Earlier this week, the winners of the Sustainable Development Goals Digital Game Changer Awards were revealed. Govdirectory didn’t win, but we are still honored to have been selected as a finalist in the category Peace – Building peaceful and inclusive societies.
It would have been nice to have listed this on the slide for awards in our recent talk at Code for All, but that one was pre-recorded earlier in the summer when we didn’t know the upcoming good news.
In this talk (slides), we mention some statistics.
One aspect that I love about this project is that it is not static, but is building all the time. So since we recorded the video, we have already grown substantially.
As you can see, the coverage is just over 10% of the countries in the world, and of the countries we have, only one is complete and a handful more have great coverage. If you want to help with the data, head over to the project page on Wikidata. If you have want to help improve the website, head over to the repository on GitHub. And, of course, you are also welcome to just explore what is on the website at govdirectory.org.
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.
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.
Last weekend, it was time for the WikidataCon 2021. It was three days full of sessions with both short and long sessions and small and large ideas. As always, one of the most interesting sessions is the community awards because this is a time for celebrating the work of each other. And this year it was a bit special for me, because I was part of some of the winners. I’ll talk about them below, the link under the images takes you directly to the YouTube video when the award was revealed.
Using & Querying data
This is the latest project, that Albin Larsson and I started, and that I’ve written about before. Since then, in the short five months it has existed, many more people have joined and helped and also deserves the recognition. It feels particularly good to now win a prize for this, as I have been thinking about it for many years.
Community building (global scale)
On March 29, 2020, Albin Larsson and I got together with this small idea of just editing Wikidata for an hour, but to live stream it. Our plans were not big at the time, but we had fun, so we kept going. After a while we also started to get regulars hanging out with us, so that made it easier to continue. The stream is very casual, and our goal is mostly to show what we have learned and at the same time learn from each other. As I know that community building is very important this made me really happy.
Special sustainability categories
For the first time some special awards were given with a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals. As one of the co-founders of Wikimedians for Sustainable Development, these categories alone felt like a win. And to add to that joy, I was part of some awarded categories.
In the project with the Swedish Riksdag documents, it’s truly a team effort. Users Popperipopp and Belteshassar have been doing most of the edits, whereas I have helped with the data modeling and research, and several other users have also helped out.
Finally, I am also happy that WikiProject Biodiversity was awarded in the category Sustainable environment. As I haven’t really been editing much at all in this project, here most of the glory should be given to the other project members. But I am still happy that I have been able to help out with live streaming.
I am a bit blown away with all this recognition. I am honored and humbled by it. Best of all, even though this has taken many hours, it has mostly been a great deal of fun for me! Editing Wikidata is for me a feeling of being able to contribute knowledge to the world in a way that truly scales and easily can be used by others. There are so many places with knowledge gaps to fill that it’s possible to be entirely lust driven and never run out of stuff to do. I encourage you to go explore the corners of Wikidata of your interests and see if making connections gives you the same joy it does for me.
All images by Artur Torres, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Click the image to get to the file information page.
A week ago, I was interviewed for the podcast The World According to Wikipedia about Wikidata. We talked about what Wikidata is, why it has grown so fast, and what role it might play in the future. And of course I had to mention Wikimedians for Sustainable Development and Govdirectory.
Which Swedish municipalities have YouTube accounts?
Sometime in 2016 I got the idea of building a website that would display all the social media channels for all Swedish public agencies. The idea popped in my mind as I was learning the flexibility and power of Wikidata. But my confidence in the more advanced tooling to edit it was low, so I put this in the backlog to revisit later since it felt like a huge task.
We now also knew that by using Wikidata, we could show even more information than only social media. The accelerator program is unusual in that it doesn’t aim to create a startup and make a profit, instead it aims to enable a social impact on the world. The theme this year, (Re)building trust in the digital age, felt really fitting. We worked on an application and short thereafter we were accepted and in a sprint. The first sprint was really great, with the help of our coach Fabian Gampp we took our somewhat technical idea into a purpose driven project by forming a vision and a mission that extended way beyond the technology. Even though we had some ideas of what this could be used for when writing the application, it was still somewhat fleeting in our minds. Our ambitions became these:
Our vision is a world where people are empowered to engage with their government to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.
We will enable a community powered directory where the online presence of every public organization is easily findable, queryable and trustworthy.