SITE-SPECIFIC: What was the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and what was the idea behind it?
SARAH BUTTERILL: The Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon was an event that we held here at the OCAD library on Saturday, March 22nd, 2014. It was a follow-up to a larger, international event that happened in February, organized by a group of activists in New York (more information here). On that day, hundreds of volunteers at dozens of events around the world (often in art school libraries) gathered to teach each other how to create and edit Wikipedia articles and added more than 100 women artists to Wikipedia, in an effort to make up for gender imbalances in Wikipedia coverage and in Wikipedia writers/editors.
On that day in February, one of the international satellite events took place here in Toronto, at Art Metropole. The women who organized that event, artists Amy Lam and Ella Dawn McGeogh, later approached me about hosting future edit-a-thons here at the library, in order to continue the work of that day and make use of the library’s resources for the project. Everyone at the library loved the idea, and we were really happy to be able to introduce the OCAD community to the project and get students involved. It was also exciting for participants to have access to our collections and databases. We began the event with a tutorial about Wikipedia and then spent the rest of the afternoon working on articles about women artists who either have bare-bones Wikipedia pages or do not have Wikipedia pages at all. In many cases it’s surprising which artists don’t have pages. For example, Toronto artists Diane Borsato, Tanya Mars, and the collective FASTWÜRMS have entire books published about them, but do not yet have Wikipedia pages.
SITE-SPECIFIC: What interested you about the Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and why did you participate?
MARY KATHERINE MCINTYRE: This past semester I took a 3rd year course called Cross-Cultural Currents in Craft (VISC 3B41). The first assignment was to research and write a Wiki for a craft-related subject not already published on Wikipedia. The meta-purpose of the assignment was to make us aware of the fact that relatively few women artists, and literally only a handful of women in craft practice, are represented on Wikipedia. When OCAD announced an Edit-a-thon at the Library, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to see if I could actually get published the article I wrote for class, on the Canadian silversmith and educator Lois Etherington Betteridge.
ZEESY POWERS: I love Wikipedia, and use it regularly as a starting point for research in a wide variety of topics. The lack of representation for women artists (not to mention women scientists, authors, etc.) is a big problem, especially as the initial stages of research shift to online formats. The content available on Wikipedia is entirely volunteer-generated, so if you see there is a gap in representation and you don’t do anything about it, there is a good chance that that gap will be perpetuated.
“I think the questions raised by the event are ones that we can always apply to our cultures/sub-cultures, such as who is overlooked and why? Who and what is celebrated or challenged? Who is writing the articles?”