Wiki Loves Maps seminar and hackathon in Helsinki

Wiki Loves Maps seminar (February 5, 2015) and hackathon (February 6–8, 2015) were arranged in Helsinki. The altogether 4 days brought together a full house on all the days.

Wiki Loves seminar was organized by Wikimedia Suomi in collaboration with the city of Helsinki. Wiki Loves Maps hackathon was part of #Hack4FI – Hack Your Heritage event.

Thanks to our team Teemu, Samppa and Ari, and thanks to the #Hack4FI team Sanna, Laura and Neea, as well as Anna, Arttu and Juhani from Media Factory! And all of you who participated onsite or online!


The seminar video stream is available for viewing.
In Flickr there are photographs by Teemu Perhiö / Wikimedia Finland licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 and Hack4FI photographs by AvoinGLAM licensed with CC NC-BY-SA.
The seminar presentations are shared in a Drive folder.
The #Hack4FI project folder is in Drive.
Wikimaps has a Facebook group. There is now also a new Facebook group for #Hack4FI, where you can connect with others who took part.
The Documentation page in the Wiki Loves Maps site will be updated with new posts.

We appreciate if you fill in the survey. It’ll help justify further events in the future! If you can’t find the email, use this link! Thank you!


Historical Aleksanterinkatu

The theme of Wiki Loves Maps was Historical Aleksanterinkatu. It’s a joint initiative with the City of Helsinki to gather historical materials about the city, combine and reuse them. Arend Oudman gave a bird’s eye view to the city through the series of Historical aerial images from the Metropolitan area he has gathered, prepared and opened. Martti Helminen from the City Archives is the originator of the Aleksanterinkatu theme. He took us through the history of the street with images, maps and drawings.

GLAMs working together with Wikimedia
Lars Lundqvist: Introduction to Working togetherAndré Costa: GLAM + Wikimedia Sverige = True

Joonas Loide: GLAM - Wikimedia EestiSanna Hirvonen: Wikimedia Finland ♡ GLAM

Collaboration projects in the Nordic countries between GLAM organizations and Wikimedia chapters.
Lars Lundqvist: Introduction to Working together
André Costa: GLAM + Wikimedia Sverige = True
Joonas Loide: GLAM – Wikimedia Eesti
Sanna Hirvonen: Wikimedia Finland ♡ GLAM

Case studies

Juuso Lehtinen: www.helsinkiennen.fiTimo Korkalainen: Using Augmented Reality for presenting historical sites

Vahur Puik: Crowdsourcing geotags and rephotos for historic photographs
Encoding and experiencing location in apps.
Juuso Lehtinen:
Timo Korkalainen: Using Augmented Reality for presenting historical sites
Vahur Puik: Crowdsourcing geotags and rephotos for historic photographs

Keynote: Peter Neubauer, Mapillary

Peter Neubauer: Open Source, Open World, Open Future
Peter NeubauerOpen Source, Open World, Open Future
Peter presented Mapillary, a crowdsourced street view environment. But more than that, he pointed out the necessity of open source and content, and the need to create together. He also came up with the term open past!

Keynote: Mauricio Giraldo, NYPL Labs

Maurico Giraldo: NYPL Labs: NYPL Labs: what we’ve learned in 3 years
Maurico Giraldo: NYPL Labs: what we’ve learned in 3 years
Here are the 4 principles: 1: Start with a prototype. 2: Polish takes time. 3: Everything takes longer than anticipated. 4: Hackathons are starting points.

Cultural hackathons #Hack4DK, #Hack4NO and #Hack4FI

The first ever #Hack4FI carries on the torch of #Hack4DK and #Hack4NO.
Jacob Wang: Hack4DK – Projects and insights
Håvard Johansen: Hack4NO
Sanna Marttila: Hack4FI – Hack Your Heritage

DIY History

We collected a set of speakers to present different approaches to working with local and personal history. These materials have fallen outside publicly funded GLAM endeavours, they are not suited for Wikimedia for their lack of notability and they largely live in commercial services.

Sanna Jokela, Lounaispaikka Developing public services for local history and tourism and possibilities with historical geodata. Picture
Kaisa Kyläkoski, Sukututkijan loppuvuosi Social media as a platform for a DIY historian. Input – output
Kimmo Lehtonen, Albumit Auki!, Lasipalatsin Mediakeskus A project that collects family photographs from old albums. Screenshots, API documentation for #Hack4FI.
Pauliina Latvala, University of Turku Background study for ratifying the Faro Convention: What people regard as heritage and how to develop the dialogue between authorities and peopleWhy, how and for whose benefit should we
enhance cultural heritage?

Lars Lundqvist, Riksantikvarieämbetet Observations from sustaining the service for historical storytellingLocal history –


Bert Spaan presented the international learning network Maptime. The idea is to bring together people to learn web mapping tools together. Join MaptimeHEL and prepare for the first meeting!Bert also presented briefly the Dutch historical geocoder project Erfgoed & Locatie.

#Hack4FI hackathon

The hackathon, the first of a kind in Finland, was a tour de force of AvoinGLAM. After the weekend participants have six weeks to finalise their works. The hackathon ends 26 March with a gala, where the final works will be presented and awarded.

Wiki Loves Maps projects were only a part of hacks done over the weekend, and you can see a full list of ideas here. Have a taste of maps projects, or projects by mappers, that were worked on during the event!

Historical street view


We aim to connect two projects: Ajapaik for using people’s help in locating places of old images and Mapillary for seamlessly stitching those images into a street view. Signe Brander’s Helsinki images are in Ajapaik already and more will follow! The first test transfers from Ajapaik to Mapillary are being made.
By Peter Neubauer @peterneubauer and Vahur Puik @puik, @Ajapaik

Mapillary widget in Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Sweden has collaborated with Mapillary to create a map for images in the Wiki Loves Monuments competition. Mapillary images can now also be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons and displayed there as a street view. Add this script to your common.js in your Wikimedia Commons settings.
André Costa @lokal_profil and Peter Neubauer @peternebauer

The Warper widget to display a warped historical map similarly needs to be created in the next hackathon!


Mauricio Giraldo created this infinite photograph zoom out movie makerinspired by Istvan Banyan’s Zoom that uses photographs from the Finnish poet Edith Södergran.

Images are processed in Python with OpenCV to find good transition regions and then animated using Processing.

OpenStreetMap – OpenHistoricalMap – (Wikimaps) Warper

Map of OpenStreetMap objects with links to Wikipedia articles

See shapes of buildings and monuments that have Wikipedia articles on a map. Themap background can also be a historical map. By Tuukka Hastrup @tuukkah.

If the background map needs adjusting, go to Wikimaps Warper to fix it! If the link to a Wikipedia article is missing, add Wikidata/Wikipedia tags to objects in OpenStreetMap. If a Wikipedia article is missing, you should write one! (And translate it to several languages.)

Helsinki streets of 1900 in OpenHistoricalMap

You can only store today’s features in OpenStreetMap. This is where OpenHistoricalMap comes in. See OpenHistoricalMap at work inside the Wikimaps Warper. The streets have been stripped from the present-day OSM map based on a scanned map of 1900. You can continue the work, adding, deleting and modifying! OHM integration by Tim Waters @tim_waters, streets by SK53 @SK53onOSM.

For playing around with georectified historical maps and web maps, see this marvellous tutorial Mauricio Giraldo has created.

More wikiprojects

WikiProject Wiki Loves Maps is a hub for tracking missing and new Wikipedia entries for our topics. Wikipedia articles Kluuvinlahden fossiilit (taideteos) and Aleksanteri II (patsas, Helsinki) were inspired by the Saturday morning walk in the Senate square and Aleksi. By Heikki Kastemaa.

We also came up with a plan to brush up Wikipedia article introductions to meet Simple Finnish guidelines, and tag them with specific markup. We will team up with writers and users of these texts. To be continued…

The Finnish National Gallery artists database will be imported to Wikidata, and Finnish Wikipedia will be validated manually against that data. By Kimmo Virtanen.

Mapping the Swedish Public Art Database with Odyssey.js

André Costa visualized the Swedish Public Art Database with Odyssey.js that makes it easy to create narrated maps.

The amazing Paul Villavicencio in a bearly hug by Jason Brower. CC NC-BY-SA 2.0 AvoinGLAM

Guests from afar

Ecuadorian Paul Villavicencio studies Information Science in Nagoya, Japan. The words Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums caught his attention on the Wiki Loves Maps web pages and he decided to travel to the seminar and take part in the hackathon.

While studying in Ecuador, Paul worked in the university library. The librarian, his friend and colleague, is an advocate of openness and collaboration with memory institutions. The possibility of contributing to his work made Paul choose to join the event.

#Hack4Fi was Paul’s first ever hackathon and he was not sure what to expect. After a bit of disorientation facilitator Sanna helped him join a project team and use his expertise on content retrieval in the Talking Heads project. Seeing memory institutions take part in hacking among others, and participating in cross-disciplinary work was a memorable experience. What made all this worthwhile, is that he hopes to bring back his experiences to his colleague in Ecuador.

We talked with Paul together with Mace Ojala, an information science student and participant in #Hack4FI

Looking forward to the next cultural hackathon. Hope to see you all there!

More info

Now that the event is over, you can find us in
Wikimaps Facebook,
Wikimedia Suomi, Wikimedia Sverige, Wikimedia Eesti, Wikimedia Norge and Wikimedia Danmark.
Maptime Helsinki Facebook, @MaptimeHEL
#Hack4FI Facebook group

Wiki Loves Maps is organized by Wikimedia Suomi ry together with the City of Helsinki. The event is part of the Wikimaps Nordic project, supported by the Nordic Culture Fund. Special thanks for the AvoinGLAM network, Forum Virium and the Ministry of Education and Culture for collaboration.
Wikimedia_Finland_logo.svg hki fvh_logo_black_web avoinGLAMpienitr
Norden OKM

We are here. Where do we go next?


Wikimaps participated in 3 different international events in November. This was the time to look back to where we have got to and what kind of opportunities the work has opened.

Creating a maker space for location-­based historical storytelling

Bringing Historical Geodata to the Web
New York Public Library, November 5–7

Wikimaps has become part of an ecosystem of initiatives that aim to open and understand the geospatial cultural heritage captured in the documents held in libraries, archives and museums. We were especially happy to be invited to the event Moving Historical Geodata to the Web organized by New York Public Library. The event gathered together actors from the academia, open source and civil sectors from 3 continents to tackle the flow of historical geodata from printed maps to finally making use of it in cultural applications. The goal was to see where projects overlap, and think of common ways to deal with redundancy.

Common ground was sought after with different exercises during two intensive workshop days. In the end of the days, the participants committed to some common goals.

The Wikimaps project commits

to contribute to the OpenHistoricalMap project as a project companion and establish a seamless workflow from old maps to OpenHistoricalMap. The communities are planning future working methods, and we hope to share some of the tasks together.

Another key element of the Wikimaps roadmap has been to be able to use Wikidata as a gazetteer, a database that can connect place names and geographies and their changes through history and across languages. Humphrey Southall, University of Portsmouth, nominated as Educational Institution of the Year in Wikimania this year, has done pioneering work with testing this in practice with the PastPlace gazetteer. The Pelagios project and others have been investigating the idea of the Spinal gazetteer, a gazetteer that is a reference gazetteer for individual gazetteers created in various research projects and initiatives.

In order for Wikidata to serve as a historical gazetteer we must see that

  • the way places and place names are modelled serve historical gazetteers: the alternative names of places can be limited to date ranges or to a specific context.
  • the granularity of places accepted in Wikidata will serve at least gazetteers (towns, villages, hamlets, neighborhoods as well as rivers, islands, lakes etc.) if not even more detailed geographic entities.
  • all geographic elements on maps would be notable enough to be accepted in Wikidata.
  • there will be a good way to include or link to the historical geographic representation.

While waiting for the collected input of the workshop, you can have a look at the slide deck of the participants’ presentations, the participant bios and Lex Berman’s notes for the event. We also shared our experiences about building the Wikimaps community, which appear on separate slides here.

Wikimaps Expedition

State of the Map, Buenos Aires, November 7–9

State of the Map, the yearly congregation of the OpenStreetMap world, was organized for the first time ever in Latin America. Wikimaps was presenting the idea of the Wikimaps Expedition. The project model will try to fuse practices from the successful GLAM projects into the participatory mapping projects as well as the meaningful humanitarian approaches.


Initially thought to be arranged in the Archipelago Sea, in a bilingual area between Finland and Sweden, the expedition would take many forms. The project would engage GLAMs, experts, wikimedians, mappers and locals in a common effort to research the story of a location.

The work would have a preliminary online phase, during which historical maps, photographs and geodata are uploaded to Wikimedia Commons with the help of volunteers and experts. Wikipedians would edit articles and create new ones on the area. Mappers would do historical mapping and upload historical geodata sets to OpenHistoricalMap.

Locals and project participants would get together on location during the preliminary phase through field trips and other meetings, and finally an expedition would take place: collection events, interviews, editathons, mapping parties and workshops, staying together producing and documenting with all different project participants and partners on location for perhaps a week.

Amazing participation

The highlight of the event was the presentation by the schoolchildren of the Río Chico. Their education is entirely carried out over the web, as there is no local educational staff. They have mapped their little village and had travelled to the event to present the project. I missed it on location, but was able to catch up on video.

Wikipedia TOWN

The guidelines for notability and prohibition of conducting original research in Wikipedia have led to the situation that the enormous energy of people doing research on historical personalities and locations cannot be tapped into.

I familiarized with the Japanese project Wikipedia TOWN, that has also set out to tackle these problems. They contribute to 3 different repositories: OpenStreetMap, Wikipedia for notable topics, and LocalWiki for topics that don’t meet the criteria of Wikipedia.

Näyttökuva 2014-11-27 kello 12.54.42

We are here. Where do we go next?

Iberoconf, Buenos Aires, November 21

Finally, I had the opportunity to pull together thoughts from the previous conferences and present at the Iberoconf Latin American meeting of Wikimedia representatives. Thank you to the organizers of the events!

Devise OmniAuth OAuth Strategy for MediaWiki (Wikipedia, WikiMedia Commons)

Authentication of MediaWiki users with a Rails Application using Devise and OmniAuth

Wikimaps is using a customised version of the Mapwarper open source map georectification software as seen on to speak with the Commons infrastructure and running on Wikimedia Foundations Labs servers. We needed a way to allow Commons users to log in easily.  And so I developed the OmniAuth-MediaWiki strategy gem so your Ruby applications can authenticate on Wikimedia wikis, like and Wikimedia Commons.


The Wikimaps Warper application uses Devise – it works very nicely with OmniAuth. The above image shows traditional login with username and password and, using OmniAuth, to Wikimedia Commons, GitHub and OpenStreetMap. After clicking the Wikimedia Commons button the user is presented with this:oauth It may not be that pretty, but the user allowing this will redirect back to our app and the user will be logged in. This library used the OmniAuth-OSM library as an initial framework for building upon. The code is on Github here: The gem on RubyGems is here: And you can install it by including it in your Gemfile or by doing:

gem install omniauth-mediakwiki

Create new registration

The registration page is where you would create an OAuth consumer registration for your application. You can specify all Wikimedia wikis or a specific one to work with. Registrations will create a key and secret which will work with your user so you can start developing straight away although currently a wiki admin has to approve each registration before other wiki users can use it.  Hopefully they will change this as more applications move away from HTTP Basic to more secure authentication and authorization strategies in the future! Screenshot from 2014-09-03 21:08:33


Usage is as per any other OmniAuth 1.0 strategy. So let’s say you’re using Rails, you need to add the strategy to your `Gemfile` alongside OmniAuth:

gem 'omniauth'
gem 'omniauth-mediawiki'

Once these are in, you need to add the following to your `config/initializers/omniauth.rb`:

Rails.application.config.middleware.use OmniAuth::Builder do
 provider :mediawiki, "consumer_key", "consumer_secret"

If you are using devise, this is how it looks like in your `config/initializers/devise.rb`:

config.omniauth :mediawiki, "consumer_key", "consumer_secret", 
    {:client_options => {:site => '' }}

If you would like to use this plugin against a wiki you should pass this you can use the environment variable WIKI_AUTH_SITE to set the server to connect to. Alternatively you can pass the site as a client_option to the OmniAuth config as seen above. If no site is specified the wiki will be used.


In general see the pages around for more information When registering for a new OAuth consumer registration you need to specify the callback url properly. e.g. for development:


This is different from many other OAuth authentication providers which allow the consumer applications to specify what the callback should be. Here we have to define the URL when we register the application. It’s not possible to alter the URL after the registration has been made. Internally the strategy library has to use `/w/index.php?title=` paths in a few places, like so: :authorize_path => '/wiki/Special:Oauth/authorize', :access_token_path => '/w/index.php?title=Special:OAuth/token', :request_token_path => '/w/index.php?title=Special:OAuth/initiate', This could be due to a bug in the OAuth extension, or due to how the wiki redirects from /wiki/Special pages to /w/index.php pages….. I suspect this may change in the future. Another thing to note is that the mediawiki OAuth implementation uses a cool but non standard way of identifying the user.  OmniAuth and Devise needs a way to get the identity of the user. Calling '/w/index.php?title=Special:OAuth/identify' it returns a JSON Web Token (JWT). The JWT is signed using the OAuth secret and so the library decodes that and gets the user information.

Calling the MediaWIki API

OmniAuth is mainly about authentication – it’s not really about using OAuth to do things on their behalf – but it’s relatively easy to do so if you want to do that. They recommend using it in conjunction with other libraries, for example, if you are using OmniAuth-twitter, you should use the Twitter gem to use the OAuth authentication variables to post tweets. There is no such gem for MediaWiki which uses OAuth. Existing  Ruby libraries such as MediaWiki Gateway and MediaWIki Ruby API currently only use usernames and passwords – but they should be looked at for help in crafting the necessary requests though. So we will have to use the OAuth library and call the MediaWiki API directly: In this example we’ll call the Wikimedia Commons API Within a Devise / OmniAuth setup, in the callback method, you can directly get an OAuth::AccessToken via request.env["omniauth.auth"]["extra"]["access_token"] or you can get the token and secret from request.env["omniauth.auth"]["credentials"]["token"] and request.env["omniauth.auth"]["credentials"]["secret"] Assuming the authentication token and secret are stored in the user model, the following could be used to query the mediawiki API at a later date.

@consumer = "consumer_key", "consumer_secret",
@access_token =, user.auth_token, user.auth_secret)
uri = '|editcount&format=json'
resp = @access_token.get(URI.encode(uri))
logger.debug resp.body.inspect
# {"query":{"userinfo":{"id":12345,"name":"WikiUser",
# "rights":["read","writeapi","purge","autoconfirmed","editsemiprotected","skipcaptcha"],
# "editcount":2323}}}

Here we called the Query action for userinfo asking for rights and editcount infomation.

The Spatial in Digital Humanities

A week of Digital Humanities in Lausanne with DH2014 was packed with projects sorting out and displaying cultural heritage. The emphasis is more on the ’sorting out’, as Digital Humanities is an academic discipline. It has a strong emphasis of textual analysis in English language, but there is more to it.

Susanna Ånäs presented Wikimaps with a position paper and a presentation in the inaugural meeting of the GeoHumanities special interest group, a group gathering knowledge on the spatial research of cultural heritage.

Gazetteers and the GeoHumanities SIG

The first one of the initiators of the SIG, Kathy Weimer (Texas A&M University) opened the series of presentations about gazetteers with Geographic name authority records in the Map & GIS Library. Gazetteers are place name dictionaries, as described in Wikipedia. This meeting was another step to make the gazetteers of different research projects communicate with one another.


The academics working with gazetteers have largely congregated around the Pelagios 3 project. Elton Barker (Open University), Leif Isaksen (University of Portsmouth) and Rainer Simon (Austrian Institute of Technology) are carrying out the principle: “Don’t unify the model – annotate”, allowing gazetteers to link to one another without completely remaking them. A new outcome is the Recogito text annotation tool to identify and link place names.
Paper: Pelagios 3: Towards the semi-automatic annotation of toponyms in early geospatial documents

Stuart Dunn (King’s College London) presented The Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus. It gathers place names in Cyprus from different sources into a gazetteer. Modern place names are combined with historical units and archaeological entities. The project deals with layers of challenges: different transliterations and varying ideological perspectives. In the project one place name will not be preferred over another as a default name. Another strength of the project is a rich and thick description of places names of a limited location.
Blog: Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus: evolving thinking

Miranda Anderson and Beatrice Alex (University of Edinburg) showed the Palimpsest project that geo-locates extracts of literary works of Edinburg from the early modern period to the twentieth century. The Edinburgh Geoparser is used to georeference fine-grained place names in the texts: streets, buildings, local areas, and vernacular terms such as “Old Town.” The project tools and outcomes will be openly accessible, and imaginative events will engage participants interested in the local heritage.

banner-omo-web-232x90Petr Pridal (KlokanTech) described the Old Maps Online service. It is an aggregator of old maps, and it displays a collection of 150 000 old maps from archives around the world. The number will rise to 450 000 with a forthcoming update. Future directions include even stronger support for touch devices, transcription tools for place names and support for linked data formats, such as JSON-LD. Search engine optimization for old maps is a great idea: Typing ”old maps of Lausanne” the Google search will find the maps directly. New features for georeferencing maps are being added to the Georeferencer tool that accompanies Old Maps Online. Using OpenHistoricalMap for vectorizing old maps is also being considered.

Humphrey Southall (University of Southampton) presented one of the Pelagios 3 network projects, the PastPlace. In GIS gazetteers have been seen simply as lists of geographical names and coordinates. In the past gazetteers were far richer: place encyclopedias, describing localities and their relationships with other geographical entities. PastPlace has set out to prove the use of Wikidata as a gazetteer. It includes places from Vision of Britain Through Time. Only those that have a Wikidata entry are included. The aim is to make entries for the missing ones.

Karl Grossner (Stanford University) has worked extensively on Topotime together with his colleague Elijah Meeks (Stanford University). Contrary to representing time with ISO-8061 standard dates for start and end dates, the proposal sets out to express more uncertain dates like: “for 6 months before the war,” “around 1832,” or “during harvest seasons in her youth”. The project produces a specification for representing temporal entities typically found in historical texts, and some relationships between them. The authors have created graphical timeline layout programs to parse and render Topotime data and software tools to create Topotime data from excels and whatever the researchers happen to have.
Paper: Topotime: Representing historical temporality

Eric Kansa (OpenContext), Adam Rabinowitz (University of Texas at Austinand Ryan Shaw (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) introduced us to the Period-O project. The project creates a gazetteer of periods in history, art history, and archaeology. Instead of aiming at consensus about national and scholarly boundaries about the spatial and temporal coordinates of specific period concepts, the project proposes the construction of a Linked Data gazetteer of authoritative claims about the spatio-temporal coordinates of periods.

Asanobu Kitamoto (National Institute of Informatics, Japan) and Yoko Nishimura (Toyo Bunko / JSPS Research Fellow) have worked on The Digital Silk Road project. It tries to make sense of incorrectly recorded geographical data by comparing several sources together. Locations are unfolded one by one, looking at local constraints, without trying to serve the overall co-existence of items on the map. Mappinning is an interactive tool that lets the user view the map with and without the transformation alternatively.
Data Criticism: General Framework for the Quantitative Interpretation of Non-Textual Sources


Venice Time Machine

A morphing video of Venetian Cartography in The Venice Atlas project of students of EPFL DH101

The host organization EPFL is the home of the Venice Time Machine project. The project has set out to digitize the 80 km of documents in the Archivio di Stato of Venice: birth and death registries, architectural and urban plans, maps, travel guides, treaties etc. There are a hundred scholars working on the project’s different aspects. Apart from re-creating social networks and family trees, novel challenges are tackled. Handwritten manuscripts are automatically read using new algorithms. Scanning a book without turning it’s pages may be possible using a particle accelerator. Frédéric Kaplan, the innovative director of the project, called for Google Maps of the past in his popular TED talk: Can I add a slider on top of Google Maps and just change the year, seeing how it was 100 years before, 1,000 years before?”

Spatial and temporal

Bethany Nowviskie‘s keynote Digital Humanities in the Anthropocene was presented by Melissa Terras, as Bethany was unable to be present. The dark-toned keynote painted a picture of the humankind at the brink of ecological destruction, and discussed time, preservation, degradation and loss.

Bethany Nowviskie runs the Scholar’s Lab at the University of Virginia Library, that have produced tools for digital humanists. Neatline is a map storymaking tool for hand-crafted, interactive stories of a single document or a whole archival or cultural heritage collection. It builds on another open source tool, the Omeka, a web-publishing platform for both GLAM and hobbyist archival projects.

The other keynotes were given by Bruno Latour (Sciences Po), Ray Siemens (University of Victoria) and Sukanta Chaudhuri (Jadavpur University).

Stories with maps

Näyttökuva 2014-7-17 kello 18.33.30

Interface of the Campus Medius Topography

Simon Ganahl (Department for German Studies, University of Vienna), Rory Solomon (The New School for Design, New York) together with Mallory Brennan and Darius Daftary have produced the Campus Medius project. It is a study of Turks Deliverance Celebrations held by the Austrian National Socialists and the Home Guards during twenty-four hours in Vienna between May 13 and 14, 1933. The creators use the concept of chronotope, a bakhtian literary concept of space-time, defining the intrinsic connectedness of temporal and spatial relationships”.

The artistic research has resulted in an interactive map and an interactive documentary. The Topography – the interactive map – uses Urban Research Tool (URT) for geospatial mapping, developed at Parsons The New School for Design. The Topology – the interactive documentary – exists within Zeega, a tool for interactive storytelling developed at Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab. The project will be published open-access in the online journal Sensate in 2014.
Paper: CAMPUS MEDIUS–Topography and Topology of a Media Experience

A caption of the Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange, 1936

A caption of the Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange, 1936

Lauren Tilton and Peter Leonard (Yale University) and Taylor Arnold are the creators of Photogrammar, a project showing and locating images of the the Farm Security Administration – Office of War project on both current and historic maps.

The collection of over 170,000 monochrome and colour photographs were commissioned between 1935 and 1945 by the government of the United States of America. It also includes several of the most iconic images of the 20th century, such as the Migrant Mother of Dorothea Lange. The photographic archive has been digitized by United States Library of Congress, and because the photographs were taken on behalf of the United States Government, access to and use of the collection is essentially free and open.

Several methods were used to analyze and visualize the images. The geospatial study shows that the scope of sight was much broader than the American south. Text Mining reveals thematic similarity between the work of several different photographers. Statistical Analysis using contextual inference lets the researchers “rediscover” missing metadata, placing detached negatives in their original context.

Paper: Photogrammar: Organizing Visual Culture through Geography, Text Mining, and Statistical Analysis


Jim McGrath and Alicia Peaker (Northeastern University) presented a poster about the Boston Bombing Digital Archive. It showcased the use of Omeka and Neatline. Stories, maps, photographs, social media logs and oral histories were collected in an endeavour that connected many different actors: universities, libraries and media companies in Boston in the aftermath of the bombing. The work was inspired by similar projects, such as The September 11 Digital Archive and The Hurricane Digital Memory Bank.
Poster: Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive

My picks

Here is a quick rundown of some of the very interesting projects presented at the conference:

Susan Schreibman: Revisionism as Outreach: The Letters of 1916 Project. Crowdsourcing the transcription of letters from the Easter uprising in Ireland, an event that lead to the independence of Ireland from the UK in 1922.

Marilyn Deegan: Digital Cultural Heritage and the Healing of a Nation: Digital Sudan. Saving Sudanese cultural heritage.

Mia Ridge, Brian Croxall, Amy Papaelias and Scott Kleinman: Play as Process and Product: On Making Serendip-o-maticSerendip-o-matic is a “serendipity engine” that retrieves materials from archives around the world, based on your research library, for example. The playful Serendip-o-matic was built in less than five days as part of One Week | One Tool.

Daniel Edward John Pett, Chiara Bonacchi and Andy Bevan: Mixing contributions, collaborations and co-creation: participatory archaeology through crowd-sourcing. MicroPasts is a British Museum project combining contributory, collaborative, co-creative and open source methods in research.

Gary Priestnall, Katharina Lorenz, Mike Heffernan, Joe Bailey, Craig Goodere and Robyn Sullivan: Reconstruction and Display of a Nineteenth Century Landscape Model. The story of a physical exhibition object, a landscape model. How it was found, and how it was reconstructed.

Caleb Derven, Aja Teehan and John KeatingMapping and Unmapping Joyce: Geoparsing Wandering Rocks. The copyright expired on James Joyce’s works in 2012. These are the results of geoparsing and geocoding the places in one chapter of the Ulysses, The Wandering Rocks.

Marie Saldana: An Integrated Approach to the Procedural Modeling of Ancient Cities and Buildings. Procedural modeling is a way to produce architectural environments from semantic rule sets. She was the recipient of the Fortier prize for a young scholar.

Tomás Ó Murchú and Séamus LawlessThe Problem of Time and Space: The Difficulties in Visualising Spatiotemporal Change in Historical Data deals with the challenged historians encounter when trying the geographically visualize their datasets.

Ian Gregory, Chris Donaldson, Patricia Murrieta-Flores, C.J Rupp, Alistair Baron, Andrew Hardie and Paul RaysonDigital approaches to understanding the geographies in literary and historical texts. Discusses three general ways that geographical technologies can enrich our understanding of texts.

Claire-Charlotte Butez and Francesco Beretta: SyMoGIH project and Geo-Larhra: A method and a collaborative platform for a digital historical atlas. Presenting a data model and a collaborative platform to produce a historical geographic information system, the Geo-Larhra, which is suitable for producing a new digital historical atlas.




Maps at the Zürich hackathon

The Wikimedia Hackathon was held in Zürich this year with a focus on maps. As a conclusion, it seems maps will be an integral part of what Wikimedia is, as soon as everything presented is taken into use.

Erik Möller (Wikimedia Foundation) envisions that will be a new project, with a community and repository of it’s own. The space could host tools for creating maps as well as geographic data in all it’s forms.

The Maps namespace

Jon Robson (WMF Engineering, web), Katie Filbert (WMDE, Wikidata) and Derk-Jan Hartman created a MediaWiki extension for maps. It introduces a Map namespace where data for the map is stored in raw GeoJSON and can be edited via a JavaScript map editor interface. It also allows the inclusion of maps in wiki articles via a template.

Näyttökuva 2014-5-19 kello 8.26.23The demo:
The codebase:

Wikimedia tiles

Having Wikimedia’s own tileserver has finally moved forward. Kai Krueger, Tim Alder and Alexandros Kosiaris (WMF, Engineering, operations) have worked to set up a test environment, that shows the base map in several languages. The styles priority list is currently: Mapnik-default, -nolabels, hikebike, black&white, WikiMiniAtlas, multilingual map and hillshading.

Vector rendering is high on the wish list. It would be ideal for historical maps, as there is an infinite number of snapshots of history which should be rendered as tiles. I would not like to be the one who curates important dates!


Our project Wikimaps might need a new name. When we move under a umbrella, we become the Old maps project, the OpenHistoricalMap counterpart in the Wikiworld and the Wikimaps Gazetteer project.

Using the Maps namespace for old maps

In our Old Wikimaps project a key use case for the new Maps extension is the display of the old map layered on top of the current map. It can be used on the map file page on Commons or in the upload wizard, with an interface for positioning the old map on the current map. In this example, the interface is a collection of items from the iD editor for OSM, the Maptcha project and the Wikimedia styles.

Template:Map for map metadata

André Costa (WMSE) worked to finish the first version of the Template:Map, that we want to include in the GWToolset as well as the Upload Wizard. We are still open to influences: Please give feedback! Wikidata will soon take over handling Wikimedia Commons metadata, and these metadata templates will become obsolete. But in the meanwhile, we will upload hundreds of maps with their help and learn about maps metadata.

The information has different layers:

  1. Image data that is similar to data about any image.
  2. Publication and copyright: the cartographer, publisher, printer etc.
  3. Geographic: point or bounding box, place names, time, scale etc.
  4. Object in the archive: materials used, ID, institution data etc.

Wikimaps workflow: Request for Comments

Wikimaps project flowchart

Many suggested that we formulate the Wikimaps workflow into an RfC. Please share your thoughts about this draft, and prepare to discuss about the actual document. (link to be added)

Wikimaps Atlas

Näyttökuva 2014-5-20 kello 0.16.09

The Wikimaps Atlas team is half way through their individual engagement grant. They are producing a scripting environment to recreate all Wikipedia hand-made maps.

Hackathon - Zürich - 2014 - 5

The Wikimaps Atlas team Arun Ganesh (left) and Hugo Lopez (sitting) discussing with Jakub Kaniewsky. CC-BY-SA 3.0 Pakeha, Wikimedia Commons

Bridging between projects

A wealth of maps projects were presented:

Beat Esterman (WMCH) rectified old Zürich maps and provided us with a lot of valuable user testing with the Warper.

Simone Cortesi (WMIT) also had a set of Italian maps to rectify.


Petr Pridal from Klokantech produces a georeferencing environment that is used by many memory institutions and the map portal OldMapsOnline. Jakub Kaniewsky has produced Sharemap, a toolset for working with maps, that also features map rectification. We discussed the interoperability of data produced in these environments.

Tim Alder has created a map view for showing items in specific classes in Wikidata. See the tool in:

Näyttökuva 2014-5-19 kello 10.24.17

Cultural heritage items in Wikidata plotted on a map. Wikidata superclasses by Tim Alder.

The Reasonator is a creation by Magnus Manske, an original creator of MediaWiki. It is an environment to test Wikidata capabilities that are not yet in production. The latest addition to the toolpack has been the display of Wikidata items within a certain radius from a point on the map. You can follow the new features in Reasonator and Wikidata in Gerard Meijssen’s blog Words and What Not.

Näyttökuva 2014-5-19 kello 14.26.45

Reasonator showing all Wikidata entries within a radius from a coordinate point.

Collaboration between Wikimedia and OpenStreetMap

Simon Poole, the chair of OpenStreetMap Foundation attended the hackathon, and lead a group of people on a tour around Zürich. It was a mapping party: We collected house numbers by sneaking around houses, marked forgotten details and corrected errors made by ignorant German mappers!

There were many pressing topics to be discussed between OSM and Wikimedia, and the presence of the new ED of the Wikimedia Foundation Lila Tretikov made the event feel like the Davos of open knowledge.

Hackathon - Zürich - 2014 - Lydia Pintscher and Lila Tretikov

Lydia Pintscher, Product Manager for Wikidata and Lila Tretikov, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation getting familiar with data issues. CC-BY-SA 3.0 Ludovic P. Wikimedia Commons

The most important issue is to solve the incompatibility in licensing between the Wikimedia and the OpenStreetMap projects. Even if it is possible to combine the projects through skillful linking, it is not easy for a volunteer to navigate the differences. We are excited to see the enthusiasm in both projects to create something great together and wait to see what the legal teams in the organizations will come up with.

Tracking crossover projects

Quim Gil (WMF, Engineering community) has created a page to collect crossover projects between Wikimedia and OpenStreetMap. A Wikimedia Tech Talk around maps is also planned.

More maps, different maps

Using OSM data on a map in Wikipedia is only one of the many use cases that are out there. We also have the OpenHistoricalMap database to map to Wikimedia data. Through weighing several options, we promote the solution where the OHM database is kept separate from Wikidata, and items are mapped against each other only when needed. Geographic contributions are made to the OHM database and further content in Wikidata. If this sounds obscure, let’s discuss more in the RfC!!

Tim Alder outlined a new proposal to store “ephemeral geodata” in an instance of the OSM toolstack, the Open-Wikidata-map. This means fuzzy features such as climate regions, habitats of animals and thematic features of all kinds. Mikel Maron has proposed such infrastructure in a recent talk in SotMUS OpenStreetMap as Infrastructure.

The OpenSeaMap is another specialized geo database, that could be linked across to Wikipedia articles about seas, rivers, water sports and shipping affairs.

More proposals

Tim Alder also proposed to initiate a network of local OSM/Wikimedia ambassadors in as many countries as possible. They could create projects and organize events, and work in collaboration with the forthcoming Maps & Geo Team at Wikimedia Foundation.

The authentication across projects through OAuth should be put into action.

Simon Poole mentioned the idea to collect aerial imagery, both user-generated and open data. Tim Alder reminded it would be a natural continuation after WMDE’s support for OpenGeoServer.

Andy Mabbett suggested the use of crowdsourcing games and bots for adding Wikipedia links to OpenStreetMap objects.

Going beyond maps

Dan Andreescu (WMF Analytics) worked on a visualization framework that overlaps a bit with the Maps namespace. Have a look at the famous Napoleon flow map by Charles Joseph Minard created by the extension!

Näyttökuva 2014-5-16 kello 16.02.06

Click the image for the original visualization

Näyttökuva 2014-5-16 kello 16.30.42

Discussion page about open datasets

Open data worldsThe event gathered many open data activists, and there were many discussions about how and where to store open data within the Wikimedia family. David Cuenca created a page to answer (or – in fact – ask) some of those questions.

Wikimedia Hackathon Zürich 2014 Contributions

Microcontributions, attracting new editors. Thiemo Mättig CC-BY-SA 3.0

What A Summer This Will Be

My name is Jaime Lyn Schatz and through luck and skill and more than a little chutzpah, I am a newly minted Gnome/FOSS OPW intern on the OpenHistoricalMap Project. I will be working with a terrific team of engineers[1] who are volunteering their time to this project, including Robert Warren, who will be my mentor through this journey. I feel deeply honored and incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.

The Wikimaps project seeks to draw together data from the OpenStreetMap and OpenHistoricalMap projects to enable users to view maps backward through the 4th dimension: time. (Allowing users to view maps that reach forward in the 4th dimension is, sadly, out of the scope of this project. 😉 )

The entire project has three main modules:

1. Enhance the iD, the Javascript map editor, and The_Rails_Port, the OHM backend, so that a Javascript time/date slider can be added to control the time period that is of interest.

2. Enhance the iD and The_Rails_Port so that meta-data hooks are added to the code that allow for custom deployments of both software. This will allow multiple interfaces to be generated from the same data source.

3. Modify Mapnik, the software that renders the map images, to handle starting and ending dates for maps shown.

My next steps will be to get up to speed on the nitty-gritty of the iD and The_Rails_Port code bases and to develop a Minimum Viable Product for the time slider. Stay tuned for updates!

[1] Robert Warren, Tim Waters, Sanjay Bhangar, Jeff Meyer and Susanna Ånäs (Project Leader).


Wikimaps Nordic kickoff

It was a great start for a journey into the maps and places of the 5 countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Estonia. The kickoff event had gathered representatives from all of the countries.

The support from the Nordic Culture Fund shows the willingness that there is to make cultural heritage widely digitally available in the participatory Commons. The Finnish Institute in London also showed continuing interest in activities of open culture, following the participation in the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki in 2012.

The presentations

Our speaker guests showed examples of what can be done with maps, data and wikimedians:

Laurence Penney presents one of his strip-map tresure, the Tabula Peutingeriana before and after MapWarper.

Laurence Penney shows a strip-map treasure, the Tabula Peutingeriana, before and after MapWarper.

Tim Waters (UK), the creator of the MapWarper for New York Public Library, showed the many projects which the MapWarper has made possible. From rectifying maps for disaster relief mapping to making possible to trace the contours of New York buildings. The Wikimaps Warper has already been set up to work with the maps in Wikimedia Commons, and work will continue with more integration and interface design.

Old GLAMs meeting young Wikimedia. Which one is which?

Old GLAMs meeting young Wikimedia. Which one is which?

Hay Kranen (NL) reported about his experiences and thoughts as the first Dutch wikimedian-in-residence, working in the KB Library and National Archives in the Netherlands. He cited a research that showed that the most used information source is Wikipedia for 52% of the Dutch population, but the books and libraries are primary to only 1%! It makes sense to try to make available the riches of the libraries and archives in the world’s most visited encyclopedia.

Nordic wikimedians (Jan Ainali and André Costa from Sweden, Jon Harald Søby from Norway, Henrik Sørensen and Michael Andersen from Denmark and Vahur Puik and Raul Veede from Estonia) reported the work we have been preparing with the GLAMs in the partnering countries. We are expecting both volunteer projects and activities with many GLAM institutions.

Danmark set fra luften

Danmark set fra luften

We then had interesting presentations from our Finnish network:


Istvan Kecskemeti from the National Archives of Finland outlined how the treasures of the archive are unreachable without proper search mechanisms put into place and envisioned better services to find the materials. He also presented a browsing interface done by Leslie Kadish for the Senate Map collection.

Helsinki 1956 / Land Survey of FinlandHeli Laaksonen from the National Land Survey described their digitization project with historical aerial images. They, too, are unreferenced, and therefore cannot be searched and found.


Tomi Kauppinen from Aalto University showed SAPO, the Finnish spatiotemporal ontology, and the work that remains to be done to get full coverage of historical administrative borders. The National Linked Data Gazetteer of Historical Places project was announced a day earlier.

Helsinki ilmakuvina 1943–2012

Arend Oudman and Outi Hermans from the City of Helsinki showed how they have opened and processed maps and aerial images in the context of broader efforts by the City of Helsinki to work with open data. The image shows the Historical Aerial Images browser.

The workshop

After hearing the introductions, we focused on a set of themes during the afternoon workshop:

  • MapWarper & iD development & map search
    Developing the tools to be easier to use while maintaining complexity. We are creating a toolset to communicate with both Wikimedia Commons and Open Historical Map. The key features will be search, warping and vectorizing, with a seamless user experience switching between the tasks. We are starting a structured work process for development.
  • The Pan-Nordic map project
    We found out that instead of a unique map covering all Nordic countries we will get interesting insight by looking into individual areas, especially cities. Focusing on places on a human scale will allow narrating with more materials, such as images. The work will be administered by chapters.
    If you are interested in participating, please be in contact with the Wikimedia chapter in your country.
  • Aerial images case study
    Together with the Aerial Images archives at the Land Survey of Finland and other participants we will select a suitable set of material for a case study. We will research different workflows and look at open tools to use with aerial images. It will make sense to support the Nordic map project with the aerial images.
  • Gazetteer
    We will further collaboration with place name projects, such as Pelagios 3 and the National Linked Data Gazetteer of Historical Places (SeCo), and work actively in the creation of place attributes in Wikidata. The Swedish volunteer project gathers municipality border data for a practical demonstration. We may develop mechanisms for allowing volunteer participation in gathering and interpreting the place names together with the Finnish gazetteer service. Susanna and Tomi Kauppinen have been included in a workshop proposal by the GeoHumanities SIG for a workshop Place and Period in an Emerging Global Gazetteer: a proposed DH2014 workshop.

Additionally we will be working with at least the following topics:

  • Wiki Loves maps – the hackathon
    A hackathon event is being planned for the Autumn. An idea about informal hacking events more regularly was presented.
  • Maps in Wikimedia Commons
    This development will include work to define map metadata for storing maps in Wikimedia, applying that to the map template and the GWToolset.
MapWarper concept mock-up integrating with the OpenStreetMap iD experience.

MapWarper concept mock-up integrating with the OpenStreetMap iD editor experience.

More information!

You will find the speakers, presentations and video coverage at

There are follow-ups written by Jessica Parland-von Essen and Laura Sillanpää for AvoinGLAM.

If you are interested in joining, contact your local Wikimedia for the local projects, or the Wikimaps project. Join one of the groups on this site or follow discussion in Facebook. Next hangouts are on Tuesday, and again in a month!

A travelogue

I spent two weeks in the UK, meeting researchers studying crowdsourcing and volunteering in arts, humanities and geographic projects. The reason for travel is my own study that is closely knitted to the Wikimaps project.

Definitions or not

There have been several attempts to categorize activities taking place in this area. Terms like crowdsourcing, user-generated content, citizen science, VGI (volunteered geographic information) or even citizen history have overlapping meanings. Categories have been proposed based on levels of participation or type of task to be carried out.

Näyttökuva 2014-1-30 kello 12.30.33

Crowdsourcing in the Arts and Humanities

Overviews of recent developments in crowdsourcing the archive in the arts and humanities are being crafted by academics. Stuart Dunn (blog) and Mark Hedges from King’s College, London, have made a survey, workshops and a report Crowd-Sourcing Scoping Study : Engaging the Crowd with Humanities ResearchKathryn Eccles (blog) is a researcher in Oxford Internet Institute, mapping the area broadly. She has focused on the Your Paintings Tagger project, that invites users to classify paintings in the UK. The video recordings from last year’s one-day workshop Digital Impacts : Crowdsourcing in Arts and Humanities she organized at the OII can be found online. Mia Ridge (blog) is preparing her PhD and publishing a book Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage this year.

From tags to text


Photo Kris Grint

One of the tasks that lends itself best to crowdsourcing is transcribing. I familiarized with two projects. Tim Causer and Kris Grint discussed the Transcribe Bentham project at University College of London, a project that provides thorough reading and analysis of Jeremy Bentham’s works. I had my photo taken in front of the mummified Mr. Bentham, which, I was told, is a favourite souvenir on graduation day. A sort of museum selfie – they call it auto-icon… Technologically, the project is building an extension in MediaWiki to handle the transcription process.

Zooniverse, an Oxford-based academic project, runs popular citizen science projects. Amateurs have been invited to identify galaxies, cyclones or species on land and sea. Rob Simpson (blog) presented the latest project Operation War Diary, a collaboration with the National Archives and the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War to transcribe WWI war diaries. Instead of trying to transcribe every word of the life in trenches, the project aims to index the diaries, listing names, places and activities.

Näyttökuva 2014-1-31 kello 1.23.14

War Diaries waiting for their readers

Kate Lindsay, Ylva Berglund Prytz and Alun Edwards at Academic IT, University of Oxford have also been working with the memorabilia of WWI. They have studied community collection methods in the Europeana 1914–18 project. Road show collection days have been arranged around Europe to enable face-to-face encounters between those who have stories or objects of the war and the researchers.

Creative Commons License

Participatory mapping

Volunteering with geographic information can take many forms, extending beyond participating in OpenStreetMap, the map that anyone can edit.

Muki Haklay (blog) leads the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group at University College of London.

“Extreme Citizen Science is a situated, bottom-up practice that takes into account local needs, practices and culture and works with broad networks of people to design and build new devices and knowledge creation processes that can transform the world.”

Projects are exciting: Participatory mapping in Congo-Brazzaville, Material practices of participatory sensing, Tools for Conservation VolunteersEngagement in publicly initiated scientific research, ICT helping arctic hunters to adapt to climate change, Mapping tools for health services, to name some.

If you have the time, there will be a seminar soon. Citizen Cyberscience Summit will be held in London on 20-22 February 2014.

Participatory perspectives

UCL is a partner in Mapping for Change. It is a social enterprise that uses online mapping and GIS to support sustainable communities. Under the supervision of Louise Francis, they have worked with several community mapping projectsThe projects attempt to facilitate in situations of environmental change, by addressing the communities affected by the changes.

There is an emerging field of projects using collaborative sensing. Mappers are recording their movements in space and time and gathering additional information about themselves or the environment to contribute that information to the project.


Collective Sensory Experience Map, New Oak Walking Map by Christian Nold


Christian Nold (website) has explored emotional mapping in his participatory art works. Biomapping is a methodology to measure and visualize the emotional response of people in relation to their geographical location.

San Francisco Emotion Map shown here involved a total of 98 participants exploring San Francisco’s Mission District neighborhood using the Bio Mapping device, echoing the situationist dérive drifting through urban spaces and a psychogeographical enquiry into the perception of space.


I also had the opportunity to chat with Yuwei Lin (blog), who has studied hacker cultures and gender bias in OpenStreetMap. She was introducing OpenStreetMap at Victoria & Albert Museum Digital Futures event, a showcase for emerging artistic practices.

Knowledge geographies

Mark Graham (blog) said that geography is all and nothing: It either includes everything or is included in everything. He is the Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, and he has a special focus on Information Geographies, of how people and places are manifested through their virtual representations.


Maps studying the extents of the knowledge sphere of the Internet have been crafted in collaboration with Stefano De Sabbata.

Research at OII attempts to interpret phenomena of the digital domain at a global level, looking at the socio-economical implications of today’s connecting technologies. Research projects have looked into social power structures in information networks, like in the case of Mapping Wikipedia. In this collaboration, visualizations depicting Wikipedia edits in the geographic, temporal space, in different languages and perspectives, are created in the context of the research project Who represents the Arab world online? Mapping and measuring local knowledge production and representation in the Middle East and North Africa See also the related Terra Incognita project)

One of the researchers in the project is Heather Ford (blog). She is a former Advisory Board member in the Wikimedia Foundation, and she has worked as a digital ethnographer in the Ushahidi project. Here is a writing reflecting patterns of conflict and vandalism on Wikipedia: How Wikipedia’s Dr Jekyll became Mr Hyde: Vandalism, sock puppetry and the curious case of Wikipedia’s decline.

To conclude

It is an interesting time in history to be working with these topics. The aspirations, opportunities and experiences are accumulating and creating an opening for a participatory commons, as phrased by Mia Ridge in the poster Creating a Digital History Commons through crowdsourcing and participant digitisation.

Thank you

all the above mentioned and the following for insightful moments of chatting:

Eric Meyer, Ralph Schroeder, Isis Hjorth, Ulrike Rauer, Johanna Sumuvuori, Juhani Yli-Vakkuri, Claudio Calvino, Vili Lehdonvirta, Khairunnisa Haji Ibrahim, Antti Halonen, Melissa Terras, Gianfranco Gliozzo and Jessica Wardlaw.

Announcing the Wikimaps Nordic kick-off workshop

Welcome to the Wikimaps Nordic kick-off workshop!

We invite all Nordic partners of the Wikimaps Nordic event to get together in Helsinki. This is the first time we gather around the same table. Let’s learn from each other what challenges we have with old maps and aerial images and set out to solve them together. The National Archives of Finland will host the workshop day.

28 February 2014, 09:00 – 16:00
National Archives of Finland, Siltavuorenranta 16 – Helsinki


Morning programme

free of charge, open for all interested

9.00 Coffee
9.30 Welcome. Presentation of the Wikimaps project by Susanna Ånäs and Tim Waters.
10.00 Presentations of map related challenges by Nordic GLAM representatives
11.30 Presentation by the wikimedian-in-residence Hay Kranen, working in Koninklijke Bibliotheek and Nationaal Archief in the Netherlands.
12.00–12.30 Discussion, opportunity to present in a lightning talk, conclusion.

Afternoon programme

for Wikimaps Nordic partners, free of charge

12.30 Lunch
13.30–16.00 Workshop for the Wikimaps Nordic partners

Dinner & drinks

at participants’ own expense

Register for the event!


January Hangouts: Nordic

The Nordic Wikimaps community met for the first time online. We had participants from 3 of the 5 countries involved in the project.

Our goal was to get to know each other and familiarize with the Wikimaps project, but we ended up also scouting many interesting repositories.


Istvan Kecskemeti, Reko Etelävuori and Tomi Ahoranta (National Archives of Finland)

The National Archives of Finland hosts an impressive amount of 2 million digitized and openly licensed maps. Their interest in finding an open source and free tool for georeferencing maps as a crowdsourced process has been a spark for the Wikimaps project.


Heli Laaksonen (National Land Survey Finland)

Heli sent her greetings to the meeting while not being able to attend herself.

The Land Survey has around 700 000 old aerial images from 1930 on, of which 200 000 are scanned. Currently there is no platform for publicizing the scanned items. Georeferencing is a challenge as well. With current resources it would take 30 years to finish the work.

The Wikimaps project could be a channel for georeferencing the image indexes and the images. Georeferencing data could be used for calculating the orthophotos.

Pekka Sarkola (OpenStreetMap and GIS activist)

203406_1961Pekka has a history at the National Land Survey of Finland. He is the contact for the Finnish OpenStreetMap community and active in the open knowledge domain.

The Finnish Land Survey has recently opened old base maps (1949-1991), which are of a great interest to the open data community. Wikimaps could offer a working environment for that.

Jessica Parland-von Essen

Jessica runs Brages Pressarkiv, a Swedish newspaper archive with extensive amounts of clippings related to personalities and locations in Finland. The project is creating Linked Open Data between Swedish web resources in Finland. While not directly affiliated with maps, the use of the Finnish spatiotemporal ontology SAPO is of great interest to the network. She is a member of the GLAM team in Wikimedia Finland.

Jyrki Lehtinen

Jyrki has a background in historical GIS, and he has worked with georeferencing and vectorizing historical maps, some of which can be found at the Lounaispaikka geoportal. He is a member of the board of Wikimedia Finland.

John Erling Blad (Arts Council Norway)

John works currently in the Norwegian Arts Council and he is involved in the Norvegiana dataset. He has a history in Wikimedia, having worked in the Wikidata project in Wikimedia Deutschland. Both old maps and aerial images are of interest, such as the Widerøe photo archive of 315 000 aerial photos.

Tettstedet Feda i Kvinesdal kommune / Vilhelm Skappel

Tettstedet Feda i Kvinesdal kommune / Vilhelm Skappel

Harald Groven (Wikimedia Norway)

Harald has a long standing interest in historical GIS. In Wikimaps, he is the country contact for Norway.

Harald pointed out the maps repositories of The Norwegian Mapping Authority (no:Kartverket) with nearly all digital vector maps on Norway released under CC-BY.
It would be possible to integrate historical census data, vector maps from Kartverket and a gazetteer of 700 000 place names. In Norway there will be 18 000 historical maps in the National Library and National archives digitized soon and a project creating historical maps of changing administrative boundaries.

Another project of interest are the digitized historical maps of Finnish/Sámi/Norwegian speaking population in Northern Norway 1861


Jan Ainali and André Costa (Wikimedia Sweden)

Jan is the CEO of Wikimedia Sweden and the country contact for the Wikimaps project. André Costa is a GLAM technician and project manager, and will be involved in the Wikimaps project.

There is great interest in the Swedish Wikimedia community to work with historical maps on parishes and municipalities. Wikimedia Sweden has been supporting the Swedish OSM community with a server for development.

Common pilot covering all Nordic area

We agreed to aim for a common map of a point in time, covering all Nordic area. A dive into the past quickly revealed that centenaries have marked changes across the Nordic countries. 100 years ago, the First World War reshaped the borders in Finland and Estonia, marking the end of Russian rule and the beginning of independence. Rewinding another 100 years, the Napoleonic wars changed all of the Nordic countries, starting the Russian rule in Finland. Let’s craft our common pilot proposal here.

A brief discussion on copyright

John mentioned that a lot of institutions may be interested in imposing new copyrights if they digitize new previously unavailable materials, and that we must make sure the results will be open.

Harald pointed out the adoption of the PSI directive is going to help even more maps to be free. This European legislation is intended to oblige the public sector to open documents held by the public institutions. Since the amendment in June 2013, it now covers the library, museum and archive sectors.

We came to the conclusion that we will start with materials that are already digitized and open. That will pave the way for opening locked materials further along our quest.

Thank you all for participating in the Hangout!