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Movement Strategy/Recommendations/Iteration 1/Diversity/3

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Recommendation # 3: Digitization and Resource Prioritization for Marginalized Groups


Q 1 What is your Recommendation?


Prioritize resources in order to increase diversity through digitization initiatives, both oral and textual. By making funds available, for such work, both large scale (commercial partnerships) and small scale (editor initiatives) projects could add to more sources of open knowledge.

Q 2 What assumptions are you making about the future context that led you to make this Recommendation?


Since gender and diversity/ethnic studies emerged in the 1970s, it has been apparent that many of the resource materials that deal or have dealt with marginalized populations are obscure. History is a core part of academia, but because diversity studies examine processes of marginalization, power structures and global social inequalities, they are often neglected. This leads to content gaps and articles which are skewed to represent cultural homogeneity, dismissing non-mainstream groups’ experiences and violating the balance required by neutrality policies of Wiki projects.

To meet the goal of becoming “the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge”, attention needs to be focused on how WMF and its stakeholders can improve access to resource materials for diversity targets and promote diversity as an asset. Diversity (broad spectrum of characteristics including but not limited to age, disability, ethnicity, gender, race, sexuality, social background/class) brings balanced views and expands opportunities for research and teaching. But, it has to go beyond simply the people involved to encompass their works, their history, their knowledge systems. As traditionally marginalized groups have economically been unempowered, this recommendation specifically focuses on preserving records and making them available to readership, researchers, and editors. Digitization initiatives should recognize that some topics are culturally sensitive and just because information can be digitized it may not be a best practice to do it. In the event that there is question, input from the affected group should be sought.

Recognizing that legal and social barriers have undervalued people and activities of diverse segments of society, we can bridge gaps and eliminate barriers in expanding equal opportunities for inclusion and representation by bringing content on line for which scholarship is obscured by lack of reference availability, does not exist, or is emerging.

Q 3 What will change because of the Recommendation?


It is anticipated that the change will create a wider base of sourcing to facilitate scholarship as well as editing. By targeting reference materials to digitize, in women’s and gender archives, of ethnic studies programs, of disability organizations, etc. there will be more opportunity to include more diverse knowledge.

Partnerships with cultural sector organizations need to strengthen the focus on regions and social segments where records do exist but are in jeopardy of loss via lack of preservation funding and/or political or environmental destabilization. Partnerships with technology developers, who record and promote oral histories and can facilitate their incorporation into WMF platforms, need to be established.

Q4a. How does Recommendation relate to the current structural reality? Does it keep something, change something, stop something, or add something new?


At present widely available resources on the web reinforce mainstream bias and power structures. By providing more digitized reference materials, the opportunity for research, editing, and learning expand. It may also open doors for other partnerships which have previously not existed. Although this applies globally, and materials worth digitizing are available worldwide, there needs to be special attention to those communities historically left behind, such as minorities and communities in the Global South.

Q4b. Could this Recommendation have a negative impact/change?


None apparent.

Q5. Why this Recommendation? What assumptions are you making?


Systemic biases, which reinforce that the default is male or the dominant culture, create imbalance in the knowledge we provide. Without access to a more diverse base of references, that imbalance is unlikely to change.

Q6. How is this Recommendation connected to other WGs?


Funds allocation ties it to Resource Allocation; identifying records and establishing protocols to digitize ties it to Partnerships; and as systems would need to include means to access it would involve Product and Technology. There are also ties to Advocacy and Capacity building, as creating a broader base of materials gives stakeholders more opportunities to participate in the movement and bring awareness to inclusivity.

Q7. Does this Recommendation connect or depend on another of your Recommendations?


No it does not depend on any other recommendation, but it connects to the recommendation to preserve languages and their content.

Q9. What is the timeframe of this Recommendation in terms of when it should be implemented? 2020, 2021, etc. Does it have an urgency or priority? Does this timeframe depend on other Recommendations being implemented before or after it?


As soon as is feasible.