Depositing Data from Facebook to MediaWiki

Depositing Data from Facebook to MediaWiki

The Malta Music Memory Project (M3P) seeks to provide an inclusive repository for memories of Maltese music and associated arts, ensuring that these are kept in posterity for current and future generations. M3P is one of the projects within the Media and Memory Research Initiative (MaMRI) of the University of Hull and it is facilitated by the M3P Foundation, a voluntary organization registered in Malta. There have been some difficulties in getting members of the public to engage actively with the M3P, and in particular to contribute to the project wiki (a MediaWiki installation) rather than just reading it. Meanwhile there are myriad relevant resources and conversations taking place on Facebook. Researchers are currently putting considerable effort accessing and curating these resources on Facebook, but need to find ways to encourage others to do so themselves. Encouraging sign-up to the wiki using Facebook Connect and easing the migration of content from Facebook to the wiki has been identified as a way to achieve this.

At the SPRUCE Glasgow Mashup a proof of concept was developed by Patrick McCann (DCC – University of Glasgow), Anthony Micallef-Grimaud and Toni Sant (MaMRI – University of Hull) for extracting content from Facebook to MediaWiki, where it can be better curated and preserved. (See: an outline of the issue + an outline of the initial solution) It builds on the existing Facebook Open Graph Extension, which is used to authenticate users to the wiki using Facebook. Upon authentication, custom JavaScript extracts information from the user’s Facebook profile and uses it to populate their User Page in the wiki. Having demonstrated that it is possible to transfer data from Facebook into MediaWiki, the next step in this project was to produce a usable tool with expanded functionality. This was supported by a SPRUCE award (funded by JISC) covering the period July-October 2012, involving Patrick McCann and Toni Sant, with the participation of Darren Stephens from the University of Hull.

Firstly, the functionality demonstrated at the Mashup was refined by enabling the presentation of Facebook data in a more human-readable way and providing the user with full control over what information from their Facebook profile is placed on their wiki User Page. This was then packaged as a MediaWiki extension for ease of implementation. Additional functionality has been added to the extension to enable the retrieval of other Facebook resources, principally photographs and photo albums. However, this function still needs development beyond the rudimentary  Eventually, it is intended that this functionality will be made available via a bookmarklet allowing the user to transfer Facebook photos (and whole albums) they’re currently viewing to the wiki with minimal effort. The development of this function has proven to be rather complex, not only because of Facebook’s API but also because issues of data protection and privacy need to be considered throughly to ensure the creation of an appropriate tool. Particular attention has already been paid to what data it is appropriate for a user to be able to retrieve with reference to Facebook’s Terms of Service, particularly with regard to comments on resources, and this is evident in the current build of the MediaWiki extension.

This version of MediaWiki extension is available via the SPRUCE Repository on GitHub. It has been documented at following an introduction to the international WikiMedia GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives and museums) community at their annual gathering at the British Library in September 2012. It has also been implemented on the M3P wiki where comments and observations on the beta phase are being gathered in a targeted way from a small number of beta testers.  Furthermore, to ensure that the software developed for this project doesn’t remain in perpetual beta, Darren Stephens will now be integrating further development on it into his PhD research project entitled A Framework for Optimised Interaction Between Mediated Memory Repositories and Social Media Networks.


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