Talk:Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Process/Briefing

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A quick question and a comment regarding the Briefing document[edit]


The briefing document looks like an insightful document in the making! Is there a way to link to Shannon's slides, as they are referenced in numerous places?


At the risk of stating the obvious, it seems that this document needs a 1-page executive summary, laser-focused at what the process is, why we're embarking on it, what are the expected outcomes (e.g. 5 year strategy plan?) and what kinds of real-world actions will derive from it (yearly WMF planning? budgets for affiliates? new collaborations? to name just a few things).
A big upside of having this is that it's easier to translate such a document into all languages and will serve as a "welcome" to people reading in any language.

I wonder if someone can ping Shannon about these two. Perhaps Asaf?

Ido / Alleycat80 (talk) 00:42, 19 February 2017 (UTC)Reply

pinged. Ijon (talk) 20:23, 20 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Alleycat80: Hello Ido. Most of the content will continue to be added this week. The summary of the process and goals will comprise the first few slides of the Introduction section and it will also make its way to the main portal for the movement strategy process. The rest (and biggest part) of the document will focus on information about the movement and the future, and the hope is that it will be translated as well, so that every participant has equal access to the basic information for the discussions.
Let me know if you have any other questions, particularly as the content develops, and I'll be happy to answer them. Guillaume (WMF) (talk) 18:32, 21 February 2017 (UTC)Reply
Thanks Ijon & Guillaume (WMF)!

Comment on 3.3 framing[edit]

The description of the WMF (3.3) focuses on what the WMF does, but the way in which it is described makes it sound as though these functions are fixed. Can we clarify that these functions are what the WMF does today, so that people are cognizant that these functions could evolve in the future/in response to movement strategy? Katherine (WMF) (talk) 14:43, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Katherine (WMF): Thanks for the note; I've tweaked the section to try and make that point clearer. Guillaume (WMF) (talk) 16:03, 1 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

WikiComment link[edit]

Structure of Who are we today[edit]

Wondering about the ordering of this section.. shouldn't we first talk about the projects and its contributors & readers first, followed by organized groups, etc.? I also wonder if we should highlight the largest 5 chapters along with the Foundation (not sure how you'd like to define "largest"). For CE Insights - we have five buckets of data that could be useful in your structure here: Wikimedia movement as a whole, Wikimedia projects, Wikimedia software, Programs (e.g. Education GLAM), Affiliates. --EGalvez (WMF) (talk) 01:00, 4 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Re: What is a movement?[edit]

This section is inappropriately USA-centric, with that mention of "US civil rights / Black Lives Matter movements" and Occupy Wall Street. I'm sure you can do better and find some global ones even from the English Wikipedia, e.g. starting from w:en:Category:Social movements. --Nemo 12:19, 8 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Section "What is a movement?"[edit]

Hello. Congratulations to everyone involved in the process of creating content and reporting updates and discussions on the development of the movement strategy. I have read the section What is a movement on this page, and I have the impression that some reframing might be necessary, IMHO.

The question that this section advances --to some extent, "what are we?"-- is very relevant. In order to move forward, which I believe is the general goal of developing a strategic plan as the one that is being conceived, we definitely need to have what I would call a sociological identity. That is, we can only move forward if we have an understanding of what type of social phenomena we are and what are the known "laws" of expected evolution of this type of phenomena we can relate with.

We do call ourselves a "movement," yet I have the impression that we might not be related to what the activist approaches understand as movements and are not related to what the social-movement-theory approach understand as movements. This relation between ourselves and social movements --which I believe is unhelpful-- is established in the section "What is a movement" in three instances:

  1. A general definition --"Movements are purposeful & powerful ecosystems: Mobilized groups, noticing inequity, organizing & taking action to seek change;"
  2. Examples --social, political, empowerment, fizzles; (BTW, I do agree with the understanding that raised above that examples do seem eurocentric)
  3. A three-column table with short descriptions of sources.

The general definition of a movement seems just partially correct, IMHO. A general definition of a social movement must take into consideration that this kind of collective action is normally developed as a political, identity expression in a context in which other institutional mechanisms are unavailable. A movement is fundamentally associated to the kind of tactics it deploys to disrupt institutions to advance its agenda. I do not believe we evolve under this kind of constraint, and I do not believe we hold much in common with the types of social movements that were given in the examples. I do not mean there might not be an affinity between us and Occupy Wall Street, the US Civil Rights, but this does not mean we are the same type of actor.

I am not familiar with the Movement Strategy Center and "the very current approach among established organizations" that were used to come up with the column on what would be "transformative movements" and "Collective Impact Framework," respectively; I do believe these approaches --at least in the way they were presented-- are unhelpful. On the one hand, concepts that are used on these two columns to specify what one should understand from these approaches are unclear, enigmatic. Moreover, no source to these approaches is given, in which one might be able to decipher what is actually meant with what is written --but I do believe that more than providing references to these approaches they might not belong in our thinking around a strategy. On the other hand, it is not clear how these approaches could be of any help to answer the general question of what we are. I do not believe we can extract from these approaches a good natural fit, since as far as I could understand these approaches are meant to be considered in the case of groups that are purposefully advancing their interests and agendas in a context in which they are marginalized.

Sorry for the strong language in advance, but the way what is called "social movement theory" is framed is wrong. Relative deprivation & change-seeking relates to a moment in social theory from the early 1970s in the United States (i.e., Ted Gurr), that focused mostly on functional misfits and emotional dynamics to account for protests; Resource mobilization is a theory from the United States that has emerged in the late 1970s (i.e., John D. McCarthy), that looked at social movement organizations as a rational process --whereas a line of interpretation from Gurr's work would be that protests are irrational--, in which entrepreneurship and resource-seeking strategy are key; Political opportunity (the word structure seems to be missing, since this is known as "Political Process" or "Political Opportunity Structure" literature, or POS) is a theory from the United States in the 1980s-1990s, that is still widely dominant in the American literature, that though it has included some elements that are not environmental such as organizational readiness and culture for liberation (i.e., Doug McAdam has focused on the structural conditions in which social movements emerge. There have been attempts to reconcile these different theories, but I do not believe social-movement theorists would say any of these attempts has been accepted in academia as having been successful, so the assumption that you are presenting a "single" theory is not justified.

Moreover, the social movement theory that is being relied on is fundamentally North American, which I do not believe is justified. In Europe, this literature has gone through a very different trajectory: in France and Italy, authors such as Alain Touraine and Alberto Melucci discuss the evolution of social movements as process of identity; in Germany, the Frankfurt School has a completely different understanding, for instance looking at how social movements might be related to a "moral grammar." There are many, many more lines of interpretation in Europe. There is a specific body of literature in poorer countries, that has emerged from struggles against colonialism in Africa (i.e, Frantz Fanon), indigenous experiences (i.e., Zapatistas), and so on. There have been specific critiques of the mainstream North-American social-movement theory in the US as well, for instance Raka Ray and many feminist scholars.

If we were to rely on the bodies of literature on social movements, we would be wrong in giving priority to one chunk of this literature (the mainstream North American literature) and not dealing with other perspectives, from other parts of the world. From my personal perspective, let me say that though the POS literature has had an impact in social sciences in Brazil it is definitely not mainstream. We should not do this, IMHO.

Moreover, to try to fit in a literature we do not really belong in does not seem to be a justified decision. On the one hand, the literature on social movements is deeply associated to actual cases, for instance the POS literature has emerged in a process of making sense of the US Civil Rights Movement, and I do not believe there is strong case to assume we hold real connections to the cases this literature has emerged from. On the other hand, to hold from start that we are a social movement as the literature would frame a social movement might make us miss the most important part of the question on what we are, since we should be open to the hypothesis that though we call ourselves a movement we are not a social movement as the literature defines what a social movement is.

What should we do then? I strongly believe the question what we are is relevant and should be part of our agenda, so how can we deal with this? Perhaps we should do what we do best and go for the references: there are serious scholars who have spent a serious amount of time and effort to make sense of what we are. Perhaps we should engage them --people such as Erik Olin Wright (the former president of the American Sociological Association who has a chapter on the institutional design of Wikipedia in his major book "Envisioning Real Utopias" --just as a disclaimer, he is my advisor) and Yochai Benkler ("The Wealth of Networks," an older book). They have spent a lot of time theorizing on what kind of institutional species Wikipedia and other projects are, how our community is different from other communities, how the resources we are building are impacting the world, how we tend to interact with partners and potential adversaries, etc. In the same perspective, I strongly believe we have among us very serious scholars who have spent a great deal in trying to making sense of what we are; these "internal scholars," such as Dariusz Jemielniak, Piotr Konieczny, Andrew Lih and so many others, are among us and can contribute to helping us (the general us, the community) coming up with a strategy to answer the question: What are we?

I apologize for the long post. I hope this has contributed.

--Joalpe (talk) 18:44, 10 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Thanks for sending these thoughts.

Yes, if there are such natural “laws” that apply, we definitely want to be aware of them. The challenge, as you rightly point out, is that the Wikimedia movement does not fit neatly within any of these movement lenses, though it has some of their characteristics. So which “laws” would apply is tough to ascertain. Because the Wikimedia movement is not really an activist approach, nor a political approach, the dilemma remains: how best to bring forward the relevant and translatable elements of movement theories, without unfairly pigeon-holing or force-fitting it?

We hope to encourage contributors to pull-up a level and think creatively about what our movement can and should be doing - to have its highest and best impact in the world. I generally concur with your observations; it is a challenge to categorize the Wikimedia movement as a typical social or political movement, in that it does not have roots in the same feelings of injustice or exploitation that drive many of them. While it does have some rebellious tendencies against for-profit, exclusive knowledge stewards & corporations, it is much more empowering and optimistic than many of the more “struggle” oriented movements. Thus, the better parallels may be the more empowerment-oriented movements profiled. So point taken about the problem with a direct comparison; feel free to make any suggestions about highlighting the points of relevance without over-stating the whole movement fit?

OK. I look forward to hearing your suggestions on how best to recognize the points of similarity with other movements, while not over-accentuating them. We are considering asking: In what ways are we a movement, and in what ways are we not? And how could we change ourselves to have more positive impact in the world? We would appreciate hearing what your approach to this would be. You have clearly thought long and hard about it.

A direct link to the SSIR article on Collective Impact was included in the original slide; we will double-check to make sure it is correctly referenced.

OK, point taken about the direct comparisons to the environmental and civil-rights movements; this is why we also included the “empowerment-oriented” movements, such as microfinance. These generally provide tools (in the MF case, money, and in the Wikimedia case, access to relevant knowledge) so users can use this currency to gain value / benefit from it.

You are right that Wikimedia is generally used by the relatively affluent people of our planet, not the most marginalized. And it is also created by the similarly privileged, who have excess cognitive capacity. However, there is an assumed undercurrent that providing knowledge freely to anyone with internet access can be helpful as an important tool against marginalization and exploitation.

OK, no offense taken.

Thank you for pointing out this distinction. It is the latter approach (to resource mobilization) that we believed was more relevant to the Wikimedia movement.

OK, while the Wikimedia movement can and does engage in political activity, it does so extremely sparingly, and this has not been a big focus of its activity. It could do more in this arena if it so chose. Reference to the specific POS approach was not intentional.

Yes – and we would welcome your input to help fill this out to include more of these non North American approaches. Would you consider joining doing an interview with our research team for this project? Specifically, we’d like to bring in these other perspectives and approaches to movements and then expose some of their most helpful elements to our wider contributor base?

Agreed, we do not plan to call out POS.

So what are we? Since you have considered this question for a long time, and seem to have studied it and even taught it, we would like to invite you to join this discussion.

Excellent – thank you for this feedback. We love the idea of enlisting these experts onto the discussion. If we can move this discussion to email, would be willing to make these introductions? Now is the time, and it would be brilliant to involve them in this important work.

Great, with the caveat that we are not seeking a purely academic approach; instead we would welcome input from these scholars to help us harness and focus ourselves within the Wikimedia movement for the highest global benefit. It has contributed greatly.

Thank you again for all your feedback.

EBland (WW) (talk) 01:02, 14 March 2017 (UTC) Ed --Reply

@EBland (WW): Thanks for finding some time to answer my comment, and good luck to you and your team in supporting the strategy-building effort.
As I said, I do not believe references to social-movement approaches or theories are helpful. The institutional species of the Wikimedia projects might be best defined as "economic production rooted in social power," IMHO. This is to say: Wikimedia projects are not at all about creating a political, social actor to disrupt the system; it is about developing an alternative economy in an interstice of the dominant system of economic relationships that might eventually --or not-- disrupt the system.
To give an example, volunteer work on Wikipedia produces normally ever-improving encyclopedia entries, an output that before 2001 was almost exclusively produced under very conventional institutional settings (private property, labor market, market-oriented production). Wikipedia differs from "commercial" encyclopedias in all institutional aspects: it relies on open source, work is collective and volunteer; and even more strikingly this experiment of nonmarket encyclopedia production has gradually supplanted commercial encyclopedias. Social power means normally one's capacity to attract individuals and groups for voluntary collective actions. IMHO, when we talk about a Wikimedia movement we are normally trying to express the voluntary collective action that is necessary to sustain the projects.
An important aspect of economic production rooted in social power (EPSP) is that it faces a tendency of becoming gradually less democratic and socially empowering as production grows and the system of social relationships becomes more complex. This is often called the iron law of oligarchy. This law is not exclusive to the Wikimedia projects; it might be recognized on other EPSP, such as the myriad of cooperatives that form Mondragon Corporation in the Basque Country, the Chantier de l'économie sociale in Québec, deliberative participatory budgeting experiments around the world and the international P2P network.
There's been a bit of theorizing on how this kind of EPSP initiatives evolves and can be made to evolve without sacrificing core moral principles, for instance a deep commitment to democracy (BTW, I do believe there is a poor understanding of what democracy means at something like WP:NOT#DEM). Theorists I have mentioned in my first comment have addressed this theoretical issue. I am happy to put you in touch with Erik Olin Wright if you feel this would be helpful; just send me an email (just check Wikipedia:Emailing users if you are unsure how to do this) and I will do it. I am not sufficiently acquainted to any other person I have mentioned to help in any sort of introduction; sorry!
As for your direct request --

Would you consider joining doing an interview with our research team for this project? Specifically, we’d like to bring in these other perspectives and approaches to movements and then expose some of their most helpful elements to our wider contributor base?

--, I do not think to focus on social-movement approaches and theories is helpful for your research team, so I do not believe we should do an interview on non-North-American social-movement approaches and theories. Again, your research team might get more insights from reading works from social theorists who have seriously theorized on alternative institutional design.

Have fun and good contributions! --Joalpe (talk) 01:42, 18 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

+1 to what Joalpe said. Also, as a German, I try to avoid Nazi language ("The Movement") whenever possible. --Frank Schulenburg (talk) 04:47, 28 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Percentage points and percentages[edit]

In the education section I think it should say "Primary school education is up 5 percentage points among young people" instead of the current wording. Chicocvenancio (WMF) (talk) 21:26, 20 March 2017 (UTC)Reply


In a few places there are references to "strategy brief slides"; e.g., on Strategy/Wikimedia movement/2017/Toolkit/Discussion guide/In-person, «Share the 30 slides in the Strategy Brief». Is that File:The World in 2030 - Presentation for movement strategy discussions.pdf? Because that's an interesting document (and it's ~30 slides long), but it's only a small part of what can be found in the Briefing page. From what is written there, it seems that there is a general briefing presentation (which indeed would be nice to have), but I didn't find any. - Laurentius (talk) 20:23, 21 March 2017 (UTC)Reply

Comments on the briefing[edit]

Society in 2030: Humans on the same planet[edit]

This paragraph is very strange. It talks about "other challenges" before it even talks about the actual challenges. So none of these challenges are actually very clear. notafish }<';> 09:33, 27 April 2017 (UTC)Reply

The solutions are connected[edit]

'"Experts in social movements recognize common symptoms of systems that serve to accumulate wealth and power in the hands of a few.
The Wikimedia movement exemplifies many of the solutions proposed to solve those problems"'

Symptoms are not necessarily problems. Maybe it would be interesting to frame why we see them as problems? notafish }<';> 09:33, 27 April 2017 (UTC)Reply

Education in 30[edit]

I didn't understand the term "draft off" in "What efforts should we draft off?" in the presentation. Taking myself (conceitedly, I'll admit) as a benchmark, my take is that many non-English speakers will not understand it. Which is a bit of a shame, considering it is *the* question that presentation asks :). So I looked for a good definition. Please consider changing that question in this presentation. notafish }<';> 09:33, 27 April 2017 (UTC)Reply

Activities across the movement today[edit]

When I read the definition for "consume" (and how I understand the word), it is very clear that "consuming" something destroys it, leaves not place for something else (in consume your attention). I find this does not apply at all to knowledge. Actually, knowledge is exactly the contrary of something that can be "consumed". And what we do is again the opposite of producing something that will be "consumed". People can feed/learn off our projects and still knowledge is available for the next person. They can learn as much as they want and *still* have speace for more of what we can offer. Content creators yes, content consumers, no. We are content curators, content disseminators (if that's even a word) and support content sharing, content users and reusers. notafish }<';> 09:33, 27 April 2017 (UTC)Reply


Do we correct “Modified group” here as ‘‘Modifying group‘‘? It’s part of how you get involved, but the word ‘‘modified‘‘ doesn’t sound to ‘inspire’ as stated in the lead paragraph. —Omotecho (talk) 22:33, 27 October 2017 (UTC) Omotecho (talk) 22:33, 27 October 2017 (UTC)Reply