Wikimedia Deutschland would like to work with data partners from a diversity of sectors and disciplines, including GLAM, science, civil society, governmental, and commercial sectors.
The types of potential partners ranges from institutions, nonprofit organizations, volunteer projects and for-profit corporations. An important manifestation of partnerships comes in the form of networks and multi-stakeholder consortia, already joined around a common purpose and/or funding source.
Each partner or group of partners comes with a different set of ideas, needs, assets and capacities. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. At the same time, given the limited resources available at WMDE, it is necessary to have a common framework that helps to assess and understand the needs and assets of each collaborative project, in order to make good decisions about resources to invest - in order to achieve our vision to give more people more access to more knowledge.
While we have not developed a full Theory of Change around data partnerships, we are working with a pipeline logic, that sees partners not ‘only’ working on impact-oriented data projects with Wikimedia. We also hope that as a result of working with us, they go through an organizational and cultural change process, and then in turn act as champions for open linked data and free knowledge in their respective fields.
More detail about such a progression could look for the case of GLAM-Wikibase partners can be found here: GLAM pipeline
In recent years, Wikimedia organizations have indeed primarily worked with partners from GLAM institutions, as well as with a few scientific/research institutions and projects. Government, business and civil society organizations that work with data sets other than cultural and science data have largely been absent from our partner map so far. The potential of open data for civil society organizations working in human rights, environmental protection, and peace building has been largely unexplored to date.
Wikimedia organizations (WMF and WMDE) working in data partnerships have acted largely in reaction to requests from partners, and have not proactively sought out organizations or projects that may benefit from open data tools, or whose data assets could potentially be shared more broadly with the world. In this pro-active scenario, we will have to employ different methods, and possibly a higher degree of cultural sensitivity, as partners who have not come to us out of their own mission-driven motivation may not have any interest in having their data ‘liberated’, and/or may have lower levels of institutional readiness and capacity.
A better understanding of our role, partner culture and capacity, and of the resources needed to work with partners may help with being more intentional about researching and choosing partners from a larger diversity of sectors.
The most common types of partners we are currently working with:
- Institutions (for instance: DNB, European Research Council, Botanical Gardens, Staatsbibliothek, etc)
- Networks (for instance: DARIAH, CLARIAH, Digitale Deutsche Frauenarchive, etc.)
- Projects embedded in institutions (for instance: Factgrid)
- Large scale grant-funded consortia (for instance: QURATOR)
Types of partners we work with can be represented on a matrix with the axes “resource input and expected impact. Resource input is the amount of effort from the Wikimedia side, and the expected impact is the combined expected outcomes of the collaboration. This is not a scientific method of mapping partnerships, but helps our teams to find a joint language about discussing partners, and to later check back on the accuracy of our expectations.