Friends' Newsletter/2023/Issue 02
Welcome to Wikimedia UK’s summer newsletter. While the weather hasn’t been what you’d expect it to be at this time of year - at least here in the UK - there are plenty of good things going on in the charity. I hope you enjoy reading about some of these activities - from our involvement in Wiki Loves Earth, through to our advocacy around the Online Safety Bill. Last month, we launched a new publication, Wikimedia and Democracy, which highlights the impact of our work on information literacy and active citizenship. And if you didn’t catch it in our last newsletter, please do have a look at our Strategic Report for 2022/23. It’s a great snapshot of the work we’ve been doing over the last year, with videos, case studies and statistics, and it’s beautifully illustrated with images from Wikimedia Commons.
I’m delighted to share that our Director of Programmes and Evaluation, Daria Cybulska, has recently secured two Fellowships, both of which connect to Wikimedia UK and our work in information literacy and citizen activism. Next summer, Daria will be exploring different approaches and tools for safe and effective online activism, through the highly regarded Churchill Fellowship. Meanwhile, during the 2023/24 academic year Daria will be a Storytelling Fellow at the University of the Arts, London, with a focus on information literacy.
Whilst our partnership activities tend to be a bit quieter over the summer, the Wikimedia movement never sleeps, and several of our team (including myself) will be giving presentations at the annual Wikimania conference. Whilst Covid brought about changes in our programme that we want to retain, particularly in terms of remote participation, I’m personally looking forward to reconnecting with Wikimedians from around the world at the first in-person Wikimania since 2019.
We have a few staff members giving talks and presentations at Wikimania 2023. Dr Sara Thomas will be presenting a session on how to build a Train the Trainer programme, drawing on Wikimedia UK’s experience of running regular Train the Trainer courses. This hands-on workshop is designed to give you a framework for building a Train the Trainer programme in your own affiliate or community group.
Lucy Crompton-Reid and Tatjana Baleta will be doing a Climate talk. This session will focus on the work of the Wikimedia Visiting Fellow at the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, Tatjana Baleta, appointed by Wikimedia UK in October 2022. Tatjana and Lucy will share some of the key insights from this project, which represents Wikimedia UK's first Wikimedian in Residence for our strategic theme of Climate & Environment.
Daria Cybulska will talk about the grant-funded project with the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, 'Changemakers toolbox'. This workshop is to present, gather feedback on, and build engagement for a suite of introductory materials about changemaking, advocacy, and campaigning. This addresses a skills development content gap in the 2030 implementation strategy. These materials, sitting within a portal space on Meta, could then be used by Wikimedia communities globally to facilitate their thinking on how Wikipedia can be used for change, and to build their introductory skills in advocacy. Advocacy here is thought about broadly, not just in terms of copyright lobbying, but in all areas of change making that Wikimedia has potential for.
There’s plenty of other sessions at Wikimania, some of which are only available to those attending in person such as the Wikimania Hackathon running from the 15th-19th August. The Hackathon will feature a Newcomer Track with introductory sessions and workshops, and an Unconference Track with breakout rooms for sessions identified during the event. A main hacking space will be available throughout the event for collaborative work.
Wiki Loves Earth
Northern Ireland and Wales have been taking part in the 2023 Wiki Loves Earth competition. Wiki Loves Earth is an annual competition for photographers to enter pictures of the natural world in participating countries. By photographing Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty etc. we can raise awareness for the need to protect the flora and fauna of these areas. Future snapshots could be used to show the differences in the biosphere and the impact of climate change. If Wikipedia could better illustrate this change, we could help negate the effect.
Wiki Loves Monuments
Hot on the heels of Wiki Loves Earth, we turn our attention to Wiki Loves Monuments. The photography competition themed around historic sites will return on 1st September and run throughout the month. Through the competition we aim to improve our visual record of heritage sites in the UK. You can take part by submitting your photographs to the competition. Full details, along with what sites are eligible, are on the competition website.
Whether you’re shaping a snapshot of a local historic building or making a trip especially to take the perfect photo in the right light, photographers of all skill levels are welcome to take part. Photographs don’t have to be taken in September, so you can get a head start and organise your photos now and check out what places are eligible subjects.
If you would like to organise a photo walk in your area, please contact email@example.com for support.
UK Online Safety Bill
The UK’s Online Safety Bill (OSB) addresses important safety issues to protect children and adults online. However, in its current state, the Bill unduly threatens the survival and welfare of projects that prioritise the public interest over profits. The Bill neglects to protect free knowledge, privacy, freedom of speech, and the strength of civic society in the UK.
In an attempt to weed out the worst parts of the internet, the OSB jeopardises the best parts of the internet. So, we are calling on the UK Government and Parliament to exempt public interest projects from the OSB.
We have written a blog about the risks the bill poses to public interest projects, which you can read here. You can also see a list of FAQs, read the open letter and, if you have not already, sign it here.
Wikimedia UK’s 2023 AGM: election results
Many thanks to those of you who attended Wikimedia UK's AGM. For those who weren't there, we’re pleased to report that Sammy Tarling was elected to the Board of Trustees. Sammy is a long standing Wikimedian, having served as a functionary on the English Wikipedia and globally across the Wikimedia projects as a Steward until late 2022. Sammy has worked as a software engineer on the Community Tech team at the Wikimedia Foundation since early last year, and has experience as a company director.
Sammy replaces Kelly Foster as an elected trustee. Our thanks to Kelly were recorded at the AGM and we would like to reiterate them here. Kelly has served a three year term as a trustee, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience of the global Wikimedia movement. Whilst she is stepping down from the board, she has agreed to remain on the Community Development Committee as an independent member. We are very grateful to continue to benefit from Kelly’s insights and networks in this capacity.
All the ordinary board resolutions were passed, and the minutes from the 2022 meeting were approved.
This is just a reminder that if you want to be able to vote at future AGMs, please sign up for membership here. At the recent meeting, members voted to keep the membership fee at just £5 a year for individuals, although we always welcome additional donations!
Wikimedia and Democracy
Wikimedia UK has long believed that our workshops and training sessions make a difference in empowering people – by building their information literacy skills, providing an opportunity to collaborate, and capturing their heritage. In 2021, together with Agnes Bruszik, a research colleague, our Director of Programmes and Evaluation Daria Cybulska undertook a critical investigation into how engaging with Wikimedia projects contributes to the strengthening of civil society and democratic processes in the UK.
The main inquiry was to understand how improving information literacy skills contributes to Wikimedia UK’s vision of a more tolerant, informed and democratic society. Does our work increase participants’ information literacy, and does this in turn lead to a more engaged civil society?
Ultimately, we found that working on Wikimedia UK projects can facilitate a spirit of working towards a common good, aka free knowledge for all. It also enables cooperation with others and activism, which in the long run encourages an empowered civil society. This we believe can go a long way towards realising Wikimedia UK’s vision of a more informed, democratic and equitable society.
Daria delivered an online workshop on the findings of the report, with a curated Q&A facilitated by our trustee - and founder/director of Wise Kids, Sangeet Bhullar. You can read the report here, and watch a recording of the workshop here.
In May the Connected Heritage team said farewell to Leah Emary as she took up a full-time post with the University of Sunderland. Since the project started in August 2021 Leah and Lucy Hinnie have been instrumental in advancing WMUK’s work with the cultural heritage sector.
A partnership with the Royal Albert Memorial Museum is a key part of the Connected Heritage project, and Lucy Hinnie is acting as their Wikimedian in Residence. Lucy has led online training workshops for volunteers over the spring and summer, with an online wikithon on the theme of Exeter’s built heritage. We intend to follow this up with an in-person wikithon in September, writing about Devon’s history.
Over the summer we also ran a wikithon with the Washington Partnership in Tyne and Wear as part of events to mark the 60th anniversary of the new town. We also have an event planned with the Faversham Society in mid August.
New College Lanarkshire: become a Wikimedian course
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the merger of New College Lanarkshire and as part of this the college offered a large number of free evening courses. One of these courses was Become a Wikimedian, which was an 11 week course that was conducted online. Throughout this course 10 students learned how to make positive contributions to multiple Wiki platforms, such as Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.
For many years Wikipedia has been viewed in a negative light by educators, however, this course has highlighted what a positive tool Wikipedia can be for learners. Knowing how to use the platform properly to bolster research is key to its success. The students quickly understand how Wikipedia can be used as a springboard to delve deep into research on a specific topic.
Code the City
Aberdeen-based civic hacking initiative Code The City is back with a weekend dedicated to the past, the present and future of Union Street and the City Centre area of Aberdeen.
At this in-person event they'll be working with the team from Our Union Street; cultural organisations and heritage groups; planners and designers; citizens; and our multi-skilled volunteers, to work on a number of identified challenges over the weekend, which includes a Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons editathon to coincide with Wiki Loves Monuments. More information on their website.
University of Edinburgh residency
Wikidata Map of Accused Witches project - new student intern
Our previous intern, Claire Panella, worked from February to May and has blogged about her experience and created a markdown document for anyone wishing to quality assure the data in Wikidata when comparing csvs from it with csvs from the 'golden copy' of information in the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft database. Claire also created a sample 'change log' to keep track of any changes made to Wikidata and/or the Survey database so we can better track of amendments in the longer term. A new Wikidata project page has also been set up.
Wikimedia in the Curriculum paper
Ewan McAndrew contributed case studies of Wikimedia in the Curriculum to a paper co-authored by Lorna Campbell and Dr. Melissa Highton on Supporting open education practice: What works for the EDUTEC Journal on Open Educational Practices in Higher Education at the invitation of Daniel Villar-Rubia at the University of Cadiz. This has now been completed and submitted.
Inclusive Digital Arts and Humanities Research Skills
Wikimedia UK is collaborating with the London College of Communication on a one-year project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The Inclusive Digital Arts and Humanities Research Skills (DAReS) CoLab aims to pilot a new digital skills curriculum for researchers, giving them the knowledge to carry out research and share results digitally. We are supporting the project and bringing a Wikimedia perspective to proceedings. As the project develops, Wikidata is taking a stronger role as a source of information and potentially a place that researchers can share data.
In early summer we took part in inclusion workshops to establish common ground between the project collaborators, create a behavioural policy, and share insights into inclusion and barriers. The next major landmark will be data handling workshops in October and November. We expect Wikidata to feature here, and ultimately we may end up sharing learning resources on one of the Wikimedia sites such as Wikiversity of WikiBooks.
Climate Change residency
Highlights in Tatjana’s work include co-leading an editathon in New York with the Earth Alliance. The New York City Editathon was held on Saturday the 15th June and was a successful event. It was organised as a collaborative effort between Depths of Wikipedia, WikimediaNYC, Earth Alliance, Su-Laine Yeo Brodsky and Tatjana Baleta. The themes were how we move, how we live, how we eat and what inspires us. 27 editors joined (including some totally new to Wikipedia editing), and they worked off a task list put together by Tatjana and Su-Laine that focused mostly on content relating to individual action (e.g. food waste, air travel). There were a number of useful edits, likely due to the detailed instructions provided in the task list.
Tatjana has been working with Climate Visuals, an image library by Climate Outreach to help tell compelling stories about the impacts of climate change. Tatjana has helped them share hundreds of images from their collection which you can now find on Wikimedia Commons. WikiProject Climate Change have been very positive about the detailed descriptions that accompany the images, making them easier to use.
Hot on the heels of the Climate Visuals upload, Tatjana has been working with Our World in Data to share a collection of suitably licensed charts and maps on Wikimedia Commons. Jason Evans' support with Pattypan has been especially helpful. You can see the images here. All images from the residency are here, which is part of the 'Supported by Wikimedia UK' category tree.
Right to a healthy environment
This is the 3rd year for Wales to participate in this activity arranged by Wikimedia Foundation and the United Nations on Meta. A list of articles on the ‘Right to a healthy environment’ was published in March, and the Welsh language Wikipedia became the first to complete all suggested articles (around 200). See Meta for further information: please note that Welsh language (cy for Cymraeg) is the 3rd column.
We’re very grateful to and proud of the network we’ve built around our chapter. You can support the governance of the charity by becoming a member, or support our projects through a donation, or volunteer on some of the projects above.
We’re on social media if you’d like to connect with us there, we always appreciate new followers and sharers of our news; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also follow our blog, which has more details on some of the activities mentioned in the newsletter.