I was recently a guest on the podcast Between the brackets. The podcast usually covers MediaWiki related topics, but from time to time, also have Wikimedians as guests. It was a lot of fun, since we talked about almost all the things I am currently involved in. We mostly talked about the Foundation for Public Code, Wikidata, Govdirectory, Wikimedians for Sustainable Development but also a bit about AI and Abstract Wikipedia.
Last week, the yearly Wikimedia conference Wikimania took place, and while I was not there in person, I was very much participating in the hybrid components of it. In general, it went quite smoothly, and I hope that all future Wikimanias will learn from this to enable more remote participation. This has two advantages. First, people who would otherwise not been able to join at all can join and second, people who would otherwise have needed to fly to go to the conference can enjoy it from their home.
Following the learning pattern Documenting your event experience, I continuously documented what I was doing, watching and participating in, along with notes of thoughts those brought me. In total, I partook in 77 sessions and organized another 3 myself during the conference. I have later watched another 12 sessions and have 22 still on my backlog, so the conference will stay in my mind for quite some time. I will delve deeper into the different aspects of my Wikimania experience below.
This session, about making a climate related edit on the Wikimedia projects every day for 365 days in a row, was a prerecorded lightning talk, which made it possible for me to be very active in the chat. However, no complex questions there, but at least a few cheers. Hopefully, more people will join in on the campaign as they come back to normal routines after Wikimania.
Add your country to the Wikidata Govdirectory
Here we presented the workflow of adding a new country on the Wikidata side of Govdirectory. It turned a bit chaotic due to no moderation in the physical room and odd use of Zoom rooms, but I think at least it shows the steps in a helpful way. It was pleasing to see both Bulgaria and Morocco being worked on in the day after the talk.
Perhaps the most fun session of these for me, as it went very smooth, and my panelists were all lovely and professional. We were discussing why we were livestreaming ourselves editing, what we think is the value in it, and gave a few tips. Very meta, and triply so, as this session in itself was livestreamed.
Differently from the other Govdirectory session, this was a poster session. It was based on the one I used at WikiCon NL last fall. I’ll include a version below, but you can also view the full pdf. This one was printed in A2 size and displayed in the expo session in the main hall. So far, I haven’t got any feedback from it yet, which I choose to interpret as the information was clear.
I had hoped to be a bit more productive in the Hackathon, but I mostly got stuck hacking on one function for the new Wikifunctions project. Not that it was that much hacking that I did, but rather since it was a non-trivial, I learned a lot about how the system will work in practice. This feels very valuable, as now I can speak about it with some hands-on experience.
There were far too many sessions for me to get a comprehensive overview of them all. But I did like the high amount. It feels like a very healthy community when there are over 300 sessions of high quality. In hindsight, I also appreciate the many different tracks, as it allowed for many aspects to shine. Of course, I too experienced Fear Of Missing Out, when there were several interesting sessions happening at the same time. It was somewhat mitigated by the knowledge that all the sessions also will be available for eternity, so it boiled down to selecting which sessions I was most likely to interact in. I ordered them for my own overview on my user page. Unfortunately, even though there was a separate chat for each virtual room, there wasn’t always someone available to bridge questions in the chat to the speaker.
New for this year was a concurrent editing challenge during the conference – Wikimania Challenge. It was a bit of a scavenger hunt style competition with different tasks to complete during the days. A fun way to edit with a wide spread of tasks over the different projects. I was one of the few that completed enough tasks in time to get my name on the big screen during the closing ceremony, and I also received this nice certificate.
Eventyay – the conference platform
It was great to see Wikimania being run on a free and open source platform, Eventyay (and also using Pretalx for the submission process). I am also happy that the event is still available there. It was also great to see developers from the Eventyay project hanging around answering questions and documenting bugs as they were discovered. I found one that they also fixed during the event and made another feature request.
While a huge step forward, there were still some serious issues with selected components. In particular, speakers were connected using Zoom. Not only is it proprietary, but their recent changes in Terms of Service make me, and others, hesitant to use it. I understand that it has a feature for using live translators, but this is an issue we should help solve as it is so important for our movement.
As usual, a Wikimania leaves you with loads of inspiration and ideas. So what will I try to do next?
The entire track about the different Wiki Loves campaigns was inspiring, particularly the talk Wiki Loves in Numbers (video), and I will contact Wikimedia Nederland to see how we can get a Wiki Loves Earth going here in 2024.
Idag har jag en debattartikel om klimatet i Expressen. Det var en idé som jag har grunnat på sedan länge, men som med den senaste debatten om koranbränning bubblade upp till ytan igen. Det är en ganska kontroversiell idé i sin enkelhet, att det inte bör vara tillåtet att okontrollerat elda något alls, så det ska bli spännande att se vad responsen blir.
Det finns ju egentligen mycket mer att säga om detta än vad som får plats i 3 500 tecken, som är formatet för en debattartikel så det blir ju en del som blir implicit i den. Men ja, min tanke är verkligen ett generellt eldningsförbud. Vilket bland annat innebär slutet för nöjesgrillning vilket jag tror kanske är det som kommer att uppröra mest. Lite mindre implicit, och här tänker jag på hänvisningen till Naturvårdsverkets rapport, är att även braskaminer eller vedeldning i hemmet i tätorter borde förbjudas. Utöver koldioxiden så blir luftkvaliteten riktigt dålig. Självklart bör en tidsbegränsad dispens ges till de som idag inte har ett alternativt uppvärmningssätt i hemmet.
Att jag just nu läser sommarkursen Retorik och kostomställning blev vad som fick mig att gå från tanke till handling. Det här blir en del av min slutuppgift och nu ska jag skriva ihop en rapport om det till nästa vecka och sen är den klar. Det blir nog minst en uppföljningspost på det här.
This spring, I took an evening course in English at the University of Skövde remotely: “English: Writing Texts about Facts and Opinions” (syllabus in English), 7.5 ECTS. It was refreshing to both delve into the nitty-gritty with grammar for the first in a while, but also to get an insight into the style of argumentative writing in English as compared to Swedish. Plenty of similarities, of course, but some nuances that were good to be reminded about. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and might consider publishing some of the essays I wrote for it here at a later time.
(Obviously, since this is a text about grammar and language, Muphry’s law dictates I will have made some errors in it.)
Due to the rise of voice assistants of different kinds, Wikimedia Foundation decided to get a sound logo, and following a long-standing tradition, this was made as a contest. It was opened in September last year and ran until October. They received 3,235 submissions from 2,094 participants in 135 countries. Then in December, after preselection down to 10 finalists by a committee, there was a community vote.
I thought it was a fun challenge, and I also have some recording capabilities thanks to the podcast I am hosting. So after a bit of tinkering, I managed to make two submissions.
Aha, I did not know that!Mark that, it seems important!
Now, while it was fun, I don’t think I was even near being a finalist. Those ten were in another league, all excellent.
The Big Fat Brussels Meeting is an opportunity for Wikimedians, mainly from Europe, interested in how public policy may affect the Wikimedia movement to get together and collaborate. I have been to these before and, as usual, it was both productive and inspiring. In particular, I led the discussion around what we first, very ambitiously, called PD Gov (as in government material should be public domain), but later crystallized to something much more narrow and easier to work on.
Since 2011, there is the 2011/833/EU: Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents which is already quite good and has led to clarity around of a lot of the content created by the European Commission. During the meeting, we thought it would be a good first step to try to get this decision widened, to apply to all the European institutions. By doing that, we don’t need to come up with new policy language that needs new arguments. Instead, we can simply argue for consistency and to reuse the reuse policy. This would still be a considerable win, as a lot of relevant material is created by the European Parliament and especially their Research Service. Do reach out to me if you want to help work on this.
Wikipediapodden podcast episodes
Besides partaking in the meeting activities, I also managed to record three short interviews that are now available as podcast episodes on Wikipediapodden.
A few days ago I was guest appearing in the podcast Sustain OSS. It was an energizing conversation with Richard Littauer and Justin Dorfman, and we honestly probably could have continued for several hours. We mostly discussed my work at the Foundation for Public Code and the Standard for Public Code we have developed and that I work on, and with, daily. But we also got into talking about Wikipedia, the movement and some of the bot creation initiatives we have seen.
I really enjoyed the conversation and hope I get the chance to speak with them again sometime. As they are deep in the know of the field of work, they asked just the right questions that we are also thinking about which made this more than just a shallow presentation of who we are. I guess the only thing we really didn’t get into much is how we are funded which is possibly not the most interesting conversation for everyone, but as a non-profit working for the common good is something we are always eager to explore. That being said, I think that the conversation will give anyone who listens to it a better sense of what I do at work and why I am passionate about it.
From a podcast producer point of view, I was also impressed by the process they applied. All the way from getting in contact, having guiding documents, gathering information needed for the shownotes to checklists for the recording, it was a great experience as a guest. I guess the only downside was that very few of the tools they used (that I saw) were open source solutions. Now, for remote multitrack recording, there aren’t many alternatives, that is something I am also sadly aware of, but for simple collaborative document editing there are plenty of options. If some of those services are switched, it will be an even more pleasant experience to be a guest in the future!
I had the joy to participate in my first ever WikiConNL two weeks ago. It was a really good day and I turned out to be more busy than I initially anticipated. The conference was fairly well attended and had four parallel tracks so it almost felt like a mini Wikimania. Luckily for me, only one track was in English so when I wasn’t part of something myself, I wasn’t paralyzed by Fear Of Missing Out.
Wikipedia and sustainability, how to increase knowledge on climate change?
This was the main reason I attended, a long session that targeted newcomers and external organizations. I based it on a previous session I had made with Alex Stinson, and also borrowed a few slides from one of Daniel Mietchen’s presentations. Besides the introductory presentation to get the participants up to speed, we had a discussion and then an entirely new exercise. This was a novel thing that I recently came up with (inspired by the ever so thought-provoking Michael Peter Edson).
The exercise works like this, everyone pairs up and then in turn tell the other person what issue in sustainability they are most passionate about. When both have had the chance to share, it is up to each to find an article on Wikipedia that best matches that interest. Lastly, both persons add both the found articles to their watch list.
The idea is that this is a low stake, low friction action that can start their journey into the Wikimedia movement. They get something concrete to act on, without the risk of messing up some of the policies, and also makes a mental commitment by putting something on their list.
WikiSpeedRuns is a fun game format where the idea is to, as quickly as possible, navigate between two articles. After a qualification round, I made it to the semi-final, but ended on a shared third place.
Wikimedia NL signs the Wikimedia Affiliates Environmental Sustainability Covenant
With the signing, I was invited on stage to briefly explain what it was about. I think this was my entire speech:
In a nutshell, the Sustainability Covenant is like the Paris Agreement for the Wikimedia movement. With this signing, we agree towards each other to take actions. The actions are in broad strokes; drastically reduce our emissions, improving the coverage of the climate crisis on Wikimedia projects and to share our learnings on this journey with each other.
I am thrilled about Wikimedia Nederland signing this, and I would like that more affiliates signed it too. I am a bit ashamed that Wikimedia Sverige hasn’t done this yet. Perhaps I need to make a motion for the general assembly…
Our first poster session. While I am happy with the design, only when I saw it on the wall I noticed that I forgot the link to govdirectory.org. Unfortunately, during the day the poster session was placed a bit off the main action, but later it was moved nearer to where the crowd gathered.
As I mentioned earlier I had created my first user script on the mini hackathon and got to show it in the showcase. It seemed to get a good reception, and the nested query got on “Ooh!” from the audience. There were also other great tools in the showcase.
I also had the chance to participate in the audience in some sessions.
How the Ukrainian Wikimedia community is thinking about the future amidst the war
This session was really moving. It was humbling to hear how the Wikimedians in Ukraine continued to edit through all their hardships.
This was an unscheduled short talk that was taking the place when a remote speaker had problem with the internet. I was a bit surprised they are going for a system with the office in Brussels and the general assemblies in Prague. After working in the European Parliament, I have seen the downsides of having to travel for the voting sessions first hand.
Wikimedia’s role in the climate crisis
This was a great short talk by Lukas Mezger. Lukas has mastered the skill of creating a sense of urgency and have spent a long time finding the facts about our movement. This meant that this was the perfect talk to have just before the signing of the Covenant.