Expanding our reach through open and shared data

The UVA Data Science Institute (DSI) is pleased to announce Lane Rasberry as the organization’s Wikimedian-in-Residence. Mr. Rasberry, a Wikimedia expert, will support the DSI and the University of Virginia Library as they engage with Wikipedia, Wikidata, and related Wikimedia projects.

“I am excited to join the DSI and the UVA Library at a time when engaging with open data is becoming fundamental to the experience of using Wikipedia, Wikimedia projects, and contemporary media in general,” Mr. Rasberry said. “It is bold of this university department to take an early role in collaborating with Wikidata.

“This program is a signal to everyone else that sharing and using data is a routine part of daily life, the student experience, and institutional outreach.”

In this role, Mr. Rasberry's focus will be using Wikimedia projects as a channel for publishing and distributing media from the DSI and UVA to an audience that engages with Wikimedia projects as an information resource and communication forum.

Founded in 2001, Wikipedia attained quick popularity, and for a generation has been among the world's most requested, published, accessed, and consulted information sources. Wikipedia continues to provide nonprofit, public access, open content in partnerships with individual contributors and recognized authorities such as universities, research organizations, and cultural institutions. Today, Wikipedia operates among a family of supporting media platforms including Wikidata (its database), Wikimedia Commons (the image and file repository), and Wikisource (its document archive), all of which have stewardship from the Wikimedia community and the Wikimedia Foundation in common.

The Data Science Institute will support students and researchers in using any Wikimedia project as a vehicle for sharing information in the public interest, enriching information with crowdsourced community participation, and interconnecting open data and open content wherever it may be.

Mr. Rasberry has been contributing to Wikimedia projects since 2008. Previously, he served as Wikipedian-in-Residence for Consumer Reports, where he shared that organization's information in consumer health care and product testing in Wikimedia projects. His interests include consumer access to information, clinical research, community engagement in media, open content, and coffee. At the Data Science Institute, he intends to share any opportunities that he can for graduate students and researchers to use Wikimedia projects to reach the largest, most engaged, and most relevant audience those channels offer.

Many people have questions about how the DSI can have a partnership with Wikipedia. While there are different ways to describe the collaboration, one perspective could be to imagine the role of a Wikimedian to be analogous to staff maintaining an organization's social media presence. Organizations appoint staff to share information and seek feedback in social media in order to meet their audience where they already are. Similarly, Wikimedia projects are a proven platform with a known large audience. Like any other media organization, Wikimedia projects can support an organization in publishing its content in an accessible format, distributing that published content to an audience which it measures and reports, and aligning the reputation of the publication with the values of the publisher.

The values of Wikimedia projects include increasing accessibility for human and machine reading; promoting education, research, and informed conversation; and advocating for the consumer and end-user by providing a free of cost, free for reuse, and advertising-free publishing format.

Anyone with questions or comments about the Wikimedia program at the Data Science Institute may join any of the upcoming Wikimedia outreach events on campus at the University of Virginia.