Whenever you visit a new place, you are often encumbered with guidebooks, maps and other tourist information that is – let’s face it – bulky and uses a lot of paper. That is all set to change in the small Welsh town of Monmouth, where they have made history by becoming the world’s first “Wikipedia town.”
From now on, visitors to Monmouth will now longer need to lug around guidebooks and leaflets regarding local sights. Instead, they will be able to use their smartphones to scan QR barcodes at points of interest in the town. By doing so, they will bring up a Wikipedia page about the landmark on their phones, in whatever language they are set to.
It is the first step in Wikimedia UK, a scheme that aims to support, develop and promote Wikimedia Foundation projects such as Wikipedia. Using Monmouth as a template, the project has created hundreds of articles about the life and history of the town, which are now available in more than 26 languages.
All around Monmouth, there are now over 1,000 different bar codes plaques and stickers found on everything from schools to museums to even pubs. Unsurprisingly, the project has been dubbed “Monmouthpedia” and has gained a lot of local support – mainly as the local council have installed town-wide free Wi-Fi.
Roger Bamkin, a director of Wikimedia UK and co-creator of QRpedia, said that more than 450 new articles about Monmouth have been added to Wikipedi, all created by local individuals and businesses.
“We’re delighted that Monmouth is becoming the world’s first Wikipedia town,” he said. “Both the quality and quantity of the new Monmouth Wikipedia content is outstanding, reflecting the rich cultural, historical and natural heritage of the town. At last foreign visitors can not only read information in their own language, but they can edit it too. It’s really captured people’s imaginations in ways we hadn’t expected.”
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales hopes that other towns in the UK will follow Monmouth’s example.
“I’m really excited by the Monmouthpedia project. Bringing a whole town to life on Wikipedia is something new and is a testament to the forward-thinking people of Monmouth, all of the volunteers and the Wikimedia UK team. I’m looking forward to seeing other towns and cities doing the same thing.”
Images: Wikimedia Commons