This is the first half of my monthly reports of my New Year’s resolutions. I am not sure exactly how I want these monthly reports to be like yet, so I am just going to make a simple one to start with, and I’ll see how it evolves in the coming reflections.
Annual report 2023
I created the base for the annual report, basically by copying the format from last year and then adding what had been listed in the activities section over the year. With a bit of nudging in the Telegram channel, a few others added some more detail too, which was appreciated. Together with Daniel Mietchen, we added some images from the events and that was basically it.
It is thin, but it is also a fair description of our activities over the year, and I can only hope that it could also light a fire for us to do better.
Plan a user group meeting
As a result of my nudging, there was also a request to figure out more things people could help with. I was delighted by that and encouraged it. This led to Alex Stinson offering to help coordinate a workshop to find some activities for the user group and roles that people could take on for that. We have scheduled the workshop for February 9.
With those two points in the works, I felt inspired to start a newsletter to get this out. Luckily, there are some other activities happening too, that fit in there. Even if it is one of the shortest newsletters, I still feel good about it, as the news it carries might be one of the most important so far.
The newsletter has evolved through a couple of phases over the years, and I still don’t think it has found its final form. All ideas are welcome.
A few years back, I got inspired by Daniel Mietchen for New Year’s resolutions. While inspiring and important, the way I did it was not really what I imagined, and I did not continue in 2022. Basically, I hadn’t thought through how I wanted to document it, and it all became a bit too ad hoc to feel like I was doing it with purpose.
Now I have given it quite some thought and have two new themes that I am inspired about. The themes are Wikimedians for Sustainable Development and Fediverse. To read about my ambitions in detail and see the progress overview, check this dashboard for my 2024 New Year’s Resolutions.
I have also figured out that the way I want to document my progress is by monthly blog posts here, one for each theme. I’ll create a tag for each of them so that they all can be found easily later (fediverse 2024 and sustainability 2024).
EDIT (2024-01-19): As I am also planning to do a lot more hiking this year, and that usually “eats up” running days even though it is also beneficial for general health, I will allow for those to be counted as a third of the distance. For example, a hike of 15 km would be counted as a 5 km run.
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.
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.
Last Friday to Tuesday Wikimania 2021 took place and after being totally cancelled last year it was now virtual. I was a bit worried that the experience would not be anything that a real one, but I was positively surprised. Sure, it’s not the same feeling that got me to return to every one since I first tried it, but among virtual four day conferences, it was pretty good.
Despite the heavily critiqued use of proprietary software, where Linux users got a big red warning that their system was unsupported when they joined the conference or “changed buildings” in it, the platforms still provided a surprisingly nice user experience. It would be great if the Wikimedia Foundation would invest in putting the available open source solutions together to mimic that. The pieces exist, Wikimedia Foundation presumably have the resources to do it, but is there a will?
Unlike the last Wikimania in Stockholm, I had no official role in the organization of the conference in general, but instead helped provide some content, which I’ll list below in chronological order.
Getting started on Govdirectory
In the Hackathon, Albin Larsson and I presented our Govdirectory project. There were more people attending than expected and many good questions, although most of them with a viewpoint of the data rather than the tool.
Govdirectory user research
We also did some user research, where we tried to find out how we best can support the Wikidata community who are interested in curating data in our topic. It was enlightening to get the views from more power users of Wikidata.
Community Village – Wikimedians for Sustainable Development
Shortcutting the Identify topics for impact recommendation by reusing free content
This was a lightning talk by me where I argue that we should use the Sustainable Development Goals as the marker for what topics have impact on the world instead of trying to come up with our own idea of it.
Wikimedia and Sustainability – Selecting topics for impact
This was a workshop organized by Daniel Mietchen and me. Despite the platform making it hard to communicate with the audience, we managed to get quite good engagement and many good ideas. You may need to skip a lot in the video since we’re working in silence in some parts.
I also continuously planned and documented my attendance in detail on my user page, and I encourage anyone to do the same for all their Wikimedia conferences.