As Ashwin points out, from the point of view of a partnership, this was
less than a resounding success.

However, Rohini does not call it a partnership, because it isn't one. This
was a pilot, intended to demonstrate to persons of influence at BNHS what a
partnership could achieve for the Society. The partnership lies ahead.

Pradeep does not call it a partnership either, he squarely labels it a
pilot, and suggests to Wikimedians everywhere that they initiate similar
efforts with similar physical archives in other parts of India.

It would have been exceedingly unrealistic to imagine that the philosophy
of open knowledge be instantly understood and enthusiastically embraced.
None of us did at any stage of this pilot, which we well understand to be a
foot in the door. I was warned by other senior Wikimedians, recognised
naturalists in their own right, as well as naturalists who are not
Wikimedians, but know the Society well, that this would be an uphill task,
long before we even took the first steps. Dissing the organisation for its
traditional mindset is easy, but not fruitful.

For all I know, it may be easier to do this elsewhere, with other
organisations. And the very best to others who take up that challenge.
Everyone should do what they can, when they can, wherever they can.

This is a work in progress. And I wish Rohini the very best, every
encouragement, to continue her efforts to get that door opened wider now.

Fool On The Hill
" He's still watching me watching you watching ...
And the way he stares - feel like locking my door
and pulling my phone from the wall.
His eyes, like lights from a laser, burn
making my hair stand - making the goose-bumps crawl. "
Jethro Tull: Watching Me Watching You (1982)
On Aug 9, 2013 8:12 PM, "Ashwin Baindur" <> wrote:

> From a point of view of GLAM partnership this was emphatically NOT a
> success. It was not a complete failure also, because brave Rohini persisted
> in the face of an unresponsive BNHS. In the end BNHS and Wikipedia got a
> better article on Humayun Abdulali and Rohini got some hard-won experience
> - that is all.
> But the potential for this project could have been so much greater. The
> experiences of Wikipedians-in-residence in the Smithsonian and the British
> Museum (and other initiatives) was so wonderful, so engaging to both sides
> and so fruitful that the lacklustre report in the link Pradeep mentions
> feels like ashes in one's mouth.
> BNHS has been for many years the iconic symbol of private wildlife
> research. It has a very long history, had some truly wonderful people in it
> including Salim Ali and Humayun Abdulali, has a very good library and a
> very good collection of skins, shells, eggs etc. It has a peer-reviewed
> scientific journal more than 100 years old which has high repute. It was
> the place where eminent scientists like Johnsingh, Ravi Sankaran and Bharat
> Bhushan, besides many others, began their careers or were encouraged.
> Whether it is mammals, birds, reptiles, marine life or insects; anywhere in
> India one can definitely say about BNHS - been there, done that!
> So one would expect BNHS to be open to the idea of helping Indians to
> learn more about wildlife, nature, environment and conservation? Wrong.
> Check the site of BNHS for stuff which educates or informs or which guides
> or helps and see the complete paucity of material. Its a nice enough
> looking website & tells you very much what the organisation, its goals and
> programmes, but there is zilch information about India's wildlife, from
> India's premier wildlife NGO.  If you compare that with a comparable
> organisation in the USA and UK say Audobon or RSPB, you will find they have
> useful articles, knowledge material aside from what they are involved in.
> Compare Audobon which gives Tips on how to get nature to the classroom or
> taking schoolchildren outdoors, or RSPB which provides a complete bird list
> with short writeup.
> BNHS does not have an altruistic outlook towards IP and the resources they
> hold. The reason for that is not difficult to understand. BNHS publishes a
> variety of handbooks, coffee-table books etc and their employees derive
> additional income from their publication, sale of photographs they take on
> BNHS funded trips etc, Hardly any activity in BNHS comes without a pricetag
> for the participants. Standard copyright model is their bread and butter.
> No wonder, they are not interested very much in joining hands with
> Wikipedia - there is a direct conflict of interest, if Wikipedia develops
> pages on India's natural heritage well, the need/dependence for their
> handbooks reduces. This will affect sales in the long run and affect income
> of the organisation and its staff.
> So Rohini's valiant attempt was akin to trying to clap with one hand. You
> can't hear the clap because BNHS never showed any eagerness other than a
> bureaucratic acquiescence grudgingly obtained after much effort by Rohini.
> Imho, Rohini could probably have written the Abdulali article to the same
> quality even without the cooperation of BNHS.
> It would be my advice to GLAM enthusiasts who put in humungous amount of
> hours of drudgery work in GLAM projects to please not take up pilots with
> organisations which do not value the importance of Commons, common heritage
> and public domain.
> Ashwin Baindur
> On Fri, Aug 9, 2013 at 6:14 PM, Pradeep Mohandas <>wrote:
>> hi,
>> It was announced earlier that a Wikipedian from Mumbai, Rohini Lakshane
>> was working with the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) on a GLAM pilot
>> project. I am happy to inform you that this is now completed. A short note
>> on the pilot was posted here -
>> It will be great to do similar projects in other cultural and/or
>> scientific institutions in your city. If you need help from the Chapter in
>> doing this, please feel free to contact me on this email id.
>> warm regards,
>> Pradeep Mohandas
>> Pradeep Mohandas
>> How Pradeep uses email? -
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> --
> Warm regards,
> Ashwin Baindur
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