Wiki of the Month June 2011
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saveMLAK is a wiki that holds information about museums, libraries, archives and kominkans (community centers) (MLAK) in Japan stricken by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. The site gathers information on the damage done to those facilities in the disaster area, and publishes requests for assistance from the victims. It is also part of a larger project, also called saveMLAK, that includes efforts in other social media like Google Groups and Twitter.
On March 11 2011, thousands of people died or went missing in the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Although the first step is to search for missing people and to give the survivors shelter, and begin to bring their daily lives back to normal, salvaging the administrative services, such as museums, libraries, archives and community centers, is also important. The saveMLAK wiki gathers and summarizes information on damage to facilities in the disaster area and their staff, as well as requests for assistance from the victims, in order to help these institutions recover.
The saveMLAK project is operated by volunteers, who consist of the staff and supporters of museums, libraries, archives and community centers. Contributors include museum curators, librarians, archivists and others, such as school teachers, scientists and Wikipedians. In order to aid contributions, the project held a symposium with other related communities, and organized a workshop for volunteers who are not familiar with wiki editing.
There is also the possibility of working with other sources, like Google Person Finder and Emergency Mapping Team.
Each facility page on the wiki provides information on its basic description, the damage to it, and its current situation.
For example, the page on the Rikuzentakada City Library at Iwate prefecture describes:
- Its contact address, location and nearby facilities on a map
- Damage to buildings, librarians, library users and so on
- The current situation and saving effort by its own or other communities
In addition to information on each facility, the wiki also provides some helpful general information for the recovery: for example, useful equipment for workers at the recovery area, contact phone numbers for life insurance companies, a list of publications of recovery records from past disasters, and so on.
saveMLAK makes significant use of Semantic MediaWiki, as well as some of its extensions. The Semantic Forms extension provides good editing functionality for each facility page. Here is a link to the form for editing the Rikuzentakada City Library page, for example, and to the side is a screenshot of the form.
Semantic Maps provides a good geographical representation, as well as a distance query, to show the nearby facilities on each facility page.
On the wiki's front page, the combination of the Semantic Maps and Semantic Compound Queries extensions lets the wiki display a map showing all the facilities, with different icons for the four facility types.
Semantic MediaWiki has also been very useful in getting advanced searching and display of facilities. Several types of filtered lists are provided on the wiki, such as a list of damaged facilities and a list of facilities at each local prefecture. Additionally, SMW queries are useful for showing the number of filtered search results automatically.
As of May 2011, two months since the earthquake, the site has information on over 7,000 facilities. It has around one hundred editors contributing to it. Additionally, the saveMLAK Google Groups mailing list has around 200 subscribers, and the saveMLAK Twitter page has over 300 followers.