How to include oral culture in Wikimédia movement?

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Let's gathering around oral culture integration in Wikimédia movement!

Wikimania Stockholm 2019 - diversity space (Submission on Wikimania Web site)

Sunday 18/08/2019 14:45 - 15:30, room Lessing (D499)

Lionel Scheepmans

What is oral culture?[edit]

Oral culture is a culture where tradition or lore (knowledge, laws, art, ideas and other cultural material) are transmitted without a writing system. If the word culture is embarrassing, let's talk about orality.

Keep in mind : Culture is not only language. The language is only one of multiple medium of culture transmission. There is lot of different medium as pictures or draws, music or sounds, all kind of body or face expression, practices as social behaviours, handicraft, agricultural practices, martial arts, etc. All of this previous example take part of humans cultures and knowledge transmitted form holder to younger people members of communities.

Example of oral culture and culture of oral origin:

Wallon theater video

Environmental impacts concerning oral cultures related to Wikimedia movement context[edit]

Digital divide[edit]

  • All Walloons have internet access possibility.
  • All people in Ghana don't have internet access possibility even if the 3G mobile network is pretty developed.

Knowledge of a second written language[edit]

  • All Walloon read French.
  • In Ghana, students textbook are in English since the beginning of education and ethnic languages are not teach in school More than this all Ghanaians don't go to school and a significant part of the country side population don't read any language.

Oral culture inclusion is a two ways issues[edit]

  1. Making Wikimedia projects accessible and understandable for people who can't read or don't want to read. (Dyslexia, Youtube generation, difficulty reading a language that you have not learned in school).
  2. Including oral culture knowledge inside Wikimedia ecosystem : Amadou Hampâté Bà said : « In Africa, When An Old Man Dies, It’s A Library Burning ».


Wikipedia English language editors in the world (2011).
English Wikipedia readers in the world (2011).

Actual solutions[edit]


Technical projects[edit]

Editorial projects[edit]

Wikimedia projects[edit]


  • Lingua franca.
  • Making written all languages of the world.
  • Teach in school all languages of the world.

Future solution ?[edit]

WikiOral project, output of the diversity committee work[edit]



  1. {{Cite book|url= and linguistic diversity in the information society.|last=Unesco|first=|last2=World Summit on the Information Society|date=2003|publisher=UNESCO|year=|isbn=|location=Paris|pages=|language=English|oclc=156866215}}
  2. Parijs, Philippe van (2015). Linguistic justice for Europe and for the world. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198732457. OCLC 908011807.

Attendees comments collected after the presentation[edit]

  • Body knowledge still not include in Wikimedia project.
  • Western culture not a neutral position or point of view.
  • Wikimedia cant be the reference position.
  • Oral culture is not only language.
  • Oral culture also disappear in western countries.
  • Traditional knowledge don't need a new project but have to be include in actual ones.
  • Wikimedia commons must be adapted for oral and traditional knowledge.
  • Wikimedia commons must stop focussing on wikipedia needs but be attentive to others opportunities.
  • Wikimedia projects data articulation is done in the frame of a global western style and culture that loose many symbolic or semantic part of other cultures.
  • It's important to start oral Wikimedia projects from and with the traditional communities and not bringing western dreams every where in the world.