WIKIMOVE/Podcast/Transcript Episode 18

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Nikki: Welcome to episode 18 of Wikimove. I'm Nikki Zeuner and with me is Eva Martin.

Eva: Hey everyone. We are recording this episode on February 26th, 2024.

Nikki: Eva and I are part of Wikimedia Deutschland's governance and movement relations team. And in this podcast, we imagine the future of the Wikimedia movement. Eva, what are we talking about today?

Eva: Today, we are talking about the future of Wikimedia events. We are a digital movement. People edit the Wikimedia projects often by themselves, at home or in a coffee shop, and it can get lonely. So we need to have physical events to connect together as a people. It's part of what we call the social infrastructure of the movement. It helps us be more of a movement. So we have Editathon, many other local events, Wikimania, regional conferences, and the Wikimedia Summit for affiliates, which will happen in two months in Berlin and will be the last summit of its kind. So to figure out the future of affiliate events, the summit team did a survey of affiliates. And a majority of respondents said that they were in favor of a continued event and the main reasons where they want to connect to do networking, socializing, and learning sharing experiences.

Nikki: So people want to be together. However, the cost of events and the carbon footprints are increasing. It looks also like we will be adding another event, which is the global assembly to the movement's event budget pretty soon. So the question poses itself, how do we strategically design our family of events, of conferences to meet these challenges and meet these needs? And how do events relate to strategy, movement, and regional? Or should they? and what are some practices and formats that are appropriate and helpful and what are some things maybe we should no longer do. In Africa, the Wiki Indaba and its team, also known as the WISCOM, led to much more than the annual conferences. It was a whole engagement and growth strategy for that continent. So we're going to hear more about this. And we are eager to hear constructive criticism of the current model of conferences and how things could be done differently.

Eva: So let's introduce the first guest with us today and it's Felix Nartey. Felix has been a Wikimedian for more than a decade now and is an open advocate. He holds an MBA in international trade and worked in banking for five years.He was also awarded the Wikimedia of the Year in 2017 for activating communities in Africa. He currently works as a Senior Program Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation.

Nikki: Our second guest is Željko Blaće, also known as Z. Z is consistently working in contemporary arts and culture, critical media and technologies, creative sport and recreation. As a media activist, event organizer and curator, Z co -leads international events in Croatia, for example, Arts Service Unlimited and the New Media Culture Week. He was also on the editorial and organizational teams of Amsterdam's Next 5 Minutes and Berlin's Transmediale media festivals, among others. And he recently joined the Queer in Wikipedia event organizers and led the Queer in Wikipedia 2023 hybrid conference.

Eva: So let's start. And we will start by talking a bit about Wikimedia events based on the respective conference involvement and experience of our guests who both attended and organized several events. So, Z, based on your experience organizing events and attending many, what is the Wiki-Way of organizing events and how would you describe the Wiki-Feel at our events?

Z: I would actually not confuse the Wiki-Way term with Wikification. And I was suggesting that we try to wikiify organizing because it's, wikiway tends to be interpreted by Wikipedians as how they do things. And before Wikipedia, there was a really specific programming book that was inspiring me to use Wikis in 2001 called the wikiway. So I was referring to that original notion of Wiki as doing collaborative participatory, soft and maybe community focused bottom -up concept mapping and also not having predetermined outputs or not having necessarily super fixed and rigid forms. And this is where Wiki really excelled and empowering end users rather than keeping the power within web designer, web master who would control the website. And I think we are basically not applying these super progressive radical principles of empowering individuals who come to the events equally as we could when we use Wikis. I mean, it was super radical proposal then to have everyone edit page and to start trusting everyone, compared to just having flat static pages where you know who is the author and that's the only version that's going to happen.

Nikki: So basically you're saying we're not doing conferences the WikiWay because they're pre -formatted, they're pre -organized, their program is set. Most often. Yeah, most of them. And some of them, I mean, at least the program gets kind of done the WikiWay, I guess, Wikimania in the way that people are submitting their sessions ahead of time.

Z: Yes and no. In formal way, yes, content submissions maybe use Wikis, but how it is structured when decisions get made, how prefixed they are, it's very, very random use of this principle. Like if there is extra hour, maybe we'll use it more freely to do like birds of the feather format for an hour or two. But I think we can do much better.

Nikki: Yeah, let's park this for later because we're going to talk about the future and like some of the ideas we have in the latter part of the show. Go ahead, Eva.

Eva: So we already diving right into the topic here. I think you made a very interesting point, but maybe just going a step before that. So I'm thinking about all the people maybe that are listening to these podcasts and who never had the chance to attend an event, a Wikimedia event by themselves. So maybe question to you, Felix, if you would be talking to them, how would you describe in a few sentences the WikiWay or maybe the WikiFeel? You know, how are Wikimedia events like?

Felix: So for me, the WikiWay has been a group of volunteers coming together without any event experience or organizing experience and then taking that ad hoc method of trying to organize something that solves a need within their movement or within the communities that they serve. And that has been the way that we've done it over the years. Is it the best way? I don't know. We're yet to see this podcast.

Eva: That's a good question. It leads me to my next one. I mean, the in -person time that we have is very valuable. As we say, mostly we are a digital movement and we have those very short time where we can meet and make the best out of this human connection. Z, maybe go ahead, share some thoughts. What do you think the purpose of those events should be? What's the best way to use this precious in -person time?

Z: In past two CEE meetings, I did workshops in both Ohrid and Tbilisi about these things like post -learning from post -pandemic and learning about or experimenting with the event formats where we should be, I think, much more radical. I think we already started, unfortunately, forgetting about what we learned in pandemic. So many events, including CE meeting, unfortunately, which I mentioned now for three times and although I was part of the editorial board for Ohrid, I'm not proud and I'm not making sure, I'm not promoting it as an amazing event. But for example, giving up on the hybridity of the event was super quick decision and now reducing events to have some parts streamed and some parts published seems like a really, really big sacrifice for, I mean, preserving some of the resources of organizers, I understand, not everyone has the capacity, but you are taking out so many possibilities for people who don't travel easily, especially in Southeast Europe, where we don't have many affiliates organized in Central Eastern Asia, where there are also not many people able to travel, where they cannot enter EU countries.

So it's kind of tricky who can drop and when you can drop people. When do you decide which session should be streamed or not? Which session gets to get recorded and published? I think we have to be much more careful about this. We have been historically excluding people just because we were not utilizing streaming for 20 years actively until the pandemic. I was part of the early streaming conferences. I didn't mention net congestion in Amsterdam. This was literally 20 years ago. We were discussing how important it is to have democratization of streaming media. And it really took global pandemic for people to install for the first time video conferencing software. Unfortunately, they had to install three or four versions because we don't have standards in this field. And it's a pity that Wikimedia doesn't think that we should increase our capacities and join other parts of the open movement, like open source software organizations, and share these resources and actually build infrastructures that we are missing from corporate silos of social media, corporate providers of streaming media and actually advance the field to our own needs, not to consumer needs that big corporations need for their extraction of profit.

Eva: So now let's try to take a closer look at the Wikimedia events and maybe particularly the opportunities, but also the challenges that they are faced with. So let's talk a little bit about the organization of events. Who holds the responsibility of organizing events? Should maybe the hubs take a prime role in it or the regional groups chapters? What should be done by volunteers? What should be done by professionals? There are many questions around it. Z, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Z: Maybe I can start by reverse order. I mean, there is a huge question when professionals enter Wikimedia movement, how they entered? If their past experience is acknowledged or not. Unfortunately, many people are not acknowledged. Like you don't necessarily transfer cultural, social, any other capital when you join in editing Wikipedia or taking part in small events. You are not being asked, okay, what else do you know? What are your offline skills? This is not something that's relevant. And even more, maybe some people are pushed back from contributing more because this is not done. And on the other hand, affiliates not necessarily employ people who have specific on -wiki experience. So we have multiple mismatches in configurations that we have people who maybe have technical skills or cultural skills in organizing events, but they don't know the dynamics of Wikimedia, contributors, the processes. And you have people who maybe have edited Wikis since they were kids and now they are adults, but they have no other experiences in terms of media culture, in terms of social organizing. And they are all part of same so called movement, while some really feel like activists, others feel really like professionals. So even if they are in the same space, they don't necessarily configure well and easily where they can work together, where they can negotiate things. And this is where I think we fail to make the best of all and to make our capacities grow together. And we often have clashes of old experienced Wikipedians claiming they know somehow best because they've been in here for decades. And on the other side, we have people who are very experienced in very specific things we are missing and we are not providing space for them because maybe they didn't edit enough, especially if they're coming from less privileged positions.

Eva: Z you're mentioning skills and competences, but I'm also thinking about resources. So our movement is built on this Western idea of volunteerism. And basically, the way we understand volunteer work is unpaid work. A lot of events are being organized by volunteers who are not being remunerated for this work. And it's huge what they are doing. So I don't know, do you maybe have some thoughts here around provocative thoughts here? Maybe remunerating some of this volunteer work?

Z: You know I do, of course. I think it's super problematic that we enforce some of the values and practices that were established at very particular times and very particular contexts around very particular work, like making Wikipedia pages as like content contributions, and we project them to other contexts at other times for other types of work. The fact that people who do outreach in cultural field and with institutions only got recently recognition that their work is equally valuable is like a really big but super late step forward. So to get to the point where we actually see huge content gaps and participation gaps also being fixed by trying to be more supportive of people with less resources including less time, still needs to be made. I mean, we can only do so much content that can be done as a hobby by so many people. And having these constant binaries, whether someone is only professional or only volunteer is only reducing our own options. It doesn't help in articulating the field. It doesn't help in empowering people and it doesn't reflect the reality. Hardly anyone of us is just doing this for work and hardly anyone of us is able to do this only as hobby. Like, yes, there are people who do that way, but they are really minority. I think most people when they decide even to work professionally in Wikimedia, they do this also because it's ethically interesting to work in an open movement not just because it's the best paid job in the world or the most easy job in the world.

Nikki: Yeah, this is a very interesting discussion because I also feel like these divisions that we create in the movement between, you know, our quotes, professionals and volunteers, they're very artificial and they don't lead us to utilizing the amazing resources, the amazing human resources we have efficiently.

Z: I mean, I'm also thinking that we also don't make them explicit after we decide on them. Like I would really prefer that we have collaborative projects in which we enter them and saying, okay, I am professional and I'm renumerated this and this much per minute. And you are not if you are coming as volunteer. And based on this, also reflect on what does that mean? How does this affect future participation? Because, when you're entering, and we have all entered different projects in Wikimedia sphere, you don't necessarily know how long it will take. Sometimes it look, it's something that we will do for a month and it ends up being a year. And sometimes it never finishes. You may be spend a hundred hours thinking, okay, I'm happy to donate 20 or 30 hours into this process. And then after you're gone, after a hundred hours, then you think, okay, I'm leaving this. I will not have even maybe a reference of this because I didn't stick till the end until you reach the final stage and celebration. We made it. How does that make a person feel? You have totally opposite situation on Wikis. Even the smallest contribution, if you are moving a comma, in a sentence on any Wikipedia, it is recorded which account at what time, sometimes even what location, if you have the IP address.

Nikki: Yeah. So some of these problems during the formation of movement strategy were tried to address or people thought we would be able to address them through this mechanism of hubs. Felix, What do you think, like WISCOM is trying to become a hub maybe, or is thinking about becoming a hub. Do you think hubs can sort of bridge that gap between professionalism and professional services that are needed and the engagement of non -paid people? I'm not using the word volunteers right now. They can bridge that and maybe do a better job at utilizing all those resource to have good events?

Felix: So I think hubs can do quite a lot for our movement. I happened to be in the resource allocation working group when the moment strategy was being done. And one of the discussions we had was the hubs. The idea of the hubs when we were talking about it then was more of like professionalism, bringing people who know and have requisite knowledge to do some of these things that we didn't have the capacity to do. And then building center of excellences of institutions within the movement that knew how to do these things, and then sort of like sharing on that knowledge. But today when I see the Hubs discussions and the Hubs that are coming out, it's more of like groups of people gathering together and finding a thematic or a regional thing to do and then they call themselves Hubs. Right. And for me, that will not solve some of these problems that Z is talking about going into the future. Because when I see Hubs, I see institutions that have years of experience, years of knowledge doing a precise work. And then we bring them into the fold because they are aligned partners that can help us with the same goals in the regions or in the thematic areas that we want to push those gaps. But then if you bring a group of volunteers together that do not have skill sets, do not know what exactly they're doing, then you're just redoing the ad hoc means of kindly running this movement just in a different way called hubs, I would say.

So I don't think that solves a problem for me until we begin to see the hub conversations move towards more professionals into our spaces, inviting more professionals into our spaces, finding institutions that have years of knowledge of, say for example, doing accounting on the continent of Africa and working with them to disperse funds on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, finding institutions that have years of events, organizing experience and saying, be a center of excellence for our communities in Africa and help them do this kind of work or be a partner to the movement to help us achieve these goals. It's then when we can say that these hubs will affect us positively. But what I see now is just we're replicating the same things in a different model. So let's stay with that for a minute. And when you think of WISCOM, and maybe talk a little bit about the model that WISCOM has had in terms of transferring knowledge from event to event team, because I think that's an interesting model.

So I think in 2017, the first call for Africans to have a steering committee for organizing the Wikindaba conference actually was instituted. And this happened because since the first edition, which was 2014, the next one that happened was 2017. It took three years for us to reorganize ourselves as Africans to organize the conference again. So there was that need to create a group of people that would be turning the wheels when everybody's done and gone home and ensuring that the conversations continue. And so the request for WISCOM was made in 2017 and 2018 in Tunisia, the first committee was put together. And this committee was designed, I think around the Wikimedia COT, the same idea. So people who have organized the conference before were invited into the committee. And the whole idea was that these people, because they've organized before, will pass on knowledge from one Wikimedia to the other. The constitute of the committee also had a portion where committee members who had skill sets, who had skill sets in organizing events and what have you, could be voted by the committee to have a committee seat in the WISCOM formation. And so this was how WISCOM started. But I think over the years, WSCOM has moved from just wanting to organize the Wikindaba Conference because in organizing the conferences, they've been...they've realized other areas that there is need on the continent. So WiSCOM is shipping itself more to become an organization or for lack of better, when I call it a hub, that will help bridge some of the issues that are happening on the continent. So like you did mention, WiSCOM formed the strategy to start collating some of these common issues on the continent through something called the Africa agenda, which they've been gathering information from all parts of the continent. And we know that these issues vary from country to country, but there are also some realities that run through all of these countries. So those are the issues that have been gathered and collated in the document called the Africa Agenda. So I would say that a conference like Working in Daba has been able to move a community in a region like Africa to not just organize a conference where they meet and converse about these issues, but actually take a step further in designing what they think would be the guide for which other collaborators, other partners from other parts of the world working with Africa should look at to work with them. That seems like a great model, using conference and event organizing as a sort of a ramp for community organizing. And then the next step is sort of strategy when you realize these are the common problems we have. So I think that's a great model.

Eva: You just talked about the common problems we have.. It's not the most positive framing ever, but sometimes it just does as good as a movement to look critically at what we are doing and try to find paths forward. So the question to you Z, what are the challenges when it comes to organizing Wikimedia events? And there are many, so maybe you can focus on one or two aspects. I know you have many ideas and you can maybe try and describe, you know, the challenges that you perceive and maybe ways we could solve them.

Z: Yeah, this is super hard for me to discuss. I would need a special dedicated series. To be honest, I only returned to Wikimedia after I started an account when Wikipedia started, like in the first year, because I was already a Wiki enthusiast before Wikipedia. But I only returned because someone told me the Queen Wikipedia conference is about to take part, to take place in next year. So I joined in 2019 to follow that development. And because of pandemic and seeing how under resourced the community is and being a cultural professional working in organizing, I joined organizing committee and took more active role than I planned initially, just as participant and ended up sticking around over different topics. There are many, many problems. I think equality and access to resources is probably the most obvious and most urgent to sort. I would not necessarily agree with everything that Felix said around professionalism. I think there are many people within a movement who have been learning, but were not able to scale up their work and also...there haven't been a really good distribution system of resources, historically, unfortunately, still in present, so that many people have the opportunity to show what they can do, and even when they fail locally, regionally, what they have learned in these failures. We had, we'd see meeting issues that basically...

For example, visa discussions and flight discussions took over Telegram group of editorial board for almost all of the summer, just because on the other side, there was only one person or one and a half person in Macedonia working on this. And for me, this is super wasteful way of managing events and then the resources and capacities of people. With Queering Wikipedia, we didn't develop safe enough space historically for these events to emerge. Unfortunately, with LINDS being planned just two months after the COVID pandemic started, we still didn't do the physical proper event. The event I co -led last year was hybrid in the sense that we had 10 smaller locations distributed as nodes in different continents and that democratized participation, but it didn't solve that we empowered all of those nodes with equal access to all the resources. This is something we still have to do ourselves, but it was a big push that the conference making is not only about content, but also about distributing resources and distributing responsibilities that they also had to produce some kind of local content, a local audience. And it was not only people from affiliates, but also people from community coming forward. And that made it, in my opinion, maybe the most precious part of the organizing Queering Wikipedia.

Eva: Z, can you maybe elaborate a bit on what are the types of resources you're thinking about? Because I know many people, when you mention resource, think about money. And that's definitely a big thing when it comes to events, but I have a feeling that you think of other resources when you're talking about accessing them.

Z: I think money can help only so much. Like if you have knowledge to know how to use it, how to make the most use of it. We didn't learn amazingly well how to spend money on events. I mean, in my opinion, Wikimania, for example, is one of the huge kind of I would not say maybe waste of money, but it's super, super resource heavy. And I don't think we need to have this global event every year for people to fly across the world. It's not even environmentally safe. And we have been discussing during pandemic how to make it more hybrid, maybe not to do it every year. And most of those discussions stopped basically in past one and a half year. As soon as the people who were more privileged to travel again were able to travel, like the discussions fell apart. And in terms of access to knowledge and basically access to specifically event organizing knowledge, we need to have support of people who are technically skilled and who have methodologically have done several types of events and they experience how to program events to be empowering events for people who participate, not just for people who present to show what their affiliate did in one more PowerPoint presentations. This we can do with video at any point. But how to make interactive events in which we are not just, you know, jet class who flies across the world and be a passive observer of a stage performance. This is totally contrary to anything that we should be as participatory open culture advancing. And also to have them safe, maybe in a way that they can be critical and that this critique is taken seriously and embraced as part of the building blocks that we need and not something that happens as exception and only by few people. I think we are maybe more in desperate need of really strong critique from all of these organizational aspects, technological, cultural, social, environmental, than anything positive. I mean, we have really long history of tapping ourselves on shoulders, how amazing we are. And I'm not sure we did all the great work all the time.

Nikki: Felix, do you have a reaction to what Zeejah said about our events? So not more of a reaction, but in addition to some of the things that Z said.

Felix: So I like the fact that he mentioned resources and I like the fact that he explained that resources is just not money. Cause a lot of times when we talk about resources, people are only thinking of money. I think when I did make my submission earlier on, I did mention professionalism because I think that's a resource in its sense. And I think a lot of the times we leave these events to people who don't have the skill sets to be able to do them. And I'm saying this, not to say that some volunteers don't know how to do this. They know how to do this. But there are other people that need help. And when I say need help, yeah, you need help in organizing visa for participants of their conferences. They need help in finding the right venues and all of that. But most of the times, these are some of the things that I left to for my chair. And so you go to conferences. And you realize that the standard of conferences from other regions is not the same thing that goes into other regions. So there is disparity in what conference you're going to based on the location and based on the people that are handling it. And that's the kind of professionalism I was talking about. And I think so, Z, you mentioned resources actually brought the same thing out of me. And for me, I think it's so important for us to look at resources in various ways and not just the money that we write things about.

Now, the other thing that I want to talk about is, right? So scholarships have been gained in this movement and it feels like an award. And so the conversations before COVID was like, oh, how do we even make this more sustainable so we can have more of these conversations without having to meet in person? But then as soon as people like the, for lack of a better word, I say the elite ones, those who could travel again and have the opportunity, they jump right back into the hold of it, which is to start traveling again. But I think what we need for our movement is trying to revolutionize how we do these events, right? Making sure that it's inclusive such that even if you're not there in person, you could contribute in a meaningful way. And I am the line meaningful over here, because like we try to do these things, but almost often than not, if you're not in the place, your views or your thoughts even don't contribute much to the conversations that are ongoing at these places.

And the other thing I want to say is that some people have been going for conferences for tens of years, right? Why can't we make sure that the essence of these conferences that if we really want to continue having them, right, is tangibility and resourcefulness so that new people who would bring more to the table could also have a chance to go because at the moment, some people feel entitled, they feel it's an award, I need to be there. And so when these conferences go up and then you begin to hear a lot of fighting here and there, I need to be there, I didn't get a scholarship and what have you. So that's just one other aspect I wanted to add, Z, to what you said.

Z: The reason why it keeps on going and the reason why we've not had serious conversations about changing some of these conferences is because some people are feeling like they're entitled to be in these spaces. I would fully agree to this. I mean, there is a history of people creating super strong bonds on these events, but also people feeling excluded because they haven't won a chance to get access to. And they feel that others are privileged. And maybe those who are privileged to travel, they also don't see this as a big gift because they've also spent, I don't know, five unpaid days for two and a half day conference because they had to travel halfway across the world and return almost immediately. I mean, I went to Berlin summit and although I used to live in Berlin and love Berlin, can stay there much longer. I basically had to return three days, within two days after, just because the conference organizer can allocate insurance and these kind of procedures only within this timeframe. So we also need to figure out how to make things more flexible, more accessible, more practical for people who want to contribute, who give their time also as contribution, not just their texts, not just their data, not just their media inside the Wikimedia.

Nikki: We really need to do this better. So this is making me feel a little bit bad because also, you know, we're organizing the Wikimedia Summit and we didn't have a budget big enough to allow everyone either to come or to organize a hybrid component, which... Maybe we should also mention this, although I hate to be the person to say this, everything costs too much money, but hybridity is incredibly expensive. So there needs to be, from those who make decisions about money, there needs to be a deliberate decision to say, we want to be inclusive, we want to be assuring that everybody can participate, and therefore we invest these resources to either fly everybody around the world, or, and or for those people who cannot do that, assure that they can meaningfully participate in hybrid events. So that's currently not the case. And so I'm glad we're making this point here.

Eva: Nikki, can I just react to that? Because we've been saying resources is just much more than just money. And when it comes to hybridity. It is just, yes, of course, the decision to not make an event hybrid, in this case, the summit has some budget constraint, but it also has a whole bunch of other constraints that are not related to the budget. And it is just a conscious decision to say, well, we are not going to make it hybrid because it puts constraint on the program. And we somehow make the decision to follow the way we are used to making programs and designing events. Therefore the way of not making it open for online participation. And just want to make the point here and say, yes, of course, making event hybrid requires more financial resources. But as e and also Felix said, maybe there is also a need of rethinking the way we are doing events. And when it comes to the decision of we don't do it hybrid, the solution could be to say, well, let's just build capacities in the movement. What does it actually require to be able to design a program that enables a real hybrid participation, not just a stream, but a real program. This design makes it, yeah, just the design that would really enable this online participation. And I think we are bad at this, not just us, the Wikimedia movement, kind of the whole world, because it is like a new topic. But I would love to think of a future where we could get stronger there. So it's not just about budget. It's also about other kinds of resources. Yeah.

Felix: I had a hand, sorry, I'm going back to this, but I think what you all are saying is very, very important. And for me, the whole thing about hybrid is we try to do that just to tick the box that we're being inclusive. But like Nikki said, we're not deliberate about it. Because being deliberate about it is investing in that area of work and making sure that people can actually contribute in a timely manner to the conversations that are happening in the room. And I have seen, I don't want to mention names, but I've seen events where they just put a microphone in the middle and one PC or people connect to PC and they expect that that does the work. It just doesn't do that. And if we are serious about our carbon emissions, like the way we produce sustainability reports on an annual basis, then we should care about traveling because traveling releases a lot of emissions into the environment. And I think one sustainable way for us to have these events, because I think events solve the problem, they address an issue and fill a gap in the movement, right? But one way that we can actually do this effectively or judiciously is using hybrid events, because that is less emissions on our part. That actually allows more people to be engaged in those conversations, other than just skew people through the old ways where we pay for people to travel to go to conferences. So I would say, like Nikki said, I want to reiterate, it's about being deliberate about the process and knowing what issues you're trying to solve and asking the genuine and honest question. Is everybody that we need to participate in this conversation in this room? If they are in the room, yes. If they're not, how do we make sure that they are there? I'll give you another example.

We'll talk about inclusivity around language, right? Why don't we go to these conferences and then they try to make a Zoom call and then somebody is translating online and half of the time if that connection is not done properly or the connections to the room are not done properly. They can't even hear what is happening in the room. And that for me, it's not a way to say we're investing in translation. I've heard things where they've said, OK, you have to do the translation budget from your own budget that you've already asked for for the conference, which is not enough because translation can be very expensive. Right. So these are some of the things I think about. It makes me think, are we deliberate about these things? Are we really serious about inclusivity? Because if you want to be serious, then you plan, you design, you deliberately put a money way about this, I would say.

Nikki: That's great. So we're already in sort of the third part of our conversation, which is looking in the future and discussing things that we need to be better at. And just to summarize, one is hybridity and the other one is paying attention to language and making sure that everybody needs to participate. And I think this ties beautifully back into movement strategy, which also you know, even before the pandemic and all these things happened, had these, had the emphasis on inclusion and diversity and really putting our money where our mouth is there. So what are some other things maybe to round off this conversation? In the beginning, you were talking about the way we structure programs is not the Wiki way and it doesn't do justice to the diversity of thoughts that people come and bring to a conference. Maybe, do you have some concrete suggestions on how that part could be improved, program design?

Z: Absolutely. I mean, if you look at the most of the composition of the conferences, they tend to be really affiliate heavy. Like a lot of people who are employees of affiliates kind of have duty to report progress of their projects in public forums like conferences. They create a lot of presentations. Some of them are really amazing. Some of them are super unnecessary in the conferences. They are not interactive at all. They are not necessarily applicable elsewhere. They are overly specific and not generalized enough to the level of being a method that other people can pick up in real time and give feedback in real time. But because this is their duty to the employer, they just go to everything possible. And this is what also deteriorates quality. And I feel especially around CE meeting, there is much less meeting and much more reporting and much more a conference than a meeting. Like the actual meeting time where we would sit around the table and do something or even discuss something interactively is super limited. I attended Wiki Workshop, which is a kind of a one -day event for academic research. It is super rigid academic format in which you see, as in any other conference, super short presentations, and you either tune in or not to that format of brief academic talks and pick up or not something valuable and connect or not to the person. For me, this is super limiting.

This is already kind of heavy burden to people who are mostly amateurs, who are passionate over a few topics. And I think we need to do less of huge aspirational overview events, more specialized and more diverse, structurally diverse, methodologically diverse events. I really, for example, wanted to do event that is queer, but not in English, that all other languages are used and whoever of English speaking people comes, they organize translation for themselves and they listen it as a translation to their language and experience what does it mean to listen someone who is being translated in real time, to formulate, to interpret cultural differences, to be stuck when metaphor doesn't transfer easily, where references are not super well known from the mainstream Anglo -Saxon culture, when even the tone of conversation is not this Anglo -Saxon politeness and kind of positivity that is expected, especially in corporate environments. For me, coming from Balkans, coming from a country where people had really bad experience with Wikipedia, that never had Wikimedia affiliate,

I cannot enter the same space with the same amount of positivity that they insist on. It's just not possible. And I never felt that I entered a space in which this is actually adequate. I mean, people do meet me and other queer people who over -complain, who have overly big demands, who maybe don't speak English fluently and all of these things. And they kind of privately understand, but structurally, we never moved in that direction to actually make adequate smaller, medium -sized events that can address this better. If we always have this huge Wikipedia global project aspiration as a starting point, we will fail. We will never do real translocal quality content if we always start from the center.

Eva: So if I hear you correctly, what you're talking about is also how can we foster inclusion and more diversity in our events and basically make sure that the more diverse crowd of people is also attending them. Maybe newcomers to the movement as well.

Z: Absolutely. I mean, we had these events moments historically. It's not like it never happened. Like iSummits when Creative Commons and I don't know who else, Open Knowledge Foundation or someone else Mozilla was joining.They had a really long strike with Wikimedians for several conferences. I know in 2007, my organization, Multimedia Institute, was organizing it in Dubrovnik as a seventh instance. So it had some history where we joined other partners, when we had more diverse and more culturally, let's say, appropriate adequate forms for what we were doing at that very moment. And they were more inspirational. We had people who would come with background that is not the same what we had and that enriched us even during the three, four day event.

Eva: Thank you, Z, for talking about those elements. I think then I would like to hear Felix thoughts on how could we change the way we are organizing events to try and make sure that they foster a bit more equity and inclusion and they also enable people who are not always the one joining our events to join us.

Felix: So, yeah, that's a very important question. So I think for me, equity would start from even the point where I asked myself who's organizing these conferences, because it's been the same group of people organizing these conferences over and over again. I think the approach that WISCOM took to that is something that could be emulated in the broader movement, which is creating institutional leads within one group of people. And then making sure that you pass that on regardless of whether whoever is organizing is new, old, or has been here for a period of time. And I think that has worked very well for them. And what I mean by that is standardizing some of the approaches of organizing and making sure that even if the LOC, that's the Local Organizing Committee, is inexperienced, you can have people within a committee that have the experience to pass on that knowledge and make sure that they organize it adequately. Now, what that does for me, in my opinion, is that it creates and opens up opportunities for those newer countries to be able to use Wikimedia as a pivot to sell more of their Wikimedia work within their countries. And we've seen this with Rwanda. We saw this with the Uganda one, which happened online. And we've seen this happen in several other countries of the continent. So that for me is something that we need to look at and something that we need to learn from and pass on to our places.

Now, for me, the regionalization approach that I've studied over the years is also the right reform. Instead of having global conferences, which limits the number of people you can have in that global space, and focusing more on the regions and ensuring or enforcing more conversations between people who live in similar geographical locations and then similar places with similar conditions has been helping, and this is very crucial. I think that level of conversation and interaction actually brings out the best in the people, and then it also allows common knowledge sharing.How can we take that up a notch?I think we need to start thinking about how we can cross collaborate amongst or beyond regions where CEE can talk to the organizers of WikiIndaba and learn from how they are doing this. I think in the past Wikimedia Deutschland showed prowess by documenting some of these things on meta, but I will say meta is an animal on its own and trying to find information is very difficult.Creating some of these documented resources in video formats, or even just creating the space to have that interaction, that innate conversation, to break down some of the issues that have happened in other countries and passing on that knowledge to other groups is very, very much. And I think that is what will bring about equity in that moment, I would say.

Nikki: Thank you. It also reminds me of sort of this knowledge transfer issue. It reminds me of something we did a few years ago at Wikimedia Deutschland, which was called a visiting Wikimedia. And so we had folks from Sweeden and other folks hang out during the crucial crushing months before a Wikimedia summit and just help and observe and learn that way. So I think that's also something we can continue to do or scale that practice up across the world. I mean, I always think it's nice to work regionally, but it's also... We are a global movement and we need to somehow do things to maintain these connections. And I'm sure people from Ghana can learn something from people in Columbia and vice versa, but we have to sort of create the spaces for that. So I'm gonna finish with the visionary questions. So put on your visionary hats, think of let's say, well, movement strategy goes to 2030. By 2030, Wikimedia events will..... And Z, I'm going to start with you and then let Felix finish it out. So by 2030, Wikimedia events, will....

Z: Happy to follow up on Felix's comment about knowledge and meta. I would love that we have something more than meta as a knowledge keeping strategy, at least institutional knowledge. I would love to have group of people in the Wikimedia movement that work on events that are appreciated not only as gatherings of most appreciated contributors and as like tiny prices, but actually think of each particular context and need and address them with different scales and different shapes of events. So we don't use one strategy that fits all but we actually develop multiple strands of what meaningful events could be and what works for some should not be assumed that works elsewhere. I would love for Wikimedia Foundation to actually take this super seriously and have more than one person giving conference grants and not only Wikimedia Foundation to have access to grants giving opportunities for events.

It would be amazing that we have at least digital infrastructure shared as open software installed and maintained with our partners in free software movement. We were super late. We paid way too many licenses for way too many things during pandemic. It doesn't have to be status quo forever. I think we, aside from events for strategy and strategic events, we have to develop methods of how we strategize events. How do we not only think how they are used to a certain point, but how they also develop. Even well -organized events, well -organized programs should change and we have to adopt that we as a live movement that changes over time needs to keep changing. And we cannot perpetuate things that are just good enough, especially because people who judge if something is good enough tend to be more or less usual suspects.

Nikki: I love how you're like, basically, you're not quoting from movement strategy, but you're bringing up all the recommendations. Earlier you said knowledge management, which is its own recommendation. Then we said we need a knowledge base. That's not meta. And you set a value, iterate, and adapt and have sort of an agile and more formative approach to everything we do, but particularly events. And we do tend to, you know, just like people love the way Wikipedia looks and the user interface looks. And when there's like a slight change to it, there's a lot of upheaval. I mean, I wonder what's going to happen if we say, no, Wikimania is not going to happen every year anymore. You know, what the upheaval will be for that because people just love their formats and it's hard for them to change. But I think change, we must, we need to be able to do that. Felix, in 2030, Wikimedia events will....

Felix: So in 2030, Wikimedia events will be more strategic in addressing needs of the community, solving real issues. If it is for communication, it must solve communication issues. If it is for sharing knowledge, then it must be a conference that really shares knowledge with the people that are there. I would also say, I want, in 2030, I'd like to see our events cross collaborate with other open movement institutions. So working more to organize some of these conferences with platforms like Creative Commons, Mozilla, and solving a common or shared goal is something I want to see in 2030. And I will say lastly, in 2030, I want to see events that are rid of volunteers being asked to do things that professionals are meant to do. Events that are more encouraging for volunteers to learn, to take it as an opportunity to learn, and not just focus on being overly used and burnt out.

So that is my vision for 2030. On the back of all of this, I'd say that events are important, as you can see. We are a movement that really, really, really rides on connections because one of the policies that's that is that is in the spells out saying that being civil and being civil means being civil with human interaction. So we know human interactions. It's a defining moment in how this whole umbrella works. And so meeting the people creating the bond connecting and socializing is important. But it shouldn't just be about the connecting and socializing. It should be about something more beyond that. And that's one thing that we need to look for in 2030.

Nikki: Thank you, Felix. Thank you, Z. This was a great conversation. I wish it could have been longer and less interrupted. But this is a wrap of the 18th episode of Wikimove. Thanks to our guests, Felix and Z, for sharing your insights and your vision of the future. Thanks to our listeners for listening. Eva, read us out.

Eva: Yeah. Wikimove is a production of Wikimedia Deutschland and its governance and movement relations team. And Wikimove is available on podcast apps and YouTube. Our music was composed and produced by Rory Gregory and is available under CC by SA on Wikimedia Commons. And so are all of our episodes.

Nikki: You can visit our Wikimedia with Meta page to listen to all the previous episodes we talked about today. And you can also suggest topics and guests for our next episode. You can even suggest yourself if you want to.

Eva: You can also use our Meta page to react to podcasts, connect with other listeners and subscribe to always be notified of our new episode releases. And if you want to reach out to us, you can do so via the Wikimove Meta page or you can send us an email. All the relevant links are available on the show notes. Ciao everyone! Bye bye!