Critical issues presentations/Can Wikimedia go to the movies?

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Submission no. 21
Title of the submission

Can Wikimedia go to the movies?

Author of the submission
  • Brian Abramson
Country of origin

United States of America


Outreach, Projects, Technical

  • film
  • audiovisual
  • collaborative creation

There is a fourth wall of media that Wikimedia has not yet broken: the collaborative creation of documentary films or comparable multifaceted audiovisual content suitable for broadcast as a television program or in a similar format made available over the Internet.

The Wikimedia Foundation has created some excellent audiovisual documentary-style content about Wikimedia and its programs and missions. However, what is missing is content in this format about the subjects that are covered in an encyclopedia (and reflected to varying degrees in source documents, dictionaries, and even compilation of quotations).

This presentation will discuss the steps that Wikimedians would need to take – and are already surprisingly well-equipped to carry out – to create the kind of documentary footage and products that rival the efforts of the best documentary makers for large media entities like the Discovery Channel, History Channel, and National Geographic.

Collaboratively scripting a documentary can be comparable to writing an excellent encyclopedia article. Editors need to agree on what topics are suitable for documentary treatment, on the information that should be presented about the topic and the order and wording of presentation, and on the kind of imagery needed to accompany and illustrate this wording. The primary difference between a high-level Wikipedia article and a documentary is merely that the article focuses on a textual presentation with images (usually unanimated) as an accessory to the written text, while an audiovisual documentary focuses on an oral presentation of the text, with minimal written text, and a substantial quantity of imagery (both live-action and animated) illustration this oral narrative as it is presented.

Although there are technical differences and skills, these are skills that can be found within the community of millions of Wikimedians around the world, as shown by the existence of many excellent animated GIFs illustrating scientific concepts and historical events that can be found in Wikimedia Commons. Other common kinds of documentary footage, from interviews with subject matter experts, to providing narration and translation into different languages, all the way to small-scale dramatic reenactments of historical events, are within the abilities of people in our community, or who can be drawn into our community by the opportunity to participate in such things.

Presenting audiovisual content would be another way that Wikimedia could preserve and present knowledge to the world, bring users into Wikimedia and give them another reason to be supportive of it, and bring future editors in by offering opportunities to collaborate on producing material in yet another venue, and in a way that particularly sparks the imagination of the viewer.



Interested attendees and comments