The Power Of The Wikimedia Movement Beyond Wikimedia

Michael Bernick at Forbes: “In January 2017, we the constituents of Wikimedia, started an ambitious discussion about our collective future. We reflected on our past sixteen years together and imagined the impact we could have in the world in the next decades. Our aim was to identify a common strategic direction that would unite and inspire people across our movement on our way to 2030, and help us make decisions.”…

The final documents included a strategic direction and a research report: “Wikimedia 2030: Wikimedia’s Role in Shaping the Future of the Information Commons”: an expansive look at Wikimedia, knowledge, technologies, and communications in the next decade. It includes thoughtful sections on Demographics (global population trends, and Wikimedia’s opportunities for growth) Emerging Platforms (how Wikimedia platforms will be accessed), Misinformation (how content creators and technologists can work toward a product that is trustworthy), Literacy (changing forms of learning that can benefit from the Wikimedia movement) and the core Wikimedia issues of Open Knowledge and knowledge as a service.

Among its goals, the document calls for greater outreach to areas outside of Europe and North America (which now account for 63% of Wikimedia’s total traffic), and widening the knowledge and experiential bases of contributors. It urges greater access through mobile devices and other emerging hardware; and expanding partnerships with libraries, museums, galleries and archives.

The document captures not only the idealism of the enterprise, and but also why Wikimedia can be described as a movement not only an enterprise. It calls into question conventional wisdoms of how our political and business structures should operate.

Consider the Wikimedia editing process that seeks to reach common ground on contentious issues. Lisa Gruwell, the Chief Advancement Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation, notes that in the development of an article, often editors with diverging claims and views will weigh in.  Rather than escalating divisions, the process of editing has been found to reduce these divisions. Gruwell explains,

Through the collaborative editing process, the editors have critical discussions about what reliable sources say about a topic. They have to engage and defend their own perspectives about how an article should be represented, and ultimately find some form of common ground with other editors.

A number of researchers at Harvard Business School led by Shane Greenstein, Yuan Gu and Feng Zhu actually set out to study this phenomenon. Their findings, published in 2017 as a Harvard Business School working paper found that editors with different political viewpoints tended to dialogue with each other, and over time reduce rather than increase partisanship….(More)”.