In this issue we highlight the new Library Card platform, user group updates, global developments and, as always, a roundup of news and community items related to libraries and digital knowledge. New to Books & Bytes, translations! Different language versions of Books & Bytes are now available on Meta, thanks to our coordinators. You can read it and share it with your local community! We'd love to have your help with more translations. If you are interested, please contact avasanthwikimedia.org.
All English-language signups have now migrated to the Wikipedia Library Card platform! The Library Card is a centralised tool for signing up for free research access from Wikipedia Library partners. You log in using your Wikipedia login and won't have to provide all your details each time you apply, making the process more convenient and efficient for both editors and coordinators. Later this year we'll start supporting authentication-based access (whereby you can use your Wikipedia login to access partner websites directly), making access even easier.
In the coming months we're working on some improvements to the system, including a focus on revamping the user interface. We'll also be getting set up on Translatewiki.net so that we can support non-English editors and partners.
Take a look at all the great resources available, and apply to any that would help you with your editing!
The Wikipedia Library has always worked towards bringing together Wikipedia and library organisations. As a result, the Wikipedia Library User Group came into existence. Since our last update on the user group, a lot of events have taken place. Firstly, the user group application for recognition has been approved by the Foundation and the user group is now formal. Since then, the signups have grown to 147 and the founding members have met twice on Hangouts. The meetings were productive and various key issues including governance, purpose of the group, next steps and areas of focus of the user group were discussed. As a short-term outcome of the meetings, a new Twitter handle @WikilibraryUG and a YouTube channel Wikipedia Library User Group were created. It was also decided in these meetings that the User Group would use the existing Wikipedia + Libraries Facebook group and revive and use the Wikimedia & Libraries mailing list. With multiple tasks scheduled, the founding members are set to meet post-Wikimania 2017.
Global branches are constantly evolving and bring potential in supporting editors who are in real need. New strategies and approaches are constantly being tried and results analysed to invigorate activities and ideally be of use to all editors on non-English branches.
Spotlight: Combating misinformation, fake news, and censorship
An excerpt from the Wikimedia Blog post published on July 17th, 2017 by Margarita Noriega, Wikimedia Foundation
Few people have faced the dangerous consequences of unresolved conflict as personally as Ingrid Betancourt did in 2002, when the then-presidential candidate was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for six years. She now encourages others to protect free knowledge and credible sources as an advocate for peace.
Betancourt recently told the Wikimedia Foundation that she believes that “values are important in the spreading of free knowledge. … Fake news is dangerous. Spinning the news is very dangerous. You can distort information to obtain a result.” One of the biggest threats to trustworthy information starts with how people evaluate sources... Some may focus on content created with a profit motive, others point to government-controlled propaganda, while others say the problem starts with fake news (the subject of a recent discussion at Yale University attended by members of the Wikimedia legal team).
With so many different aspects to focus on (or neglect), misinformation threatens to delay all kinds of efforts to strengthen trustworthy knowledge across political and social divides.
"This spread of misinformation online is occurring despite recent growth in the number of organizations dedicated to fact-checking: world-wide, at least 114 “dedicated fact-checking teams” are working in 47 countries.
Looking into the future, what’s safe to expect? First, global freedom of expression will wax and wane depending on national and international political developments. Less clear is whether global trends toward autocracy will continue—or whether free societies will have a resurgence, grappling successfully with pressures on the press and academy, and the politicization of facts as merely individual biased perspectives.
Second, we can expect that politically motivated disinformation and misinformation campaigns will always be with us. Indeed, the phenomenon of “fake news,” misinformation, or “alternative facts” can be traced to some of the earliest recorded history, with examples dating back to ancient times.
The Wikimedia movement will need to remain nimble and editors become well-versed in the always-morphing means by which information can be misleading or falsified. It will be helpful to keep abreast of techniques developed and used by journalists and researchers when verifying information, such as those described in the Verification Handbook, available in several languages."