Wikimedia UK has been attending Mozilla’s conference in London for a few years now, as we attempt to build deeper connections to other organisations working to promote open knowledge. This year, we presented a discussion entitled ‘Under the hood: how understanding Wikipedia’s internal structure and community can teach media literacy’. This was a relaxed hour and a half presentation with about 20 participants who asked questions throughout the talk.
Programmes coordinator Stuart Prior talked about the processes of decision making, dispute resolution, and guidelines which help editors decide on what facts to summarise within Wikipedia articles. Scottish Libraries Wikimedian in Residence Delphine Dallison discussed the structural problems with Wikipedia content being written by a small number of editors from a limited social and geographical background, and communications coordinator John Lubbock discussed some of the problems with how media discusses Wikipedia, and some of the common myths that prevent a more nuanced understanding of the Wikimedia projects.
But Mozfest is an important event for people working in Open communities for the possibilities it offers of engaging with people working on related projects. Wikimedia Foundation ED Katherine Maher was at the event, talking about the Foundation’s work and priorities, and staff from Wikimedia Deutschland and other Wikimedia groups were also there. We talked to people from Communia, fighting the damaging EU copyright directive which could harm access to free knowledge, as well as staff from the Open Data Institute and Open Knowledge International. One idea discussed was to begin hosting Open organisation networking meetings for staff from groups like ODI, OKI, Mozilla, Wikimedia, OpenStreetMap and others to make connections and find possible areas for collaboration.
Communications coordinator John has also been participating in the Mozilla Open Leaders programme, which supports people working on Open projects to develop their ideas. As part of this, John has been writing a communications strategy for promoting Wikidata, primarily in the UK, but which could be used by other Wikimedia organisations or non-Wikimedia groups who use Wikidata. We hosted a Wikidata meetup at the Wikimedia UK office recently and talked to people working for MySociety who are using Wikidata to collate and visualise political data using Wikidata. Although Wikidata is becoming increasingly important, there has not been any coordinated outreach attempt to promote the project to governmental or educational institutions who may benefit from its use.
Educational institutions in particular are increasingly offering Data Science courses to students, and Wikimedia UK believes that Wikidata is an incredibly important tool to learn data literacy. Over the next few months we hope to work with others using and promoting Wikidata to come up with a shared set of ideas, messages and resources that people can use to promote Wikidata. If you have ideas, you’re welcome to comment on the Github repository for the project.