Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/All-Hands summary report

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Overview[edit]

As we begin our exploration into a strategic direction for the movement over the next 15 years, we are getting into conversation with the wide variety of stakeholder communities that make up the Wikimedia ecosystem. On the 12th and 13th of January, that included Wikimedia Foundation staff at the annual All-Hands Meeting. Through a series of discussions in guided workshops and casual conversation, we listened to a variety of visions, challenges, worries, and hopes for the movement in 2030. Those initial thoughts and ideas are documented here, while we continue our conversations with individual contributors, affiliates, partners, experts, and new readers.

Background[edit]

Day One of All-Hands started off with an incredible keynote speaker Nwamaka Agbo from the Movement Strategy Center, which offered some important insights on how movements can be transformational. (Check here for her full presentation.) In her talk, she described the following key elements of transformative movements:

  • Vision & Purpose: Reweaving a rooted past and reimagining what’s possible, not just tinkering on the edges. How do we support each other get there?
  • Embodiment through Practice: How the movement becomes an innate part of you (for example, through training for civil rights demonstrators to embody a peaceful movement, even in the face of violent backlash). What are our shared practices?
  • Radical Connection: An important source of restoration in challenging environments. It takes fierce love and sticking with hard conversations to move toward shared understanding, resilience, and cooperation. It also means tapping into “a bigger we” by working together across silos rather than competing. Collaboration should take place across borders and at intersections of movements.
  • Strategic Navigation: Trusting differentiated paths to get to the same place. How do we move as an ecosystem so we don’t get left behind? The key is understanding roles and responsibilities within ecosystem and bringing models developed by resilient communities on the fringes to the center of the movement. It is important to be a leaderful movement: too much reliance on few leaders puts movement at risk.

Then, Foundation leaders facilitated staff discussion on potential strategic directions for the movement through two Movement Strategy Workshops. The prompts included:

Session #1:

  • Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. What would this look like?
  • What are the biggest hurdles to reaching this vision?
  • How could the Wikimedia movement best move toward this vision?

Session #2:

Inspired by a quote by Aaron Swartz: "You literally ought to be asking yourself all the time what is the most important thing in the world I could be working on right now, and if you are not working on that why aren’t you?" (The Internet's Own Boy)

  • What's the most important thing the Wikimedia movement can do in the world by 2030?
  • How well are we doing this (or these things) now?
  • How can we do them better?

We kept listening on Day Two as staff dug deeper into topics like What are healthy communities?, How are we a movement? and The World in 2030.

Key Themes[edit]

Out of these conversation, some key themes emerged. Many themes are overlapping and interdependent, but we have delineated each concept to help the movement identify what is most important in order to guide the path to 2030.

Each theme is summarized in our words below. We also paraphrased some of the comments from staff discussions in bullets points following each theme.

Access[edit]

We should do a better job of spreading knowledge across the whole planet, not just where we have existing projects and awareness. This may mean working to overcome barriers of cost, internet connectivity, technical literacy, and more so that information is not restricted.

What we heard:

  • Focus on the "every single human being" part of the vision, which means getting a lot more people online and connect to the internet.
  • We’ve done a good job of serving the western world. I would love if we could explore how we can be just as successful in the poorer parts of the world.
  • How can we be inclusive to the next 3 billion people that come online? We need to look outside ourselves to achieve "radical inclusivity."
  • By some measures, we're the biggest and most impactful, yet we're only 1/6 as impactful as we need to be.

Education/Research[edit]

Education is core to our identity. We are researchers and we can create pathways to knowledge for others. How can we advance our credibility in education and link more people with further education and deeper learning?

What we heard:

  • I want people to think of us as "education." For us to be respected and trusted for all education and knowledge, not just a website.
  • We are good at exercising our ability to research. We should do more of that.
  • How do we help people who don’t have the chance to advance beyond 7th grade? Should we develop content that addresses those issues?

Learning[edit]

We must protect learning as a precious resource in a world where information is becoming more commonly consumed in bite-size snippets that promote conclusions and bias without proper citation of facts. Wikimedia is an invitation to learn, not to just be told the answer.

What we heard:

  • In 2030, being a Wikipedian means being antidotes to weaponized information, and ambassadors in our own communities promoting how to consume information in a more wholesome way.
  • We are a knowledge source based on curiosity. We don't give the conclusion, but the information to come to your own conclusion.
  • People need to learn how to learn
  • Same people producing the information that consumers devouring but not knowing where it's coming from

Sharing[edit]

What sets us apart is that we are not just consuming or distributing knowledge, but sharing it. We offer people a platform to share their knowledge with the rest of the world.

What we heard:

  • Maintain emphasis on sharing and not just receiving knowledge. We should retry how we introduce people to Wikipedia, because many still don't understand what's so great about this platform: that everyone can contribute.
  • What does it mean to freely share? We use Wikipedia now but what are the other ways to share?

Content Gap[edit]

While English Wikipedia has over 5 million articles, there is a long way to go in order to reach the “sum of all knowledge.” Huge gaps remaining in the content available in other languages and on many subjects in any language (notable female figures, African history, etc.)

What we heard:

  • Access is essential but as a stepping stone to editing. We should see it as a right to aggregate knowledge for the sum of all knowledge.
  • We should focus on expanding knowledge from those who are not represented online.
  • Embody the social change we hope to see by challenging the bias that is reflected in our context today: inequality of gender and representation. Showing various identities do have a place at the table can result in power shifts.
  • Lowering the technical and social hurdles to contribute is key.

Verifiability[edit]

Wikimedia stands for a purity of knowledge, untainted by commercial interests. Especially with the growth of fake news and citizens’ increasing distrust of media and government officials alike, the need for balanced information and cited sources has never been more important.

What we heard:

  • There are issues with citation sources. Newspapers all have an angle that makes them less reliable. The things we cite are going in different directions. As an example, we're already seeing more fake news.
  • Our business model is purifying our information.
  • We should continue to protect and develop objective information.

Cohesion/Integration[edit]

We should seek a better model for working together within the Wikimedia ecosystem. How can we coalesce efforts across our diverse group of stakeholders?

What we heard:

  • We built 300 Wikipedias and walls between them that people have a hard time bridging to collaborate with each other. It works in large communities with resources, but not the smaller ones. We need to do more to bring them together and build one eco-system, not multiple.
  • We can come together to enliven and unite the ecosystem of untapped potential. There are so many partnerships right in our back yard.

Extended Ecosystem[edit]

To reach the vision we have set for ourselves, we cannot do it alone. How can we work with external partners to amplify our efforts? What are the other organizations, groups and movements that make up the bigger “we” of free knowledge, education and beyond? And how can we catalyzing change outside of Wikimedia, serving as a resource and role model for others who can help fulfil our shared mission?

What we heard:

  • We should be one part of a larger movement.
  • We socialize the idea that Wikipedia is possible so others are using wikis and applying in new spaces; it's not just us.
  • I’d like to see us be a global movement that numerous partners can get behind.
  • We can build partnerships around education in Africa (where access is low), maybe with governments, school districts, cities.
  • I would love to see governments and leaders cite their sources and for youth to participate more in those conversations.

Kindness/Collaboration[edit]

We should evolve the culture within our movement towards kindness. As an internet culture of hate grows, we commit to doing things differently in our communities online. Kindness can unlock more knowledge sharing across Wikimedia and can prove to the world that sharing a kind online space for global collaboration is possible.

What we heard:

  • We’re great at knowledge sharing but won’t be as fast if we don’t have a solution to the culture issue that we currently have. I propose kindness as a method in order to improve knowledge sharing.
  • We can inspire a legitimate alternative view of what technologies and social spaces on line can be: open and available to everyone.
  • We are the ultimate proof that human collaboration can happen no matter what and deliver valuable results.

Fight for Free Knowledge[edit]

We can become a bigger advocate for the ideals we believe in. In 2030 we are a "factor of change," and our contributors, partners, readers, and the global public understand what we stand for (and how to join the fight). We build awareness and influence policies that impact the issues we care about. We have a point of view and aren’t afraid to talk about it, especially if it means standing up against something that could inhibit our vision for free knowledge globally.

What we heard:

  • We haven't had a real clear voice about what we stand for and who we are.
  • We should stand for free knowledge in the world and actually fight for it, because it's future is not promised.
  • We should stand for anti-censorship.
  • We have trouble with how to articulate why we care about what we do. It’s hard to argue with once you understand it, but it’s hard to understand it.
  • How do we scale that understanding/awareness of contributing?

Innovation[edit]

We are more than just a website. We are a movement for free and open knowledge. How do we embrace innovation and change in order to survive and thrive in 2030? What kind of new kinds of knowledge spaces should we create and/or expand?

What we heard:

  • I'm here for the vision, not necessarily the platform because that may not be the platform in ten years.
  • What are the spaces we can work in that we're not currently working?
  • What if in 2030 all the sister projects were as popular as Wikipedia, with media of all kinds reaching people with knowledge in different ways?
  • We should expand how we think about knowledge.
  • We should be flexible to other platforms of communication.
  • In 2030, there will be educational content that adapts itself for the reader, based on the learning patterns of the individual. For younger readers, older readers, ESL.

Key Questions For Further Exploration[edit]

How to prioritize the things we care about? What trade-offs should be made to help narrow a strategic direction?

Note: Identifying a focus does not mean neglecting other areas. It means choosing an area in which we should collectively increase our impact, while maintaining our ongoing work in other areas.

Competing Priorities Associated Values/Themes
  • Increase/expand communities reading and learning
  • Access (cost, internet connectivity, tech literacy)
  • Learning (curiosity, wholesome engagement with knowledge; teaching people how to learn)
  • Increase/expand communities contributing
  • Sharing (versus distributing)
  • Content gap
  • Protect/improve quality of content
  • Verifiability (purity of knowledge)
  • Increase human collaboration
  • Cohesion/integration
  • Extended eco-system (external partners,  the bigger “we,” catalyzing change)
  • Kindness (human collaboration)
  • Increase advocacy (public awareness and/or political voice)
  • Fight for free knowledge
  • Create/expand new kinds of knowledge spaces
  • Innovation (more than just a website)

Who is our key audience (for both readers and contributors)?

  • Western versus emerging economies?
  • Middle class versus poor?
  • Next versus last billion on the internet?

What is the impact of knowledge that we seek?

  • People making change in the world?
  • Resilient communities?

What makes us unique in a knowledge market that is increasingly competitive?

  • Sharing?
  • Human collaboration?
  • Free and Open?

What are the spaces we can work in that we are not currently working?