WikiConference UK 2012/Elections/Questions/Joscelyn Upendran

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Answers[edit | edit source]

1. Groups & Communities:

  • the Creative Commons community and I am the Public Lead for Creative Commons UK.
  • GilrGeeks networks in the North of England both in Newcastle and Leeds and have spoken at events at both networks.
  • the advisory board of Furtherfield which is a media arts organisation that provides artists with both virtual and physical space to create,collaborate & exhibit art.
  • Open Rights Group as a supporter member
  • Have good relationship with a few people at JISC who are involved in the UKOER projects and who have been very supportive of CCUK

2. Motivations for standing

I, in common with most people, relish the opportunity to work with subject areas and people that I find interesting. Wikimedia UK and Wikipedia are of huge interest to me as it provides access to a wealth of knowledge and the legal sharing enabled by the open licensing. Education, open licensing of content are areas of great interest to me and the opportunity to do more in this area is an incentive. If I were to be successful in this election, I think the two roles within CCUK and WMUK could pose interesting opportunities for both projects. I think there are many alignments of the aims of the two projects. I am of course mindful of the duties of Trustees and Directors in relation to any conflicts of interest should they ever arise and am well versed in the requirements in relation to any such conflicts.

My motivation is also shaped by an honest assessment of whether and in what way I may be useful to the WMUK project. I attended the board meeting in February in London where some of the prospective candidates were invited to attend. Having gained a better understanding of what would be involved in this role, I sincerely believe I could be useful in a number of ways to WMUK. My skills and experience arise from a combination of working in the legal field, in education; and being a director of a small company, together with the experience of working as a volunteer for Creative Commons UK. The diverse range of organisations that I have worked with includes government departments, cultural organisations, educationalists and training professionals. I consider this experience would enable me to play a useful role in helping WMUK to achieve its aims.

3. Wikiversity and OER aims of WMUK

The way people learn has and is continuing to change. People consume, curate, collaborate and share content in a dispersed manner. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a good example of this trend. e.g. The much publicised Stanford’s course on AI in 2011 and subsequent VC backed start-ups such as Udacity and Coursera are also notable. I am not therefore convinced that Wikiversity is the best way to progress WMUK’s commitments to education. WMUK’s role in achieving its aims in relation to open education should involve raising awareness and training users and contributors of open content, on how to legally reuse open content, and how to contribute to its creation and propagation. Some of the projects that WMUK has in its plan should offer opportunities to do that. I think pre-16 education sector in particular would be useful to target for this purpose.

4. Projects for WMUK over the next five years and where would WMUK be in five years time.

Expert Outreach Projects like the Cancer Research UK workshops that took place in 2011 are a fantastic idea. I would like to see projects of that nature repeated with other charities and perhaps aligned with awareness months or days relating to the charities. I think these types of events appear to satisfy many of the aims of WMUK: including converting readers to editors, attracting editors from underrepresented groups such as women etc. and adding valuable content.

CC+ for GLAMs I would also like to see more cultural organisations use open licences for their digital content. An idea that we at CCUK have started to discuss with some of the key GLAMs in the UK is a the CC+ protocol which is a way of pairing up CC licensed content with additional terms, drafted by the licensor, which provide additional permissions beyond the scope of the CC licence. For e.g. a GLAM would make available digital images with a CC Attribution Sharealike licence (thereby usable by Wikimedia Commons) with a link through to commercial terms which provide for higher resolution images which does not impose the Sharealike obligation. This would satisfy the pressures that GLAMs face in revenue generation but also contribute to the commons.

Education WMUK has a key role to play in continuing to increase awareness of open content and open licensing in the education sectors: schools, FE and HEIs. Although there are concentrated pockets of awareness and engagement amongst HEIs, queries that are received by CCUK suggests that general awareness about copyright and open content is not particularly high. Schools appear to have even less engagement in the OER movement so should be targetted.

WMUK should also plan events to convert female readers to editors. It is encouraging to see that WMUK is already addressing this by events with the GirlGeeks Dinners.

It's always difficult to project the status of an organisation in five years time. What I would like to see is an expanded organisation in terms of reach across the UK regions, in terms of diversity of editors and community members, and in terms of more target groups such as schools, universities, GLAMs, local authorities been actively involved in the community. I would like to think the user interface of Wikipedia is going to be much more appealing to use and thereby removing some of the possible barriers to use.

5. & 6.

In relation to Q 5 & 6 my response is that the WMUK’s legal obligations, if any, should always take precedence over any PR aims or consequences. Bearing in mind the importance of the legal obligations, it should still be possible to communicate with external bodies in a well-informed and reasoned manner which should not be detrimental to the Foundation or WMUK. If there is a discrepancy which comes to light as in Q 6, the CE, Communications Organiser and the Trustees should agree what the best way forward should be and how any communication should be managed and by whom. All this would be dictated by the nature and extent of the inaccuracy. Specialist advice should be sought without delay if it becomes necessary.

7. Legal Obligations of Trustees

I have previously advised organisations who were trying to decide whether they should apply for Charity status and so am aware of the legal duties of Trustees in general terms although I can’t claim to be a charity law specialist. There is an abundance of useful and reliable resources available online for reference, including plenty to help you recognise when to seek specialist advice.

8. Better support of volunteers esp non-London based volunteers

I think most people realise that without the support and considerable efforts of the volunteers, organisations such as Wikimedia would come to a halt. Regular and open communication with the community is the obvious key to maintaining the relationship necessary to allow the Chapter to thrive and achieve its aims. Volunteers who have the interest, expertise and desire to run Wikimedia UK projects locally should be empowered and supported to do so. This would avoid the Chapter activities becoming too London focused and mitigate any risks of regional wikimedians becoming disenchanted with its aims, It would also best use the the wider talent pool for the good of the Chapter. I live in North Yorkshire and so appreciate the importance of this issue.

The Wikimedia Strategic Plan suggests a volunteers’ recognition programme which I think is a great ideas as it would provide volunteers with the authority of being a ‘recognised volunteer’ of WMUK in their dealings with third parties and showcase their achievements which will be useful learning and incentive for newer volunteers joining the community.

9. Volunteers remaining at heart of WMUK

See response to 8 – in summary communication, empowerment, support and recognition of volunteers and their contributions are all key to making the best use of and rewarding the expertise, energy and commitment of volunteers.

10. Recruitment and the community

If all roles are internally and externally advertised and follow commonly accepted recruitment processes, there should be no barriers to community members and non-members applying for the roles. If experience thus far suggests there appears to be factors preventing greater numbers of community members applying for roles then this needs further investigation. Being a member of the community may be an advantage for certain roles and this would become apparent during recruitment: in the application and interview process. If a person who is a not a member of the community has the right skills, experience and zest for a particular role I would not see any problems in them securing the role just because they were not currently from the community. I think recruiting the right person for a role is the key to achieving the aims of WMUK. There are risks to any organisation if it becomes too insular. A good balance of people from diverse backgrounds is likely to yield new and unexpected opportunities and developments.

11. Accuracy about living people

As Wikipedia already has systems in place to address this I am assuming that WMUK can’t introduce additional systems independently of the Wikimedia Foundation.

12. Optional image filters

Although this was a recommendation to the Foundation, I would need to learn more about how much of a demand, amongst users, there is currently, for this, and how much of an investment of resources would be needed to bring this about, before being able to offer a definite view. But from what is known an optional filter sounds like an interesting idea.

13. Adult content and schools & youth groups

I don't think Wikimedia sites are any different to any other site in respect of the advice to schools and youth groups. I would advise they use it in relation to the learning outcomes with appropriate supervision and ground rules for the pupils and young people.

14. Model consent for images in private situations

Where photos are taken in private situations there should be a model consent form and if the processes in ascertaining the consents are not currently as effective as it should be, WMUK could draft a suitable draft process document for sharing with the community and the Foundation for review.

15. Turnout at elections There are two issues here: whether turnout is sufficient to have a legitimate result in accordance with the rules of WMUK's constitution and whether the turnout is sufficiently high to be indicative of an engaged and participatory community. If an election is legitimate the results have to be accepted irrespective of a low turnout. It is always desirable to have a high turnout at elections as organisations such as WMUK are very dependant on its members and volunteers. The reasons for not attending the AGMs may be varied and may not always be an indication of a lack of engagement. It may be useful to learn more about why members choose not to attend and what may incentivise them to attend. It is in everyone's interests to strive to increase turnout and the responsibility of the Board and Staff to do so.