Wikimania 2013 Report/Martin Poulter

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The particular area in which I am active is outreach to universities and research bodies. I am active both as a volunteer and, right now, in a paid Wikimedian Ambassador role. My attendance at Wikimania 2013 was useful to me in this specific respect, and more generally in informing me and inspiring me about the wider movement and about the possibilities for the UK chapter. I gratefully acknowledge the donors whose support made it possible for me to attend, and also acknowledge my responsibility to advance the chapter and the wider movement in a way that justifies the investment.

Education[edit | edit source]

I represented the UK at the Wikipedia in Education full-day workshop. We each reported on our activities to promote Wikipedia as a platform for education activities. In the UK, we are working with sector and policy bodies to make these assignments a mainstream option in university education, and so our challenge is cultural change across a whole profession. At the workshop I learnt that we are the only country taking this top-down approach.

With so many of us around the world doing education outreach, and strategic questions hanging over the exact usefulness of education assignments, we benefited from having a serious about of time together in a room, sharing perspectives. One of the topics at the education session was teaching African schoolchildren critical thinking by getting them to add one reliably sourced statement to Wikipedia, and this is an example that I now describe in my education outreach. Spending time with the Foundation's education team was especially useful because we have an ongoing working relationship (including, for example, Rod Dunican's invited keynote at the EduWiki Conference in August) and in-person we can see each other at work, and so build confidence in each other in a way that's not possible over email.

Wikidata[edit | edit source]

Since the conference I have been giving a series of workshops and presentations in universities in the UK, and within the education charity Jisc, which is a major source of expertise for the education and cultural sectors. One topic which creates a lot of excitement is Wikidata. I was already aware of Wikidata, but the sessions at Wikimania about this project not only brought me up to date but also showed me the future vision from how Wikidata will develop and what it will make possible. I would not have the confidence to present to audiences about the future promise of Wikidata if I had not taken part in these sessions. I use some slides and examples from Denny's presentation in my own talks. In the board panel, SJ Klein identified Wikidata, Commons and Wikisource as the "bigger than Wikipedia" projects and this is an approach I take in my outreach.

Chapters Village[edit | edit source]

By taking part in the Chapters Village, I had useful conversations and made new contacts from people who approached the UK stand, but also learned from what other chapters are doing. Wikimedia Deutschland were next to us and had very good print materials which we in the UK could emulate, and I was interested to see that they had created a booklet arguing against Noncommercial content. I've already made use of their Wikidata leaflet.

Other topics and inspiration[edit | edit source]

I attended many sessions, but the ones that stuck out as useful in my subsequent work include those on: authority control, working with commercial companies, and those that dealt with making the on-wiki experience easier for newcomers (a running theme across a number of different sessions). The keynotes by Sue Gardner and Jimmy Wales in particular gave me material that I use in outreach. As a specific example, I was so moved by the video Sue showed of the South African schoolchildren asking for free access to Wikipedia that I later got in touch with the filmmaker, Victor Grigas, and with his kind help, arranged for the film to be shown in a plenary session at the EduWiki conference, in advance of its scheduled release. There is a lot to be said for shared morale in celebrating the Wikimedia movement's progress with people from other countries and other cultures: I have concrete experiences to relate when talking about Wikimedia as a movement that's changing the world. That in turn gives me a confidence and credibility when I talk about this.

Intra-chapter relationships[edit | edit source]

The success of the UK chapter depends on good working relationships, among and across staff and volunteers, and on everyone feeling inspired to work hard towards our shared goals. The shared experience of contributing together with, WMUK staff and volunteers was extremely positive in this respect. I used the time with Andrew Gray to ask him about his recently-completed Wikimedian in Residence post at the British Library, and get tips on making a success of my own placement. I met in person Adam Cuerden- an active and vocal volunteer across multiple projects, and getting to know him I learned about his image restoration work. As a consequence, he is now working with me to produce materials about using Commons to crowd-source image restorations. Alastair McCapra was a recently-appointed board member at the time of the conference, and the time spent with him was valuable in briefing him on work being done, as well as getting to know his own interests and motivations. These are just some individual examples.