Whose Knowledge?/Resources/Mapping Your Knowledge
There are many ways for communities to map knowledge. Here is one proposed process and framework, based on methods and questions that have been useful for some Whose Knowledge? partners so far.
This is not necessarily a linear process! It is written this way simply to make it easier to understand, but you may start, for instance, with Step 4 and work backwards. Or do Steps 1 and 2 side by side. And if you change the process entirely, we’d love to know!
We encourage you to use what’s helpful, and adapt, remix, or change any part of this framework to better suite the context, people, and knowledge in your community! Feedback is welcome to improve this framework for everyone.
Step 1. Brainstorming Context and Key People, Events, Issues
With your community, perhaps in a document or whiteboard, begin to think together about some key areas of your knowledge. This might help you map both the context(s) in which you are living and working, and the important work you and your community have been doing. This is not an exhaustive list, but a starting point!
- Who are the people or groups that matter in your community?
- Who is important for your community or the broader world to know about?
- Who inspires you?
- What are these people’s stories?
- Why are they important?
- What major events matter in your community?
- What happened in the world that deeply affected your community?
- What happened and when, that the world should understand?
- What are the struggles or celebrations that have shaped your community over time?
- What’s important to know about each of these events?
- How does this event link to the people and issues you consider important?
Issues, Ideas and Interventions
- What major issues matter in your community? You might think here about issues as important themes, ideas, frames, concepts, strategies, interventions...
- What’s important to know about the issue?
- How did the issue affect your community?
- What are some interventions, strategies, or actions that your community was organizing around these issues?
- What frames and concepts came out of this organizing that were particularly influential, both for your community and the wider world?
...is there anything else?
- What are some of the key stories you tell within your community about the experiences you’ve had and the knowledge you share?
- Are there other main types or artifacts of knowledge that are important for you? For e.g. important books your community members have written, art, music, science…??
- How have these impacted the broader contexts in which you live and work?
Suggestions on structure
For each topic (e.g. a person or event), you should end up with a short name/title, and perhaps also a brief description with a few sentences that explain the topic and why it’s important. We suggest digitizing and organizing your brainstorm into either a shared document or a spreadsheet as soon as possible, so that steps 2 and 3 will be easier to add information to along the way. Consider having one or more people in your group acting as researchers to help as you move into Steps 2 and 3.
Step 2. Is the knowledge already online?
For each topic you’ve brainstormed, check…
Is it already covered on Wikipedia?
- If yes, add link to article
- If yes, does the article represent your community’s perspective or knowledge on the topic?
What’s missing? What could be added?
- Is it covered somewhere else online?
- If yes, link to where it exists
- If yes, does that represent your community’s perspective or knowledge on the topic? What’s missing? What could be added?
Step 3. Finding sources
For each topic you’ve brainstormed…
What are the sources for knowledge on this topic?
- Which scholars?
- Which books?
- Which academic journals/papers/etc?
- Which journalism?
- Which blogs?
- Which videos?
- Which pictures?
- Which community members or other oral sources?
- Where else?
Do you already have access to each source?
- If so, add links or other info for each source - where do they exist?
- If not, who can help you get access?
Step 4. Priorities
By now you’ve probably got a long list of knowledge topics! If you’re going to use them to create online content, you probably want to start prioritizing your list to create a smaller set of topics to focus on first.
Which people, events, and issues are most important and meaningful for your community?
- Which are most critical for the world to understand?
- Which have been most often left out or misrepresented in the world’s knowledge? What are important people, issues and events, for instance, that other communities have written about without the perspective of your community?
- Mark these as high priority.
For Wikipedia edit-a-thons
- If you plan to have a group working on adding knowledge to Wikipedia…
- Prioritize a list of the top 20 topics for your community to add or improve articles about on Wikipedia.
- Ensure that you have what Wikipedia considers "reliable sources" that you can cite when adding knowledge there. The rules of what's considered "reliable" will differ slightly in different language versions of the online encyclopedia, but in general content added without strong citations is likely to be deleted.
For knowledge that isn’t yet written down in “reliable” sources
- You might also prioritize a list of important topics that don’t have written, independent, peer-reviewed sources to cite on Wikipedia.
- For each topic, you might begin to brainstorm how new sources could be gathered or created.
- You might think about reaching out to scholars, journalists, videographers, archives, etc along the way to get others helping to generate new sources.
Some examples from Dalit History Month organizers show what one community’s path has looked like. Yours may be similar and different at the same time!
- Timeline of Dalit History - this is an illustrated version of step 1’s knowledge map. Dalit community members brainstormed names and information about important people, issues, events, and later put it into a timeline format.
- Dalit History Knowledge Map - this is the spreadsheet where Dalit community organizers added step 2 and 3 info about whether the knowledge is already on Wikipedia or not, and sources that can be used.
- Dalit Wikipedia Articles - this page has a list of Wikipedia articles that the Dalit community has created or .improved at edit-a-thons after prioritizing a subset of topics to start with.