Monthly Archives: March 2014

Wikimaps Nordic kickoff 28 February 2014

Susanna Ånäs blogs about the Wikimaps Nordic kickoff event, a collaborative project that brings together GLAM organizations and wikimedians to together develop tools for the discovery of old maps and information about places through history. This blog post was originally published at the Wikimaps homepage 4 March 2014.
It was a great start for a journey into the maps and places of the 5 countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Estonia. The kickoff event had gathered representatives from all of the countries.
The support from the Nordic Culture Fund shows the willingness that there is to make cultural heritage widely digitally available in the participatory Commons. The Finnish Institute in London also showed continuing interest in activities of open culture, following the participation in the Open Knowledge Festival in Helsinki in 2012.
The presentations
Our speaker guests showed examples of what can be done with maps, data and wikimedians:
Tim Waters (UK), the creator of the MapWarper for New York Public Library, showed the many projects which the MapWarper has made possible. From rectifying maps for disaster relief mapping to making possible to trace the contours of New York buildings. The Wikimaps Warper has already been set up to work with the maps in Wikimedia Commons, and work will continue with more integration and interface design.
Hay Kranen (NL) reported about his experiences and thoughts as the first Dutch wikimedian-in-residence, working in the KB Library and National Archives in the Netherlands. He cited a research that showed that the most used information source is Wikipedia for 52% of the Dutch population, but the books and libraries are primary to only 1%! It makes sense to try to make available the riches of the libraries and archives in the world’s most visited encyclopedia.
Nordic wikimedians (Jan Ainali and André Costa from Sweden, Jon Harald Søby from Norway,Henrik Sørensen and Michael Andersen from Denmark and Vahur Puik and Raul Veede from Estonia) reported the work we have been preparing with the GLAMs in the partnering countries. We are expecting both volunteer projects and activities with many GLAM institutions.
We then had interesting presentations from our Finnish network:

Istvan Kecskemeti from the National Archives of Finland outlined how the treasures of the archive are unreachable without proper search mechanisms put into place and envisioned better services to find the materials. He also presented a browsing interface done by Leslie Kadish for the Senate Map collection.

Heli Laaksonen from the National Land Survey described their digitization project with historical aerial images. They, too, are unreferenced, and therefore cannot be searched and found.
Tomi Kauppinen from Aalto University showed SAPO, the Finnish spatiotemporal ontology, and the work that remains to be done to get full coverage of historical administrative borders. The National Linked Data Gazetteer of Historical Places project was announced a day earlier.
Arend Oudman and Outi Hermans from the City of Helsinki showed how they have opened and processed maps and aerial images in the context of broader efforts by the City of Helsinki to work with open data. The image shows the Historical Aerial Images browser

The workshop
After hearing the introductions, we focused on a set of themes during the afternoon workshop:
  • MapWarper & iD development & map search
    • Developing the tools to be easier to use while maintaining complexity. We are creating a toolset to communicate with both Wikimedia Commons and Open Historical Map. The key features will be search, warping and vectorizing, with a seamless user experience switching between the tasks. We are starting a structured work process for development.
  • The Pan-Nordic map project
    • We found out that instead of a unique map covering all Nordic countries we will get interesting insight by looking into individual areas, especially cities. Focusing on places on a human scale will allow narrating with more materials, such as images. The work will be administered by chapters.
    • If you are interested in participating, please be in contact with the Wikimedia chapter in your country.
  • Aerial images case study
    • Together with the Aerial Images archives at the Land Survey of Finland and other participants we will select a suitable set of material for a case study. We will research different workflows and look at open tools to use with aerial images. It will make sense to support the Nordic map project with the aerial images.
  • Gazetteer
    • We will further collaboration with place name projects, such as Pelagios 3 and the National Linked Data Gazetteer of Historical Places (SeCo), and work actively in the creation of place attributes in Wikidata. The Swedish volunteer project gathers municipality border data for a practical demonstration. We may develop mechanisms for allowing volunteer participation in gathering and interpreting the place names together with the Finnish gazetteer service. Susanna and Tomi Kauppinen are included in a workshop proposal by the GeoHumanities SIG for a workshop Place and Period in an Emerging Global Gazetteer: a proposed DH2014 workshop.
Additionally we will be working with at least the following topics:
  • Wiki Loves maps – the hackathon
    • A hackathon event is being planned for the Autumn. An idea about informal hacking events more regularly was presented.
  • Maps in Wikimedia Commons
    • This development will include work to define map metadata for storing maps in Wikimedia, applying that to the map template and the GWToolset.
More information!
You will find the speakers, presentations and video coverage at
A slideshow presentation can be found at
There are follow-ups written by Jessica Parland-von Essen and Laura Sillanpää for AvoinGLAM.
If you are interested in joining, contact your local Wikimedia for the local projects, or the Wikimaps project. Join one of the groups on this site or follow discussion in Facebook. Next hangouts are on Tuesday, and again in a month!

Knowledge Gap and the Differential Effects hypothesis

Kristofer Jäntti blogs about the differences between newspaper and television consumption on the Knowledge Gap. This text is the third part of a serialised review of the Knowledge Gap. The full report will be published after the final entry of the series.
The previous posts have mostly analysed the overall effects of the media in either increasing or decreasing levels of knowledge. This section, however, reviews the literature that argues for a differential effect between the different mediums. It will examine the cases for newspapers, television, and Open Data.
Newspapers as a knowledge widener?
The research literature has often emphasised the superiority of newspapers over other media to increase knowledge (Jenssen 2012, 21). It is for this reason that the original KG hypothesis argued that newspaper consumption widens the gap as higher socioeconomic groups consumed more newspapers than lower socioeconomic groups (Tichenor, Dnonohue, & Olien, 1970).
There have been some recent studies that confirm this hypothesis. For example, Jerit et al. (2006) find, after analysing 41 cross-sectional studies from the USA that increasing media exposure increases general levels of knowledge among the population, but that the educated acquired knowledge faster from newspapers than the less educated. Likewise, Kim (2008) finds a similar result from South Korea. He hypothesises two causal mechanisms for their results: (1) people with higher education read more newspapers and (2) the more highly educated learn at a faster rate than the less educated (ibid. 203).
Some scholars argue that the complexity of the content of newspapers relative to television combined with the lower capabilities of the less educated explains the existence of the KG. For example, Moore (1987: 189) used two telephone panel studies to assess the effects of the political campaigns that were implemented for the 1987 Gubernatorial elections in New Hampshire. He found that there was an increase of the KG when the issues were more complex (Moore 1987: 186). Moore’s findings are corroborated by Kleinnijenhuis (1991) who found similar results from the Netherlands.
These findings are disconcerting for those who hope to bridge the KG as newspaper articles have become longer and more complex in the last fifty years (Barnhurst & Mutz, 1997). Moreover, newspaper articles in the USA are often written for the level of comprehension of an eighth or twelfth grader even though the majority of Americans ‘do not function comfortably above a sixth-grade level’ (Graber 2004, 558).
Even though the research literature does stress newspapers’ superiority, the evidence is not unequivocal. The different media systems in place may help to explain why newspapers are ‘superior’ in South Korea and the USA (Market Model) but not in other countries which have a public service dominated media. For example, Jenssen ‘s (2012) analysis of Norwegian election survey panels finds a weak support for the newspaper superiority, narrowly reaching statistical significance (ibid. 29). He notes that a possible reason for this is that in Norway there is no division between ‘high-brow’ newspapers and ‘low-brow’ television, as there may be in market model dominated countries (ibid. 32).
Intriguingly, Fraile (2011) finds an inverse relationship in Spain. Her analysis of the European Social Survey (ESS) data on Spain from the years 2004 and 2006 shows that newspapers increased knowledge the most in the least educated group, thus exhibiting a KG narrowing effect (ibid. 177). She suggests that the pluralist ensemble of newspapers relative to the highly concentrated and polarized broadcast media is more trusted by citizens and, therefore, ‘increases their interest and predisposition to learn about politics’ (ibid. 178).
In sum, the evidence is mixed about newspaper superior effect to increase knowledge. The literature suggests that there are great differences between countries when it comes newspaper consumption. The highly educated are more capable to process complex texts and do consume more newspapers and therefore may be more exposed to more public affairs content. However, evidence from Norway does not support the idea that newspapers are vastly superior in imparting knowledge when compared to other forms of media, and the study on Spain seems to suggest a knowledge levelling effect of newspaper consumption.
Television as knowledge leveller?
Tichenor et al. (1970) initially hypothesised that there is a possibility that television could play a role in narrowing the gap: ‘Since television use tends to be less correlated with education, there is a possibility that television may be a “knowledge leveller” in some areas‘ (Cited in Jenssen 2012, 20).
This notion that television content is easier to understand and therefore more effective for those with a lower education level, as suggested by Kleinnijenhuis’s (1991) study, has been backed by some empirical evidence. For example, Eveland & Scheufele (2000) find, after analysing cross-sectional data from the American National Election Study (ANES), that within the group which consumed the most television the KG was narrower between education groups compared to light users of television.
Correspondingly, Freedman et al. (2004) studied the effects of televised political advertisements on people’s political knowledge during the 2000 US presidential elections. They find, using data on political advertisements in the US with the National election survey data, that those citizens with the least amount of background knowledge (e.g. lower socioeconomic groups) gained the most (Freedman et al. 2004, 734). Though, when a similar research design was applied to Canada the effect of political campaigns was to increase the KG between socioeconomic groups (Nadeau et al.  2008).
With the lack of a meta-analysis on television’s effects on the KG it is difficult to ascertain its general effect. The best designed studies have shown that television does have a positive effect in increasing general knowledge levels and that it does not, at least, exacerbate the knowledge gap between socioeconomic groups (see Jerit et al. 2006; Jenssen 2012). Therefore, television should not be seen as a poor source of information, but as a valuable way to reach different social strata of society.
Conclusions and Suggestions
In summary, the evidence for a differential effect of newspapers and television on the knowledge gap is mixed. The complexity of the content in newspapers as well as the greater propensity for higher socioeconomic people to read them means that newspapers may in certain countries, such as the USA and South Korea, increase the KG. Though in other countries, such as Spain, it is associated with decreasing the KG.
The notion of television as a ‘knowledge leveller’ is something that intuitively makes sense, especially if its content is deemed as inherently easier to grasp than newspapers. The studies, however, show also mixed results for the notion. In certain countries, such as Norway, it is as informative for lower socioeconomic groups as higher ones implying that while it increases general knowledge levels it does increase the KG.
One way to reduce the KG would be to ensure that newspapers are written in a simpler way as to maximise knowledge transfer. One possible reason why the KG has widened in the US through newspapers is due to their education system’s relative inability to provide a high enough base-line literacy capability across socioeconomic groups. Curbing the education-based capability differences would help mitigate the gap.
Lastly, having politically ‘neutral’ media may increase people’s trust in what is reported and therefore their propensity to pay attention to news. This may be especially important with television as it is a medium where socioeconomic differences are less pronounced.
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