Critical issues presentations/A roadmap to the third dimension

From Wikimania 2016 • Esino Lario, Italy
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Submission no. 129
Title of the submission

A roadmap to the third dimension

Author of the submission
  • Nikolas Becker
Country of origin



other, Projects, Technical

  • 3D
  • article illustration
  • drones
  • scanner
  • user interface
  • community projects

Wikimedia desperately needs a strategy for the integration of three-dimensional content. 3D illustrations of famous buildings, animal skeletons, and many more objects could dramatically enrich the user experience. Furthermore, a thought-through concept for 3D integration provides many new ways for volunteers to engage: Operating 3D-scanners, flying drones around objects, drawing 3D computer models, and thus creating walk-through scenarios. Therefore, we need an extensive and open discussion about technical and social hurdles, solutions, and their implications to the existing project community.

Video is not enough

Video content is great, however with the integration of three-dimensional objects, we could open up a whole new dimension of illustrating content.

How this could look like

Think of the Wikipedia article about the Great Pyramid of Giza. Imagine how amazing it would be if we could provide the reader with a detailed 3D model of the pyramid, that you can walk through, zoom in and out of and rotate freely … Consider also articles about topics such as brain, digestion, or red blood cells. How much easier could they be understood by touchable 3D illustration? Finally, envision how great architecture, ancient cities, mechanical devices, and microbiological models could be made accessible through a third dimension.

Community aspects

Integration of 3D models provides new cool opportunities for volunteers to engage:

  • We could provide local user groups and community spaces with 3D scanners so they can digitalize smaller objects in a collaborative process.
  • We could develop a smartphone app that allows traveling Wikipedians to record and digitalize historic sites and buildings they are visiting.
  • We could extend our partnerships with GLAM institutions who are already three-dimensional scanning their objects, such several museums.

Besides the creation of 3D objects itself, a bunch of new tasks will be created, such as curating and categorizing the models. This will hopefully attract new volunteers and enrich our community.

The talk

In my talk I will present a prototype of how 3D integration in Wikipedia could look like.

Second, I will tackle the technical questions of embedding the 3D models, storing the data and providing a 3D editor. Third, I will present ideas on how to integrate the community is this development.

The goal of the talk is to start an open community dialogue about this project, inviting everyone to participate and provide ideas.


Not accepted