Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2018-20/Working Groups/Product & Technology/Scoping/Role in Society
What is your area of inquiry?
- What are the effects Wikimedia projects have on the world? (Good and bad? In different parts of the world? From different wikis? On different parts of society?) Can/could we measure these effects? Are we missing expertise, infrastructure, movement structures to do that?
- What effects do we not have but could (if we did things differently, or started new sister projects) and maybe should? Again, are we missing expertise, infrastructure, movement structures to do that?
What is the current situation?
The present policies and structures of developing technologies and platform are in sync with the larger developments that are happening in the ‘tech world’. While the peer to peer motivation and learning is always important, there seems to be a disconnect between the ‘function’ and the ‘role’ of technology in our society. The current activities in the technology world will give us tools and methods to overcome a problem and not think of solutions to have long term impact. Product and Technology enthusiasts (both volunteers and staff members) are part of the real world that is facing issues such as censorship, proprietary softwares taking over free and open source mechanisms. These questions need to be considered for a healthy and participatory development of technology.
Why this scope?
It is important for the WG to think about the larger constituency in which Product and Technology recommendations will play out. Can these recommendations be apolitical in the face of a social crisis. Is the role of technology only to devise a hack/tool to face the problem or is it also important to imagine such problems and think of ways of building alternate networks to overcome such problems.
Wikimedia projects (Wikipedia with particular emphasis) have emerged as the gatekeeper for a healthy ecosystem of knowledge. Will this be a trend that our movement can keep up in the light of political pressure is an important question to discuss.
What are the key questions within the scope of the Working Group?
- Today it is mostly accepted for Wikimedia to pursue policies which directly enable our own work (like copyright limits or open access) but beyond that it is still unclear. Is it OK for us to push for gender equality? Democracy? Free education? Universal income? This is not really a technology question, but it's kind of a prerequisite to answering many other questions.
- Are there ethical pitfalls we must be careful to avoid? (As a random example, Facebook is now operationalized in some parts of the world to incite and organize the lynching of minorities. Is there a risk of Wikipedia being abused in a similar way?) Again, is there any technical capacity or technology-related movement structure we are missing currently that would be helpful in detecting and avoiding such risks?
- Role of technology in preserving/protecting access towards free knowledge and free speech.
- How to compete and sustain against closed platforms developing technology?
What are the areas where you see outside expertise is needed?
- How to best understand impact (technical and social) of Wikimedia projects? How to understand and build from the critical evaluation of Wikimedia projects?
- Insights regarding how various political situations and conditions deal with technology. Various scenarios such as censorship, propaganda usage, mis information campaigns and fake news, intentional vilification of facts.
- Internal policies (technology, legal and community facing) to combat clampdown and a possible witch hunt against the Wikimedia movement? Lessons from past? Turkey, Venezuela, China…
- Case studies regarding various NGOs fighting oppressive regimes in forwarding their mission and their tactics regarding capacity building for their volunteers and staff members.