There’s no better way to learn about your home town than by trying to start a wiki for it. In that regard, I’m happy to announce a new Localwiki installation for Marquette County, Michigan.
The Localwiki crew has developed a new hosting platform for people who want to start a wiki for their area, but who don’t have the resources or the time or the skills to launch their own server. It runs on Localwiki.net, and currently has about two dozen sites up and running. Your town or region could be next!
When I originally envisioned doing a wiki for Marquette, I was thinking ambitiously and thought “hey, I’ll do the whole U.P.” I’m glad I didn’t, not at least yet. There’s enough small amounts of nitty-gritty detail about local history, ghost towns, old mines, and bits of industrial archaeology that I have just enough knowledge to tackle for the Marquette area, but don’t have any clue where I’d start for Houghton or Escanaba or the Soo. Someone else can tackle that.
Marquette County is the biggest county (by area) in Michigan, so there’s plenty of geography to cover. It’s also home to some political subdivisions like Humboldt Township that have less than 500 inhabitants, no post office of their own, and no chance ever that anyone there would start a wiki just for that place alone.
Just like Arborwiki, which covers Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County, I see this as the very first step towards a project that could last a long time. At a few pages a day for a few years you could start to get to the point where you had enough material to be useful for a visitor, a local, or a historian, and where people who would never be notable enough for a first draft biography on Wikipedia might get properly noted or memorialized. I’m looking forward to learning more so that the next time I visit I’ll be that much better informed.