Students engage in editing as activism

By Daisy Talbert

Cook Library librarian Cal Murgu helps a student edit a Wikipedia entry during Editing is Activism
Cook Library librarian Cal Murgu helps a student edit a Wikipedia entry during Editing is Activism.

New College’s Jane Bancroft Cook Library hosted Editing is Activism, a Wikipedia edit-a-thon March 6. Cal Murgu, a librarian who specializes in research, instruction, and digital humanities, led the event.

“Wikipedia is a great resource,” said Murgu. “Everybody uses it, but there are many articles that need help in terms of references, or introducing more citations, or just correcting facts and adding figures. So we’re trying to do that, collectively, as a community.”

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia millions use and anyone can edit, and many articles are underdeveloped. The Wikipedia pages students and staff edited during the afternoon session ranged from articles about medicinal plants, to entries about Holocaust survivors and profiles of Native American artists.

Students and staff participated in the event with the goal of creating and editing articles to improve representation of marginalized and underrepresented communities. Participants drank freshly brewed coffee and nibbled on homemade brownies while they worked.

Assistant Professor of Art History Katherine Brion and students from her Representing Difference: Race, Ethnicity, and Visual Arts from Age of Enlightenment to 21st Century class participated in the event. Brion instructed the art history students to edit Wikipedia pages about underexposed artists. First-year Environmental Studies student Tony Opio worked on the entry for Lomawywesa, a Native American artist from the Hopi tribe “who spent his life creating art to explore harmony, spirituality, and the representation of Hopi tradition in a contemporary form.”

“I believe Native artists are very underrepresented,” said Opio, “and in providing more information on Lomawywesa’s life and art, it will begin to provide a better platform to showcase Native artists and their work.”

Bringing to light underrepresented figures was also on Mugru’s mind.

“Editing is activism, specifically in the case of Wikipedia,” he said, “because of how important Wikipedia is to how we learn new things. And when we focus on a community that doesn’t have much attention drawn towards it on Wikipedia, … we work to amplify the importance of those people.”

Through events like the Wikipedia edit-a-thon, the New College community can act locally and have a global impact.

— Daisy Talbert is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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