Open Coalition

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Welcome to the homepage of the Open Coalition project. This page will act as a portal for the project, offer useful updates and highlight ways that volunteers from “open” communities can participate in the project. More content will be added here, and to sub-pages, as the project progresses.

History[edit | edit source]

The idea for the project emerged towards the end of 2013. It became apparent that many of the organisations working in the field of open shared areas of overlap. Work was sometimes duplicated, lines of communication between organisations and communities were sometimes weak and there was lots of potential for closer ties between open groups. Following some tentative discussions, a session about this was delivered at MozFest in October 2013 based around the idea of developing an open coalition.

The objectives of the coalition are varied and include supporting various open organisations and communities in the development of collaboration, a shared web presence where useful information can be aggregated and the creation of other resources that support these aims.

The project has been initially funded by Wikimedia UK and Bekka Kahn has been appointed as the project co-ordinator for six months. During this time Bekka will be working to develop the concept as well as co-ordinating efforts to achieve the coalition's aims. While the post has been funded by Wikimedia UK, Bekka's role is to support all interested parties and support the coalition more broadly.

Resources[edit | edit source]

Bekka's role description can be seen here. This provides an overview of her role and what she will be working to achieve.

This page gives a little more context to the project's inception

Digital Democracy - add your voice to our submission to the Parliamentary Commission[edit | edit source]

In theory there are many lessons that any attempt to increase engagement with digital democracy can learn from open projects. These include the participatory nature of content development and the nature of content (and policy) being arrived at by consensus. Open organisations and the people involved in them are from a wide array of backgrounds and represent a broad spectrum of views. This could lend itself to effective drafting of the kind of evidence that the Speaker is looking for. The Open Coalition, Wikimedia UK and Demos would like to establish whether this is indeed the case. In particular, we are seeking answers to the following questions:

  • How can technology help Parliament and other agencies to scrutinise the work of government?
  • How can technology help citizens scrutinise the Government and the work of Parliament?
  • What kinds of data should Parliament and Government release to the public to make itself more open to outside scrutiny?

Everyone is encouraged to try to answer these questions collaboratively, in much the same way Wikipedia articles are approached - using the space below for content and talk page for discussion, as well as our collaborative etherpad. Staff from Wikimedia UK, The Coalition and Demos will happily answer any questions on the talk page but are equally happy to let the process take its course.

At this point there is no fixed deadline for evidence on the theme of digital scrutiny. However, the Speaker’s Commission will be publishing publishing a single call for evidence covering our last three themes (yet to be announced). The conversation and crowdsourced evidence will be reviewed at the end of June with a view to either continuing the process or submitting as is. If there is appetite among the community, and if the first attempt is successful, there may be further attempts to develop submissions to the later three themes.

At the end of the process Demos, Wikimedia UK and the Open Coalition will prepare a report on the process and the effectiveness of this kind of approach to crowdsourcing policy and evidence. This paper will be released under an open licence. It is a real opportunity for everyone working in the open space to influence the debate about digital democracy and both Wikimedia UK, Demos and the Open Coalition thank you for engaging with this idea.


Background to the Call

The Speaker of the House of Commons of the UK, John Bercow, has established a Commission on Digital Democracy. It will report to Parliament in early 2015 with recommendations on how Parliament can use technology to better represent and engage with the electorate, make laws and hold the powerful to account. As part of their work, the Commission have issued a series of calls for evidence. These are open invitations for members of the public, either as individuals or groups, to submit responses to a series of questions. They have attracted responses from unions, academics, non-governmental institutions and private individuals. The first theme was ‘making laws in a digital age’, and the second on ‘digital scrutiny’. The Commission plans to shortly publish the final three themes.

There is a growing sense that the growth of the Internet has not paid the democratic dividends that it could. Turnout in formal political elections is steadily decreasing, and trust and support in the institutions and offices of mainstream political life are low and falling. Despite many innovative attempts from both within and outside of Government, the daily reality of democratic engagement for most people in the UK would be familiar to generations of British citizens who predate Facebook or email. The rise of the Internet has, broadly, done little to challenge concentrations of power or structures of unequal representation

Demos is one of Britain’s leading cross-party think tank and it has an overarching mission to bring politics closer to people. They contacted Wikimedia UK to propose an experiment: can an online community be used to source a response to this call? Can the ethos, community and technology like that of Wikipedia be used to engage Wikipedians to come together and collaborate to create a reply? In particular, Carl Miller, Research Director of the Demos Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, wrote this piece in for Wired in which he describes Wikipedia as a masterclass in digital democracy.


Ways to get involved[edit | edit source]

Open Coalition Meet & Greet - 19 May 2014

When: Mon, May 19, 4pm

Where: Wikimedia UK Office and online

Why? To help us start building the Open Coalition (and see old friends, make new ones and have a drink)

Join us in London to meet Bekka Kahn, the new co-ordinator at the Open Coalition, and get involved in building the coalition. We'll talk about improving communication, sharing experiences and start mapping out plans for the 6 months. We'll also have a dial-in set up for those who are outside the UK, so everyone can take part.

Can't make it to the Meet & Greet? There are some simple things you can do to get involved and help us build the coalition:

  • Follow @opencoalition on Twitter for all the latest news
  • Tweet this: Help spread open collaboration across the web. Join the #opencoalition
  • Join our mailing list: open-coalition(at)googlegroups(dot)com either by dropping a note on the talk page or by emailing above
  • Join the coalition - get involved on this wiki (later to be followed by a shared presence) and help to shape the project as it grows

As the project progresses more opportunities to participate will be listed here.

Next steps[edit | edit source]

Bekka and other people involved in the development of the coalition will maintain this page with latest news. The talk page can be used for questions, comments and general discussion.

Report, 16 June 2014[edit | edit source]

Progress[edit | edit source]

Since the Coalition started work at the start of May, progress has been made in two main areas - internal organisational development and projects involving external partners. Both have been given invaluable support by Wikimedia UK.

Internally, communications have been set up, specifically via a Google groups mailing list, and this is the main space where community building is taking place. One of the key objectives for this list is to recruit community members beyond the partner organisations, and involve organisations and individuals who are involved in different areas of open work and the open movement. Hosting has been purchased (although moving to another hosting service might be necessary) and the domain open-coalition.org has been secured.

In terms of engagement with external partners, the Coalition has secured programme space at the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OKFest (Berlin, mid-July) Wikimania (London, early-August) and Mozilla’s MozFest (London, late-October). Considering the current 6-month timeframe of the Coalition project, these events are useful progress markers for evaluating the project’s activities and achievements.

The Coalition has put out a call for submissions to the crowd sourcing democracy project which is being run in conjunction with Wikimedia UK and DEMOS - some submissions have been made and this process is ongoing. The Coalition also presented a short outline and general plan of action at the Wikimania Fringe Free Culture event on the weekend of June 7-8, and reception was good, with Wikimania Netherlands showing interest in the possibility of replicating or duplicating a similar project in Europe.


Priorities[edit | edit source]

Priorities for the moment are also both internal and external. Internally, we are working on developing the Coalition’s web presence via a website with an integrated blog and designing a logo. This is high priority.

Externally, the Coalition is working on the workshop session at OKFest, which will feed into an ongoing project to map the Open Space. This project has some overlap with a mapping project that the Open Knowledge Foundation and Open Data Institute are working on, and which we have discussed as a possible collaboration.

The Coalition is also working with the Wikimedia UK team on an Open Drinks networking event to take place in the lead-up to Wikimania, which will be important for networking, building the community and profile of the Coalition and for making first contact with potential funders.

Overall, this will be vital to extending the existence of the Coalition beyond the initial 6 months for which we currently have funding.


Process[edit | edit source]

So far, the process of establishing the Open Coalition has been refreshingly straightforward and simple. This is due to the support from Wikimedia UK which has been exceptional. However, if the project is to survive beyond October, support from other partner organisations is essential and this fundraising process has begun. Key to this is developing a communications strategy for the project, which will help to communicate projects and progress to the wider community online. This strategy is currently in development. The necessity of bringing in external help to build a website and design a logo (both of which are essential for developing the profile of the Coalition and differentiating it from Wikimedia UK) has been a bottleneck - hopefully this will be resolved soon, as quotes for the work have been received from several contractors and a decision will be made soon. In retrospect, the fact that the Coalition found itself involved in collaborations and projects such as the DEMOS project has meant that the project hit the ground running and some of the initial infrastructure set-up tasks were pushed back. However, most of these have been addressed, and the growing support for the Coalition and interest in projects from external groups is heartening.

One way to support this momentum is to establish a regular “Coalition Office Hour” - a live hangout online, at a convenient time, which is open to all who might want to log in and discuss Coalition projects.

Report July / August 2014[edit | edit source]

Progress[edit | edit source]

July and August were busy months for the Open Coalition. Much of the working time during these two months was spent talking to staff and representatives from other organisations, in an effort to gauge interest in and potential commitment to the Coalition. It is satisfying to report that the response to the Coalition as a project has been positive, and enthusiastic, from organisations across the board, not only those involved in the initial foundation of the project. 

The contacts made during the first three months of the Coalition’s activities are beginning to show rewards, both in terms of activities and securing potential funding. After successful sessions at both the Open Knowledge conference and Wikimania, the Coalition has partnered with staff from Creative Commons, The School of Open, Open Knowledge and Mozilla to develop several sessions for Mozilla’s MozFest, to be held in London in October 2014. These sessions focus on implementing open practices in organisational contexts, and developing critiques and best-practice solutions for open organisations.

The Coalition has also joined with Wikimedia Germany, Wikimedia Sweden and a consortium of other European digital rights organisations to apply for funding from the European Union to conduct activities and events around network building, increasing competencies and engaging in advocacy within the digital public sphere in Europe. These activities will focus primarily on European policy, and the implications of this policy on digital civil society within the Union. If this funding application is successful, the events will take place in early 2015. This may even generate a surplus because of the way the funding programme works. If this is the case it would be shared among the partners, including a contribution to the Coalition project

Closer to home, the Coalition is also planning an event for January 2015, which will involve partnering with Wikimedia UK, JISC, DEMOS and theLondon Knowledge Lab, to bring UK-based organisations and individuals together for a day of workshops and discussions concerned with open policy implementation in the UK.

Priorities[edit | edit source]

Now that the Coalition is halfway through its pilot timeline, the focus of the project has progressed from building consensus and momentum to consolidating activities and producing publications and materials. The website is under construction, and will serve as a repository for all materials produced by the project and any partners we work with. While there is general consensus from the broader community that materials relating to open practise and implementing open policies would be valuable, the plan is to crowdsource a more detailed breakdown of possible subjects from the members of the Coalition themselves. The first of these is a handbook for community managers in open organisations. The initial content for this resource will be written during the 2014 Mozfest, in dedicated sessions at the conference, and any text still needed will be completed as a follow-up to the event. 

Process[edit | edit source]

The Coalition  is entering a new phase, and this has highlighted the need for funding to extend the project. As a response to this, it will be important for the project to do some strategic planning, with as many stakeholders as is logistically possible. This exercise will allow us to evaluate how many of our initial objectives are reachable within the timeframe of the original project, if further funding is not forthcoming. It will also allow us to scope future activities which may be possible if we do secure funding. As part of this process, Wikimedia UK fundraising staff are working with the Coalition to develop project proposals.A plan for the dissemination and (if necessary) ongoing hosting of the materials produced by the project also needs to be developed.  

Report September/October 2014[edit | edit source]

Most of September’s time was spent working with WMUK developers to set up the domain and hosting details for the Open Coalition blog and website. We also met with staffers from the Guardian to discuss plans to involve WMUK volunteers and Coalition members in the Midlands Goodshed project they are planning.

October was a month of travel and conferences – I attended AdaCamp Berlin as a participant, with the help of a WMUK travel bursary. I also spent a week in Berlin working with Beatrice Martini from Open Knowledge to prepare for Mozfest. We were both invited by Mozilla to organise and wrangle an experimental track at the festival which focussed on Community Building. This was the first time Mozilla have included this theme in their festival, and it was a great recognition of the Coalition’s work to be invited.

The track allowed us to bring community managers and organizers from across the open space together to work on a variety of sessions, including 2 ongoing initiative – the Community Building Handbook, built with staffers from Mozilla and OKF (and which now has a home on the web) and a community source-code wall built with collaborators from Sprout Fund Pittsburgh. As well as running 15 sessions over two days, we worked with researchers from the MIT Media Lab to develop a survey for all participants, in order to surface qualitative and quantitative responses. 70 participants completed the survey, of whom 60 indicated a desire to continue working on projects and initiatives they learnt about at the festival via mailing lists and working groups.

Priorities[edit | edit source]

The Coalition website is now live, in beta. We are collecting feedback from the community and asking for help with the final finishing touches. The progress made on the Community Building Handbook will also be progressed in collaboration with Mozilla and any other volunteers who wish to help. This will go a long way to meeting the documentation goals outlined at the beginning of the project.

Process[edit | edit source]

This report brings the Open Coalition to the end of the first funded phase of the project. While the financial future of the project looks good (until the end of January 2015) this is a good time to consider the first six months of the project and evaluate progress against the initial goals. This will take the form of a report to be written during November/December 2014.

2014-15 report[edit | edit source]

Bekka Kahn has written a report based on the activities of the Coalition for the year 2014-15, from when she began work in May 2014 to February 2015. You can read the report here.

Open Coalition Activities Q1 & Q2 2015[edit | edit source]

Below is an outline of the Open Coalition's planned and upcoming activities for the first and second quarters of 2015. Some of these are short-term activities, with concrete outcomes which will be achieved over a few months, other are ongoing activities designed to support and develop capacity with and for our partners (both individuals and organisations working in the open sector) and others are longer term activities which are being planned, and will be implemented over the next 6 months. Each set of activities has been mapped to correspond to certain strategic outcomes for Wikimedia UK, as referenced below.

Planned & Committed[edit | edit source]

(Currently being executed at the present time, and over the next 3 months)[edit | edit source]

• Developing a resource library for open movement community managers and practitioners on www.open-coalition.org;   a multitude of high-quality, openly licensed materials on best practice, tools and organisational development exist on the web, produced by partner organisations, but sharing is decentralised. 

• Overhaul of www.open-coalition.org to reflect the shift from blog to knowledge hub

Maps to Goal: 

• G5.3 Wikimedia communities are skilled and capable.

• G5.4 Open knowledge communities with missions similar to our own are thriving

• G4.1 There are robust and efficient tools readily available to enable the creation, curation and dissemination of open knowledge.

Ongoing, short-term activities[edit | edit source]

(To be executed between the present and next 6 months)[edit | edit source]

  • Adding and expanding chapters in Community Builders Toolkit in collaboration with Mozilla, Ushahidi, OpenDirective, SocialTIC
  • Open Policy: work as a member of the steering committee of the Open Policy Network developing the programme for and selection of their second group of Open Policy Fellows
  • Network building with open organisations in Berlin, including Wikimedia Deutschland, Hive Berlin, Mozilla  

Maps to Goals:  

  • G3.2 There is increased awareness of the benefits of open knowledge.
  • G5.1 A thriving set of other Wikimedia communities

In Planning[edit | edit source]

(To be executed between June and next 6 months)[edit | edit source]

• Developing a session on gender balance in open movement for the Creative Commons Summit (October 2015, Korea) in partnership with CC South Africa, and Web We Want Foundation.

Maps to Goal:

• G5.3 Wikimedia communities are skilled and capable.

• G5.4 Open knowledge communities with missions similar to our own are thriving.

Open Coalition Activities Q3 2015[edit | edit source]

Co-ordintaor Bekka Kahn is currently based in Berlin, where she is a summer fellow at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society. During the next 6 months, she will be speaking extensively to various meetings, seminars and research groups about the Open Coalition's work, and the value of openness in general web policy and governance. At the beginning of August the Coalition's seat on the Steering Committee of the Open Policy Network came to an end. The Coalition would like to thank everyone on the Committee for the experience, and wish the incoming Steering Committee members the best of luck.

Current and Upcoming[edit | edit source]

(Currently being executed at the present time, and over the next 3 months)[edit | edit source]

Policy Commentary

  • Contributed submission with Creative Commons ZA on the Draft Online Regulation Policy published by the South African Government. See draft legislation here and a post outlining the responses to the draft here
  • Currently working with Creative Commons ZA to provide comments on the Copyright Amendment Bill in South Africa, which has serious implications for the status of open scholarly communication and open sharing of materials in South Africa, both online and offline. Comments due at the end of August 2015.
  • Have joined the Advisory Committee of the Institute for Open Leadership and will advise on the development of the Fellows programme incubeated Institute (incubated by Creative Commons) exists to train new leaders in education, science, and public policy fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices.

Maps to Goals:  

  • G3.2 There is increased awareness of the benefits of open knowledge.
  • G5.1 A thriving set of other Wikimedia communities


Community Building

  • Working with Mozilla and School of Open on developing the model of Mozilla Clubs for online learning and developing literacy on the open web.
  • Preparation underway for a session on Open Organisation Governance at the Creative Commons Summit in Seoul. (October 2015)
  • Working with Mozilla on developing plan for a session at MozFest 2015 on Open Organisations.

Maps to Goals

  • G5.3 Wikimedia communities are skilled and capable.
  • G5.4 Open knowledge communities with missions similar to our own are thriving.

Open Coalition Activities Q4 2015[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

As it became clear towards the end of 2015 that further funding for the Coalition’s work was not going to be forthcoming, and that the project would need to wrap up by January 2016, most of Quarter 4 was spent consolidating and wrapping up the project, and preparing the final report.

Internal Activity[edit | edit source]

Internal efforts during this period were focussed on preparing the resources section of the Open Coalition website ready to be put into hibernation-mode as a set of static resources for members of the Open Community to access at will. It also meant documenting and handing over the details of the mailing list and social media accounts to the team at WMUK in order for them to take charge of all communications.

Maps to Goals

  • G1 Develop open knowledge
  • G3 Reduce barriers to accessing open knowledge
    • G3.2 There is increased awareness of the benefits of open knowledge.

External Activity[edit | edit source]

The two final external activities for the Coalition in 2015 were the annual Mozilla Festival, held in London in November 2015, and a consultation with Wikimedia Deutschland on programming for the 2016 Wikimedia Conference, which took place in December 2016.

At Mozfest, the objective was to meet with other Coalition affiliates, update them on the progress of the project, and inform them of the wrapping up of the project. I also spent time with participants from 2015’s Community Building track to follow-up on the progress of the Community Builders handbook.

In December, as a result of discussions at Mozfest, I met with the organising team from Wikimedia Deutschland to discuss programming for the Wikimedia Conference. This discussion focussed on open methodologies for sourcing and developing agenda items for discussion, and implementing the Learning Circles methodology in the conference, which is a facilitation model designed to encourage peer-led progress through a set of topics.

Maps to Goals

  • G3 Reduce barriers to accessing open knowledge
  • G5 Develop, support, and engage with other Wikimedia and open knowledge communities
    • G5.3 Wikimedia communities are skilled and capable.
    • G5.4 Open knowledge communities with missions similar to our own are thriving.

Personally, I would like to take this opportunity of a final report to thank WMUK for their support for the Coalition and the project since it began over 18 months previously. It has been a pleasure to work with the team at WMUK, and I feel confident that both the Coalition and the charity will go from strength to strength in the coming years.

Impact Report[edit | edit source]

This report was written by Bekka Khan, Project Co-ordinator of the Open Coalition in February 2016.

1. Background to the development of the Open Coalition[edit | edit source]

The idea for the project emerged towards the end of 2013, when it became apparent that many organisations working in the field of open shared areas of overlap. Work was sometimes duplicated, lines of communication between organisations and communities were sometimes weak and the opportunity for closer ties was recognised by several individuals in organisations in the sector. This followed a period of some upheaval at some of the larger organisations in the sector, where changes in leadership, high staff turnover and overall uncertainty in the funding landscape highlighted the unique (and sometimes difficult) working conditions for staff in open, distributed organisations. Following some tentative discussions between staff at WMUK, Mozilla, Creative Commons and the Open Knowledge Foundation, an initial brainstorm session was proposed and presented at the Mozilla Festival in October 2013.

One of the outcomes from the session (which involved WMUK, Mozilla, Creative Commons, OKF, Open Street Map and others) was a commitment to work more closely on a variety of initiatives and products that could serve to develop greater connections and relationships between organisations and also improve awareness of open practices and best practice in the wider world. That there was an appetite for some type of co-ordinated effort to achieve this was clear, and WMUK took the lead in laying the groundwork for this effort, which included funding the initial eighteen months of the project, and directly managing the coordinator's role under the auspices of the Head of External Relations’ portfolio.

In January 2014 the post was advertised via the WMUK wiki, and through the networks of the other founding organisations. In April 2014 Bekka Kahn was appointed to the position of coordinator of the Open Coalition.

2. The Open Coalition - Founding Objectives and Goals[edit | edit source]

The objectives of the Coalition were varied and included supporting various open organisations and communities in the development of collaboration, a shared web presence where useful information would be aggregated and the creation of other resources to support these aims. A mailing list and twitter account were established in order to aid communication and knowledge-sharing.

The Coalition also intended to act as a means of strengthening ties between individuals working in the open sector, in order to assist in sharing information and best practice. This sharing was not limited to advocacy, but also aimed to develop a set of best-practice guidelines for day-to-day working practice, in recognition of the fact that many people in the sector work remotely, often as freelancer or contractors with little organisational support.

“We are constantly telling other people how to be more open, but we don’t always walk the talk. For Open organisations, we can be pretty closed sometimes.” - Beatrice Martini, Coalition Member, Mozilla Festival, 2014.

3. Project activities and outcomes[edit | edit source]

Developing consensus and proving the value of a coalition was seen as critical to the project’s relevance. While it defined itself as a “loose affiliation of organisations working in the open sector” we realised early in the project that some face-to-face interaction with others would be required. Getting buy-in from partner organisations and new potential partners was the most important first step for the project. To this end, the Coalition made presentations and ran sessions explaining open practice and sharing the project’s objectives at the following conferences and festivals in the first 12 months of the project:


2014

  • Open Knowledge Festival, Berlin
  • Hive Berlin
  • Wikimania Fringe Free Culture Weekend, London
  • Wikimania London
  • MozFest London
  • AdaCamp, Berlin


2015

  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport Open Data Forum, Natural History Museum, London
  • Mozilla Festival, London


The Coalition also worked with partner organisations to develop projects, funding applications and resource materials:

  • Along with DEMOS and WMUK we completed 2 projects - a submission to the UK government’s Digital Democracy call and a project proposal for the Knight News Challenge which would have build an understanding of Digital Democracy in Britain. The project was not funded, but the proposal is still available online, and has the potential to be reworked for an appropriate funding opportunity.
  • During the 2014 Mozilla Festival, the Coalition ran a 3-day long track on Community Building and Community Management. This led to an ongoing project to collaboratively write a handbook for community managers which is still being added to by individuals from various communities and projects.
  • As a founding member of the Open Policy Network, the Coalition helped to develop, evaluate and recruit applications for the Institute for Open Leadership - a project designed to train new leaders in education, science, and public policy fields on the values and implementation of openness in licensing, policies, and practices. The second iteration of the IOL will take place in March 2016.
  • The Coalition’s website (hosted on WMUK servers) has a collection of resources for organisations and individuals interested in the implementation of open practices in their working contexts. This has been updated as a static site which can remain available for users now that the funded-stage of the project is over.

The reception to the work the Coalition undertook, and the overall positive response to the founding principles of the project confirmed that there was an appetite and need for the work being done.

The organisational and managerial support given to the project by WMUK was highly valuable, and much appreciated. The project was always seen as independent of WMUK, despite it being the sole funder of the Coalition. This allowed for flexibility and autonomy for the project, while at the same time benefitting from WMUK’s infrastructure. However, the lack of financial support for the project from the founding organisations other than WMUK meant that ultimately it became difficult to continue, despite receiving invaluable support in developing funding proposals from the WMUK fundraising team.

4. Key learning points[edit | edit source]

  • Converting good-will into tangible deliverables is difficult - have a plan

A project such as the Open Coalition can benefit from tapping into the zeitgeist among our partners, and we were able to capitalise on the resonance the Coalition had among staff and organisations in the open sector. However, it proved to be a major step to move from expressions of appreciation to actionable activities and proposals. More structured planning may have helped to make these transitions easier - for example having specific requests of partners, such as help in data-wrangling from the Open Knowledge Foundation, or using the Mozilla offices in London for events.

  • Material development takes longer than you think

Creating, curating and sharing content for members of the open community was an important aspect of the Coalition’s work. This routinely took more time than expected. Factoring research and writing time into the schedule was essential.

  • The Wiki is not always the answer

During discussions with community members, (particularly during early data mapping efforts when we were building the Map of the Open Movement), the suggested solution to data-based problems was often “Put it into wikidata” or “Put it on the commons”. There are certainly times when this is appropriate, but for many individuals who do not have a background as Wikipedia contributors or volunteers, the world behind the Wikipedia pages can be intimidating. This speaks to the larger issue of choosing tools - requiring people to use tools they are unfamiliar with is a sure-fire way to chill community activity - the project found better traction when we took the conversation to where the community was. This sometimes meant using platforms like Twitter, Slack, Facebook or Google groups and Google docs. Use of these proprietary tools is not ideal, and needs to be balanced by discussion about the drawbacks of using such spaces for discussion and content development, in order to allow people to make informed decisions, but flexibility in these cases is usually the best approach. The way Chayn Labs operate using a variety of different tools and platforms is a good example of how platform agnosticism can be beneficial to a community.

  • Don’t let Open be the Enemy of Open

During the first big presentation the Coalition gave at the Open Knowledge Festival in Berlin, 2015, much of the group discussion revolved around “what it meant to be open.” However, a comment by one participant was significant - he suggested that rather than battle to define “open” as a mechanism for deciding what is in and what is out, the reality is that practice is more significant than descriptions, and the Coalition should focus on “doing open, rather than worrying about being open”. This insight was invaluable, and helped to shape the way the Coalition approached most projects and interactions, and reminded us to keep an open mind in all of these.

  • Coalitions may be broad, but projects should be specific

While the Coalition was a broad affiliation of groups, including organisations working on open mapping, data, copyright and public policy, the areas where we had the most success was when the projects were specific and focused. For example, the Community Management handbook was a joint project between many people from different organisations, but because the focus was on community management specifically, we were able to produce work that was relevant and topical.

5. Statistics[edit | edit source]

Tracking statistics as a measure of impact of the Coalition's work has not always been the best measure of reach, since network-building can be difficult to quantify. However, the following statistics give some indication of the Coalition’s reach online and offline:

  • Twitter Followers: 263
  • Mailing List members: 54
  • Working Project partners: 14 (see bold below)
  • Associated organisations (met through events, audience at presentations etc.):
    • British Library
    • Cabinet Office
    • Creative Commons
    • Creative Commons, Poland
    • Creative Commons South Africa
    • School of Open
    • Don't Spy On Us
    • Demos
    • Department of Culture, Media and Sport
    • Internet Archive
    • Jam Lab Nairobi
    • Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College, London
    • Live Art Development Agency
    • MIT Media Lab
    • Mozilla Foundation
    • National Copyright Office Australia
    • Natural History Museum
    • NESTA
    • Open Corporates
    • Open Democracy
    • PLOS
    • Office of National Statistics
    • Open Street Map
    • Office of Paul Farrelly MP
    • Open Knowledge Foundation
    • Open Data Institute
    • Open Rights Group
    • Open Society Foundation
    • Regional Arts Australia, Creative Commons Australia
    • Right to Research Coalition
    • Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC)
    • Sprout Fund
    • Wikimedia South Africa / WikiAfrica
    • Wikimedia Deutschland
    • Wellcome Centre

6. Recommendations for the future of the Coalition[edit | edit source]

Despite the funded phase of the project coming to an end, there is still great potential for the future of the project, if WMUK and the community are willing to run with it. I see a significant role for the Coalition in the GLAM space, particularly in conjunction with the work being done by the Wikimedian in Residence programme. Bringing professionals together to share best practice was one of the areas where the Coalition found good traction. There is also an appetite for more open working practices and a desire to better-understand the mechanisms for opening up content within the cultural heritage sector, as we found during discussions with the British Library, Natural History Museum and Internet Archive. If the networks established by the Wikimedians in Residence were to be combined with the advocacy network established by the Coalition, there is great potential for significant progress to be made within both sectors.

Likewise, future projects would benefit from working with organisations who are based in London, since access will be easier. Campaigning organisations, such as Open Rights Group and Open Data Institute would be good organisations to partner with.

As it stands, the Coalition can comfortably go into a type of hibernation-mode, with mailing lists and twitter remaining active through community use, and the website remaining up as a repository of useful resources.

7. Advice for WMUK if involved in a similar project[edit | edit source]

The Coalition would never have lasted as long as it did, or had the good response it received had it not been for the support we had from WMUK, both financially and in terms of infrastructure. I felt trusted and empowered to do the work of the Coalition, and at the same time knew that there was a structure I could turn to for advice and support when needed. WMUK did an outstanding job of fostering this project, and the relationship model could serve as a useful one for future funded projects.