Wikimedia Hungary launched a book contest (funky Google translation here) a few weeks ago in the Hungarian Wikipedia. The idea was to have the Wikipedia community work on making the best possible books with Wikipedia articles. A jury of five people chose five books as winners:
- The Hittites
- The Culture of Miskolc
- The Champions of Formula–1
- The Techniques and Machines of Metalworking
- Chapters on the clothing and textile industry
As one can see, a wide range of subjects, which also shows the wide array of topics available on Wikipedia for making customized books. The prize for the winners were to have their books printed through PediaPress.
I have asked Bence Damokos, member of the board of Wikimedia Hungary and initiator of the contest, a few questions about his experience with books and this contest. Here are his answers.
PediaPress: What gave Wikimedia Hungary the idea to launch a Book contest on the Hungarian Wikipedia?
We found the possibility to print books out of Wikipedia articles an interesting concept ever since it was enabled on the English Wikipedia a couple of years ago. We felt that reusing content offline – either as specialized course-ware or thematic collections – would be a good indication that a given topic area is of suitable quality and credibility. Also, we realized in our presentations and outreach work that showing Wikipedia content as a book would be a very good demonstration tool to answer a range of common questions ("Is it any good?", "What are the topics that are really well written?", "How do you recognize a good article?" etc.).This is why we decided that we need to print some books that can be used in various demonstrations. To design and edit the books that would serve these purposes we turned to the community with this book contest.
PediaPress: What do you find books bring to the Wikipedia experience?
I think that print can give a new dimension to how Wikipedia content is accessed and consumed. A printed book gives a frame to the incorporated topic allowing for a more focused study or browsing of a certain topic. I find that it is much easier to read and concentrate on an article when it is printed out; simply viewing it online will often just result in skimming the content and a number of other distractions.An other very important aspect is that books are more tangible and convey a sense of value and credibility. Wikipedia stores such a vast amount of information that it is impossible to grasp without a metaphor; the fact that you can print a whole book on almost any single topic you can think of is amazing – and the book tool transforms this metaphor into a reality. This tangibility of the printed books also provides individual editors the possibility to create a real-world object out of their work, and it is a wonderful experience to see one's online effort materialize in a paper book.
PediaPress: How do you plan to use the books in the future?
Our primary aim is to use the books in our outreach activities: when giving presentations on Wikipedia, having wiki-meetups or going to meetings to discuss partnership proposals. We think that these books will be a very practical demonstration tool when talking about the quality, content and editorial policies of Wikipedia. The five books put together will show better than words that Wikipedia really tries to bring together the sum of human knowledge from all areas of life.
A very interesting experience indeed, which we hope can be replicated in other Wikimedia Projects, in all possible languages. Community books are a great way to advance the distribution of free knowledge. If you wish to set up such a contest within your local Wikimedia project, just contact us and we'll work together to make it happen!
Photo credits: The five Wikipedia books printed for the Wikimedia Hungary Book Contest. © Bence Damokos, license: CC-BY-SA.