While we celebrate the explosion of open source software and collaborative projects like Wikipedia, visual art has not enjoyed similar levels of passionate and generous online contribution. Open culture has developed inspiring text-based collaborative models, but has yet to develop successful models for open collaboration on visual culture. Wikipedia Illustrated seeks to develop such models. Through 26 illustrated articles, a blog that follows the production and a set of workshops we hope to develop a methodology for contributing creative-commons licensed illustrations to Wikipedia.
The talk will address the questions at the heart of this project. Is the visual aspect of Wikipedia so lacking and dated because it could only use freely licensed images? Or is it that images have to become "historical" to become removed, objective, factual, and therefore applicable to the Wikipedia guidelines? Is the Wikipedia project really inviting visual artists to contribute their work to the commons? Or is visual work inherently less collaborative? As the project evolves it exposes the myths and biases behind these questions and reveals the surprising and complicated dynamics of open culture.