100wikidays comes to an end


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.

Attending Wikimania and getting to meet fellow editors that had also undertaken the challenge has helped me engage further with my topic. Even though some people can feel jaded at the idea that yet another researcher is looking at the Wikipedia phenomena, the amount of people that were interested and enthused by my project and my articles really helped to put things into perspective. Again, it is finding yourself in a place where you can see yourself as part of something larger, and that you are not alone in your interests or your passions. Or if you are the only one interested it doesn’t mean that other people don’t care or don’t support you in your work. Like being a Wikipedian, being a PhD student can be a very lonely occupation, so Wikimania really helped me to reconnect with the community and to be re-energised in both my research and my work with Wikimedia Community Ireland.

I finished my 100wikidays with a personal hero of mine, Mary Mulvihill. Ireland is a much poorer place having lost her as a science advocate and communicator this year, and I draw a huge amount of inspiration from her generally. If I can attain a small amount of what she did, I would feel I had achieved a great deal. In Colm Mulcahy’s piece about Mary he noted that she felt sometimes that no one really noticed the work she had done on the scientific history of Ireland. If someone as accomplished as her could feel that way, and yet still keep working away, I can keep going too. Even though doing this PhD can be challenging, at its core I am still passionate about the subject, and I need to focus more on that passion as my work continues. As Mary found with the history of science in Ireland, the work is never complete, so I hope to take up a second 100wikidays soon and write about 100 Irish women given how many there are still to include on Wikipedia. It is a new take on the old saying, a woman’s work is never done.