Change in Access After Digitization: Ethnographic Collections in Wikipedia

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Change in Access After Digitization: Ethnographic Collections in Wikipedia - scientific work related to Wikipedia quality published in 2015, written by Trilce Navarrete and Karol Jan Borowiecki.


The raison d’Aatre of memory institutions revolves around collecting, preserving and giving access to heritage collections. Increasingly, access takes place in social networked markets characterized by communities of users that serve to select and rank content to facilitate reuse. Publication of heritage in such digital medium transforms patterns of consumption. Authors performed a quantitative analysis on the access to a museum collection and compared results before and after publication on Wikimedia. Analysis of the difference in access showed two main results: first, access to collections increased substantially online. From a selection of the most viewed objects, access grew from an average of 156,000 onsite visitors per year (or 15.5 million in a century) to over 1.5 million views online per year (or 7.9 million in five years). Second, authors find a long tail in both mediums, where 8% of objects were exhibited onsite and 11% of available objects online were used in Wikipedia articles (representing 1% of the total collection). Authors further document differences in consumer preference for type of object, favouring 3D onsite and 2D online, as well as topic and language preference, favouring Wikipedia articles about geography and in English. Online publication is hence an important complement to onsite exhibitions to increase access to collections. Results shed light on online consumption of heritage content by consumers who may not necessarily visit heritage sites.