CIS Signs MoU with Odia Virtual Academy

On October 26, 2018, the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Odia Virtual Academy (OVA) to work on drafting an open content policy for the state, to promote use of Wikimedia projects by various user types and to ensure sustainability of Wikimedia projects, and to facilitate development of relevant free and open source software projects. This partnership between OVA and CIS will be carried out from December 2018 to November 2019, and we are sharing an overview of the activities and their objectives in this post.
CIS Signs MoU with Odia Virtual Academy

Image credit: Sailesh Patnaik

The internet is increasingly significant as a knowledge repository today. Especially relevant in this context is the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which contains information on almost every topic under the sun, across many languages spoken globally, and is used extensively all people to seek information and produce knowledge.

From past one year (since July 2017), The Government of Odisha has been actively participating in the open knowledge movement by publishing the content of their seven websites and eight social media accounts under Creative Commons 4.0 International license. This active collaboration with Government of Odisha and an active Odia Wikimedia community seeking to create and distribute knowledge in Odia language over the internet has resulted in improving 1,200 articles on different Wikimedia projects, and together has received a near about 16 Million page views. Further, the Government of Odisha adopting an open content policy will provide a significant boost in institutionalising creation, sharing, and re-use of open knowledge resources - including government documents, official statistics, open educational resources, and open cultural resources - in Odia language.

Odia Virtual Academy (OVA) is an organisation established by Government of Odisha for development, promotion and popularization of Odia language, literature, and lexicography for general use. It is an organised initiative to encourage expeditious evolution and popularisation of Odia books, magazines, journals, old songs, manuscripts, assembly speeches, and archival records by digitising and providing internet based resources and opportunities for all odia people living across the globe.

On October 26, 2018, the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) signed a MoU with the Odia Virtual Academy to work on drafting an open content policy for the state, to promote use of Wikimedia projects by various user types and to ensure sustainability of Wikimedia projects, and to facilitate development of relevant free and open source software projects.

This partnership between OVA and CIS will be carried out from December 2018 to November 2019, and its activities are structured by the following objectives:

  • Open Content Policy for the Government of Odisha: The open content policy will include guidelines for the use of open licenses and open standards to enable the resource (text, resources or otherwise) publishing entity to share resources in a manner that it can be easily and freely be accessed, shared, and re-used by entities, without asking for prior permission, while ensuring that full attribution to the creator/publisher is provided and the resources are not misused, or the creator/publisher is not misrepresented in the process.

  • Developing Digital and Open Knowledge Resources in Odia Language: The CIS team will undertake awareness-building, training, and outreach activities to develop Odia language content on Wikimedia ecosystem, as well as to enable content creators from across institutions, with a focus on state government officials at district headquarters and college students. The broad mandate of the digital resource generation workshop is to introduce teachers, students, and interested citizens to tools of collaborative knowledge production on the internet and methods for generating new online content or reintroduce offline content in Odia language.

  • ‘Revive Odia’ Activities: Odia as a language has a long tradition and has been medium of expression for the native speakers of Odisha. While Odia as a language of communication is not under any immediate threat, its role and responsibility as a language of Knowledge needs to be examined carefully. ‘Revive Odia’ activities have a simple objective: To bring Odia under limelight in the digital domain. Wikimedia projects in Odia language are working actively to increase the presence of Odia language on the Internet. If such projects can be supported new projects can be incubated, Odia will emerge as the language of knowledge production and distribution as well.

  • GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) Partnerships: Wikimedia ecosystem offer several platforms for using the power and opportunities of internet to (digitally) preserve, enable access to, and creative re-use of historical, cultural, and social artefacts, and channel the expertise of local populations to build narratives around these artefacts. The CIS team is particularly interested in initiating engagement with public GLAM institutions at various locations and levels, and work with academic and research community to build scientific metadata of these objects. The metadata will be used to represent the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Odisha in projects such as Wikidata.

  • Building and Supporting FOSS for Odia Language: To promote and enable usage of Odia language on the web, the CIS team will facilitate development of an Odia font, an input tool, and a spell-check dictionary - all of which will be released as FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) resources.

To undertake these activities, CIS will receive a grant of Rs 20,00,000 (~$28,000) from OVA.

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