Hello from John, WMUK’s new comms person!

Photo by Adam Novak

My name is John Lubbock and I’m the new communications coordinator at Wikimedia UK. I’m really pleased to be working with the team, some of whom I already know from volunteering at the 2014 Wikimania London conference (that’s me in the middle in red and purple), and I hope that I’ll be able to help raise awareness of the work WMUK does to support open knowledge in the UK.

Why Wikimedia?

For an organisation that runs one of the biggest websites in the world, Wikimedia maintains an ethical commitment to education and free access to knowledge that is truly admirable. The goal of giving every human being access to the sum of the world’s knowledge in their own language is a noble and ambitious human endeavour which shows what the incredible invention we call the internet can do at its best.

We live in a pretty cynical world sometimes, but I’m really glad to be working for an organisation which aims at such an incredible ideal. As a child of the internet era, I can remember the promise and the optimism of the mid 90s which coincided with the dawn of the internet age. I feel that those goals need to be supported and that Wikimedia’s projects are a beacon of hope which calls on us all to break out of the echo chamber which our social media feeds have become.

What I’ve done in the past

Wikimedia and its projects provide endless possibilities for improving the world’s access to accurate, unbiased knowledge and educational materials, and I’m excited to be able to contribute to Wikimedia UK’s work by promoting those projects and helping to get more people interested in them.

I’ve worked in a diverse range of roles since finishing my MA in International Politics and Human Rights at City University in 2009. As you can imagine, it wasn’t the best year ever to graduate so I did a lot of volunteering, internships and part time work for a number of years.

I’ve worked at the charities Minority Rights Group, Parliamentary Human Rights Group and the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. I’ve worked at the PR company Four Communications and the research department of the Imperial War Museum; I’ve been an English as a foreign language teacher, a community organiser on a South London housing estate and a freelance journalist and filmmaker.

Here’s a short documentary I made in Turkey:

What will I do for WMUK?

Working in all these roles I’ve learned a lot about how to promote the work of charities, how to teach people, organise groups and create media for different audiences. I hope that my work with Wikimedia UK will help to differentiate the brand of WMUK from the Foundation and enable us to fundraise more effectively, to promote the work of our volunteers better and help to secure new relationships with partner institutions that could host Wikimedians in Residence.

I’m a great believer that good content can motivate people to engage with the work of charities like WMUK and I hope to work with the community to produce videos, blogs and other materials which promote the valuable work that you contribute to Wikimedia projects.

What are our priorities?

Wikimedia UK has gone through a lot of changes in the past 18 months and we are looking to be more proactive about how we communicate our work by developing our social media and identifying important events and causes which will help us tell stories about our projects and the people working on them. I’m very open to hearing from the community about ideas which could lead to projects, help diversify our community and bring in new editors to improve underdeveloped subject areas.

Wikimedia UK is still a small organisation and it will take a while for me to settle into my role and take over certain tasks from other members of the team. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to helping the team tell stories which will explain its work to the public as well as showcasing the work of our community. If you’d like to come and talk to me about your projects and ideas, I’ll be at the next London meetup on Sunday 10th April from 13.00 at Penderel’s Oak Pub in Holborn. See you soon!

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