WikiMelayu: North Sumatra Malay Audio Visual Heritage

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The WikiMelayu project has become an important milestone in efforts to preserve and disseminate the Malay cultural riches of North Sumatra, Indonesia. Before continuing our discussion about this project, let’s delve a little into the background of Malay culture in the region. North Sumatran Malay culture, which has grown since prehistoric times, reflects influences from various cultures, such as Indian, Chinese, and Islamic, especially during the Deli Sultanate in the 17th century. The Malays, the indigenous and majority tribe in this region, have been the custodians of valuable cultural heritage.

WikiMelayu, an audio-visual documentation initiative of Malay culture on Wikimedia Commons, was born as a response to the unequal situation in maintaining Malay culture, which is increasingly being eroded by the flow of globalization. One of the main challenges is the lack of audio-visual documentation under the Creative Commons license. However, this project focuses on more than just documentation; it also includes workshops on Indonesian Wikipedia and Wiktionary Lingua Libre with the theme of Malay culture, particularly in North Sumatra.

The timeline for implementing this project begins with submitting a proposal in June 2023, followed by implementation from September to December 2023, and finally reporting in January 2024. Support from the Wikimedia Foundation is the main pillar in realizing the success of this project, which involves 10 partners, including resource persons and Malay figures, photo and sound studios, Malay dance studios, traditional clothing models, and traditional music performers. Apart from that, the active participation of 14 volunteers from the Wikimedia Medan Community, part of Wikimedia Indonesia, also provided an invaluable contribution.

However, as with any project, challenges arise in its implementation. Difficulties finding valid literary sources, obtaining copyright permission, and unsynchronized schedules between the parties involved are some of the obstacles faced in audio-visual documentation of North Sumatra Malay culture. Apart from that, contributing to Indonesian Wikipedia and Wiktionary Lingua Libre also encounters obstacles, such as difficulty following instructions and using the features on these platforms.

However, the results of the WikiMelayu project are truly encouraging. The project has produced no fewer than 333 audiovisual documents, 85 articles on Wikipedia, 50 words on Wiktionary Lingua Libre, and 36 items on Wikidata. This experience makes it clear that continuous reflection and adjustment are key to designing more effective training activities in the future. The need to form a more structured documentation team, better time management strategies, and reorganizing training with more comprehensive material are valuable suggestions for future project continuity.

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