So my 100 days are up, and the articles have all been written. Apart from a brief hiccup on the way home from Wikimania in Mexico City, I wrote an article every day unbroken. I have written about my journey over on the Wikimedia UK blog too. When I first took on the challenge it really seemed like a fool’s errand, like there was no way that I was going to be able to complete it. Over the past few months I have been grappling with a bit of a slump with the PhD work, as with a lot of people in the same situation, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed, a bit lost at times, and generally was finding it hard to engage with my project. Through all that, my article a day was something I could look to and see that a day was not a complete waste. It gave me something larger to think about and a focus that was aligned with my research, but perhaps was a little easier to deal with when you are at a low ebb.
The past five days have been a mixed bag, and I’m still feeling the effect of the visualisation steering more towards biographies than museums. The next two articles I identified from Praeger’s Some Irish Naturalists, much like a number of the preceding STEM biographies. I looked at two men, Thomas Antisell and James Edwin Duerden, as they both existed on the French language Wikipedia and I foolishly thought that this might make writing the articles a little faster! And I suppose I could have just copied and pasted in translations of those articles, but that is not really my style. Also, something that I have learnt from my fellow #100wikidays participants is that the different language Wikipedia’s have subtly (and not so subtle) differences in style, layout, references etc. So taking these two articles from the French would have thrown up issues regardless.
So I sat down with a brand new Moleskine notebook (a birthday present no less), a pen, and some coloured markers from my art undergrad days, and set about creating a first, crude visualisation of my #100wikidays so far. I have to admit the results surprised me a little. I decided to colour code the entries, as I already have a list of articles I’ve written, the idea here was to see the content in a different light.
Carlow inspired entries: Red
Irish people involved in STEM or those who influenced Irish STEM: Blue
This was the first article that I genuinely struggled to write. I’d had a long, busy day, and I was hosting one of my PubhD events and writing an article was the last thing I wanted to do when I got home. One of the things about having the list now, is that I don’t read it properly now, I just skim over it and very little jumps out at me – I’ve become so what inured to it. So my other half just pointed to one of the museums that I was hovering over, and said just do that one. So I tackled Number Twenty Nine – Georgian House Museum, which was a slightly more interesting than a lot of standard museums. It also dates from a pretty controversial period in Dublin city planning, as the ESB refurbished this Georgian building at the same time that they demolished part of what had been the longest unbroken stretch of Georgian buildings in Dublin. This article was a mercifully short on to do on an evening with zero Wiki motivation.
Clare Museum managed to slip through the net of County Museum coverage early in the challenge, as it craftily does not have the word “County” in it’s name. I think I may have covered all of these museums in the Republic of Ireland, although given this one slipped through the net, I cannot be sure! I am finding these articles a little less interesting to write, as they are very formulaic now, and in general the sources and variety of information to include is rather limited and repetitive. Although, one of the more interesting things to find out is the collections that are highlighted from each museum. Some are very local events or famous people from the area.
I’m shocked to report that I am continuing to enjoy the challenge. I do realise that in comparison to many other editors taking the challenge, I have a lot of time and head-space to dedicate to the work. I don’t have a full time job, or a family to care for, and the full time study in which I am engaged draws in this work into it. I have a level of privileged to give over a larger portion of my time, but also just the space to reflect on my work, assess it, and perhaps explore the challenge in a much freer way than many other editors. I often find myself exploring one or two different topics, to see what subject might best suit my writing mood on a particular day. Sometimes I want something a little more complicated to write, but most days something straight forward and seemingly “easier” will win out as an article.
I started on my 19th article with slight trepidation. Catherine Gage is a lesser known Irish botanical and ornithological illustrator. I remember hearing about her when the folio of illustrations of birds went up for auction in 2010, when the idea of the National Museum of Ireland buying them, which did not happen. I’m dedicated to unearthing some of the lesser known figures of Irish natural history, but walking that line of notability can be quite tough. I do wonder if female editors feel that weight of responsibility not to produce articles that will be flagged for deletion more than males, or if it just me. So far she has survived and other editors have added tags, Wikiprojects and other little details so far, which is always reassuring!
Setting myself the task of filling out the articles on Irish museums is proving quite addictive. When I look at the List of museums in the Republic of Ireland, it just makes me itch to fill in the many red links there. To give myself a little structure, and given that I had already done the Carlow County Museum, creating an article for all the County Museums seemed to make sense. From a gamers viewpoint, you are also completing a set if I get all those done, so that would have a nice rounded feel to it. Having no preference as to which County to go for first, I decided to be very imaginative, and just complete them alphabetically.
There is a strong feeling of satisfaction with writing the articles so far. I still very much find myself wanting to write more and more, finding more missing articles, more stubs, more, more, more! I’m really starting to adopt this “encyclopaedic urge” I’ve been writing about for the past year or more.