Visit report - National Eisteddfod 8 Aug 2012

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Report of a visit to the National Eisteddfod at Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan

8 August 2012


Robin Owain (left) with a fellow Wikipedian: David Chan at the Wicimedia tent, Eisteddfod 2012 at Llantwit Major

The National Eisteddfod is Wales’s primary cultural event of the year (c. 800 years old). It includes all the major cultural institutions in Wales and this year had 135,000 visitors. This one was held at a showground using marquees, tents, portable loos and temporary structures. The event creates Crowned and Chaired bards who are like National Laureates. Robin Owain won the chair in 1991.

WMUK through Wicipedia Cymraeg (the Welsh Language Wikipedia) had a presence there all week in a tent set aside for a hackathon (#Haciaith). The hackathon has been running for about three years at various locations and is the only one that focuses on the Welsh language. It includes wiki but that is not the focus.

The day

Robin Owain (WMUK's Ambassador in Wales) had arranged to meet the first minister of Wales (Carwyn Jones) who was aware of Wikimedia UK and Wicimedia because of Monmouthpedia and meetings we have had with the Education Minister (Leighton Andrews) previously. Robin spoke to the first minister for about 25 minutes and besides giving him a Wikipedia badge he raised the items that we have been discussing with the Education Minister. He confirmed that they were considering our requests. Linda Tomas from Cymal (Libraries and Museums of Wales) was there to assist.

First Minister Carwyn Jones listens to Robin Owain from Wicipedia Cymraeg. Also in the picture Dyfrig (Welsh Admin) and Linda Thomas from CyMAL

I didn’t arrive until this meeting was complete. Robin and I also met Tom Pert from the People’s Collection and we discussed the success we had with getting DigitalPast to Monmouth. Tom was of the clear opinion that Monmouth had only won the honour of running this convention because of Monmouthpedia. We are also discussed the trial release of 150 images to experiment to find out what happens when you release images into the public domain (i.e. Does the sky fall in). He had to report that Cadw were still not convinced and would not take part. It was agreed that we would not use our influence with ministers; we would await the results of this Pilot project.

We then met with the National Library of Wales' Digital development Officer Lyn Lewis Dafis who confirmed that they were keen to take part in the experiment and they would find 50 images of Monmouthshire as part of the Pilot. It should be emphasised that the Library have agreed that they will not use “sweat of the brow” arguments to “invent” a claimed copyright on an old image. They should also be lauded for not (yet) signing away the heritage to Google (for instance) in exchange for digitisation and cash.

I met a number of active Wikipedians who are not members of WMUK. They are however active for our cause. They supply for instance the Welsh translation for the fundraiser – which was only really successfully used last year for the first time. They appreciate the help that they are receiving from WMUK. I was a bit embarrassed that apart from a Wicipedia banner (which we had funded) we were noticeably short of printed material or representation from the office. I witnessed a training session on Wikipedia by one of the Admins: cy:Defnyddiwr:Ben Bore. This was part of a week of events with Wicipedia being formally presented at least once a day.

Next year

The Eisteddfod has a Welsh only Rule; and in fairness - so does Wicipedia Cymraeg! We should support WPC with funding for printed material and other materials: t-shirts, badges etc. We should consider sending a large package of stuff, hiring a stall and sending a staff member. Should we also consider asking for new prospective members of WMUK staff to be given an extra edge if they can offer Welsh as a first (or second) language? As one poster on the Eisteddfod Field proudly announced: The Dragon Has Two Tongues!

Roger Bamkin