Monmouth to become UK's first 'Wikipedia town'
Friday 18 May 2012
Online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is set to launch a new project aimed at covering every aspect of life in one Welsh town.
Monmouth in south Wales will become the first "Wikipedia town" and the Monmouthpedia will feature all notable places, people, flora and fauna.
Wikipedia has urged people to contribute articles and photographs on as many aspects of life in Monmouth as possible.
Smart phone technology will then allow users to scan barcodes at points of interest and have information about the landmark sent to their mobiles in their own language.
Wikimedia UK, the charity body that promotes Wikipedia and other wiki projects in the UK, has funded the project along with Monmouthshire County Council.
Tomorrow Monmouth Library will host drop-in sessions so people can learn to edit Wikipedia before the signing of the agreement between Monmouthshire County Council and Wikimedia UK to create the world's first Wikipedia town.
Roger Bamkin, a director of Wikimedia UK and co-creator of QRpedia, said: "We're delighted that Monmouth is becoming the world's first Wikipedia town.
"Both the quality and quantity of the new Monmouth Wikipedia content is outstanding, reflecting the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of the town. At last foreign visitors can not only read information in their own language, but they can edit it too."
Mr Bamkin said the project can be replicated in every town, city or village around the world.
"We've shown in Monmouth that all it takes is a little creativity, energy and cooperation to put a town on the map and take it to an audience of 480 million people a month. Monmouth may be the first Wikipedia town but we're hoping for many, many more to follow. Your town could be next, and we hope it is."
Residents, businesses and volunteers have created hundreds of new articles about Monmouth in 25 different languages, as well as improving hundreds of others.
John Cummings, the local project leader, said: "Wikipedia is all about working to share the sum of all human knowledge with everyone.
"Monmouthpedia has shown that whole towns can make a contribution to this effort. Because QRpedia codes (the barcodes) can be accessed in different languages, they have been used throughout the world. I think that giving free access to information in this way allows us to have a richer experience of the world around us."
Kellie Beirne, Monmouthshire County Council's chief officer for regeneration and culture, said the project had already boosted tourism: "Monmouth has always been known in the UK as a great place to visit and do business.
"We very quickly realised that embracing technology and fantastic global community projects like this benefits everyone in Monmouthshire and we are delighted to be involved in something so innovative, creative and forward-looking."
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he was looking forward to seeing other towns following suit.
"I'm really excited by the Monmouthpedia project. Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward-thinking people of Monmouth, all of the volunteers and the Wikimedia UK team.
"I'm looking forward to seeing other towns and cities doing the same thing."
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