Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Cycle 3

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Revised dates
Cycle 1 (generate) Sensemaking Cycle 2 (debate) Final sensemaking Cycle 3 (Engage with New Voices content;
drafting group drafts the strategic direction)
Share and finalize Endorsement Phase 2
March 14–April 18 April 18–May 5 May 11–June 12 June 12–June 30 July August September September 2017–2018

Challenge 4: How does Wikimedia continue to be as useful as possible to the world as the creation, presentation, and distribution of knowledge change?[edit]

Key insight[edit]

Trends indicate that changes are coming for all regions – both those emerging and those saturated with mobile internet.

  • For the areas just coming online, developing local, mobile content is a strong opportunity.
  • Globally, products will continue to evolve from “simple” websites with different device experiences (desktop, mobile) to even more sophisticated integrated platforms, incorporating technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

These trends will change how people create and use knowledge.

The insight above is based on the movement strategy research paper, Considering 2030: Future technology trends that will impact the Wikimedia movement.

The research on emerging platforms predicts that platform and device innovation (mobile and newer technologies) will affect how people connect, learn, and stay current. This spans from development of local content in both emerging and developed regions of the world to how the technology itself will reshape people’s interactions, making knowledge even more integrated into daily life. It may also impact who or what is developing the content, with predictions that more artificial intelligence (AI) and commercial ventures will develop more multimedia content suitable to virtual and augmented reality devices.

Trends and opportunities for the movement[edit]

Near-term - mobile access[edit]

“The internet is mobile, and mobile is the internet,” notes the Global Mobile Trends report[4 1] from GSMA Intelligence. “For an entire generation, the internet is now inextricably linked with mobile and vice versa.”[4 2] The researchers note that access to the web via mobile continues to remain low–under 40 percent–in much of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Of the world’s 7.3 billion people, only 3.4 billion use the mobile internet, GSMA Intelligence estimates. One of the barriers to mobile internet adoption is the lack of locally relevant content.[4 1] For the Wikimedia movement, the researchers suggest there is an opportunity to help engage local content contributors. The researchers also suggest Wikimedia has an opportunity to develop easier mobile solutions and potentially form new partnerships that can help extend our reach in countries coming online.

Emerging platforms and types[edit]

According to two reports[4 3] on technology innovation and usage by Mary Meeker and Amy Webb, there are four content types and platforms that are likely to mature between now and 2030:

  1. Advances in artificial intelligence and voice-driven applications will give rise to real-time, personalized education and information services that will become a part of people’s daily lives. This will move people away from text-based to more voice-activated and voice-response systems. Innovations may change the way that knowledge is gathered, assembled, and synthesized. In the future, Wikimedians may rely more on artificial intelligence and automated systems, which could change how they do their work and what they do (for some this may mean verifying and fact-checking instead of contributing new content).
  2. Virtual reality has the potential to radically change how people interact with knowledge. In these immersive life-like experiences, knowledge based on text will be difficult to integrate. However, open source immersive content may be an opportunity for current or future sister projects, and structured data might be ideal for these purposes.
  3. Augmented reality and other wearable devices add a layer of content on top of the user’s view of the world. This trend could give users immediate, relevant access to Wikimedia content and potentially revolutionize education, training, and many other industries.
  4. Older offline modes of communication may still exist and grow, as there are concerns about privacy online and a desire to not always be connected.

Potential negative consequences[edit]

In closing, the researchers share potential negative consequences:

  • When artificial intelligence generates content, it may create new content based on sources that had human bias, thereby perpetuating the bias
  • As people search and receive more content according to their own preferences, they will start to lose access to other, potentially differing content
  • Overload of information that is available every moment may lead to less ability to critically process new information
  • The digital divide – the gap between those who have online information and those who do not – will widen even further in all societies
  • New devices for virtual reality, augmented reality, and personal assistants may increase the creation of paid and proprietary content and platforms. If this happens, users may return to the role of passive consumers instead of content creators, leading to less neutral, free knowledge.
  • Archivists, educators and historians may find it more and more difficult to maintain and access these many different types of knowledge and content

Suggest a solution[edit]

Please discuss how to solve this challenge.

  1. On Meta-wiki: Please discuss on the talkpage

Note: Community feedback will be shared with the drafting team. It will also be used for future considerations as we face and solve these challenges.

References[edit]

  1. a b "Global Mobile Trends". GSMA Intelligence, October 2016. Accessed June 27, 2017.
  2. "Global Mobile Trends," slide 8
  3. NOTE: The numbered list 1-4 was drawn from two reports: Mary Meeker, "Internet Trends Report 2017". Kleiner Perkins. May 31, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2017. Amy Webb, “2017 Tech Trends Annual Report”. Future Today Institute, 2017. Accessed June 27, 2017.


Week 3 Challenge: As Wikimedia looks toward 2030, how can we counteract the increasing levels of misinformation?[edit]

As part of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy process, the Wikimedia Foundation is working with independent research consultants to understand the key trends that will affect the future of free knowledge, and to share this information with the movement.These two reports were prepared by Dot Connector Studio, a Philadelphia-based media research and strategy firm focused on how emerging platforms can be used for social impact, and Lutman & Associates, a St. Paul-based strategy, planning, and evaluation firm focused on the intersections of culture, media, and philanthropy.

Key insight[edit]

Trends in misinformation are increasing and may challenge the ability for Wikimedians to find trustworthy sources of knowledge.

In their paper Considering 2030: Misinformation, verification, and propaganda,[3 1] the researchers have categorized the trends about misinformation into two categories: sources of content, and how content is accessed. For each, they looked at three global sources of influence: technology, government and politics, and commerce.

In particular, the researchers have identified the following trends and how they impact our future:

  • Technology will change how content is developed by external sources, as artificial intelligence is used to speed up knowledge creation and analysis. While this may make it easier to find citations and make quality edits, it may also create more biased sources or misleading content. This could become an even bigger issue as artificial intelligence begins to use misinformation as “fact” when it brings data together and creates more content.[3 2] This may challenge Wikimedians’ ability to verify sources and maintain high-quality content.
  • Technology is likely to shift to more personalized interfaces (mobile devices, wearable devices, voice-based virtual assistants) and access to Wikimedia content will be increasingly more difficult with the current platform.
  • Global freedom of expression is being aggressively challenged.[3 3] [3 4] [3 5] [3 6] [3 7] [3 8] Some companies, governments, and politicians purposefully spread false or misleading information to persuade and influence for their gain. This goes beyond just text, as technology makes it easier to manipulate other media (audio, video, images). This weakens the overall knowledge network and may make it more difficult for Wikimedia to remain neutral and cite unbiased documents.
  • Tendencies to censor Wikimedia content are decreasing, but some governments (such as China or Turkey) are continuing to censor widely. The deployment of “HTTPS” technology has made it more difficult to block individual pages. This has helped in the short-term, but new anti-censorship tools and methods will need to continue to be developed.
  • Social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook have grown and become channels to spread misinformation through personal networks, while at the same time trust in established institutions has declined. Innovation will be necessary to ensure that misinformation is fact-checked so that neutral, accurate information is distributed.
  • As commercial companies continue to develop closed apps, products, and platforms, reliable sources may become more difficult to find and Wikimedia content may become less accessible. (Note that this topic will be further developed in future research.)

The research on misinformation suggests potential solutions to these issues. As you reflect on the research, please discuss how you think we as a movement can help the world's quest for trustworthy, free, and neutral knowledge.

References[edit]

  1. Considering 2030: Misinformation, verification, and propaganda
  2. Bilton, Nick. "Fake news is about to get even scarier than you ever dreamed". Vanity Fair. January 26, 2017. Accessed May 30, 2017.
  3. Reporters Without Borders. "2017 World Press Freedom Index – tipping point?" April 26, 2017. Updated May 15, 2017. Accessed May 28, 2017.
  4. Nordland, Rod. "Turkey's Free Press Withers as Erdogan Jails 120 Journalists." The New York Times. November 17, 2016. Accessed June 7, 2017.
  5. Reporters Without Borders. "Journalism weakened by democracy's erosion". Accessed May 29, 2017.
  6. Paul, Christopher and Miriam Matthews. The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model: Why It Might Work and Options to Counter It. Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2016.
  7. Broderick, Ryan. "Trump Supporters Online Are Pretending To Be French To Manipulate France's Election". BuzzFeed News. January 24, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2017.
  8. Tufekci, Zeynep. "Dear France: You Just Got Hacked. Don't Make The Same Mistakes We Did". BuzzFeed. May 5, 2017. Accessed June 7, 2017.


Week 2 (click to expand or collapse)
 

Week 2 Challenge: How could we capture the sum of all knowledge when much of it cannot be verified in traditional ways?

Key insights

Much of the world's knowledge is yet to be documented on our sites and it requires new ways to integrate and verify sources.

Our current definition of “reliable sources” is based on practices rooted in Western culture, where knowledge and history have been documented in written form for centuries. This bias – in favor of sources readily available in only parts of the world – is at odds with a vision that encompasses “the sum of all knowledge”.

For example, it is very difficult to find reliable secondary sources about many African cultures, either because that knowledge has traditionally been shared orally, or because written documents were created from the perspective of colonialist biases.[2 1] Some organizations focus on documenting such oral knowledge in different forms and their work could be used as sources on our sites if we found a way to integrate them easily.[2 2][2 3]

As Wikimedians, we’ve become experts at identifying reliable sources coming from the confines of traditional channels, such as peer review academia and mainstream press. The strategy challenge from last week mentioned that readers are moving away from placing their trust in such “reputable” organizations a priori, and instead are using more sources from individuals they trust.[2 4] This trend could be an opportunity for Wikimedians to imagine sourcing methods that are less culturally restrictive and also better serve the evolving expectations of readers.

The discovery and sharing of trusted information have historically continued to evolve.


References

  1. Uzo Iweala, Nigerian author and movement strategy advisor, interviewed by Zack McCune, 14 June 2017
  2. The People’s Archive of Rural India documents the occupational, linguistic, and anthropological diversity of India, in a storytelling way with images, text, and video. Adam Hochschild, Co-Founder, Mother Jones, interviewed by Katherine Maher, 16 June 2017
  3. LEAP Africa captures the memories of historical leaders that are mostly oral traditions, who have little evidence in the documented histories written by colonists. 58 expert summaries (June 2017), line 10
  4. Indonesia research findings draft May 2017


Week 1 (click to expand or collapse)
 

Week 1 Challenge: How do our communities and content stay relevant in a changing world?

Key insights

The Western encyclopedia model is not serving the evolving needs of all people who want to learn.

According to the ethnographic research and expert interviews we conducted, existing and future readers want a platform for learning that goes beyond Wikipedia’s current encyclopedic format and its western-centric norms.[1] Experts shared that the formal education system isn’t working well in many places, especially - but not only - in emerging countries. People are seeking new ways to learn to offset the resource or infrastructure challenges they face.[2] Wikipedia and its sister projects are currently designed to be web destinations for browsing rich knowledge, but many readers are more interested in getting answers to specific questions.[3] Many who seek knowledge online are looking for short, standalone, and/or visual ways of engaging with content and acquiring new skills.[3] Wikipedia's current model of the long-form, in-depth, text-heavy encyclopedia article may not meet these changing needs. It also does not yet provide a space for other forms of educational knowledge.[4]

Knowledge sharing has become highly social across the globe.

Both the ethnographic research and results from the awareness and usage study are showing that young people, enabled by smartphones, seek and share information in new ways. This is the newest group of people to reach.[5] They are deeply involved in their use of social media and messenger tools, and they prefer to share and discuss information through platforms they already use.[6] Experts assert that new trends are emerging. For example, many young people see querying their friends and networks for information via messaging apps as equivalent to discussing in person, just faster and through a broader group.[6] Distrust and skepticism are becoming so widespread that “reliable sources” are often dismissed: young people increasingly place trust in individuals in their networks whose judgement and intellectual honesty they respect, rather than in traditional “respectable” institutions.[3] These changes may threaten Wikipedia’s relevance to a large audience which we have traditionally served.

Key insights as stories

Because different minds work in different ways, some people may prefer to think of these challenges in terms of these personal stories (note these are fictional characters based on the research findings).

Meet Michael and Annisa, two teenagers from across continents and lifestyles (click to expand or collapse)
Michael is a teenage boy living in Washington, DC, United States. He and all his friends have smartphones, and they use them to connect, share interesting content, and lookup information for school. While Michael and all his friends are aware of Wikipedia, they are significantly less likely than their parents to read Wikipedia (46% vs. 72% read it weekly or more often).[7] When they do, it’s to look up a specific topic (41% of the time) or help them study (23% of the time). YouTube is in his top 3 websites. He doesn’t remember a time without social media, and he and his friends are always online via their smartphones.[8] “Facebook is for old people” and SnapChat is Michael’s preferred way to interact and share content with friends. He gets information from a variety of devices, from the desktop computer to listening to Siri on his phone or the Amazon Echo in his family’s living room. Like his parents, Michael values that the content is useful, more than if it is high quality or free and neutral.[7]

Annisa is a 15 year old girl in the city of Bandung, Indonesia. Her family is considered wealthy, and she is lucky enough to have a smartphone (one of the 21% of the country’s whole population[9]). Her family doesn’t have a desktop computer, so she uses her phone to search for the information she needs for school. Mostly, though, she uses WhatsApp to connect with her friends and share information in her local language. Her family and friends are very interconnected and social, so her phone is an extension of that. She trusts the information she receives from friends and people she follows. Sometimes she uses search results in English that display content from Wikipedia, but she is unaware that this is from Wikipedia. She and her friends share snippets of information that fit on their mobile phones and give them the exact information they need. Browsing the internet for the sake of discovering new things is just not part of what she does.


References

  1. Nairobi, Kenya strategy salon with technology experts - May 29, 2017
  2. 58 expert summaries (June 2017) lines 24 and 33
  3. a b c Indonesia research findings draft May 2017
  4. 58 expert summaries (June 2017) lines 9, 10, 35
  5. Wikimedia Polska Strategy Dinner - Warsaw June 5, 2017
  6. a b 58 expert summaries (June 2017) lines 4, 5, 7, and 9
  7. a b Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage research - US (May 2017) - interim version, full report coming in July
  8. Top 10 Gen Z and iGen Questions Answered
  9. w:en:List of countries by smartphone penetration