian mentioning it would be good to accession things to their collection on the history of Wikipedia as it is a significant, american-born, part of worldwide contemporary culture. This wouldn’t be applicable to all the things you listed but would be relevant to a lot of it. We can look into it again if you’re interested.

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