Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Sources/Wikimedia Foundation study group/4 November 2016

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Movement Strategy Study Group Notes

Meeting 1 (November 4, 2016)


  1. What are your hope and dreams for the group?
  2. Let’s talk about the video and 4 Stages of a Social Movement
  3. Choose our first book and a discussion leader
  4. Show and Tell (no time)
    • World in 2030

Hopes and dreams for the group[edit]

  • Arthur: understanding and awareness and body of knowledge how to thoughtfully collaborate and engage inside WMF and beyond.  Have some collaboration muscle, but have a lot to build.  How we build that muscle here at WMF and apply beyond.
  • Abbey: Find a common language around strategy
  • Jonathan: read stuff, initial article interesting, read more about movement strategy, what it means to be a movement
  • Lisa: I want it to be a fun and creative space
  • Greg G: I won’t be able to keep up on the reading, have my own stack of books that I can’t get to :). I want a way of absorbing that knowledge. Learn from all of you.
  • Guillaume: Document what we learn, for future reference, and for the benefit of people who can’t read everything
  • Katy: think creatively about meaningfully engage folks beyond the walls of WMF (affiliates, volunteers), find what is important to them.  The stakes of the strategy are really high, keen to hear thoughts on tactically how to do this work. Interested to hear folks’ thoughts (challenges? Other ideas? Support? etc) on the Community Resources team
  • Seddon: Tackle topics that relate to movement strategy that we’ve avoided (or chosen to avoid) in the past, e.g. movement fundraising. Topic that has come up for at least half a decade. Box that nobody wants to open. Not be afraid to ask, talk, and propose solutions to difficult questions.
  • Dan A: Shared sense of working on strategy together, a shared understanding of why it’s hard, with the purpose of minimizing anti-patterns like finger-pointing
  • Heather: Super interested in what everyone (esp. People living in different places, who’ve grown up in other places) think about this. Expand my vision for what movement means to different cultures and open the range of potential.

4 stages of a social movement[edit]

Lisa: Discussion of the homework (video and article). Informal discussion.

  • Lisa: One thing that struck me: examples that they gave, food movement. Started out as “we’re just trying to get people to eat local food”, then broadened, added more other groups to their movement. Now there’s an ideology around that, not just the initial goal. There’s some parallel with us here; we started out as a bunch of people writing an encyclopedia. Our ideology isn’t super well defined yet, people have different ideas about it.
  • Arthur: +1 . Not just the … Also deepening and broadening. Deepening of self awareness, of understanding had ripple effects through the movement. Broadening of connections between organizations.
  • Anna S: If the cognitive frames you set out, and the questions you ask, … not unrelated to a desire for greater collaboration.
  • Lisa: Embodying the changes you want to see. “Change starts at home”. For things like online harassment etc., if we want to change that culture, maybe we need to exaggerate that in who we are as an organization, in how we interact with each other, and with the world. Set that example and try to drive it. It’s not just what we want to do, it’s who we want to be. That’s part of our movement strategy too, and is broad enough that people want to get behind, but we have to lead it.
  • Dan A: Was trying to see how this applied to WMF, and kept seeing mismatches, instead of commonalities with our situation. By some definitions, we don’t fit the definition of a movement (e.g. dissent, clearly defined common enemy). Maybe some movements have a need for that, but it was disorienting to try and find how this applied to us. There are multiple very clear identities; multifaceted (corporate strategy, movement strategy, etc.)
  • Lisa: Agree. The social movements that started in the US in the beginning of the 20th century; fighting against power, workers’ rights. There was an enemy. Read the WP article about New social movements. No clear enemy, but about creating a change, e.g. slow food movement. Similar to us. What we do is a little bit opposed to copyright, publishing industry, but it’s more positive, not just against something.
  • Suzie: For me, if we ladder it up, the thing we are fighting is inequity in the world - giving all people the knowledge to help improve lives. I question how the term movement is used and if it really applies to us now… it’s a matter of scale. 100,000 people collaborating. A movement would be to mobilize millions to take action. How do we get there?
  • Anne: The article was oriented about political change; the slow food does indeed apply better.
  • Katherine: I was at an event recently; free and open internet. There was someone talking about how he’s involved in lots of different movements. The free and open web movement is very different. In other movements they know there’s a moral imperative and they need to succeed. But the free and open web movement doesn’t have that same sense of clarity. We’re not exactly that movement, although we have a lot of overlap with it, but I wonder how we fit on that spectrum of “we must win for the benefit of humanity”.
  • Anna S: The internet is the humanity’s infosphere. If so much of it is told in service of a particular POV, instead of a NPOV, by nature the file of information is corrupted (the angle on it). In the beginning of the internet, and the ethos behind it… a lot of my internet right now resembles my TV more and more. Ads, POVs, etc. Is the original story of the birth of the internet, their hopes and dreams, worth reading? Inspiration for direction we could go in.
  • Arthur: Absolutely. For me, fighting for a free and open internet is indeed a moral imperative, because humanity, because society. Who has power, who has control. In my worldview, the current paradigm is untenable and will eat us all. We’re trying to create the other way that will hopefully replace the other thing. That’s the thing that connects everything we do. A lot of that is also captured in the ethos and idealistic thinking about the birth of the internet.
  • Katherine: I do think it’s a moral imperative. What I meant was that we know that human rights, social justice… those *must* win. For us, the structural forces aligned against us are very strong (?). Our ability to succeed is less clear.
  • Lisa: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Old but beautiful documents. The covenants were made in 1976. Some things in there relate to us (education, freedom of speech). Might be worth looking at. It’s as close as anything to the world’s common understanding of rights.
  • Katherine: right to receive and impart information, rather than any particular technology. Ratified globally and yet the colonial power was still a very present thing at the time, so there’s also a question of whether they’re truly understood universally.
  • Subbu: This doesn’t have the same visceral feel like say clean air, clean water, black lives matter, etc. Free and open internet is much harder to articulate and mobilize around; language isn’t accessible. But, this is similar to the movement for freedom of the press .. once we experience the freedom of the press, it is hard to go back to something without it. I see this as similar.
  • Dan A: Problems are getting harder to see. Racism is a more sophisticated, complex problem than “don’t chop people’s heads off” and other things are harder to see. From video, when social movement was stagnating talked about deepening … exponential change. There to match the increased sophistication of the problem (interpretation). So our situation seems more complicated because we need to make our approach more sophisticated.
  • Anna S: The problem of expressing the moral imperative of the free and open knowledge movement. We could express that, but it’s going to need to strike at something about belonging. It’ll need a logical argument, but also a feeling one. Must go beyond logic. But we can totally do it.
  • Lisa: we’re at many of the 4 stages of social movement all at once. Interesting that in the article “bureaucratization” is a positive word. We’re at a point in some places in the world where we’re at “emergent.” It’s interesting that we can be in all of these places at once.
  • Abbey: I really liked what you said about free press. It’s more local. Sometimes it’s the main way that a population can express to everyone else. Difference with us: we’re more global, and that makes it hard. Hard to identify an enemy, or a threat. There are elements all over the place that are opposed, instead of supportive of our efforts.
  • Lisa: one definition of a social movement from reading that I liked, want to talk about: “not a political party or …” nor is it a fad or a trend. They are somewhere in between.” A lot of times, when we talk about WP, we talk about it as if it were just a product, that might disappear / die. A movement can be more lasting.
  • Anne: Agree. The lack of clarity of WP, vs the movement, vs our goals, makes it very hard to prioritize things. It’s easy to sit on our metrics on the product side; not a measure of impact, need to connect it to the goals of the foundation and the movement. We end up biasing towards the biggest projects.
  • Anna S: Read a lot of books about the cosmos, and space time. (a very California comment). The identity is wrapped around enwp, but that’s such a small spacetime. A  bigger one is the free and open internet, how we repackage information. In metrics the focus is shrink wrapped
  • Katherine: A huge part of the conversation with trustees was metrics. Historically we’ve focused on pageviews. Where on earth would be look to assess impact. It’s now a conversation I’m having with our board, and that I see happening across the organization as well.
  • Jaime A: the reason we can’t fit ourselves into a box: we started maybe with some vision and project goals, then a “WMF version” of “the movement” for our first attempt at shared vision and goals. That seems fair to say is in decline while a second wave seems emergent at this time: what the collective goals of the communities might be. What is the bigger thing; question that a lot of affiliates have been struggling with as well. May be why we’re still in the phase of emergence.
  • Katy: Agree. Those of us who have participated in different parts of the movement can relate.
  • Jan E: Also historically important to remember that when we started, we started around a completely centralized technological infrastructure; contrary to the standard case of an offline social movements. You also won’t find the word “movement” in meta discussions before 2008/2009, almost a decade after Wikipedia’s launch, and the introduction of the word “movement” was strategic (?). Relates to the distributedness of participants, but they don’t have a unified ideological standpoint.

Reading for next month[edit]

  • Anne: Starfish… might be easier as a first read for the group
  • Arthur: Community belonging… about how to engage with a community is a productive way. But probably not the best book to read next
  • Aaron: tyranny of struct… is super relevant and useful for us. Talks a lot about how social movements structured themselves. Seminal essay.
  • Arthur: Another book: Hackers: the heroes of the computer revolution. Not short but pretty quick to read.
  • Katherine: Fabrice did a video version of Hackers IIRC, and he gave us a copy. Let’s do a screening.
  • Greg G.: Coding freedom
  • Abbey: let’s do tyranny + screening. Consensus! Aaron will be discussion leader.
  • Katherine: maybe ask Fabrice to host the viewing.
  • Arthur: Maybe thursday or another day, instead of Friday.

Notes will be posted on Meta with names. Remove your name before Monday.