Grants:IEG/Exploratory research: creating 'curated' e-books with Wikimedia content

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statusnot selected
Exploratory research: creating 'curated' e-books with Wikimedia content
Twemoji 1f4da.svg
summaryE-books 'curated' from Wikimedia projects: how would this work?
targetall Wikimedia projects are taken into account; probably the research will focus most on Wikipedia, Commons, Wikidata, Wikibooks, Wikisource and Wikiversity.
strategic priorityincreasing reach
amount4,750 EUR
contact• sandra.fauconnier(_AT_)
this project needs...
created on09:42, 9 April 2016 (UTC)
round 2 2015

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

The Wikimedia projects contain amazing content, but there's not yet a straightforward and easy way to export selected bits of this content to an e-book format. There's the Book creator on English Wikipedia, announced on the Wikimedia blog in 2012, but this tool has only limited features and (to my knowledge) is restricted to a single project. What if someone wants to create a Wikimedia-powered e-book with a catalogue raisonné of a lesser-known artist (which would increasingly be possible with freely licensed content from Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons)? Or an e-book with a historical overview of digital art in the Netherlands containing a selection of articles from various Wikipedias, images from Commons and timelines powered by Wikidata? Or a refugee phrasebook in e-book format that can easily be adapted to any language?

The immediate motive for this IEG application is a real use case: I (User:Spinster) will be working on a hybrid (digital and paper) publication about digital art in the Netherlands in the following years and would indeed like to produce such an e-book. Rather than working towards a single solution for this one project, I want to start a trajectory that has the intention to benefit the whole Wikimedia movement.

What is your solution?[edit]

This is a new perspective on our Wikimedia projects, and probably technically and socially complex to address. So we start with five months of exploratory research to define the scope of what we are trying to tackle. (See the project plan below for more info.) The published findings of this exploratory research can then, after this IEG period, serve as a basis for further steps that might involve software development and several pilot e-book productions in the upcoming years.

Project goals[edit]

This project will produce a freely licensed research report, published in an appropriate location on meta, that can, after this IEG period, serve as a basis for further steps that might involve software development and several pilot e-book productions.

Project plan[edit]


We'll conduct exploratory research for five months to investigate the scope of what we are actually trying to tackle. This includes the following (and probably other) questions:

  1. Is there a demand for this, and if so, how large would it be?
  2. Which stakeholders would find this useful? Wikipedia editors/volunteers; book publishers and editorial teams; researchers; activists...?
  3. What kind of e-books would be produced this way? What are realistic use cases?
  4. What reading experience, formats, functionalities, qualities for such an e-book do readers want, need, prefer?
  5. What would be the typical workflow for editors? What features and tools would they need?
  6. Would it be interesting to include 'automatic' multilinguality (e.g. downloaders of the e-book can download it in their own language, regardless whether the e-book was edited in that language)? If so, what would be the potential and the hurdles?
  7. What if the sources of the e-book change (e.g. Wikipedia articles are updated, Wikidata items are completed, Commons files are replaced or renamed)? Will the e-book evolve likewise?
  8. How to deal with the (graphic) design of the e-book, such as images, footnotes, font types, etc.?
  9. How would licensing work, if content with different licenses from various Wikimedia projects is brought together (from CC0 on Wikidata to the various licenses of images on Commons)?
  10. What kind of software would need to be developed for this?
  11. ...

To give direction to these questions, we will already take some existing (or realistic) use cases into account:

  1. A publication about the history of digital art in the Netherlands, which is under development at the moment under supervision of Sandra Fauconnier
  2. The Refugee Phrasebook, developed on Wikibooks

This research is a very first step to explore the extent of the possibilities and questions - to explore the scope of a broader Wikimedia e-book project. The findings of this exploratory research can then, after this IEG period, serve as a basis for further steps that might involve software development and several pilot e-book productions.

The student/intern and advisors will conduct this research from September 2016 till January 2017. By the end of January 2017 we intend to publish the final research report.


  • 5 months of apprentice/internship fees = 5*400€ = 2.000€
  • 20 hours of mentorship by Sandra Fauconnier = 20*50€ = 1.000€
  • 20 hours of mentorship by André Castro = 20*50€ = 1.000€
  • 10 hours of input from other external advisors = 10*50€ = 500€
  • Travel costs = 250€
  • Total budget = 4.750€

Office space and staff hours from PublishingLab are contributed in kind. External partners always pay the apprentice/internship fee for students working on specific projects at the PublishingLab.

Community engagement[edit]

The research will be continuously documented on a public project page on meta-wiki.
In an early stage, the project will be announced to various relevant communities, seeking expressions of interest and input. The researcher is explicitly asked to consult and interact with interested Wikimedia volunteers on a continuous basis.


This project will produce a freely licensed research report, published in an appropriate location on meta. We hope that the findings will be so inspiring and useful that they will catalyze both software development and the production of several pilot e-books based on Wikimedia content.

Measures of success[edit]

This is a research project that intends to lay groundwork for more specifically measurable projects in the longer term. Measures of success for the research itself could be:

  1. Relevance. At least five realistic and practically applicable use cases are outlined.
  2. Involvement. The research reports activates at least 20 individual or organisational stakeholders. This can be Wikimedia volunteers, external researchers, publishers, activists, designers, software developers.
  3. Outreach. The research is presented at at least three smaller or larger Wikimedia-related and external conferences and other professional gatherings.

Get involved[edit]


  1. PublishingLab is a research lab working at the intersection of publishing and digital technology, both in print and digitally. It conducts practical experiments in collaboration with partners from the industries such as newspaper and magazine publishers, art publications, designers and developers [1]. It is part of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA) and affiliated with the Institute of Network Cultures (INC). In the PublishingLab office, an apprentice/intern will conduct the main research for a period of five months, benefiting from the experience present on the spot. PublishingLab is represented by Margreet Riphagen who will have a role as an advisor.
  2. The apprentice/intern, to be recruited specifically for this project in the upcoming months, is explicitly asked to consult and interact with interested Wikimedia volunteers on a continuous basis.
  3. Sandra Fauconnier (User:Spinster), applicant for this grant, will provide local support and feedback, from the perspective of an experienced Wikimedia volunteer and with the use case of the book about Dutch digital arts. Sandra is an art historian who works on internet projects in the cultural sector. She is a Wikipedian since 2003, a former board member of Wikimedia Nederland, and is now very active as a volunteer in GLAM and gender gap related projects, on Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons.
  4. André Castro (User:Castroblop), advisor. André is a media artist, with a background in sound art and experimental music and a practice presently focused on experimental publications, hybrid publishing and offline digital libraries.
  5. We also want to involve a few other guest advisors familiar with Wikimedia projects, and e-publishing via Wikis, in order to bring in more knowledge.

Community Notification[edit]


Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the talk page of this proposal).

  • yes there are print on demand scrapes, which are unseemly at amazon which show up in google book searches, this would be better and cheaper for readers. there is also the e-book functionality at wikisource, that could be adapted (don't know difficulty). Slowking4 (talk) 14:17, 3 June 2016 (UTC)
  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.