Grants:Simple/Applications/Whose Knowledge/2021

Application or grant stage: in progress
Applicant or grantee: Whose Knowledge?
Amount requested: US$230,000.00
Amount granted: 150,885 USD
Funding period: 1 January 2021 - 31 December 2021
Midpoint report due: 15 July 2021
Final report due: 30 January 2022

Application edit

Background edit

Annual Plan edit

Budget Plan edit

Staffing Plan edit

Strategic plan edit

  • May be required. Link to your strategic plan, if you have one. This is not required for new applicants or affiliates developing their strategic plan.

Introduction edit

Whose Knowledge? is a global, multilingual campaign to center the knowledges of marginalized communities online, including on Wikimedia projects. We work with marginalized communities around the world - including women, people of color, indigenous peoples, LGBTQIA communities and folks from the Global South - to build an internet for and from us all.

More than half the world’s population is now online, and 75% of those online are from the Global South - from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America. 45% of all women are online. Yet the internet and public online knowledge doesn’t look like the majority of the online world. Take Wikipedia, for example, where the gender and geography gaps are well-known: only a little over 20% of the world (primarily white male editors from North America and Europe) edits 80% of Wikipedia currently, and only 1 in 10 of the editors is estimated female. More broadly, English dominates general online content, and most scholarly (digital) publications in science and social science are in English. The design, architecture, and governance of the internet’s global content platforms and tools rarely include women, people of colour, and folks from the global South. The majority of the internet’s users are not its producers.

We support the rights and leadership of marginalized communities to tell their own stories and share their own knowledges online. With them and our allies, we imagine an internet that can truly reflect the rich and textured world we live in: full of the knowledges, histories and stories of 7.5 million people, speaking over 7000 languages.

We are a feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonial team from multiple continents that has significant experience working in the Wikimedia movement, as well as with other communities and movements in open knowledge, technology, and social justice. We build global campaigns through partnerships with individuals, organizations, and movements across different sectors and constituencies. We co-locate our key convenings with significant open knowledge, technology, and social justice conferences. We center community experts in our research-action with traditional academic and cultural institutions, and we amplify marginalized knowledges through our media work. Legally, are an unincorporated non-profit association with a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor based in the United States.

From its founding in 2016 as a global campaign and Wikimedia user group, Whose Knowledge? has been deeply involved in supporting new and experienced Wikimedia communities to challenge our existing knowledge gaps. We have partnered with a number of Wikimedia organizations and user groups, including through our #VisibleWikiWomen campaigns, served as an equity consultant to working groups in the Wikimedia 2018-20 strategy process and supported the Wikimania 2018 team to develop an equity-focused theme. We have received two Wikimedia Foundation project grants (2019, 2017) and are currently a Simple Annual Plan grantee (2020). Our current grant is not for an entire year, we asked for support for 9 months of 2020, from April to December. For 2021, we are hoping to increase our team’s capacity building resources and overall sustainability through an annual proposal which will in turn help us to continue to support the movement effectively.

Programs edit

#VisibleWikiWomen campaign

In partnership with Wikimedians, feminist and women’s organizations and GLAM institutions from around the world, we organize an annual campaign to add more diverse and quality images of women to Commons and Wikipedia. The campaign runs March through May, with preparation beginning in November of each year. Over the last three years, it has brought online 15000 images of diverse women on Commons and Wikipedia, and has become widely recognized for its impact on Wikipedia’s gender gap. (read more about 2018, 2019, 2020 campaigns).

Key activities for this program in 2021:

  • Build partnerships
  • Create workflows and resources for our campaign kit that especially support uploaders who are new to Wikimedia, and
  • Use a wide variety of communication channels to promote the campaign and encourage participants.
  • Expand our regional reach and activities by adding a regional coordinator in Africa in 2021, in addition to our existing Latin America based coordinator.

This expansion will allow us to create new partnerships with Global South and community-based institutions, growing our existing network of non-Wikimedia partners. We hope to identify and reach more locally relevant organizations once we bring new regional coordinators onboard for the next editions of the campaign.

Goals and metrics:

  • Bring new, high-quality images of women to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia: Add at least 5000 images of women to Wikimedia Commons, with at least ⅓ used on Wikipedia, in at least 10 different languages with at least 20 images each, within 6 months
  • Grow the network of non-Wikimedian partners: build at least 10 new partnerships from outside Wikimedia, especially focusing on GLAM institutions located in at least 3 different countries, to donate images during the campaign
  • Organize and host at least 2 #VWW edit-a-thons organized by VWW team every year and 2 edit-a-thons in which Wikimedia organizations or GLAM institutions incorporate #VisibleWikiWomen into their existing International Women’s Month plans, in at least 3 different countries in 2021.
  • Collaborate with at least 2 Wikipedia communities focused on indigenous languages on incubator to add images and improve the visibility of indigenous women.

Why is this program important?

Wikipedia has a well-known gender gap and lack of representation of marginalized communities and their knowledge. Black, brown, indigenous and queer women are more likely to be missing and their knowledges are more likely to be underepresented or deleted due to Wikipedia’s current policies. By making all women visible, we are changing Wikipedia’s content and addressing its infamous gender gap. The campaign is also set up to decolonize Wikipedia’s contributors as we focus on making the editing process accessible to marginalized communities without any prior editing experience.

Marginalization and Knowledge Gaps Research

Increasing the visibility and knowledges of marginalized communities on Wikipedia is as much about resisting deletions of existing content, as it is about promoting additions of new content. We’ve partnered with two Wikipedia researchers (qualitative+quantitative) as well as volunteer Wikipedians to look at whether articles on English Wikipedia about marginalized groups/people are more likely to be nominated for deletion, and/or more likely to be deleted. Our focus is specifically on intersectionality, so rather than only looking at women, as some have done before, we’re looking at multiple forms of marginalization.

Key activities for this program in 2021:

  • Resume research analysis in early 2021 once Siko Bouterse (the project facilitator) and Jake Orlowitz return from parental leave
  • Publish a written report with research findings - at the end of this research project, we will publish a written report that will include the results of the deletion study and recent findings about visibility gaps and the #VisibleWikiWomen’s campaign impact on Wikimedia projects
  • Partner with other Wikimedians who are working on these issues, and collect community-led reflections about notability, reliable sources and oral citations as part of the qualitative analysis for this report

Goals and metrics:

  • Learn whether being part of a marginalized community statistically affects a subject’s likeliness of deletion or nomination for deletion
  • Share quantifiable information with other researchers and Wikipedians: At least 250 unique downloads of our report on the deletion study, detailing our marginalization and knowledge gaps research
  • Deepen our understanding of #VisibleWikiWomen’s impact on Wikimedia content: add the analyses of a sample of 5000 women’s images to the current research dataset to look for new impact metrics across Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia and Wikidata
  • Advocate for changes to Wikimedia policies and guidelines: at least 1 RfC (request for change) around changing Wikipedia policies and guidelines in this area

Why is this important?

We will use this research to expand our ongoing work to change Wikipedia’s policies and guidelines, especially those around notability, reliable sources and oral citations, which are particularly restrictive in bringing on different forms of knowledge and contributors from marginalized communities.

Decolonizing the Internet's Archives

As content online remains heavily skewed toward the rich and powerful in Western countries, and many marginalized communities are underrepresented in tech spaces and conversations, we create the virtual and physical fora to bring together critical thinkers and doers that work at the intersections of online knowledge, social justice and digital technologies in order to amplify our decolonizing frames and collective generate shared agendas for action. In 2018, we brought together 96 community organizers, technologists, academics, artists, archivists and beyond for the first ever Decolonizing the Internet (DTI) conference at Wikimania Cape Town. In 2019, we organized our DTI Languages convening with 30 participants, focused on languages, at MozFest London. Each event builds shared awareness, strategies, and future actions, dramatically transforming the ways in which the internet represents the majority of the world.

Key activities for this program in 2021:

  • Organize and host a virtual convening for a Knowledge Sprint to Decolonize Archives (2021)
  • Create an Advisory group of community archivists and institutional archivists, from our own networks, as well as recommendations from our broader communities for those whom we do not know personally.
  • Hire a DTI Archives program coordinator to manage and facilitate all the relevant activities for this program

Expanding our Archives based work has been a long-term goal for us. We are excited to see it evolve and become the next Decolonizing the Internet theme. To support the DTI Archives program, we would like to bring in an Archives Coordinator who will be responsible for coordinating the Archives advisory group, organizing the Knowledge Sprint for archives, supporting the creation of resources through the Sprint, and then sharing and amplifying these resources more broadly.

Goals and metrics:

  • Connect institutional with community archives: bring together a group of approximately 30 archivists, particularly Black, queer, feminist, indigenous and other marginalized people’s archives for the Knowledge Sprint on Decolonizing Archives
  • Produce new community-led resources: collectively create at least 1 openly licensed resource, similar to the Our Stories, Our Knowledges resource we produced during our first Knowledge Sprint with at least 750 unique downloads from our website
  • Support new connections: facilitate At least 5 new connections made between the participants (especially between communities and institutions)

Why is this important?

Among the many possibilities of this process around digital archives, we anticipate, for instance, that bringing together mainstream archives with community archives will allow us to test the efficacy and reliability of oral and other non-textual citations on Wikipedia. If we imagine mainstream institutional archives such as MIT and British Library archives in respectful partnerships with community archives, such as Documenting the Now and the Black Cultural Archives, we can also imagine the partnership starting to generate new oral and non-textual metadata. We can then cite the metadata from this linked set of archival databases to reference sources from community archives on Wikipedia, thereby making the knowledge on Wikipedia far more diverse and plural than it is currently. Ultimately, we hope to be able to advocate for oral and other non-textual citations to better represent the many aspects of embodied knowledge inherent in marginalized communities for whom publishing has been a significant structural barrier.

State of the Internet's Languages

The internet we have today is not multilingual enough to reflect the full depth and breadth of humanity, which speaks over 7000 languages. When marginalized communities cannot create knowledge in their own languages on the internet, this reinforces and deepens inequalities that already exist offline. Most critically, language is a proxy for knowledge; the fewer the languages in which online public knowledge is available, the more restricted our access to the range and multiple forms of human knowledge. We’re partnering with researchers at the Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) and Oxford Internet Institute (OII) to develop an openly-licensed multilingual and multiformat “State of the Internet’s Languages” (STIL) Report to be published in early 2021.

Key activities for this program in 2021:

  • Publish and amplify the State of the Internet’s Languages report through 2021
  • Create an Advisory group for Languages. We will rely on the expertise and experience of our language advisors as we explore and test new language-based approaches and tools that will come out of our community pilots
  • Hire a Languages Coordinator to manage and facilitate all the relevant activities for this program

With the launch of our State of Internet’s Languages (STIL) report in the beginning of 2021 and the expansion of our community-led languages work, we would also like to increase our programmatic support for the State of Internet’s Languages (STIL) by hiring a Languages Coordinator to support the program. The Languages Coordinator will be responsible for collaborating with our research partners CIS and OII, coordinating the languages advisory group, supporting the creation of the STIL progress report and its further promotion and amplification.

Goals and metrics:

  • Create and disseminate a “State of the Internet’s Languages” report: at least 5000 unique visitors to the State of the Internet’s Languages website and 1500 unique downloads of the State of the Internet’s Languages Report over the first year
  • for use as an awareness-raising tool, to help build an agenda for action, and to establish a baseline for assessing future actions
  • Build and expand public and institutional knowledge around language as a key proxy for knowledge: At least 10 significant mentions in mainstream media, knowledge and technology spaces
  • Expand community-led language initiatives: pilot up to 3 community-led language projects to test new approaches to language-related content and tech creation, curation and preservation

Why is this important?

There is very little collated data on the online inequalities and gaps around language so far, especially in terms of the effects of multilinguality (or its lack) upon online public knowledge. At the same time, there isn’t sufficient awareness around the subset of research that already does exist around language gaps online - including data from Wikipedia and the broader internet compiled by the Centre for Internet and Society, the Oxford Internet Institute, and others. We also need to learn more about what technical tools and resources (particularly free and open source) already exist for language preservation and amplification, or what needs to be created from scratch, in order to prioritize future interventions.

Just as Mozilla’s Internet’s Health report has become a benchmark resource for internet academics, policy makers, and activists, our STIL report is intended to be a baseline research that can be used for awareness, advocacy, and action around multilinguality online. We intend to track the progress of the multilingual internet, by doing new research and presenting updates of this report every few years.

Outreach, Awareness, and Support to Marginalized Communities

Much of our time is spent sharing information about the experiences of marginalized communities online today, supporting marginalized communities and building bridges to allies who can also support their work online, and outlining the challenges and opportunities that we see in Wikimedia projects to become more truly representative of the full sum of humanity.

Key activities for this program in 2021:

  • Ongoing support to marginalized communities adding their knowledge to Wikipedia (for e.g. Dalit Bahujan and Kumeyaay communities)
  • Support a new community for a pilot in the Great Manchester area, in London/UK
  • Speak and write in key spaces, including independently and in partnership with mainstream media and academic institutions
  • Hire a second Communications Lead to support this work and increase the overall capacity of our Comms team. For more details about this role, please refer to our Operational/Organizational Development section below.

Goals and metrics:

  • Ongoing support to marginalized communities: at least 2 marginalized communities adding content to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons
  • Expanding our community support: support at least 1 new marginalized community who wants to add their content to Wikimedia projects
  • Amplifying our decolonizing frames beyond the movement: publish at least 2 pieces of writing and conduct at least 4 speaking engagements

Why is this important?

Supporting the leadership of marginalized communities to share their own stories and knowledges online, safely and securely, is our mission. Through our broader organizational infrastructure and programmatic capacity, we seek to amplify the voices, faces, stories, and knowledges of the communities we serve. In addition to supporting our communities, we need to continue sharing our decolonizing frames within and beyond the Wikimedia movement. Through our speaking and written engagements, we are able to raise awareness and reach multiple and diverse audiences, which is essential to create shared understanding and critical mass around the structural online inequities our communities face currently and historically.

Operational/Organization Development

During 2020, we collectively but differently experienced pandemics of many kinds - from COVID-19 to raging racism and anti-Blackness, all while our planet’s climate crisis escalates. These experiences have been extraordinary “brutal gifts” for us as individuals, as a team, and for our communities. We have had to deal with Covid-related illness on the team and the structural dis-ease that we feel as mostly a team of black and brown women who have faced multiple forms of racism for a very long time. This has felt incredibly challenging at different levels: it has meant that we have had to move out our deadlines for different projects (especially our Languages report), support our communities as we have organized and agitated for healthcare and anti-racist outcomes, and give ourselves the space for self- and collective- care.

As a result, increasing our team’s capacity around communications, fundraising and programmatic support feels essential for our work to grow sustainably and effectively.

On the communications front, we are planning to hire for our currently open position of Communications Co-Lead. Our work is particularly powerful when we have at least two highly effective Communications Leads working together. Our existing Comms Lead manages our backend communications work that is technical and design-led in nature: designing, maintaining and modifying our websites, as well as our content. To complement that, we need someone for our frontend communications work, that is more community-facing in nature: someone who will support our messaging to different audiences, and particularly facilitate our social media presence and conversations.

As we pointed out in our 2020 application, securing financial resources for our immediate and longer-term sustainability continues to be one of our primary challenges. With the support of this grant, we would like to hire an experienced fundraiser to be our Fundraising Lead. This role would be crucial to help us diversify our funding sources and build out our resource mobilization strategy, especially with the prospects of a Covid economic depression in the horizon. The Fundraising Lead would also offer a much needed support for the Co-Directors team, allowing the Co-Directors to dedicate more attention and expertise across all our programs.

Both Communications and Fundraising Leads would add capacity to the organizational infrastructure we need to operate sustainably and reach our immediate and long-term goals.

On the programmatic front, we would like to replicate the successful format of #VisibleWikiWomen and hire a coordinator for both the Decolonizing the Internet’s Archives and the State of Internet’s Languages programs. Based on our true and tried experience with the #VisibleWikiWomen coordinator, we strongly believe that having a dedicated role to anchor and manage the day-to-day operations of a program dramatically increases its chances of success. It also allows us to be more present for our communities and truly be in a position of service to them, especially during these times where marginalized communities are stretched to their full capacity and facing increasing challenges. For more details on the scope of work for both roles, please refer to the respective programs above.

Grant Metrics Reporting edit

Required. Metrics, targets and results: grants metrics worksheet here.

Needs Request edit

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Requests for programmatic support edit

For example, requesting guidance or expertise from Wikimedia Foundation staff on GLAM- or Education-related areas.

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Requests for operational support edit

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No requests needed edit

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Midterm report edit

Program story edit

For this midpoint report, we would like to highlight and share the program story of our #VisibleWikiWomen 2021 campaign. To learn more about our reflections, practices and experiences during the campaign, please read our blogpost.

Program Progress edit


Program/Activities Progress

#VisibleWikiWomen Workshop organized by local partners in Uruguay

The #VisibleWikiWomen 2021 campaign was marked by the collective exhaustion and multifaceted challenges from a year living through the global pandemic. It was our most challenging campaign to date, as we and our communities have been (and continue to be) deeply affected by Covid-19. New outbreaks and virus variants emerged, amplifying the inequalities between the Global South and the Global North in terms of access to aid, vaccines, health care, economic and social support. Under these circumstances, it has been hard for many members of our networks (and for us as well) to devote time and capacity to the campaign in the same ways as we did before. Nevertheless, we persisted, and succeeded in wonderful new achievements.

  • Our partners and communities brought over 1700 images to Wikimedia Commons, illustrating pages in 38 different Wikipedia languages. While we celebrate each and every one of these images, this campaign was not about the breadth and quantity of images. It was about the depth and quality of our engagements with our partners and communities, as well as our focus on creating local capacity in the Global South communities we primarily serve.
  • We hired our first Africa-based coordinator, Pamela Ofori-Boateng, to support our existing partners and establish new partnerships in the continent, as well as to co-coordinate the campaign with our long-term coordinator Mariana Fossatti. Besides being a well-known Wikipedian in Ghana, Pamela had been a very dedicated campaign partner in previous editions of #VisibleWikiWomen.
  • We supported collective learning experiences by leading and co-leading workshops on how to upload images to Wikimedia Commons. We co-hosted two online workshops with our partners Association for Women’s Right and Development (AWID) and World Pulse, both international feminist networks, and facilitated a workshop series in the Greater Manchester Narratives Lab, a culture hack and knowledge justice process.
  • We experimented with directly supporting local organizers that could amplify and lead their campaign activities locally. This is an idea and goal we’ve had since the conception of #VisibleWikiWomen. We’ve always planned on creating more local capacity and supporting our communities to lead and shape this campaign according to their own needs. In order to do that, during this edition we offered financial and technical resources, in addition to the knowledge resources we’ve offered in the past, to local #VisibleWikiWomen organizers. As a result, our local organizers hosted six national-level #VisibleWikiWomen events online: four in Africa (Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania), and two in Latin America (Argentina and Uruguay).
  • This campaign’s edition brought over 40 new editors to the Wikimedia community, our highest number thus far, and we expect more will continue joining as our partners and campaign participants now have the skills and excitement to share what they learned with their communities. For more stories and direct quotes from campaign participants this year, read our last #VisibleWikiWomen 2021 blog post linked above.

Challenges and Learning Points

The Covid-19 global pandemic impacted us, our partners and communities, and #VisibleWikiWomen in so many ways. In particular, it affected mass uploads of images from GLAM institutions and some of our Wikimedia partners. It also hindered the participation of many communities, especially those from the Global South, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

This challenging, alarming and often exhausting reality required a lot of creativity and resilience from us and our communities. We relied on the wisdom of our feminist friends and partners from AWID to choose a campaign theme that inspired and encouraged us. We focused on celebrating the women/trans/non-binary people who create our feminist realities by living our resistance, dismantling systems of power and privilege and seeking liberation and justice for all.

Empowered by our feminist realities theme, we made an extra effort to center our Global South communities during this edition, especially those based in the African continent. Many African communities joined the initiative for the first time, and they had to resort to online workshops instead of in-person settings. This shift in format posed an extra layer to the challenges of bringing our campaign to life. In many locations, internet connectivity is limited and, even when infrastructure exists, its associated costs are too high. The economic hardships and emotional toll directly and indirectly caused by the pandemic created hurdles for many of us who make up the minoritized majorities of the world. Even in this context, we mark and celebrate the quite noticeable increase in the number of images portraying African women during this campaign, in comparison to previous editions.

Another learning from this experiment was that we should better coordinate and partner with the Community Resources team, in particular the Rapid Grants program, to facilitate the process through which our campaign participants can ask for rapid grants. We’ve learned that other campaigns in the movement have done so successfully in the past, especially in the African continent, and it has helped them provide more support to their community members during their campaigns or contests.

We’ve also learned that, even though hiring an Africa-based coordinator was the right decision, we should have done that much earlier. The hiring process started in January 2020, and the hire was effective by the end of February, not leaving enough time for a comprehensive onboarding prior to the start of the campaign. We’ve learned that we should be hiring much earlier for the coordinators position, preferably in the last six months of the prior year.

Marginalization and Knowledge Gaps Research

As we have stated in our grant application, we expected to resume the research analysis at the beginning of 2021, once our now former co-director Siko Boutersereturned from parental leave. As Siko decided to step down from her Co-Director role at Whose Knowledge?, we lost the capacity to facilitate this collective research project. Consequently, we have decided to put this project on hold until we build more capacity to resume it. We hope to do so later this year.

Decolonizing the Internet's Archives

Program/Activities Progress

Programmatic work on Decolonizing the Internet’s Archives is planned for the latter half of 2021, but leading up to this, we have been working on a few foundational aspects. We have been fundraising to cover the full programmatic costs for the program, and have begun to put into place an advisory group for the program.

Towards that, in June 2021, we welcomed Abira Hussein, Kelly Foster, and Sado Jirde to our Archives’ advisory group, as critical archivists and practitioners in diasporic peoples’ archives. This has been a key accomplishment for this initiative as we are relying on our advisors' guidance and networks to expand this group beyond the community members we already know and have access to. We will continue to expand the advisory group over the next couple of months, and with their help, hire a Coordinator for the program.

Challenges and Learning Points

In parallel with creating our Archives’ advisory group, we also had to divide our attention and capacity to fundraise for this initiative. Our funds currently do not completely cover the budget costs for this program. The fundraising work, albeit necessary, has been taking some of our time and resources in competition with the programmatic work that needs to be done.

Even with our extensive experience building community-based projects, it is always key to remind ourselves that working with any community, but especially marginalized ones, happens at the speed of trust. As we have mentioned throughout this report, Covid has deeply affected us and our communities — thus, we move at the pace they need us to and center them, their needs and timelines, as we collectively and gently co-design and build out this initiative.

State of Internet's Languages

Program/Activities Progress

We are refining our narrative text and intertwining our qualitative data (the stories) with our quantitative insights (the numbers). One of our main focuses has been to write an accessible, easy-to-read, and listen-to report that brings to the surface the big picture of multilinguality and its challenges online.

We have designed and developed a fully tailored website that will present the State of the Internet's Languages report to our wide audience in a user-friendly manner. Its information architecture helps easily navigate and connect different parts of the report, and it brings together visual, oral, and written pieces in a meaningful way. Our next step will be to bring the final report narrative text to the website and, soon after that, start to enhance its accessibility by working on localization, including translations.

At the same time, we have continued to talk about the importance of a multilingual internet and lead this conversation in a number of spaces, including through writing a journal article with our partner, The Centre for Internet and Society in India, as well as speaking about these issues during this Mozilla webinar.

Challenges and Learning Points

As we reported in our last SAPG 2020 final report, this initiative has been heavily impacted by Covid and its effects on our team, as well as the researchers and contributors to this report. This continues to be true as we navigate our way through the global pandemic, especially for a black and brown-led organization with deep connections with two of the worst epicenters of Covid in the world - India and Brazil.

Working on the narrative and building the report website requires the ability to focus our time and energy. Our team - both on the co-directors and Communications end - has been quite stretched and working at capacity. Furthermore, since this was an internal deadline, we also refocused part of our energies towards a Covid-related response to the needs of our communities on the ground, including founding an entirely new organization, Numun Fund (more below)! In terms of the Languages report, we hope that our recent hires for the Communications team will allow us to have more time and capacity to prioritize this work in the summer and fall of 2021.

Outreach, Awareness and Support to Marginalized Communities

Program/Activities Progress

Outreach and Awareness
  • Our co-director Anasuya Sengupta and our ally Puthiya Purayil Sneha, from the Center for Internet and Society in India, published the essay “The Many Languages of Digital Infrastructures” in Seminar Magazine, in the themed edition “Navigating Language in a Digital Age”. The piece builds on the upcoming State of the Internet’s Languages report and explores the representation of marginalized languages on the internet.
  • Our co-directors Adele Godoy Vrana and Anasuya Sengupta are among the authors of the research article “Decolonizing the Internet by Decolonizing Ourselves: Challenging Epistemic Injustice through Feminist Practice”. The piece, published in the Global Perspectives journal, of the University of California Press, explores the possibilities of applying feminist and anti-colonial values in design, processes, and metrics.
  • Anasuya joined Sabelo Mhlambi, Andrew Zolli, and Aarathi Krishnan in the event “Foresight and Decolonial Humanitarian Tech Ethics”, organized by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The discussion focused on the role of humanitarian actors in designing just and equitable digital futures.
  • Adele was the main speaker at the Editatona na Wikipédia Lusófona, organized by a group of Brazilian Wikipedia volunteers, most of them historians and active editors in the Portuguese Wikipedia. Wikimedians gathered to discuss the relationship between racial/ethnic relations in Brazil and Wikipedia.
  • Anasuya participated in the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week, organized by the Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities Network. In the panel, she discussed how widening access to digital channels can transform communications as aid.
  • Adele presented the talk "Decolonizing Metrics: Frames, Practices and Provocations" at the GEO learning Conference 2021, bringing new and provocative decolonizing frames into the discussions around funding. Once the organizers make the video of this online event available, we will include that in our final SAPG report.
  • Deutsche Welle interviewed our co-director Anasuya Sengupta on critical perspectives about the knowledge available on Wikipedia. As a longtime Wikipedian, she explained how challenging the status quo and structures that sustain epistemic injustice would make the website and the Wikimedia movement more powerful and relevant in the future.
  • Adele was interviewed by História da Ditadura, a popular outlet that covers and discusses Brazilian History. She talked about WK? work and the rationale behind initiatives to decolonize the internet. The video of this interview is still in production and will be made available in our final SAPG report.
  • In an interview for the podcast “How Books Are Made”, with Arthur Attwell, Anasuya discussed how power dynamics dictate who gets published and whose ideas, worldviews and stories get known.
  • Adele was invited to keynote the 59th anniversary ceremony of her alma mater in Brazil. She talked about her past experiences and trajectory from a young, Black woman in higher public education in Brazil to co-leading Whose Knowledge?.
  • Anasuya joined the Part 1: Multiple languages on the Internet webinar of the "Demystifying Universal Acceptance: What does a multilingual Internet look like?" series by UA, to discuss the importance of having more languages online, and the challenges and strategies to build a more multilingual internet.
  • Adele shared how Whose Knowledge? is using its feminist, intersectional and anti-colonial frames and practices to address Wikipedia’s gender gap during this workshop to increase women’s capacity to edit Wikipedia, Wikidata and other Wikimedia projects. This event was led by Wiki Movimento Brasil and funded by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Support to Marginalized Communities

Covid-19 had a significant impact on feminist communities in the global South - especially groups led by and for women, trans and non-binary folks. Critically, some of these impacts were felt in terms of different forms of digital inequity and injustice: lack of access to the internet, lack of security and privacy once online, lack of resources to create feminist tech infrastructures that would support Covid-19 organizing, and so on.

Apart from our ongoing awareness and outreach work with our communities, Whose Knowledge? worked with our partners at Women Win (a feminist fund based in the Netherlands), Majal (an umbrella organization for underrepresented voices in the Arab worlds), and our advisor, Jac sm Kee, over the past year to set up Numun Fund - the first dedicated feminist tech fund for the Global South! The fund will resource feminist communities to build tech capacities and systems for organizing, resilience against surveillance and abuse, as well spaces for feminist tech creativity and innovation. We are proud to say that Numun Fund will do its first pilot round of funding by the end of 2021.

Challenges and Learning Points

Priscila Bellini, our new Communications Co-Lead from Brazil
Arya Jeipea Karijo, our new Communications Co-Lead from Kenya

Radical forms of communication are at the core of what we do and who we are. That is why one of our main priorities for the beginning of 2021 was to expand our communications team. We have recently welcomed Arya Jeipea Karijo, from Kenya, and Priscila Bellini, from Brazil, who, together with our long-term communications co-lead Claudia Pozo, will help us increase our communications capacity, especially around social media and content creation.

This expanded team already started putting together a new communications strategy that reflects the work we have done in the last five years of Whose Knowledge?. As a result of that, we have been learning, unlearning and expanding on our existing organizing practices, such as:

  • Building up community learning spaces: For us, knowledge and skills are not transferred from a trainer to a trainee. Knowledge is shared and skills can be collectively built. That is a reason why we constantly seek to create safe and welcoming online spaces where our allies and communities can learn together and from each other.
  • Adopting metrics that matter: As part of our decolonizing efforts, we seek to interpret the outcomes of our work through metrics that reflect the complexity and the many shades of community organizing.
  • Engaging actively with our communities: We design initiatives hand in hand with our communities and around their practices and cosmologies, creating solid participatory processes in which leadership is shared.
  • Striving for multilinguality: Dismantling the monoproduction of English content online is essential for decolonizing the internet and is also an integral part of our knowledge justice work. We make efforts to share all we do in multiple languages -- in particular non hegemonic and oral languages -- whenever possible.
  • Creating resilience through self and collective care: We acknowledge the complexities of the multiple pandemics and their intersections and the heavy burden marginalized communities are often disproportionately carrying. Caring for the wellbeing of our communities as well as our own has become essential in our work.
  • Embracing slow-paced processes: We have learned to recognize that even though there is a lot to be done in our anti-colonial, anti-racist, feminist work, we need to resist the temptation to simply keep going, moving on to the next task in our to-do list, without the practice of pause and reflection. We have been practicing moving slowly, pausing and being spacious as core practices to remain resilient and to resist with joy and hope.

Operational/Organizational Development

Program/Activities Progress

Looking at our goals around organizational sustainability, we successfully met our goal of hiring and strengthening our Communications team, as outlined in the grant proposal. We knew that this addition to the team would be essential to our work as we grow as an organization and strengthen relationships with our communities. As mentioned above, we decided to expand our communications capacity by hiring two Communications Leads in May 2021, instead of one additional Lead. We now have a robust team of three Communications Co-Leads, Claudia Pozo, Arya Jeipea and Priscila Bellini. For additional context on these hiring and the Communications team work, refer to the section “Outreach, Awareness, and Support to Marginalized Communities”

As we turn 5 in September 2021, we see this moment as a great inflection point for Whose Knowledge?. It is a moment to celebrate what we have achieved, to reflect on what we can improve and to dream and imagine the versions of the future we collectively want to create for the years to come. In order to do that, we have brought on Amanda Van Deven (Mandy) as our Organizational Strategy consultant in May 2021 to support this process and create a participatory strategy process for WK?.

Besides her core skills set on strategic ops, Mandy has a background in philanthropy and strategic communications. The latter has already been extremely useful to us as we expanded our Communications team and started developing a new communications strategy for Whose Knowledge?. As for her fundraising experience, we plan on having Mandy supporting us as we hire our fundraising lead in the fall of 2021.

Instead of hiring a fundraising lead from the start of this year, it made more sense to us to start by having an organizational strategy before we hired someone to build our fundraising strategy. We intended to make sure our fundraising strategy was grounded in our values and the insights we gathered from our team and extended communities about who we want to be and what we want to do in the next five years of Whose Knowledge?.

After a year and a half of experiencing the COVID-19 global pandemic in many different ways, and supporting our communities across several initiatives and time zones, while managing our personal lives, it has become even more important to us to prioritize our own versions of self and collective care. We have been hosting monthly team wellness check-ins to come together and share what we are holding, what is bringing us joy and the many layers of our lives.

Challenges and Learning Points

In 2016-17, when we launched Whose Knowledge? , we set up as an unincorporated nonprofit association in California, and were fiscally sponsored by Peace Development Fund, a 501(C)(3) (i.e. a US non profit), based out of Boston/San Francisco. For a global campaign like ourselves, being a fiscally sponsored organization allowed us to focus on our programmatic initiatives instead of worrying about institutionalisation and bureaucracy, especially as we were starting out.

For the last two years, however, we’ve started to question if our fiscal sponsorship was the right fit for us as we grew and expanded our initiatives. After an extensive period of research and legal advice, we came to the conclusion that being a fiscally sponsored organization doesn’t serve us well at this stage of maturity of Whose Knowledge?. According to the lawyers we consulted with, we could be creating unnecessary exposure and liability for Whose Knowledge? if we decided to keep our status as an fiscally sponsored unincorporated association. For this reason, we have decided to incorporate as a 501(C)(3) non profit, based in California, in the summer of 2021.

Spending update Midterm edit

Our midpoint SAPG budget is linked here.

As of the submission of this report, we have spent 80,874.01 USD of the 150,855.00 USD granted by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Grant Metrics Reporting Midterm edit

Metrics, targets and results: grants metrics worksheet here.

Final report edit

Program story edit

2021 was a year to build up resilience after all that 2020 brought to us and our communities. Even though we continued to face the effects of Covid-19, and of other intersecting pandemics of racism, patriarchy, and the climate crisis, we also started to get our strength back and to embrace the future with joy and hope. In that spirit, we celebrated five years as a campaign and a feminist collective, welcomed more members to our (small but mighty) team, and helped launch the first dedicated fund for feminist tech in and for the Global South. We remain honored to have such inspiring partners, allies, friends, and co-conspirators who have been part of this journey. In this blog post, we are sharing a glimpse of some of our milestones in 2021.

Learning story edit

Programs Impact edit

#VisibleWikiWomen campaign

Program Activities

  • Our campaign activities ended on May 31, 2021. We shared this year’s campaign figures and stories and reflections in our mid-point report. As it happens every year, even after the campaign had officially ended, our partners and communities continued uploading images to the campaign, this time adding an extra 139 new images onto the VisibleWikiWomen category on Commons from June to December 2021. (Data source available via eventmetrics)
  • Bringing together cultural, educational, feminist organizations and women from around the world to decolonize Wikipedia’s content and contributors, is a work that needs tending all year long. This has made us realize that the #VisibleWikiWomen program coordination will ideally be a full time position and not a time bound one. For the year 2022 and beyond, we have brought on our long-term coordinator and experienced feminist Wikimedian Mariana Fossatti to provide her expertise and direction to our flagship program going forward.

Challenges and Learning Points

Our campaign runs through March to May every year so please refer to our mid-point report to read about the challenges and learning points for our 2021 #VisibleWikiWomen campaign.

State of Internet’s Languages

Program Activities

With the support and expertise of our team and our collaborations with our communities and partners, we have finalized the narrative text for the report, which brings together our qualitative data (the stories) with our quantitative insights (the numbers).

We have successfully designed and developed a fully tailored website that will present the State of the Internet's Languages report to our wide audience in a user-friendly manner. Its information architecture helps easily navigate and connect different parts of the report, and it weaves together the visual, oral, and written pieces in a beautiful and meaningful way.

We are currently focusing on enhancing the website accessibility by working on localization, including translations. We are also trying to make this report accessible to a wider audience, by offering audio versions in multiple languages, by providing transcripts where needed, and producing translations of the summary report and the qualitative data (the stories) in a total of 12 different languages.

At the same time, we have continued to talk about the importance of a multilingual internet and lead this conversation in a number of spaces, including through writing a journal article with our partner The Centre for Internet and Society in India, as well as speaking about these issues during this Mozilla webinar, and at Wikimania 2021.

We are planning to release a language-themed podcast season soon after the publication of the State of the Internet’s Language report, with the aim of boosting conversations, sharing reflections, raising awareness and amplifying insights from our communities.

Challenges and Learning Points

As we reported previously, this initiative was heavily impacted by Covid and its effects on our team, as well as the researchers and contributors to this report. Overall, 2021 was a continuation of a challenging, alarming and often exhausting reality that truly tested our resilience.

One of the main challenges that we faced while pushing forward this initiative, was trying to make this report accessible to a wider audience, and to push ourselves to go beyond the boundaries of the way-too-often text-based and English-first reports.

We have made an effort to write the report in an accessible, easy-to-read, and listen-to way that brings to the surface the big picture of multilinguality and its challenges online. We are also working with a community of translators and external translation reviewers, to make this report accessible in a variety of languages and formats. We have learned that the process towards a multilingual report is a long one and requires the commitment and participation of multiple actors. Bringing them together in a timely manner, is highly time-consuming and requires a high level of commitment from all people involved.

Further on accessibility, one other challenge has been to include visual representations of the qualitative data (the stories) to support the narrative presented by the different authors. The conceptualization of the illustrations included in the report has been a delicate and slow process that incorporates the particularities of the geographies and realities of the authors -- who have been an active part in the creation of the illustrations -- and their essays. We have learnt that it is essential to devote enough time for any creative process, and to ensure that this is designed in a welcoming manner that includes multiple views, but stays focused on a final goal. Planning ahead to ensure the space needed for these kinds of processes is crucial.

It has also been a difficult task to build a dedicated website to present the State of Internet’s Languages Report in its fullness, while ensuring accessibility, navigability and multi-linguality. We currently have very limited capacity devoted to tackle all the technical intricacies linked to these functionalities. In this specific context, we have learnt to take small steps at a time, and to focus on offering a light and fast website that can be accessed and equally experienced across the globe - even with low bandwidth internet connections.

Decolonizing the Internet’s Archives

Program Activities

During the last 6 months of 2021, we have heavily focused on creating an advisor group for the Decolonizing the Internet’s Archives program. This effort has taken time, thoughtfulness and care as our communities have been greatly impacted by the second year of a global pandemic. We have also been actively fundraising for this program to be able to hire a Program Lead in 2022.

In addition to this process of setting up DTI’s Archives as a new programmatic focus for Whose Knowledge?, together with our partners, Wiki Movimento Brasil and Wikimedia Germany, we co-led and hosted a conversation about Decolonizing the Internet’s Structured Data for marginalized communities, especially those in Latin America and the Caribbean, as a pre-WikiData Conference event.

“Decolonizing the Internet’s Structured Data” was born out of the pressing, urgent need for such a collective conversation, centering those who are often marginalized. Structured data is at the core of how the internet - as we currently know it - works. These are pieces of information organized in such a way that they can be easily read, understood, and processed by machines. By analyzing the power dynamics of structured data, we can examine whose views, whose agenda, whose ontologies, and whose decisions build and sustain these systems and how they sort out and organize data. We can then work together to build more just and equitable systems of structured data.

On October 13th 2021, we and our partners invited over 40 knowledge activists, community organizers, tech-builders, and other “unusual allies” to join a safe, multilingual, collaborative space. We focused on communities that are most affected by how structured data is used and abused, as well as folks who have long engaged with questions around these systems. We were able to bring together brilliant minds from different areas of expertise and start an urgent conversation for projects like Wikidata as well as for the most widely used online platforms.

  • Our group of thoughtful, powerful thinkers and doers, was mostly female-identifying (71%), in/from the Global South (66%), and indigenous/black/people of color(s) (82%) in origin.
  • The conversation served as a pre-conference for WikidataCon 2021, and was jointly organized by Whose Knowledge?, Wikimedia Deutschland, and Wiki Movimento Brasil. We have received a grant from Wiki Movimento Brasil in order to prioritize the participation of communities from Latin America and the Caribbean and provide language accessibility to them. See the grant report here.
  • We recorded and shared on our YouTube channel the insights and questions proposed during the nearly three hours of sessions in our common plenary. We also divided participants into small groups and took note of their contributions for further discussion.
  • A full report about this convening and its highlights is set to be published in early 2022 by Whose Knowledge?, with translations to Spanish and Portuguese (the two most widely spoken languages in Latin America).
  • At WikidataCon 2021, we continued to bring thought-provoking questions on the matter. Our co-founder and co-director Anasuya Sengupta kicked off the conference with a keynote on why knowledge justice matters for structured data, which was received with excitement by the audience. Later on, during the event, she participated in a Q&A and a follow-up discussion.
  • The conversation continued after WikidataCon. Anasuya spoke to the Deutschlandfunk Kultur about decolonizing structured, open data in projects like Wikidata, in an interview translated to German.
  • At the DecidimFest, Anasuya joined a panel on data decolonialism with Paola Ricaurte, moderated by Tayrine Dias.

Challenges and Learning Points

After holding our first DTI convening focused on structured data, we received incredibly positive feedback from the participants via surveys and comments during the sessions. This precious feedback has made us realize that this conversation was just the beginning of a series of ongoing and intentional conversations that our communities would like to have. Participants repeatedly voiced their interest in more collaborative spaces like the one we have created, and stressed that the questions posed were urgent and fundamental, and not simply a nice-to-have. Their feedback also made clear that we must continue to provide spaces centered on multilinguality, with simultaneous interpretation to multiple languages and openness to the realities experienced by different folks.

Marginalization and Knowledge Gaps Research

Challenges and Learning Points

As a feminist collective spread out around the world, not only have we felt the effects of the pandemic in our personal lives, but also on a global level, sharing and experiencing the stories through our communities that have undergone immense challenges in the face of the pandemic.

With our team’s resilience and constant will to adapt and improvise, we were able to strategize and analyze our priorities. With limited capacity and time, we tried to achieve our organizational goals to the best of our abilities, with the support of our partners, funders and communities.

Whose Knowledge brought on a Strategy Consultant to help us with sensemaking. Amanda Van Deven guided us to celebrate the successes of our work while envisioning where we would like to take ourselves in the next few years.

This process also led us to assess our programs and the Marginalization and Knowledge Gaps Research was put on hold until we have an opportunity to reassess in the near future.

In this process, we were able to deep dive into the requirements of VisibleWikiWomen, our flagship program, and we will be bringing back our program coordinator, Mariana Fossatti into a full time year round position, instead of a time bound project every year. Having her support and expertise throughout the year will enable us to anchor our program in a more thoughtful and spacious way.

Outreach and Awareness

Screenshot of Anasuya Sengupta, Sabelo Mhlambi, Andrew Zolli, and Aarathi Krishnan at the "Foresight and Decolonial Humanitarian Tech Ethics" online event organized by The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society on May 12, 2021.

Support to Marginalized Communities

Our participants and communities are people from the minoritized majority of the world including women, people of color, LGBTQI communities, Indigenous peoples and Global South communities, as we work together with them to center and amplify their knowledges online. Our practices are as important as our frames and this translates into intentional, nuanced and powerful activities that center these marginalized communities. During the last six months, one key aspect of our work with marginalized communities has been to support them in bringing their knowledges online, in their own languages. Building up the State of the Internet's Languages report has been an opportunity to engage much more closely with language communities — such as Zapotec, Mapuzungun or Arrernte speakers and language activists — to reflect and to co-create together. This process allowed us to translate the report into multiple languages, honoring the context, realities and histories of the different communities involved in this process. Acknowledging that way too often marginalized communities are asked to give their work and expertise for free, we have also made sure every community member and report contributor was fairly compensated, including the translators.

Operational/Organizational Development

Self and Collective care as feminist practices

Whose Knowledge? celebrated five mighty years of its existence in Sep 2021 and considering that our team was experiencing the pandemic in various ways, we were resilient and leaned on each other to turn our small steps into big strides for the next year.

We prioritised self and collective care as a feminist practice as well as imbibed spaciousness into our ways of working, doing and being. We firmly believe that personal growth and care goes hand in hand with our principles of work. We hired an Organizational Wellness Consultant, Mandisa Mbaligontsi, to offer one-on-one time for each team member to grow in this workspace both personally and professionally.

We also provided each team member with a wellness stipend each month, to be used towards wellness and self care needs. We are also working on creating a time off/vacation policy in which each member of the team can contribute to create a team calendar that reflects our needs and values.

To close the year, we have decided to extend our usual end of year break from two to four weeks to make sure the team had time for rest, renewal and reflection. You can read more about why we see rest as resistance here.

Operational Development

This beautiful journey that Whose Knowledge? embarked upon, in 2016, led to some incredible impact in communities around the world. To continue to expand our impact and support to our communities, we decided to incorporate as a public benefit corporation in the State of CA. Since June 2021, we have been setting up our new operations as a 501(c)3 and working on our tax exempt status. As part of this process, WK? welcomed our inaugural Board, with long time supporters and allies, who have generously agreed to become stewards of our mission.

Alongside this infrastructural change, we have planned to expand our organizational capacity, especially on the programmatic end, by transitioning Mariana Fossatti, our former #VisibleWikiWomen coordinator for 2021 to a full time program coordinator for Decolonizing Wikipedia. She will be responsible for creating a more intentional strategy and approach to our Wikimedia based organizing.

Due to the current limited capacity in the team, we were unable to hire for the State of the Internet’s Languages Coordinator and the Decolonizing Digital Archives Coordinator in 2021, as we had planned. We will be hiring for these positions in 2022.

We are grateful to WMF for its support in helping us build capacity and for trusting our work once again.

Spending update Final edit

Our final SAPG budget is linked here.

Simple APG funds spent during the grant period:

Grant Metrics Reporting Final edit

Metrics, targets and results: grants metrics worksheet here.