Values/2016 discussion/Transcripts/W

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1 2: I chose three values as values of the WMf needs to accomplish the vision and mission” not really as “why are we going there”?
2 F: 1: Could you add more context about 1a, respect?
3 1: Respect: Kind of a loaded one. I have a sense that there is a lot of hurt in our communities, and amongst foundation employees. I think a lot of that hurt (if it’s at least somewhat real) stems from a lack of respect in communication with each other. It can range from simple things like wording something in a manner that is intended to hurt, to not showing genuine interest in why people are saying, or what they’re saying. I think about the values I hold dear, and I think there continues to be more work to be done about showing respect in words and actions. Taking seriously people’s concerns. That doesn’t necessarily mean … voices of … but there’s something to be said for responding to difficult people in a respectful manner, and encouraging people to be respectful, without being too preachy about what respect is. I know there’s this notion about demonstrating good behavior...engaging with the movement, and making people feel heard, is an important thing. I can’t think of a lot of parallels to what we’re doing … we’re sort of like the US government in certain ways. The best part of the U.S. gov. Engage with respect with their constituents. …. I’ve heard people talk about this, but we’re working for the constituents, and some of them are active, some inactive, some paying attention, some not paying attention, although they’re receiving the benefits of active people and the work that we do.
4 F: That’s awesome 1, I love it. Maybe we could hear from 2 about your first value
5 2: There is a point … you were talking about working things in a manner intended to hurt. Sometimes there are also things that people didn’t intend to hurt… culture, personal differences, that exacerbate communication differences… things to escalate. … That’s one of the pieces of respect that’s hard…. Being able to step back out of respect for the people you’re communicating with, and for the communication itself
6 1: No response to that, other than I agree. I had a fleeting thought that there was a bit of a tangent, but I let it escape to listen, so if it comes back to me I’ll bring it up
7 2: My first value: values that are necessary if we ever hope to get to our vision. Inclusiveness seems that it must be one of the values. … everybody, not just if they’re in the right country, etc. not just in an encyclopedic format, but everything. … It’s not just about… or about recording history. There are mirrors too. I remember discussion that we had that seemed to center around: if readership goes elsewhere, that’s bad, because we lose a pool of editors, and they don’t help improve our content, and we lose donations, … so sites reusing our content were seen as a threat.  There should be 100s of sites that reuse our content. … Don’t tunnel vision.
8 And also inclusiveness is about everybody. Not just middle-class folks, but everybody.
9 1: I think that’s pretty rad. About the redistribution of content: I think the key is to provide clear guidance about how to redistribute, include more prompts for people to contribute, not just hyperlinks. That probably satisfies most people’s desires of proper reuse. Letting people know that they can trust the content… it’s beneficial when we provide a link back to the material, or we brand, or… the kind of work that went into it, or where it came from. There is a challenging problem about what we can do, we can’t do everything… empower others to spread knowledge everywhere…
10 F: I like… 2, I agree about … declining readers … the simplicity and broad inclusiveness of the vision. But hadn’t thought about 1’s perspective about trusted knowledge. How much of it is built on bias or propaganda. 1’s way of… what kind of work went into it, citation needed. Ok, let’s go to 1b
11 1: Patience. I believe the movement’s work will be around for a long time, and discussions … technological and social aspects of how the projects and the movement work should be tolerated. I don’t mean to say that we should be in a state of inaction, but as one person likes to say, we’re in a target rich environment. If some discussions take a long time, and they require a lot of emotional and intellectual involvement, so be it…. Will serve our vision and our mission. Sometimes the environment in which we operate also change. It’s important to have patience. Sometimes the conditions aren’t right to do the things that we do in our rights to be right. Sometimes we need to keep things on a list and come back to them when the time is right, when the conversation has changed, when there’s fertile soil. Sometimes there are things that are urgent, but it seems that more often we should promote a sense of patience for other things. I reserve a right to change my opinion on that.
12 F: (redacted) Any other thoughts?
13 2: 2c: I got stuck because I had two things I was looking at and couldn’t find a name for either of them. Talking about the 2nd one: the long view. The Long Now (pretty niche): they say, what will things look like 10000 years from now? We can’t predict next year, and they’re thinking about 10000 years from now. … mission: “in perpetuity”. … companies come and go. Who know where the internet will be 100 years from now. We should be thinking about the long view, who will our successors be, how do we make sure that … or that copyright laws don’t just shut us down. It’s not just about the next 5 years, and not just about … yesterday, today, … We got to think about the long view, or tit will all have been for naught. Even just a 100 years (practically an eternity in internet time)
14 2: about the first one: (radical). A few years ago (all this is informed by the stuff we did and that I didn’t like). … words that express the foundation…. Maturity: the WMF is maturing. When I started there were two dozen people. I felt that maturity meant that we couldn’t … b
15 Any of the things that were done in the beginning wouldn’t happen now. I fear that this is something that we struggle with. There was a huge discussion about the image filter. … free access to information means the good and the bad. That’s what I mean here by “unpopular stance”. “Reforming from within”: … we’ll support people… going back to inclusiveness. Sticking to the things we do and how we do them will kill us.
16 1: Trying to summarize: Being a bureaucracy that exists just to be a bureaucracy. Again the parallel with government institutions. We need to watch out for that. Operating from the context of a nonprofit entity, and of something that is not tied to any particular state, a global movement. I feel that we have a duty to do more than let the machine survive. I don’t know what it means in the long run, but I know we need to do something about it. The propagation of truthful and verifiable information, yes. But I don’t know how to avoid the bureaucracy in the long run. I guess just be aware of it.
17 2: I read somewhere that once an organization is created, its own existence and survival becomes its first priority. I don’t know how true that is. But there’s a life cycle for organizations. I can’t help but think that we conflate the existence of the organization, with promoting and working on the mission. If we do, we’re screwed.
18 F: One way is to have meaningful conversations to reflect about this. This conversation today will change how I see my work today.
19 1: 1c: I feel like human history has a tendency toward things being closed and held tightly and in the hands of few, to information being disseminated. Some of it…. I look even at Western religion, for example: this was a trend. Things went from being closely guarded to being disseminated; from a means of control to a means of culture. Safeguarding “intellectual property” seems to be on a similar trajectory. It seems to be the path we’re on, the path we’re supporting. There are forces against this, and I don’t think they’ll ultimately be successful at stopping the flow of information, but they do have a real impact on human lives. When I think about how we combat organizations that are censoring the truth, I wonder about whether there is something more that we could be doing. The very nature of what we do is towards having uncensored material that’s educational in nature; but I wonder if we could be doing more to combat censorship. It’s a value that I hold… I don't want people dying as a result of anything that we do… contraband in certain areas.I’ve been grappling with this for a while. There’s a utility to government and institutions, and I don’t think they’re all out to get everybody, and we’re not in the business of taking them down radically. But that’s kind of a “collateral damage” in certain areas. Can we take more of an advocacy role in areas with censoring governments…? But how can we do that while protecting people’s safety. Human life is important. Perhaps sometimes it’s up to others to do that kind of work. It’s important to get that kind of information out there.
20 F: This is what these discussions are around: dancing around our ideas, and our colleagues’ ideas
21 2: I’m also on the anti-censorship side of the fence. If we’re talking about the sum of all knowledge, we don't mean some of it, or none of it, we mean all. I do want to point out that it’s not just certain governments. The US gov has been … about any details about the torture that’s been going on in Guantanamo. Any government will hide things… Nixon administration… I think that once people get accustomed to power, it’s very hard to let it go… We’re having discussions with gov agencies at the same time we’re trying to circumvent some of their…
22 There are things that put people’s lives at risk. But can we make the call for someone else about what they can access? I don’t think so. I’d want to know the risks but I wouldn’t want somebody else to make that decision for me. We did the things on SOPA, and the NSA lawsuit, I don’t know if we can do more. I think we should be firm in that commitment, and the rest…
23 2b: freedom. Freedom about what you’re able to do: for us, it’s that you’re free to contribute, to knowledge, to culture. And we hope to build that platform to carry on. ...freedom to consume it, if that’s what you want. You’re free to do this regardless of where you live etc. Basic freedom.
24 And free from restriction, from control, from censorship, from ads, from foundations leaning on us to do X or Y, which is why we’re picky about our fundraising.
25 1: question: You mentioned something about leaning on the WMF, and direction
26 2: I meant sometimes we may accept infrastructure help, but they say “would you spend more on X”, or maybe they’d want an image filter on Commons, etc. It’s the same concern with ads in newspapers. … encyclopedia is one of our projects, albeit the more successful. Wikiversity…
27 ====
28 Second part: looking at the values; why?
29 F: Is respect a means to an end, or and end itself?
30 1 (1a: Respect) It’s a means to an end. Looking at this as objectively as possible. An axiom-level thing. It’s not always true, but in order for a social system to survive and thrive, I feel it’s necessary for them to have a certain level of respect. There are many societies, and cultures and institutions, that have a long history of debate. I’m not saying that debate should be avoided. But healing some of the wounds, and move forward, and build information that can be freely shared: in order to do that, we need more respect in our interactions. Otherwise we’ll struggle more than necessary. A number of places where we could do the more changes (technical level changes) to help support communities. It’s hard for me not to notice disrespect between all kinds of parties. Unhealthy disrespect between e.g. WMF people, and people who feel they’re acting in a police role for the community, etc. On a level outside of achieving the d (of propagating information) it’s also the right way to do things. Altruism.
31 2: comment: AS I was listening to this, I was reminded that different portions of society are conditioned to respond to disrespect in different ways… we lose a sector of voices when disrespect is encouraged.
32 2: (2a: inclusiveness) it really has to do with how we get the vision statement to be real. … Inclusiveness as a value: to make sure we don’t build walls and barriers, us vs. them, labels and categories. But that’s not what our vision is about.
33 1: (1b: patience) similarly, I think of this as an axiom-level thing. If you want to make it in the long run, you have to want to make it in the long run. Impatience, aggressiveness: we can try that kind of stuff, but it’s against human nature, and the nature of systems themselves. Action/reaction. Aggressiveness tends to lead things to fall down. A system that is about bringing vast change will have to transform itself anyway, which will require patience.
34 F: Is there something also about perseverance in there? Patience= calm state that sees the endgame, but also the “sticking to it”.
35 1:  I think they go hand in hand. Perseverance is being able to reapproach something at the right time, and getting better at reapproaching whatever you’re trying to do.  Patience is about the state of mind, and perseverance is about how things are done.
36 2: (long view) it really is about how this vision lasts. We’re not going to build it by ourselves, even with everybody else helping, in our lifetime. … In the long run… but in the slightly less long run (not geological scale) how do we make sure that we do move things forward, and they continue to move forward. You said there’s a tendency for things, for systems, to move from closed to open… religion… control applied to different regions of the population… degree of religiosity that any particular group has…. Be cautious about that…. Nothing says “we’re going to have more rights” etc. except us, if we continue battling towards that. We can’t just do our bit and know that it’ll be good; knowing that, how do we prepare for the future?
37 F: some quality of stewardship; long view:
38 2: Due diligence : good word. Not just for the time right now, but also for the future to come.
39 1 (1c anti censorship) probably a means to an end. There’s the notion of stewardship, and stick-to-itness. Working from the approach that human is valued; anti-censorship… achieves the same thing in the end (dispassionate aspect of it). We’re here to promote verifiable information. We have to be diplomatic and low-key in some ways about how we do this. Sometimes there’s no diplomatic way to do this, but if there’s a diplomatic way of doing this we should do that (to protect people’s safety, both physical and legal). Drag along to arms width (?) There has to be concerned efforts for things to go from close to open. I wonder if there’s some sort of middle way to get there. Maybe more stealthy way? I don’t know if there’s some fundamental law of nature that says that information has the be free, but I believe it does.
40 2: comment: censorship is about power… I like the diplomatic way, but we should experiment, diversify; at no risk for anyone else
41 (2b: freedom) it’s about power. I believe in a society where everyone has… freedom from oppression and control. Things needed to make the vision happen.
42 F: I never really thought of the freedom to, and freedom from. Freedom and equal access to power. Resonates a lot with me. Comments about this discussion, hopes for the process? Reflection about the process?
43 2: Too soon for me to reflect. Need time to sit, and brain has done some processing, so can’t right now.
44 1: I appreciate everyone listening and being thoughtful. These are the sorts of conversations where things taken out of context could be bad. It’s good to have some freedom to speak and to listen and to think about this stuff. I too would need to think about this a bit more to reflect.
45 F: There are a lot more conversations (I hope they fill up), so encourage people in your team, departments, to sign up. You’re free to also join another one. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, and the way you engaged in the conversation.