Portuguese Memories at Wikidot
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23 Dec 2009 16:48
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Carlos Pereira, a forty-four year old engineer specialized in light steel framing, explains how he came to build the wiki encyclopedia Memória Portuguesa (Portuguese Memory):

It was in one of those friendly conversations, over a good meal, that this idea came up: to launch a web site to keep souvenirs and childhood memories. We talked about how our parents used to speak of things passed in their youth and how those memories will be lost with them. From that idea, I imagined a one site where anyone could register their own memories, as happens in many blogs. However, I wanted a space for people like me who don’t know anything about web design. Something easy to create and to maintain, like Wikipedia, but more widely open to the general public. A place where the shoemaker, the musician, the dressmaker, the student, could talk about their love for their village, the place where they grew up or live.

Though I'm no Internet expert, I began to work on the project and soon found a wiki platform called Wikidot. that seemed ideal for the project. I tried other platforms but without success. Wikidot was free, and easy to use. Wikidot was also young at the time, and so it was easy to reach key people and experienced users. My questions were promptly answered by friendly people like Gerdami, Gabrys, and others. Today I pay for a professional account but its a very low fee for such a great service. Of course, it could always be better. For me, as a Portuguese, maintaining a site for a Portuguese-speaking audience, it is a shame that some of the content (buttons, messages, history) are still in English.

In the second week of October of 2008, I launched the Memória Portuguesa, a Enciclopédia das Terras de Portugal (Portuguese Memory, The Encyclopedia of all the Portuguese Villages and Cities). After only one month live, the site reached 12,000 page hits. I received compliments from many users, as well as the written permission of authors of blogs and even of some official entities to use their text and info. Also, I made an agreement with a very good Portuguese amateur photographer, to include his pictures in the encyclopedia.

On 13 November 2008, about one month after the start of this project, a journalist of the national broadcasting Radio Portuguese Club briefly interviewed me. In April 2009 I was interviewed in another radio station, Radio Europa. By November of 2009, the encyclopedia reached 200,000 page visits. And on December 9th I was interviewed by the regional TV channel Porto Canal, of the second largest Portuguese city, Oporto.

The encyclopedia is only at its start, with an average of 400 visitors a day who consult more or less 1,000 pages in total. But the potential is huge. Portugal has more than 27,000 little villages, and I have only 1,500 articles online. Also, my potential audience is all the Portugal speaking internet users, millions of them.

This evolution leads me to think of this project in a more professional way. At this moment I have ideas to create a distinctive image for this project. One good friend of mine, a well known Portuguese design professional, designed the logo. The creation of a mascot is another one of my ideas, leading to offer and commercialize objects that reach the feelings and memories of the people. Also, I’m already starting some similar project to the Brazilian villages (http://terrasdobrasil.wikidot.com/). Other Portuguese speaking countries could be another goal. Increasing the traffic could allow me to attract advertisers. I already wrote to several of the major companies in Portugal to propose the selling of ads space.

And of course the work by dozens of contributors, to collect more and more information never ends. Who knew where a conversation, at a restaurant table, drinking a cold beer with two friends, would lead?

At this moment, I’m using Wikidot also to host my professional project, a site about Light Steel Framing. My company, Futureng, is an engineering company, exclusively dedicated to the LSF market in Portugal and Portuguese-speaking African countries. My company still maintains a conventional site, however this new site in Wikidot is increasingly more used by our visitors. For me, it’s easier to edit, to upload text and images, and to interact with our visitors. So, we are very pleased with the functionality and the reliability of the Wikidot services.

For all of these reasons, I’m very pleased with Wikidot, and I hope to maintain this successful partnership for very long years!

Carlos Pereira – Wikinet does not match any existing user name

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