Sound data quality and data lineage are the foundation of successful retail in a digital world | Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The retail sector has arguably been one of the most heavily affected by the global shift toward digital everything. The rise of eCommerce means customers are no longer visiting physical stores the way they did. They now have a literal world of shopping options at their fingertips thanks to the Internet.
The traditional retail model is dying and it has become imperative to develop a digital presence and integrate the customer experience across channels. The entire focus of retail has shifted, and data is the crux of it all.
Digital is the future of retail
The effects of a digital world on the retail sector are clearly evident. In South Africa, some of the most recent events include the announcement by Massmart that they will be closing down 34 Dion Wired stores, and the closure of a flagship Edcon Group store in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The fact that people are no longer shopping in physical stores the way they did is one of the factors impacting these businesses.
In an attempt to remain relevant, local retailers are developing their online presence and offering a greater choice of delivery options. Shoprite Checkers is the latest chain to embrace this trend, announcing that it will be offering an eDelivery service.
The fact is that the world has changed. Amazon, a purely online organisation, has become the biggest retailer in the world. From sophisticated predictive analytics that suggests complementary products, to extreme efficiency with regard to stock management and delivery times, Amazon sets the bar for the types of experiences customers are beginning to demand. Data lies firmly at the heart of their success.
It’s not just about data analysis
True success goes beyond simply analysing data to improve the customer experience. When the only way for your customers to communicate with you is digital, data becomes the single most important asset to your business. If you are not effectively exploiting it, you are not communicating with your customers and you risk losing them to the competition.
Given the importance of analysing and exploiting data, it stands to reason that you need to ensure the data is correct and that it can be trusted.
Data lineage must become a focus. Retailers need to know where their data is coming from, how it flows through the organisation, how it may have been changed or manipulated, and whether or not insights can be trusted.
Data quality is equally important and works in tandem with data lineage, particularly in the online retail space. Whereas the customer should see a single online view of a retailer with all products easily accessible, the back end of these systems are often complex and draw inconsistent data from multiple sources.
Assuring the quality of this data is critical. This includes product descriptions, pricing information and so on. The accuracy of product information is critical since the description is the only information a customer has about the product, and this needs to be accurate.
In addition, while pricing errors have always been part of retail (for example when the price on the shelf does not reflect the price when scanned at the till), in an online world with a much larger customer reach, exposing these errors could be catastrophic.
Dealing with added complexity
From a logistics perspective eCommerce also adds complexity, as it is even more critical to ensure that stock levels are effectively managed. It creates a negative experience when a customer order cannot be fulfilled due to stock levels at individual stores, as the customer sees the online retailer as a single entity.
The customer experience needs to be seamless, which requires that data integration, data lineage and data quality are similarly seamless.
Adding the Internet of Things (IoT) into the matter further complicates matters. While it can potentially be used to further the seamless experience between interaction channels, as well as for personalised promotions and a greater understanding of customer behaviour, the data volumes created are unprecedented.
Gaining insight from IoT data requires streaming analytics in real-time, making it even more important to ensure data quality and lineage are addressed.
Laying the foundation for success
The retail market is shifting, across the globe and in South Africa. Physical stores are closing, online purchases are increasing, and the way consumers behave in the retail space has changed. Comparing prices is easier than ever and consumers have more choice than ever, which means buying patterns and expectations are different.
Success in retail needs to be built on a foundation of sound data quality and trusted data lineage.
By Gary Allemann, MD at Master Data Management

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Free Software Foundation ‘demands’ Windows 7 be released as free software – Blog – 10 minute

WTF?! The Free Software Foundation (FSF), the same group behind the 2009-era Windows 7 “sins” campaign that encouraged users to throw Windows 7 in the trash, has now started another initiative — one that demands Windows 7 be opened up as free software.
The FSF has launched the “Upcycle Windows 7” petition, and if the opening paragraph doesn’t persuade Microsoft to open source Windows 7, then I don’t know what will.
“On January 14th, Windows 7 reached its official ‘end-of-life,’ bringing an end to its updates as well as its ten years of poisoning education, invading privacy, and threatening user security. The end of Windows 7’s lifecycle gives Microsoft the perfect opportunity to undo past wrongs, and to upcycle it instead,” the petition reads.
Yikes. At any rate, most users probably agree that Windows 7 already undid Microsoft’s past wrongs, being absolved for the sins of Windows Vista. Hey, maybe the FSF should ask for Windows Vista instead. You know, shoot for the moon and land in the stars kind of thing. Something’s better than nothing.
Moving on, the FSF has demanded that Microsoft release Windows 7 as free software for the community to “study and improve.” The petition goes on to cite a precedent for this in the form of Microsoft’s Calculator app being on GitHub, and claims Microsoft has “nothing to lose” by releasing an operating system that has reached end of life. Except, Microsoft kind of does have something to lose.
While Windows 7 is in EOL status, and that means no more free updates and patches for consumers, it isn’t technically unsupported.

There’s still hundreds of millions of Windows 7 machines, no shortage of which are business or enterprise customers that will be paying for extended support. Microsoft offers the privilege of paid extended support for Windows 7 through January 10, 2023.
For instance, the German government will be paying Microsoft $886,000 for one year’s worth of extended support for 33,000 Windows 7 machines.
Joining Germany is Ireland, as Ireland’s Health Service Executive has agreed to pay Microsoft roughly €1.1M ($1.2M) in extended support fees for 2020, and will be paying for extended support though at least 2021, for no less than 46,000 Windows 7 PCs. Those are just two recent examples.
Then there’s the not insignificant fact that much of the codebase in Windows 7 lives on in Windows 10. In other words, the chance of seeing Windows 7 in a GitHub repo anytime soon is unlikely, to say the least.

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Technology for social cause: How Akshaya Patra is delivering food to 1.5mn children efficiently: Vijay Kumar, IT Head, The Akshaya Patra Foundation | TechSenate- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Session on Technology for social cause: How Akshaya Patra is delivering food to 1.5mn children efficiently by Vijay Kumar, IT Head, The Akshaya Patra Foundation
With the help of a mobile and a web-based app, the requirement of daily delivery of food (mid-day meal) to around 16, 600 schools, 51 factory branches, 1200 routes has been addressed, says Vijay Kumar

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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How the Valley can get philanthropy right with former Hewlett Foundation president Paul Brest – gpgmail


Paul Brest didn’t set out to transform philanthropy. A constitutional law scholar who clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Harlan and is credited with coining the term “originalism,” Brest spent twelve years as dean of Stanford Law School.

But when he was named president of the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, one of the country’s largest large non-profit funders, Brest applied the rigor of a legal scholar not just to his own institution’s practices but to those of the philanthropy field at large. He hired experts to study the practice of philanthropy and helped to launch Stanford’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society, where he still teaches.

Now, Brest has turned his attention to advising Silicon Valley’s next generation of donors.

From Stanford to the Hewlett Foundation

Photo by David Madison / Getty Images

Scott Bade: Your background is in constitutional law. How did you make the shift from being dean at Stanford to running the Hewlett Foundation as president?

Paul Brest: I came into the Hewlett Foundation largely by accident. I really didn’t know anything about philanthropy, but I had been teaching courses on problem-solving and decision making. I think I got the job because a number of people on the board knew me, both from Stanford Law School, but also from playing chamber music with Walter and Esther Hewlett.

Bade: When was this?

Brest: I started there in 2000. Bill Hewlett died the year after I came. Walter Hewlett, Bill’s son, was chair of the board during the entire time I was president. But it’s not a family foundation.

Bade: What were your initial impressions of the foundation and the broader philanthropic space?

Brest: Not having come from the non-profit sector, it took me a year or so to really understand what it [meant] to use our assets in each area in a strategic way.  The [Hewlett] Foundation had very good values in terms of the areas it was supporting — the environment, education, population, women’s reproductive rights. It had good philanthropic practices, but it was not very strategically focused. It turned out that not very many foundations were strategic.

Paul’s framework for thinking about philanthropy

Paul informal photo

Photo provided by Paul Brest

Bade: What do you mean by ‘strategic’?

Brest: What I mean [by] strategic is having clear goals and having an evidence-based, evidence-informed strategy for achieving them. Big foundations tend to be conglomerates with different programs trying to achieve different goals.

[Being strategic means] monitoring progress as you work towards those goals. Then evaluating in advance whether the strategy is going to be plausible and then whether you’re actually achieving the outcomes you’re trying to achieve so that you can make course corrections if you’re not achieving.

[For example,] the likelihood that the roughly billionaire dollars or more that have been spent or committed to climate advocacy are going to have any effect is quite low. The place where metrics comes in is just having kind of an expected return mindset where yes, the chances of success are low, but we know that the importance of success — or putting it differently, the effects of failure — are going to be catastrophic.

What a strategic mindset does here is say: it’s worth taking huge bets even where the margins of error of the likelihood of success are very hard to measure when the results are huge.

I don’t want to say the [Hewlett] Foundation was anti-strategic, or totally unstrategic, but it really had not developed a [this kind of] systematic framework for doing those things.

Bade: You’re known in the philanthropic community for putting an emphasis on defining, achieving, measuring impact. Have those sort of technocratic practices made philanthropy better?

Brest: I think you have to start by asking, what would it mean for philanthropy to be good? From my point of view, philanthropy is good when I like the goals it chooses. Then, given a good goal, when it is effective in achieving that goal. Strategy really has nothing to say about what the goals are, but only how effective it is.

My guess is that 90 plus percent of philanthropy is intended to achieve goals that most of us think are good goals. There are occasions when you have direct conflicts of goals as you do with say the anti-abortion and the choice movements, or gun control and the NRA. Those are important arguments.

But most philanthropy is trying to improve education or improve the lives of the poor. My view is that philanthropy is good when it is effective in achieving those goals, and trying to do no harm in the process.

Current debates on philanthropy


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The Wikimedia Foundation taps $2.5M from Craig Newmark to beef up its security – gpgmail


Last week, users around the world found Wikipedia down after the online, crowdsourced encyclopedia became the target of a massive, sustained DDoS attack — one that it is still actively fighting several days later (even though the site is now back up). Now, in a coincidental twist of timing, Wikipedia’s parent, the Wikimedia Foundation, is announcing a donation aimed at helping the group better cope with situations just like this: Craig Newmark Philanthropies, a charity funded by the Craigslist founder, is giving $2.5 million to Wikimedia to help it improve its security.

The gift would have been in the works before the security breach last week, and it underscores a persistent paradox. The non-profit is considered to be one of the 10 most popular sites on the web, with people from some 1 billion different devices accessing it each month, with upwards of 18 billion visits in that period (the latter figure is from 2016 so likely now higher). Wikipedia is used as reference point by millions every day to get the facts on everything from Apple to Zynga, mushrooms and Myanmar history, and as a wiki, it was built from the start for interactivity.

But in this day and age when anything is game for malicious hackers, it’s an easy target, sitting out in the open and generally lacking in the kinds of funds that private companies and other for-profit entities have to protect themselves from security breaches. Alongside networks of volunteers who put in free time to contribute security work to Wikimedia, the  organization only had two people on its security staff two years ago — one of them part-time.

That has been getting fixed, very gradually, by John Bennett, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Director of Security who joined the organization in January 2018, and told gpgmail in an interview that he’s been working on a more cenrtralised and coherent system, bringing on more staff to help build both tools to combat nefarious activity both on the site and on Wikimedia’s systems; and crucially, put policies in place to help prevent breaches in the future.

“We’ve lived in this bubble of ‘no one is out to get us,’” he said of the general goodwill that surrounds not-for-profit, public organizations like the Wikimedia Foundation. “But we’re definitely seeing that change. We have skilled and determined attackers wishing to do harm to us. So we’re very grateful for this gift to bolster our efforts.

“We weren’t a sitting duck before the breach last week, with a lot of security capabilities built up. But this gift will help improve our posture and build upon on what we started and have been building these last two years.”

The security team collaborates with other parts of the organization to handle some of the more pointed issues. He notes that Wikimedia uses a lot of machine learning that has been developed to monitor pages for vandalism, and an anti-harassment team also works alongside them. (Newmark’s contribution today, in fact, is not the first donation he’s made to the organization. In the past he has donated around $2 million towards various projects including the Community Health Initiative, the anti-harassment program; and the more general Wikimedia Endowment).

The security breach that caused the DDoS is currently being responded to by the site reliability engineering team, who are still engaged and monitoring the situation, and Bennett declined to comment more on that.

You can support Wikipedia and Wikimedia, too.


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Foundation Capital, now 24 years old, just closed its ninth fund with $350 million in capital commitments – gpgmail


Not all venture firms are long for this world. Though they tend to shut down exceedingly quietly, it sometimes happens when the returns just aren’t compelling or a firm grows too fast or there’s infighting or there’s not a solid succession plan.

Foundation Capital, founded in 1995, had its own kind of reckoning in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, owing to a little bit of all of these things.

Like a lot of firms that had begun to raise ever-bigger funds with ever-bigger teams, the once-small firm closed its sixth fund with $750 million in capital commitments in 2008 before it was forced to scale back dramatically, closing its seventh fund with $282 million in 2013 with a whopping eight general partners (then parting ways with half of those individuals), closing its eighth fund with $325 million in late 2015 and doing what it could to right the ship.

It plainly pulled it off. Today, the firm is announcing that it has closed its ninth fund with $350 million in capital commitments and the smallest pool of active general partners it has had in years: Ashu Garg, who joined Foundation in 2008 after spending the previous four years at Microsoft; Charles Moldow, who joined the firm in 2005, after spending the previous five years as a senior vice president at TellMe Networks (later acquired by Microsoft); and Steve Vassallo, who joined the outfit in 2007 after spending a couple of years as a VP of product and engineering at a social network co-founded by Marc Andreessen, called Ning.

A fourth general partner with Foundation’s previous funds, Paul Holland, who joined Foundation in 2001, continues to manage out his investments.

Some notable exits were surely helpful for the trio, including the IPOs of Sunrun (2015), LendingClub (2014), TubeMogul (2014) and Chegg (2013). But we’re guessing Foundation’s newer bets intrigued limited partners even more.

Among some of the firm’s most interesting deals: the biomaterials company Bolt Threads, which is growing artificial spider silk and closed its Series D round last year; Fair, the fast-growing car subscription app that has already locked down at least $1.6 billion in equity and debt funding; and Cerebras, a next-generation silicon chip company that launched publicly last month after almost three years of quiet development, surprising many with its very large and very fast processor, which houses 1.2 trillion transistors, 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory and 400,000 processing cores across its 46,225 square millimeters.

In fact, the last was incubated at Foundation’s office, and it isn’t the only company to get its start with the help of the firm. Another example of a de novo investment is States Title, an insure-tech platform that was founded in 2016 and has gone on to raise $106.6 million, according to Crunchbase.

Starting from scratch is a “more repeatable and sustainable way of building ownership in a company,” explains Moldow. By “putting teams together with a bunch of ideas,” Foundation can “build companies from whole cloth” rather than “play the auction game where prices keep getting crazier and crazier.”

Foundation’s broader staff includes partner Joanne Chen, who joined Foundation in 2014 and focuses on enterprise and AI; partner Rodolfo Gonzalez, who joined the firm in 2013 and focuses on fintech, Latin America, and crypto; and the firm’s newest partner, Li Sun, who is helping to spearhead the firm’s frontier tech practice.

The firm tends to make between 10 and 12 new investments each year, writing checks from $6 million to $10 million typically as part of a Series A deal, though it will invest as little as a few thousand dollars in the right opportunity.

As for later-stage investments, the firm does not have an opportunity fund currently, nor does it assemble special purpose vehicles, which are basically pop-up funds that come together to make an investment in a single company. Instead, says Vassallo, it facilitates direct investments into companies for its limited partners.

We get the impression that could change at some point. Indeed, the new, smaller Foundation Capital seems very focused on trying out a lot of new things.

As Moldow says, “At one point, we had nine GPs and $750 million [in fresh capital to invest]. The evolution [to the firm’s current iteration] took a lot of work. At first it was, how do you fix this? In the last five to seven years, it has been, how do we excel at this?”

Pictured above, from left to right: Charles Moldow, Steve Vassallo and Ashu Garg.


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IBM is moving OpenPower Foundation to The Linux Foundation – gpgmail


IBM makes the Power Series chips, and as part of that has open sourced some of the underlying technologies to encourage wider use of these chips. The open source pieces have been part of the OpenPower Foundation. Today, the company announced it was moving the foundation under The Linux Foundation, and while it was at it, announced it was open sourcing several other important bits.

Ken King, general manager for OpenPower at IBM, says that at this point in his organization’s evolution, they wanted to move it under the auspices of the Linux Foundation . “We are taking the OpenPower Foundation, and we are putting it as an entity or project underneath The Linux Foundation with the mindset that we are now bringing more of an open governance approach and open governance principles to the foundation,” King told gpgmail.

But IBM didn’t stop there. It also announced that it was open sourcing some of the technical underpinnings of the Power Series chip to make it easier for developers and engineers to build on top of the technology. Perhaps most importantly, the company is open sourcing the Power Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). These are “the definitions developers use for ensuring hardware and software work together on Power,” the company explained.

King sees open sourcing this technology as an important step for a number of reasons around licensing and governance. “The first thing is that we are taking the ability to be able to implement what we’re licensing, the ISA instruction set architecture, for others to be able to implement on top of that instruction set royalty free with patent rights,” he explained.

The company is also putting this under an open governance workgroup at the OpenPower Foundation. This matters to open source community members because it provides a layer of transparency that might otherwise be lacking. What that means in practice is that any changes will be subject to a majority vote, so long as the changes meet compatibility requirements, King said.

Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Linux Foundation, says that making all of this part of the Linux Foundation open source community could drive more innovation. “Instead of a very, very long cycle of building an application and working separately with hardware and chip designers, because all of this is open, you’re able to quickly build your application, prototype it with hardware folks, and then work with a service provider or a company like IBM to take it to market. So there’s not tons of layers in between the actual innovation and value captured by industry in that cycle,” Zemlin explained.

In addition, IBM made several other announcements around open sourcing other Power Chip technologies designed to help developers and engineers customize and control their implementations of Power chip technology. “IBM will also contribute multiple other technologies including a softcore implementation of the Power ISA, as well as reference designs for the architecture-agnostic Open Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (OpenCAPI) and the Open Memory Interface (OMI). The OpenCAPI and OMI technologies help maximize memory bandwidth between processors and attached devices, critical to overcoming performance bottlenecks for emerging workloads like AI,” the company said in a statement.

The softcore implementation of the Power ISA, in particular, should give developers more control and even enable them to build their own instruction sets, Hugh Blemings, executive director of the OpenPower Foundation explained. “They can now actually try crafting their own instruction sets, and try out new ways of the accelerated data processes and so forth at a lower level than previously possible,” he said.

The company is announcing all of this today at the The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit and OpenPower Summit in San Diego.


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The Knight Foundation launches $750,000 initiative for immersive technology for the arts – gpgmail


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is looking for pitches on how to enhance and augment traditional creative arts through immersive technologies.

Through a partnership with Microsoft the foundation is offering a share of a $750,00 pool of cash and the option of technical support from Microsoft, including mentoring in mixed-reality technologies and access to the company’s suite of mixed reality technologies.

“We’ve seen how immersive technologies can reach new audiences and engage existing audiences in new ways,” said Chris Barr, director for arts and technology innovation at Knight Foundation, in a statement. “But arts institutions need more knowledge to move beyond just experimenting with these technologies to becoming proficient in leveraging their full potential.”

Specifically, the foundation is looking for projects that will help engage new audiences; build new service models; expand access beyond the walls of arts institutions; and provide means to distribute immersive experiences to multiple locations, the foundation said in a statement.

“When done right, life-changing experiences can happen at the intersection of arts and technology,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for arts. “Our goal through this call is to help cultural institutions develop informed and refined practices for using new technologies, equipping them to better navigate and thrive in the digital age.”

Launched at the Gray Area Festival in San Francisco, the new initiative is part of the Foundation’s art and technology focus, which the organization said is designed to help arts institutions better meet changing audience expectations. Last year, the foundation invested $600,000 in twelve projects focused on using technology to help people engage with the arts.

“We’re incredibly excited to support this open call for ways in which technology can help art institutions engage new audiences,” says Mira Lane, Partner Director Ethics & Society at Microsoft. “We strongly believe that immersive technology can enhance the ability for richer experiences, deeper storytelling, and broader engagement.”

Here are the winners from the first $600,000 pool:

  • ArtsESP – Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts

Project lead: Nicole Keating | Miami | @ArshtCenter

Developing forecasting software that enables cultural institutions to make data-centered decisions in planning their seasons and events.

  • Exploring the Gallery Through Voice – Alley Interactive

Project lead: Tim Schwartz | New York | @alleyco@cooperhewitt@SinaBahram

Exploring how conversational interfaces, like Amazon Alexa, can provide remote audiences with access to an exhibition experience at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

  • The Bass in VR – The Bass

Project lead: T.J. Black | Miami Beach | @TheBassMoA

Using 360-degree photography technology to capture and share the exhibit experience in an engaging, virtual way for remote audiences.

  • AR Enhanced Audio Tour – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Project lead: Shane Richey | Bentonville, Arkansas | @crystalbridges

Developing mobile software to deliver immersive audio-only stories that museum visitors would experience when walking up to art for a closer look.

  • Smart Label Initiative – Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University

Project lead: Brian Kirschensteiner | East Lansing, Michigan | @msubroad

Creating a system of smart labels that combine ultra-thin touch displays and microcomputers to deliver interactive informational content about artwork to audiences.

  • Improving Arts Accessibility through Augmented Reality Technology – Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, in collaboration with People’s Light

Project lead: Lisa Sonnenborn | Philadelphia | @TempleUniv,@IODTempleU@peopleslight 

Making theater and performance art more accessible for the deaf, hard of hearing and non-English speaking communities by integrating augmented reality smart glasses with an open access smart captioning system to accompany live works.

  • ConcertCue – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology

Project lead: Eran Egozy | Cambridge, Massachusetts | @EEgozy,@MIT,@ArtsatMIT@MIT_SHASS

Developing a mobile app for classical music audiences that receives real-time program notes at precisely-timed moments of a live musical performance.

  • Civic Portal – Monument Lab

Project lead: Paul Farber and Ken Lum | Philadelphia | @monument_lab@PennDesign@SachsArtsPhilly@paul_farber

Encouraging public input on new forms of historical monuments through a digital tool that allows users to identify locations, topics and create designs for potential public art and monuments in our cities.

  • Who’s Coming? – The Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center

Project lead: Nina Simon | Santa Cruz, California | @santacruzmah@OFBYFOR_ALL

Prototyping a tool in the form of a smartphone/tablet app for cultural institutions to capture visitor demographic data, increasing knowledge on who is and who is not participating in programs.

  • Feedback Loop – Newport Art Museum, in collaboration with Work-Shop Design Studio

Project lead: Norah Diedrich | Newport, Rhode Island | @NewportArtMuse

Enabling audiences to share immediate feedback and reflections on art by designing hardware and software to test recording and sharing of audience thoughts.

  • The Traveling Stanzas Listening Wall – Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University Foundation

Project lead: David Hassler | Kent, Ohio | @DavidWickPoetry,@WickPoetry,@KentState@travelingstanza

Producing touchscreen installations in public locations that allow users to create and share poetry by reflecting on and responding to historical documents, oral histories, and multimedia stories about current events and community issues.

  • Wiki Art Depiction Explorer – Wikimedia District of Columbia, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution

Project lead: Andrew Lih | Washington, District of Columbia | @wikimedia@fuzheado

Using crowdsourcing methods to improve Wikipedia descriptions of artworks in major collections so people can better access and understand art virtually.




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