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Building Knowledge Society

The World’s Largest Democracy Meets The World’s Largest Encyclopedia

Rear side of Taj mahal - The winning photogrpah of WLM 2012

One does not need to be quizzed on this, Wikipedia is unarguably the World’s Biggest Encyclopaedia both in terms of information and readership, its merits and endeavour remain unmatched. Similarly, India is also the world’s largest democracy promoting free speech, expression and voice. India’s rapid economic progression from curbing poverty to advancing towards digital literacy via technological advancements remain unparalleled. Recognising the potential amongst the two, when Wikipedia and the people of India come together something big is bound to happen, categorising, ‘bigger than the biggest’. Wikipedia’s parent organisation Wikimedia Foundation runs an annual international photographic competition, ‘Wiki Loves Monuments’ where participants upload pictures of Indian monuments its architectural heritage , ancient heritage and much more clubbed under India’s unique monumental diversity. Wikimedia India, the affiliate of Wikimedia Foundation will be hosting this program in India between (September 1st – September 30th), when you surf Wikipedia to gain information about something in September, you will find a Wiki Loves Monument in India banner at the top.

The basic concept is that people are invited to upload images of monumental objects under a free license for usage on Wikipedia. The participants images are subsequently uploaded on Wikipedia pages which not only gives their photography a global recognition but also at times convince them to contribute content on Wikipedia. That’s not all ! The journey is much longer, Wikipedia has a long list of sister projects such as Wikivoyage, Wikiversity, Wikinews etc. The pictures are subsequently used on these sisters projects as well. Next time there is some development in Ellora Caves, you may be reading about it on Wikinews with your photography attested to it. You may infact be planning to visit Ellora Caves for a vacation, your search results may be directing you to Wikivoyage, you may find your picture out there !

Home to several ancient cultures that date back to time immemorial, it should come as no surprise that India happens to be one of the biggest challenges in capturing as many historically significant sites as possible. India has a nice bend of monumental history stretching from ancient civilisations like Dholavira in Gujarat to Rakhigarhi in Haryana or Ropar in Punjab to Alamgirpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Photograph of the 9 stupas at Thiksey (Leh District)

With the help of the Archeological Survey of India lists who captures all of them, Wiki Loves Monuments team would concentrate their efforts on shrines of national and international importance.The 2011 version of WLM was accredited with a Guinness World Record for the World’s largest photo contest with 168,208 images being submitted during the contest, 2012 made way for bigger records with more than 350,000 photographs of historic monuments being uploaded by more than 15,000 participants. The 2016 contest plans to carry many more records with it, all five continents would go ahead in making this contest a success.

The year 2016 has already brought success to India. In June, this summer, Wiki Loves Earth a photography competition to record India’s flora and fauna recorded an unprecedented 32,000+ images from more than 6,000 contributors across India. Stretching from Ladhak in Kashmir, Jim Corbett in Uttrakhand, Western Ghats in Maharashtra to the backwaters of Kerala. Everything was captured !

Wiki Loves Monument is another such attempt, to capture India’s heritage digitally. This time, even bigger !

Written by Abhinav Srivastava

Posted by JimCarter

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