SAAB Veterans Shared Their Knowledge at Metadata Workshop

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Editathons where people collectively edit Wikipedia are, of course, not uncommon. However, Wikimedia Sweden recently organized an event like never before, where people were invited to share their knowledge and contribute with metadata for images!

One of the photos that received updated metadata and descriptions during the event depicted the assembly of the Saab 35 Draken in hall 2 at the Saab factory in Linköping. The aircraft had a red plastic covering for protection as workers walked on them during the assembly process. The number on the tail indicated the individual aircraft number. Numbers 824 and 825 were approved on May 2, 1963, so the photo was taken earlier that year. Photo: Nordiska museet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

More than a dozen people with connections to SAAB’s aircraft manufacturing in Linköping gathered at the Swedish Air Force Museum. Among the invitees were members of the SAAB Veterans Association and the Östergötland Aviation Historical Society. The event was organized by Wikimedia Sweden in collaboration with the Nordic Museum and the Swedish Air Force Museum.

Collaborating with the Nordic Museum, we are working to make thousands of photographs accessible through Wikimedia Commons. Therefore, we wanted to combine this effort with creating local activities within our project “Wikipedia for all of Sweden”, giving rise to the idea of a metadata workshop.

Additional Insights from Participants

The photos uploaded often have minimal information, or metadata, associated with them. Typically, they only have a title and a year, information obtained from the labels on the physical folders in the photo archive. We wanted to gather people with strong connections to SAAB, those who have worked or currently work there, to provide insights into what the images depicted. This way, we could add structured data to Commons through Wikidata tags and captions and descriptions directly in Wikimedia Commons.

The highlight of the event was that a man featured in one of the photographs was present! He could provide many details about what he was doing when the photo was taken and why. Other participants added information about both that image and others. They shared details about the locations, aircraft models, equipment, purposes, which photos depicted actual activities, and which ones were staged.

Peter Norman, the third person from the left in the photo, is looking at a photo of himself examining a nose wing from a Saab 37 Viggen aircraft in 1976, likely as part of investigations following several accidents involving that aircraft model in 1974 and 1975. He learned about the event after a friend saw him in the newspaper following Wikimedia Sweden’s press release. Photo: Sven Rentzhog, CC BY 4.0.

Lessons Learned

Since this was our first event of this kind, we learned many lessons. While it was enjoyable to sit together in the same room and view the images collectively, it probably wasn’t the most effective way to work. Next time, we’ll need to divide the group into smaller teams to work with multiple images simultaneously.

The tool we used, ISA Tool, worked relatively well for adding Wikidata tags to the images and for including captions. However, it was less efficient when multiple images resembled each other and could have essentially the same tags and descriptions since there was no convenient way to copy the information.

We will be organizing a similar event in the fall to follow up and gather more information. More interested participants are welcome to join! Until then, feel free to contribute information through the ISA Tool campaign.

You can find the Saab images from Linköping on Wikimedia Commons here.

Participants engaged in lively discussions. Photo: Sven Rentzhog, CC BY 4.0.

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