March 27, 2023
Alex is Senior Program Strategist at Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). He is focused on the development of support for Content Campaigns at WMF. Past and current campaign involvement include WikiForHumanRights and 1lib1ref. Currently, Alex and his collaborators, are coordinating the Wikimedia Open Climate Initiative and fellowship program. (Wikidata Profile: Q56650916 and Meta-Wiki profile)
Yes, in general, there are several legal frameworks that connect human impacts, and environmental :
The right to a healthy environment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_a_healthy_environment
The rights of nature: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_of_nature
Indigenous land rights https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_land_rights (this one still needs work) but here is a good article I read recently: Recognizing Indigenous People’s Land Interests.
If you are considering your role as Data infrastructure: iNaturalist is a key project you should be aware of and partner with. In terms of biodiversity conservation, crucial is the knowledge of what the ecosystem was like before industrialization which is important for science to document and establish species baselines. But another dimension to this knowledge, information, and data revolves around human rights, indigenous land rights, and the rights of nature. Establishing knowledge about species and ecosystems is important for being able to defend those rights. At Wikimedia, I try to think of our work as something for reference for the local actors; in the context of decision-making.
Campaigns are good for three things:
Investing in capacity
I.e. helping our local communities think and apply new skills and tactics
Growing a community
Identifying new audiences that can participate in your participatory community
Generating content to fill significant knowledge gaps
For Example: what information is needed by the average farmer to make decisions on the ground; how do I deal with the climate crisis in a local context?
Some successful GLAM collaborations and campaigns to look at:
Campaigns aren’t usually driven at the Institutional level, but rather are grassroots Wikimedia driven. Some key strategies:
Get a Wikipedian-in-residence, run events, and map the data and content into the wiki ecosystem.
Run edit-a-thons to highlight materials, tell stories, and create packages of materials but not necessarily to generate content or build community right away, but rather to demonstrate how to use the data you create
It takes a couple of years to see the full impact of this. And it will take 3 to 4 years for folks to become adept in Wikipedia and truly engaged in your project.
It’s less that you (BHL) need to communicate about this work and more that you need community management. (think tactical innovation and engagements) Amplify the voice of your existing participatory stakeholders. This is very, very, different from comms to the public through social media outlets.
Think of your Wikimedia work in stages:
Stage 1 - batch data import Wikidata and commons. You may be able to do this work on your own although adept Wikidatans will help.
Stage 2 - workflows, tools, re-use, and demonstration projects. You will need external engagement capacity like a Wikimedian-in-Residence.
Many of the newer organizing activities in the Wikimedia community editing events are in Africa right now
Less payout on targeted topics; still experimenting
Trying to map the data, prioritizing the data for specific thematic groups
Trying to build global infrastructure to facilitate local outreach
Round-tripping data and identifiers
Bottling the batch data to do other things; it’s not about building content on Wikipedia or other projects right away and then but rather focus on creating demonstration materials that can be used and reused and inspire people to do other things with the data (i.e. maps, widget tools, etc).
Sets a precedent for the “How”:
How to identify the knowledge gaps?
How to build the knowledge gap lists?
What are the workflows?
The most important thing about your White paper is publishing it; perfect is the enemy of good. Once it’s out there – shop those ideas and get them funded.
Typically, I look at three broad areas:
Strategies – the easiest thing is through identifiers. Are there multiple identifiers and no Wikipedia articles? Maybe there should be one… I believe this is part of how Siobhan prioritizes her work.
Is there something distinctive to focus on from a cultural context? Look to geography, and places – for example, ensuring all endangered species listings are there.
Language and visibility gaps
Look at page views for species and are there priority languages that we can translate this information into?
Wikidata Query can tell you the Wikipedia page view API: https://pageviews.wmcloud.org
Once you know what topics are a priority, you can see what related topics you might want to connect to them: https://list-building.toolforge.org/?lang=en&title=Pampas_Grass&k-results=30
The two fellowships to look at related to biodiversity are:
In June, we will have a wrap up the program to review the work.
We are still deciding what comes next after that:
We might start up the series again or,
launch into the next round of fellows for 2023