Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/Cycle 3/Wikimedia UK Partnership Salon

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name of group Wikimedia UK Partnership Salon
virtual location (page-link) or physical location (city/state/country) The Clerkenwell Kitchen, London, EC1R 0AT
Location type (e.g. local wiki, Facebook, in-person discussion, telephone conference) In person
# of participants in this discussion (a rough count) 14

Detailed notes[edit]

Overview and Attendees[edit]

Wikimedia UK received funding from the Wikimedia Foundation to host a ‘salon’ style dinner to discuss the future of the Wikimedia movement with invited partners and experts. We invited around 25 people to the dinner, with 14 attending the event at Clerkenwell Kitchen in London, as follows:

  • Nancy Bell - Head of Collections Care, The National Archives, and Wikimedia UK trustee
  • Lucy Crompton-Reid - Chief Executive, Wikimedia UK
  • Daria Cybulska - Head of Programmes and Evaluation, Wikimedia UK
  • Gillian Daly - Head of Policy and Projects, Scottish Libraries and Information Council
  • Jane Finnis - CEO, Culture 24 and Content Infrastructure Lead for Digital Culture at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
  • Josie Fraser - Educational Technologist and Chair Elect, Wikimedia UK
  • Gill Hamilton - Digital Access Manager, National Library of Scotland
  • Phoebe Harkins - Library Communications Co-ordinator, Wellcome Collection
  • Dr Nick Jones - British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London
  • Mahendra Mahey - BL Labs Project Manager, British Library
  • Alastair McCapra - Chair, National Heritage Science Forum
  • Nick Poole - Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and Trustee, Wikimedia UK
  • Dr Owain Roberts - Head of Access and Public Programmes, National Library of Wales
  • Daffyd Tudor - Digital Access Section Manager, National Library of Wales

As host and facilitator, Wikimedia UK Chief Executive Lucy Crompton-Reid gave some brief insights into the world in 2030 and emerging trends in technology, society and global population development, as well as an overview of the strategy process and some of the key themes and challenges that have emerged so far. The focus of the evening was on the Wikimedia movement’s engagement with the knowledge ecosystem, however it was a broad and wide ranging discussion that encompassed purpose, infrastructure, governance, education, partnerships and more. The evening varied between conversations in small groups (particularly as people were eating), and plenary discussions chaired by Lucy. Notes were taken by the Wikimedia UK staff and trustees that participated, and these have been organised in retrospect into key themes as detailed below.

Key Themes[edit]

Purpose and Strategic Context[edit]

  • Wikipedia has achieved rapid scale as a collaborative editing/encyclopedia project but now needs to address the question of whether it is there to promote social justice. In this context, who gets to decide what kind of ‘good’ Wikipedia should do, given the inequality of distribution of power and the need to avoid reinforcing a specifically Western morality or value set onto a global initiative?
  • As a global resource, communicating a strategy which clearly supports equality, diversity, access and reliability of information is an important political stance in itself.
  • A discussion about Wikimedia necessarily leads to a discussion about power, authority, facts and information literacy. Wikipedia isn’t a ‘fixed point’, it’s an ongoing collaborative ‘act of making’ which provides a really important platform for a more nuanced conversation about information that goes beyond ‘this is true/this is fake news’ and into ‘this is how knowledge is created, refined and shared’.
  • Are we trying to impose a western form of organising knowledge onto non western cultures and communities?
  • We assume things are moving forward in terms of progression towards openness, but they may not do. By 2030, commercial and political interests could be seriously limiting access to knowledge, and issues of systemic bias could become further entrenched if the rights of women and minorities continue to be diminished.
  • Wikipedia is a powerful and influential site which should take up the responsibility of its impact. Supporting basic and key digital literacies (bias, reliability, verifiability), is essential, especially in relation to education-focused partnerships with government, schools, universities and libraries.
  • There is a distinction between the organisation (the Wikimedia Foundation) and the product (Wikipedia). Could the organisation - and the broader movement - be oriented towards a clear set of outcomes such as education, equality and eradicating poverty, while the product is more explicitly defined around user benefits?
  • What's knowledge? There is a "connoisseurship" concept versus “Ikea” knowledge - equal, self-assembled. Expertise is in the creation, not assembly.
  • The key challenge is the curation of information

Infrastructure and Governance[edit]

  • In the context of global population growth, is it sufficient just to focus on the online presence or does the movement have a responsibility to push for infrastructure, global access and net neutrality?
  • Wikipedia can’t be built as a movement going forward. It should partner with Government to provide a public service, as its value as a social good has scaled beyond the point at which the current governance model is sufficient.


  • Working with universities widens the pool of editors and students both to use Wikimedia tools as an effective resource, and to interrogate the nature of these tools.
  • Student work with Wikipedia must be informed by a broader understanding of the distortions, ambiguities, and presumptions that come along with any declaration of fact or encyclopedic objectivity; and is therefore a great opportunity to discuss who gets to control knowledge production, and how students can become a part of that infrastructure in an aware and helpfully critical way.

Technical development[edit]

  • The current website and technical standards inhibit many from editing and this is a critical factor that needs to be addressed.
  • How can Wikimedia meet expectations in terms of user experience?


  • Libraries risk being seen as being all about the past, but they are about preserving knowledge to shape the future. Our global future is shaped by the knowledge we have now.

Implications/ideas for Wikimedia UK[edit]

  • The Wikimedia movement needs a strategic push from higher levels such as local and central government if our ambition to build capacity, particularly with a younger generation, is to become a reality.
  • The development of the National Strategy for School Libraries was flagged as a potential partnership within the UK.
  • It was noted that the Welsh Digital Competency framework already makes reference to IP & licensing, as does the new EU digital competency framework. There is a clear role for lobbying and working with governments to ensure Wikimedia is included in the implementation of these frameworks.

Quote of the evening[edit]

“Wikipedia is a miracle, it’s ridiculous” Phoebe Harkins, Wellcome Collection