Sunday, November 06, 2011

#WCN11 #Tropenmuseum knows the stories of expeditions

As colonial powers extended their reach, they send expeditions to those parts of the world where they might find an “el dorado”. Many of these expeditions had a dual purpose and expanding the knowledge of the world was one. When you were lucky, you lived to tell the tale. You arrived home heavy with notes, artefacts both human, animal, plant and inanimate. These artefacts were analysed and when done, they ended up in depots of museums. Museums like the Tropenmuseum.

The Dutch anthropological museums all got “their” part of these expeditions and now is the time when thanks to digitisation all the notes and artefacts can come together. Just bringing them together is already a lot of fun but it is only by telling the story to the public that it gains in relevance.

The Tropenmuseum is really happy with many of the results of their donations of Indonesian materials; it is the Indonesian Wikipedia where their material is used most. A project about expeditions may become as relevant as they are when the first systematic references occur in a written language.

Digitising the documents, the photos and combining them in Wikipedia articles is worthwhile in itself however this is not telling the stories of the expeditions and the stories of the collections. Telling the stories is what will make all the material come alive.

The pictures go into Commons, the subjects in Wikipedia, the sources in Wikisource. Can we have a Wikistories to tell the story and have a framework for all the content of the expeditions ?

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