Thursday, 19th July 2012

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Gibraltarpedia: a new way to market the Rock

by Eyleen Sheil

“The project Gibraltarpedia is becoming a reality” said Professor Clive Finlayson, Gibraltar’s Director of Heritage, adding: “and I quite honestly can say I could not have done this without the support of the Tourist Board and in particular the Minister who has acted very speedily on this, it has been a joint effort by a lot of people.”

Gibraltarpedia was announced in Washington at a conference called Wikimania, explaining the journey the idea took to achieve this announcement, Minister for Tourism, Neil Costa said: “We have been very fortunate to have Clive, Tyson [Lee Holmes] and Stewart [Finlayson] to in the first steps be able to engage initially with this idea, we as a Government has always said we need to be responsive and be able to seize opportunities as and when they arrive. When Clive came to talk to me about Wikipedia or Gibraltarpedia on 31st May this year, we were very quickly able to organise some people from Wikipedia come to Gibraltar for meetings.”

Adding: “We had the Gibraltar Museum very graciously show them around Gibraltar, show them the different sites, the flora and fauna, the people, the history and they immediately saw the potential of Gibraltar to be the first Wikipedia city in the world.”

The plan, which is yet to be confirmed, is for the people from Wikipedia to come as early as next week to give courses here locally, everybody from the public is welcome to go along, the courses will be held at the John Mackintosh Hall, at the time of going to print, the details of the time and date have still to be finalised.

As Wikipedia is written by volunteers, concern was expressed that those who did not have Gibraltar’s best interest at heart may write untrue or negative articles, Professor Finlayson said; “The people from Wikipedia UK have guaranteed to us that this has an element of self-regulation and we want to encourage many local volunteers to keep an eye on what is going on, and if things go on that is nasty, then it is very easy for them to go back to the earlier page in seconds.”

Wikipedia is run on a voluntary basis and different people can and will edit, but before anyone can post anything on Wikipedia it has to be citeable e.g. you could not just sit down and write an article on the Moorish Castle, it would also have to refer to articles already published on the castle.

Minister Costa recognises that this project is a big undertaking, and we are going beyond what was originally anticipated by both Wikipedia and Gibraltar, when compared with Monmouthpedia he said: “Now our project is slightly more ambitious than that, because we want to be able to bridge Africa and Europe and we want to be able to not just concentrate on Gibraltar, which of course will be a fantastic way and it will revolutionise the way we narrate the history, the heritage, the people of Gibraltar, imagine right now when people want to visit Gibraltar, you have the usual Government tools, travel agencies but now when people type in Gibraltar they will have access to the Gibraltarpedia site, which will have articles on Gibraltar, in different languages.”

Professor Finlayson said: “There is a Gibraltarpedia page already there, it’s already active and now what we need to do is the technical aspects of it, getting the plaques done that will go on the buildings for the QR codes.”

The pages will also be accessible to visitors in English, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi and Hebrew through QRpedia codes which give access to Wikipedia articles. These will allow visitors to use their smart phones anywhere in Gibraltar and read all about Gibraltar’s rich cultural heritage in their own mother tongue.




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