Wikimedia Austria Awards Prize for Free Knowledge 2023 at Viennese Ball of Science

More+Events ♦ Published: January 30, 2023; 22:39 ♦ (Vindobona)

The Austrian Prize for Free Knowledge honors people and organizations that communicate knowledge under a free license. The award ceremony took place at the Vienna Ball of Science in the presence of Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler, Mayor Michael Ludwig and City Councilor Veronica Kaup-Hasler.

Vienna City Hall hosted the Vienna Ball of Science with the award winners and Wikimedia Austria representatives. / Picture: © Wikimedia/Manfred Werner

For the second time, Wikimedia Austria awarded the Austrian Prize for Free Knowledge. Wikimedia Austria is the Austrian branch of the Wikimedia Foundation, the operator of Wikipedia and its sister projects. Founded in 2008 and based in Vienna, the association promotes free knowledge at various levels.

Internationally, the award ceremony is part of Public Domain Month, an international campaign that aims to raise public awareness of the important role of free content. Numerous events around the world will highlight the potential of free content and its contribution to a modern information society.

A six-member jury from civil society, academia and the media awarded prizes in two categories to individual civil society initiatives and particularly committed organizations that have rendered outstanding services to free knowledge.

Institution of the Year 2023 - Wien Museum

The Wien Museum provides digitized museum objects about the history of Vienna and beyond in its growing online collection.

The museum's holdings include the world's largest and most diverse Klimt collection. The digitized objects are accompanied by detailed metadata and a color map and are available as "open content." Nearly 70,000 objects with more than 114,000 images are made available to the public under a free license - CC0 or CC-BY. Instead of predefined, fixed narratives, the image albums, which can be called up on various topics, invite viewers to reflect freely.

The jury gave special mention to the user-friendly design, which allows the general public to quickly and easily access and reuse this immense treasure. The jury was also particularly impressed by the museum's crowdsourcing approach: for example, in the "2,000 Postcards" campaign, people were invited not only to use Free Knowledge but to actively expand it together and transcribe the messages on the postcards.

The messages were then fed back into the online collection and are now available to anyone interested. The action was further developed by the Vienna Library in the City Hall (on letters from the First World War) - the cooperation with the "Crowd" is thus not a one-off action but will be continued on an ongoing basis.

Civil Society Engagement - Freedom of Information Forum

For nearly a decade, Forum Freedom of Information has been creating public awareness of the right to access government information. Through activism, public online platforms as well as requests - especially to authorities and politicians - the volunteers promote free access to data, information and knowledge. For example, the Eurofighter purchase contract was made partially accessible by the Freedom of Information Forum after six years of litigation. The association thus draws red lines for the secrecy of future procurements.

The jury paid particular tribute to the role of the platforms operated by the association: On and, Forum Informationsfreiheit makes publicly available but poorly prepared data comprehensible and usable. The platform allows all interested parties - including volunteers who need this information for their work in Wikipedia - to quickly and easily submit requests to authorities and also to stay tuned if deadlines are missed.

The prize for civil society commitment is endowed with 1,000 euros.

Wikimedia Austria