Grants:Project/Whose Knowledge/Whose Knowledge?/Midpoint
Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learning from the grantee's first 3 months.
In a few short sentences or bullet points, give the main highlights of what happened with your project so far.
- We began empowering and exciting partnerships with four organizations with deep expertise and interest in multiple marginalized communities: the Dalit community in India and the diaspora, queer activists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and women's human rights defenders globally. The four organizations are: Equality Labs, Okvir, One World Platform, and Urgent Action Fund.
- Two of these communities - the Dalits and the queer activists - are critical partners in our current pilot to center the knowledge of marginalized communities on Wikipedia. We're creating and improving content about them, with them.
- We worked with Equality Labs in India and the US to structure content priorities with sources for creating and curating articles for Dalit History Month in April (to mark Dr. Ambedkar's birth anniversary). We used this to host the first ever public Dalit History Month editathon in Berkeley on 15 April. Another editathon in Delhi is planned for 20 May 2017. A big shout out to our Wikipedian friends who supported this in person and online!
- We met two organizations in Sarajevo, Okvir and One World Platform, to create an action plan for them to map their existing knowledge, and find sources that will help support their content priorities. The process of doing so will unfold over the next half of this grant.
- We hired Sucheta Ghoshal as our Emancipatory Design Researcher for May-July, to help us design and test socio-technical solutions (including Wikipedia Requests) for storing and visualizing online knowledge maps, using the data being generated by our two communities.
- We are continually inspired by the dedication of all the folks we're working with, across the world!
Methods and activities
How have you setup your project, and what work has been completed so far? Describe how you've setup your experiment or pilot, sharing your key focuses so far and including links to any background research or past learning that has guided your decisions. List and describe the activities you've undertaken as part of your project to this point.
- Dalit History Month with Equality Labs
- Our first pilot community is a Dalit group based in India and the U.S. Equality Labs has been organizing Dalit History Month for several years, with an aim to share the contributions to history from Dalits around the world.
- Dalit community organizers had already compiled content the year before for a timeline of Dalit history. So Dalit mapping begins from this robust 120 page content document with information about Dalit people, issues and events.
- Some members of the Dalit community had tried editing English Wikipedia before, with mixed results - navigating Wikipedia's byzantine system of rules and norms without any support from folks within the Wikipedia community hadn't felt like a great experience. They're interested in working in multiple languages, with English Wikipedia as their first focus for visibility.
- Queer archive in Bosnia with Okvir
- Our second pilot community is a feminist LGBTQI group in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Okvir is already collecting digital histories for a queer (kvir!) archive in Bosnia-Herzegovina, beginning with stories from activists and others about the 1990's war. They use Wikipedia often, in multiple languages, but hadn't really edited before.
- Thanks to our friends at Urgent Action Fund, who made the connection, Okvir and One World Platform recently became Whose Knowledge's first partners in Southeast Europe.
- In April 2017, Whose Knowledge? met up with both Okvir and One World Platform in Sarajevo to build a stronger working relationship, discuss Wikipedia and open licensing, and build a project plan together for our upcoming work focused on knowledge mapping, Wikimedia content, and storage/licensing support for the archive.
|“||As part of Queer Archive initiative, our goal is to explore, document and make visible narratives and counter-narratives regarding security, gender and sexuality of LGBT*IQA persons and HRDs during the times of war and transitional justice period (from 1990-s to 2016). In line with this, I am pleased that I could be a part of Whose knowledge workshops. First, because I didn't know much about the policies of Wikipedia and Wikimedia and it was a great opportunity to learn more. I also enjoyed in creating my account on Wikipedia and editing a few things for the first time : ) I think that it's very important for our LGBT community here, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and region also, to have this kind of platform/place where we can document and archive significant activists, pioneers, groups, activities and events that are important for us and our his/herstory. For me, the most important is the fact that Wikimedia and Wikipedia are open to everyone and everywhere and as such can be used as a platform for us to learn, create, explore and make visible our stories and existence.||”|
|— Azur, Okvir|
- Dalit History Month
- The Dalit community had already brainstormed content in the form of a timeline of Dalit history. So we were starting with a 150+ page text document where Dalit organizers had compiled content about important Dalit people, events and issues.
- Whose Knowledge? organizers and volunteers helped organize the data into a spreadsheet, and lookup which topics were already covered on Wikipedia.
- Dalit community organizers reviewed existing Wikipedia articles for quality and Dalit perspectives, noting where improvements were needed, and where new content might be needed.
- Dalit community organizers reached out to Dalit scholars to find reliable sources for use on Wikipedia. Dalit scholars helped point to some of what does exist, while also drawing attention to where there are gaps, and recommending oral or other types of sources that need to be used instead. (see challenges section for more on this)
- Dalit community organizers prioritized a set of articles to create and improve for Dalit History Month 2017, generating a worklist with suggested improvements and relevant sources for edit-a-thon participants.
- Okvir and One World Platform are planning a 2 day brainstorm with their teams later in May to begin mapping people, issues and events that are important for queer and feminist knowledge in Bosnia. Then they’ll move on to finding and adding sources for each topic, and the knowledge maps will be digitized, structured, and visualized.
- Okvir has identified 2 use-cases for knowledge mapping: 1) creating a timeline to contextualize material in the queer archive, and 2) helping to structure and prioritize their Wikipedia worklists.
Many open questions remain about how the mapped knowledge can best be structured, stored, displayed, and added to in the long term, in ways that meet the needs of marginalized communities first. Here's what we've done so far to explore answers...
- Wikipedia Requests trial upload
- Once in a spreadsheet, we checked that Dalit knowledge topics match the name of an existing Wikipedia article if some Wikipedia content on this topic already existed, and editing the topic name in our spreadsheet if needed. This is required to let Wikipedia Requests know if it should generate an article improvement request, or a new article request.
- Then, we handed it off to Harej, who has graciously volunteered to help with a first trial upload into Wikipedia Requests. This is still in progress, outcomes TBD!
- Design research
- Sucheta Ghoshal has been engaged by Whose Knowledge? as an Emancipatory Design Researcher for the months of May to July. Sucheta brings her design and development experience to help us pilot and improve socio-technical solutions (including Wikipedia Requests) for storing and visualizing online knowledge maps. Sucheta will be talking to our pilot communities and working with the WK? coordinators to combine multiple forms of user needs and design possibilities.
- Both groups have now had mini-workshop sessions with Whose Knowledge? about editing Wikipedia, licencing for Commons, etc. Two of the Dalit organizers were able to attend an Art+Feminism event as well.
- Equality Labs has been organizing two Dalit History Month edit-a-thons in India and the United States this April and May, with support from Whose Knowledge?.
- We co-created a checklist with Equality Labs to help with preparations for the edit-a-thons.
- Most event participants are from the Dalit community, with outreach by Dalit organizers. We also invited a group of Wikipedian allies to join each event to support content creation.
- At the first event, in Berkeley U.S.A., participants were encouraged to sit in groups, with tables for new editor setup, article improvement, and article creation. Each table was staffed with at least 1 expert in Dalit history, and 1 Wikipedian. It was inspiring to watch the 2-way knowledge transfer across communities, as we all learned something new about Dalit history and Wikipedia. (See Commons for event photos)
Multiple experts and allies
Whose Knowledge? provides frameworks, resources, suggestions, and connections to each of the pilot communities we work with, but our role is often to step back while others lead. We see our role as connecting multiple kinds of expertise and interest, and helping facilitate the ways in which these can help improve and create new and quality content.
Key organizing principles for pairing multiple experts and allies:
Centering the expertise of marginalized communities themselves
- Marginalised communities are the majority of the world. It is critical that Wikipedia centers their knowledge in order to truly be the "sum of all human knowledge".
- The Dalit and Bosnian organizers that we're working with have both formal expertise and scholarship in multiple fields, often from the perspective of their own communities' histories and knowledge, as well as embodied knowledge of their communities' experiences and histories. They are also trusted connectors and amplifiers of the scholars and content-creators from their communities.
- In both pilots, marginalised community organizers are taking the lead in core spaces and activities like knowledge mapping, participant outreach, worklist creation, and edit-a-thon facilitation.
Inviting community scholars who can help with sources
- Community scholars have a specific role in identifying reliable and verifiable sources that can support the creation and improvement of content.
- Dalit scholars, for example, are able to both critique and challenge existing orthodoxies of knowledge about their communities, and expand it with a much richer set of sources. They are also helpful in describing the limitations of what we might consider a 'reliable source' currently on Wikipedia: it continues to be true, unfortunately, that published, peer-reviewed material tends to disproportionately cover the perspectives of communities with historical power and privilege, not the majority of communities who have been traditionally left out of print media. (see our challenges section)
- Library professionals are another form of scholar who can help with sources - we expect to see more of this to come up later in the Bosnian pilot.
Inviting Wikipedian allies who have expertise in creating and curating online public knowledge
- Wikipedians have an expertise that very few other communities have; they know intimately and well both the written and unwritten norms, policies, and protocols for creating and improving online knowledge in ways that are open, accessible and free. In particular, they know the wonderful maze of Wikipedia and its sister projects, including licensing parameters and wiki-shortcuts :)
- Wikipedian expertise is a great complement to marginalized community experts, and vice-versa. In the Dalit history pilot, for example, we invited a handful of local long-time Wikipedians to edit-a-thons with a specific ask to support community organizers and scholars in creating content. It has been lovely to watch Wikipedians demystify Wikipedia for Dalit community experts, and Dalit community experts demystify Dalit history for Wikipedians.
- Whose Knowledge also finds ourselves working often in this role of Wikipedian allies who demystify Wikipedia. As we facilitate the online and offline convening of different partners, the idea of Wikipedia as an empowering public space for knowledge from multiple peoples is being disseminated more widely in places and communities it hasn't been before.
What are the results of your project or any experiments you’ve worked on so far? Please discuss anything you have created or changed (organized, built, grown, etc) as a result of your project to date.
Over 230 entries on people and events that are important for Dalit history have been mapped and annotated by Dalit organizers. Most are missing from Wikipedia, some have an article in need of improvement. Only about 20 of the 230+ topics had articles that were deemed ok as-is by Dalit organizers and scholars.
22 articles were improved or created by 29 attendees at the first Dalit History Month event in Berkeley.
As we think through various Wikimedia actions with our partners, we're curating and compiling some resources lists to support our partners' informed decision-making. The first three resource pages are driven by questions/needs of the partners we're working with. Our intention is to begin building/testing for one community's needs, which can be expanded or adapted to support multiple contexts over time.
- Open licenses and digital repositories
- Understanding, practicing, critiquing and teaching with Wikipedia
- Edit-a-thon checklist
- Knowledge is power
There is no easy metric for the emancipatory power of knowledge. There's no simple measurement for how someone feels when realizing that Wikipedia can be a tool to write our own histories and make our communities visible, and that even as Wikipedia has limitations which continue to marginalize many communities' knowledge, much can still be achieved after learning a few insider tricks and tips. (see reflections section for more on this)
Please take some time to update the table in your project finances page. Check that you’ve listed all approved and actual expenditures as instructed. If there are differences between the planned and actual use of funds, please use the column provided there to explain them. Then, answer the following question here: Have you spent your funds according to plan so far? Please briefly describe any major changes to budget or expenditures that you anticipate for the second half of your project.
Funds have generally been spent according to plan. Please note that:
- We expect to spend our tech/design budget in the second half of the grant period.
- We're a bit over-budget in the swag/shipping line-item. We have used that small pot of funds both for printing and swag as well as some hospitality for in-person events (e.g. pizza at edit-a-thons), and it has run a bit higher than anticipated (a learning for next time!). So we'll likely request reallocation from another line-item near the end of this grant.
- To support the Bosnian community in gathering sources for their knowledge map, we plan to bring on a short-term research contractor in Sarajevo. Once we have a budget estimate, we'll need to figure out in conversation with you if this can be supported from our current grant, or if we will need another funder to support this work.
The best thing about trying something new is that you learn from it. We want to follow in your footsteps and learn along with you, and we want to know that you are taking enough risks to learn something really interesting! Please use the below sections to describe what is working and what you plan to change for the second half of your project.
What are the challenges
What challenges or obstacles have you encountered? What will you do differently going forward? Please list these as short bullet points.
- Date organization/entry It was labor intensive going from a huge document to a huge spreadsheet to organize Dalit History Month data and then cross-check with Wikipedia. We tried to get some volunteers to help, and did a lot of the entry ourselves. We've learned a bit more now about which data was most useful, so this can be streamlined for the next time. For the upcoming mapping session in Bosnia, we'll try a different format. We also plan to resource more heavily the task of cross-checking knowledge on Wikipedia, and finding sources - the local team in Bosnia has requested a temporary contractor to help with this, and we're looking for funding to support.
- Sources For most marginalized communities, Wikipedia's reliable sources and notability policies remain a challenge. Dalit people, perspectives and histories are disproportionately left out of institutional and mainstream narratives, including most of the written sources that Wikipedia considers reliable. As such, Dalit organizers spent a lot of their time tracking down existing sources that incorporate Dalit perspectives. It takes time to organize, but bringing in the expertise of scholars from marginalized communities, librarians and researchers helped to gather a small body of reliable sources as a starting point. In longer term, Whose Knowledge? will also be working with communities to produce more sources, and with Wikimedians to look at how the movement can better incorporate oral, visual, and other source forms that best represent many marginalized communities' knowledge.
What is working well
What have you found works best so far? To help spread successful strategies so that they can be of use to others in the movement, rather than writing lots of text here, we'd like you to share your finding in the form of a link to a learning pattern.
(stay tuned for some new learning patterns based on our work in the final report!)
Next steps and opportunities
What are the next steps and opportunities you’ll be focusing on for the second half of your project? Please list these as short bullet points. If you're considering applying for a 6-month renewal of this grant at the end of your project, please also mention this here.
- Dalit History Month edit-a-thon #2 is planned for May in Delhi, and another series is likely in the future
- Finishing the import of Dalit knowledge to Wikipedia Requests, and testing how well that solution meets Dalit community needs
- Knowledge mapping in Bosnia
- Piloting solutions for visualizing knowledge maps
- Wikipedia content creation events in Bosnia (Note: this is planned for October currently, outside the timeframe of this grant)
A second phase of work beyond this 6-month grant is likely with both communities, as is expansion to test with new communities. This could result in a renewal request for this grant, and/or rapid or project grant requests directly from these 2 partner communities and others in the future.
We’d love to hear any thoughts you have on how the experience of being an grantee has been so far. What is one thing that surprised you, or that you particularly enjoyed from the past 3 months?
|“||Dalit History Month Editathon was an enlivening crack in the cosmos for me. I began working on the Dalit Muslim page and as I was working on it I linked the Pasmanda page to the Dalit Muslim page. In this process I began to uncover that the overwhelming majority of India's Muslim history has never been uncovered. Since we, the Muslims of India, are 90% of Dalit ancestry. The only history of Muslims that's constantly tossed around is that of Muslims that came from other places but not of us, the majority of Indian Muslims. I have a new cosmos in my life now. That cosmos is discovering the brilliance of the history of my people.||”|
|— Roshan98, new editor|
|“||As LGBT*IQA persons and HRDs [human rights defenders], our experiences have to be documented, visible, audible and recognized in broader frameworks. Enhancing the capacities of our LGBT*IQA community to produce and create media content and inscribe/share their/our her/histories them/ourselves is a journey where it is really inspiring to be collaborating with Whose Knowledge! By working together and exchanging our strategies in Snailtrails of Revolution and Resistance - I was once more reminded of persistence in resistance in what we do on a daily basis. That’s why I would like to share with you a small segment I wrote for IDAHOT 2016, applied up to date for all of us who write our stories and fight for our voices to be heard, in solidarity and beyond borders:
The lover and the beloved, the oppressed and a rebel, a writer and a survivor – live, name and tell of the realities, of the wounds, of memories, of desires, of finding meaning and sense in environments of systematic destruction and collective disconnection in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In living, naming and telling: we transform our experiences, we move together. In moving: we create bonds of love, bonds of solidarity, bonds of the different, bonds of negotiation – becoming a threat bridging the cleft, becoming power in our bridges. That is what justice means on an everyday level: connecting with oneself and connecting with others based on our conscious choices to reflect, to name, to transform, to heal, to create and act, and in such way – love indeed is the strongest political, collective and personal power, in this day in BiH – becoming an act of resistance, an act of life.
|— Az, Okvir|
|“||A partnership is always a risk taken with the desire of finding it rewarding. As the interface between One World Platform and Whose Knowledge I was immensely happy when I saw the interest and spark in the conversation shared by my colleagues Dida, Belma, Tina and Vanja. Diversity in generation, backgrounds, roles and expectation had being just wiped out in a second while creating our login on wikipedia and becoming wikipedia with a line.
Knowledge is a long term investment and an expensive one and we all have looked at wikipedia as an ally in democratizing access to this knowledge and becoming the entry point for a diversified world where hero, heroine and discovery are shared in the immense people encyclopedia.
OWP is a feminist organization and we are immerse every day in denial of women herstory, in diminishing, invisibilize any diversity that does not fit the norm of heteronormativity and western culture. So entering in a partnership relation with an organization that understand and want to build evidence while doing research and empowerment of collective is vital and answer to our long term vision of diverse knowledge. Learning in partnership and equality was joyful and we just look forward to deepen the partnership and learn strategy and practices for producing, curating, promoting and sharing knowledge.
|— hvale, One World Platform|
|“||We have been continually inspired by the communities and folks we're working with. Dalit organizers in India and queer activists in Bosnia and Herzegovina are facing daily risks to their own bodies, organizations and communities. Yet they recognize the risk of their collective histories and knowledge being forgotten, or worse, actively undermined on the internet. It has been our responsibility to share with them some of the different ways in which they can actively mitigate that risk. It has been a really intense and empowering experience, to learn from and with them, as the coordinators of Whose Knowledge?. And we believe that Wikipedia gains too, in the end!||”|
|— Anasuya and Siko|