A 24-year-old geography major is the first Wikipedian-in-residence at the University of California, Berkeley. His announcement can be found - where else? - but on his own Wiki page.
Cal hired Kevin Gorman, according to a February announcement, to advise students and professors on the complex task of editing articles for Wikipedia, the user-generated online encyclopedia that gets 500 million monthly visitors. Until now, Wikipedians-in-residence have been assigned to cultural institutions, such as the British Museum, the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and the U.S. National Archives.
In a statement, Cal calls Gorman a "hardcore Wikipedian" since his undergraduate days at Berkeley, who was a "natural candidate to bring the role to academia."
Gorman told NBC Bay Area in an email that his salary is being "cobbled together" from a variety of sources, which has worked out to be between $25 to $50 an hour, depending on how many hours he works each week. His initial funding came from the American Cultures Engaged Scholarship Program at UC Berkeley. He said he's currently seeking funding from other sources, as well.
Gorman wrote his own Wiki entry:
I'm Kevin Gorman. I'm a recent graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in geography. I'm a Wikipedian (and as of late, somehow also an administrator.) I don't like systemic bias. I also think no abstract available bias is really frightening. My strongest interest on Wikipedia is making available content that cannot currently be found on Wikipedia in areas that suffer due to our systemic biases. I think that this is some of the most important work that can be done on the encyclopedia at this time. A lot of my other editing is related to personal interests - I'm an amateur mycologist, I'm fascinated with how conceptions of space and place have changed over time, etc. I also spend a lot of time working on articles about living people. Wikipedia has the potential to do a lot of real-world harm if we mess up the biography of a living person, and I think we have an obligation to avoid this as best we can.
According to the Oakland Tribune, more than 150 universities nationwide - including the University of San Francisco and California Maritime Academy - have classes producing content for Wikipedia.
Cal is the first American university to create a position devoted to improving the site and getting its own scholarship out to the public.
Editing Wikipedia articles is already part of the curricula in environmental justice and cultural studies courses. The students will tackle existing articles on air pollution, urban agriculture and hydraulic fracturing. Gorman's goal is to create a "high quality" Wikipedia entry, where students will be encouraged to look for sources in academic journals, and then make all this information public and accessible. "When you share knowledge that’s behind a paywall, you’re serving that core mission," Gorman said on UC Berkeley's website.
In addition to simply directing content creation, Gorman says on his post: "I do a lot of real-world outreach about Wikipedia."