donderdag 23 juli 2009

It is all about people, about people who care II

The Wikimedia movement is part of a much broader movement. Wikipedia and other projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation provide an infrastructure, a knowledge highway. A dense network of connections between knowledge domains. The Wikimedia Foundation isn’t a membership organization. Nonetheless, the “community” selects some members of the board of trustees. What would constitute an ideal board member? For me, that is someone deeply rooted within the Wikimedia Foundation. It has to be a long term editor. It has to be someone with relationships in the real world too, and a track record of creating relationships with partners and other institutions in the broader movement. Board membership is unpaid and time consuming. Someone with a daytime paid job at a partnering organization besides being a long term editor would be ideally suited as a candidate. The premise being that the partnering organization acknowledges time invested at the board of the WMF to be part of the job description more ore less implicitly. Such organizations do exist, organizations for which the continuity of the WMF is of vital interest. Couldn’t those be board appointed? No, in my opinion. Definitely not. I belief the current community of eligible voters should have a definite say in the selection of candidates from different backgrounds or different partnering organizations. Eligible voters decide which specific partnering organization could be seen as of vital interest to the Wikimedia movement or the Wikimedia Foundation, or just plainly the community of eligible voters. My current paid daytime job is not within the broader movement in the widest sense. Hence I withdrew my candidacy two days ago.


On the list of candidates the community has the option to choose partnership by boardmembership with organizations like One Laptop Per Child, or Sun Micro systems, or IBM, or Patent Bar Bassoonist, or GamesLaw. You might wonder if those are the foremost institutions you would like to see the WMF partner with. These candidates have a track record of being both long term editors and helping organize things and people behind and in front of the scenes. As far as I can see all other candidates offer little more than being an editor for one or more years. They might be experienced, however fail to connect that experience to the Wikimedia or broader movement. Attending meetings shows interest to me. Showing involvement requires more than attendance alone. My personal involvement with the movement dates back to March 2005 when I started participating in discussions and meetings to create a local chapter in the Netherlands. Last January I facilitated a two hour (too) long meeting of the annual general assembly of the Dutch local chapter. About what? That’s only of interest to members of the Dutch local chapters. Nonetheless, the interference of an experienced facilitator to this meeting was necessary and appreciated. With great joy I attended Wikimedia Conferences this year in Berlin. And if you didn’t know yet, I’m the longest serving member on the Audit Committee of the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. And I recommitted myself for another year this Spring.


A one year collaborative strategy process has started. Eekim and Philippe|Wiki will lead and facilitate that process. In the firt phase they will try to map the movement as a whole, try to identify all stakeholders, and try to identify the issues and concerns of the movement as perceived by all the different stakeholders, communities and you. For example, you can answer the questions on [[meta:reach]], [[meta:participation]] and [[meta:quality]]. Maybe you have entire other issues and concerns that need to be addressed in this collaborative strategy process. Please let Eekim and Philippe|Wiki know. Currently there is a great gap in the perception of issues and concerns between for example executives of the Foundation and the kind editors who raise questions in the current election process. And if you really want to get deeply down to earth, I can tell you the concerns and issues of the readers of Wikipedia. One, they don’t know the Foundation is a non-profit, they don’t know the WMF would like a donation, they don’t know how to locate the edit button or what to do when you push the edit button. On a more advanced level, those readers haven’t grasped the idea of a free license.


What will the board do the coming year? They will do boring stuff like approving financial reports and plans, review procedures and policies. Really nothing else? They will speak out in public relations efforts protecting the reputation and brandnames of the Wikimedia Foundation. They will participate in fundraiser efforts. They will attend numerous meetings. And they will wait for the outcome of the collaborative strategy process. Imagine any big issue that might emerge. Any such big issue is in need of a big policy resolution. Any such policy resolution would interfere with the outcome of the collaborative strategy process. And such big decision will be delayed until the final report of this big process is published. And after that, quite a few involved parties will want to have the time to study the report before anything can be decided. What else will the boardmembers do? They will participate in that strategy process, raising questions, listening to your issues, concerns, thoughts and feelings. Currently candidates for the board are being grilled with lots of questions. So there are people with questions, probably concerning sensitive points, highly relevant to them, touching their fundamental values. Maybe they do raise those questions to influence the direction of the Wikimedia Foundation. Some candidates push on a platform of direction for a project or the Foundation. That is fine. Their best chance at pushing the Wikimedia Foundation in their preferred direction is participating in the collaborative strategy process. Let your concern or issues be heard. Eventually what gets noted is what gets done. Action speaks louder than words. Start doing things and share what you’ve learnt.


Several people contacted me in the last days asking me. What have you done? I appreciate that. In the coming years I will move from my current temporary job, to another one. I’ll find one within the broader movement. Bless you all.

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