WIKIMOVE/Podcast/Transcript Episode 5

Nicole: Welcome to episode 5 of WIKIMOVE, a podcast where we discuss the future of the Wikimedia Movement. I am Nicole Ebber and with me is Nikki Zeuner. We are both working on Wikimedia Deutschland's movement strategy and global relations team.

Nikki: This episode was recorded at 13:00 CEST on August 25th, 2022. Things may have changed since we recorded this show, but what we still know..

Nicole: .. is that by 2030, Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge. And anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us.

Nikki: And in addition to the podcast, we also have a meta page and a web page and you can find all the relevant links in the show notes as well.

Nicole: And on today's show, we will talk about peer support in the context of recommendation number six, which is ‘invest in skills and leadership development’.

Nikki: Oh, and by the way, today we won't have a news segment because we are going into a summer break and this episode will be released after so we don't want to bore you with old news. So let's move right to our interview for today's show. Our topic again is peer support, which includes peer learning, peer matching, peer all kinds of things that we still haven't imagined. What's the background? Our Movement is constantly growing and diversifying all across the globe. And that's also part of the this Movement strategic direction is that we grow. New people are joining, new communities are forming every day as volunteers and a staff of affiliates and WMF. They have to acquire new skills. They have to figure out how to organize, form organizations, do outreach and advocacy and how to work with institutions and with governments. And for every skill or piece of knowledge that a Wikimedia is looking for, there's probably another Wikimedia out there who has figured it out or has the answer or has just done it the week before or last year. But how do they find each other? So today we want to talk to Rebecca O'Neill and Jessica Stephenson, who are both testing new ways for connecting the people of our movement for mutual aid. Their projects could become what's outlined as an action in recommendation six, which says ‘establish a service that facilitates connecting or matching peers across the Movement for teaching and learning skills’. So Nicole, do you want to introduce our guests?

Nicole: Yes, first of all, we are very happy to welcome Rebecca O'Neill here with us. Rebecca is a doctorate in digital media from the University of Hull. Since 2017, she has been the project coordinator of the Wikimedia Community Ireland and is based in Dublin. Rebecca works with various groups and institutions across Ireland to improve understanding, use and representation of Ireland and Irish topics on Wikipedia and its sister projects. And a large portion of her work focuses on improving and also strengthening the representation of women and also content relating to Ireland on Wikipedia and also on the Irish language Wikipedia. And we are also excited to welcome Jessica Stephenson with us. Jessica joined the Wikimedia Foundation in April 2021 as the Learning and Evaluation Program Officer with the Community Resources Department. She's based in Prague in the Czech Republic. Jessica has 18 years of professional experience in the design, management, and evaluation of social and economic development projects, working alongside national and international NGOs, the public sector, and also United Nations agencies. We look very much forward to our conversation with you today.

Nikki: So we've invited you guys today because you both are involved in sort of join, connected, but separate projects that have to do with peer learning and peer matching and peer support. So I'm going to start with you, Rebecca. Can you say a few words about what is the Capacity Exchange?

Rebecca: This thing that you've been developing with some of the people in the movement. So the Capacity Exchange is a pilot project to create a platform to aid fundamentally, I suppose, discoverability of peers, resources, capacities across the Movement. So looking for existing but also requested or needed capacities, resources, and assets. So to map what people have as regards to capacities within the Wikimedia Movement, but also what people are looking for and creating a platform we can start to understand, collate, and generate, I suppose, more connectivity across the Movement.

Nikki: Mm-hmm. So if I, like if I'm a new Wikimedian and I want to start a user group, I could go on there and say, I'm looking for a startup help with how to do a user group and how to form a nonprofit in, I don't know, Nigeria. And then I could maybe find somebody who can help me with that.

Rebecca: Exactly. So it could be, you say, kind of fundamentals of setting up a new group. It could be governance, it could be around diversity, it could be around projects. It could be something as simple as looking for a mentor to help with grant writing for the first time, but also finding people, say, operating within similar contexts to you, even if they are quite remote from you that you can learn from. But as I said, also those resources that perhaps you could take and adapt and amend to your particular context without having to write it from scratch. So giving people, I suppose, that initial boost, be it, I suppose, mentoring as in kind of people working quite closely, collaborating together or people being able to find those resources that have already been created so they don't have to start from zero every time.

Nikki: That makes sense. So Jessica, what is Let's Connect and how does that relate to this or how is it different and how is it similar?

Jessica: Thank you so much, Nicole. So let's connect with, born out of all these conversations around Movement strategy and also rethinking the grant making process. There was a call from communities to go beyond financial support and finding ways to best support skills development and really trying to do that through more horizontal ways. So connecting peers, connecting colleagues, people in the movement who are facing similar challenges in context, as Rebecca mentioned. So it's, let's connect as a peer learning program. It's open for any Wikimedian who wants to learn and share skills with peers. And as Rebecca said, this can be around organizational issues such as writing proposals, evaluating the impact of work, the great question around how do we retain volunteers? How do we best train volunteers, how can we innovate in some of our programmatic work, but also as well we want to focus on interpersonal skills that are so important for the Movement. So how do we create those skills for creating safe spaces, for managing conflict, for being inclusive. So there's a number of skills that these learning spaces are sharing with each other from peers. And one thing that is really interesting is that we're innovating in different formats. So one is the type of workshop learning clinic where community members can come and share and interact and practice some skills with others. But we also want one-on-one connections because we think they're very important in creating that human connection and really contextualizing support. So the learner and the sharer can come together and understand each other's context. And over a coffee be able to discuss not only wiki related things, but also human related things and connect us in Movement. So what we're doing, we are supporting these spaces by offering information about who is doing what and where. And we are hoping this is already going to your second question of the connection with capacity exchange is that the capacity exchange will be the main tool, the main cell in this process where we can use that to connect people. And what Let's Connect does is then once people have connected and they might need some support for that connection, so we come in to help organize that space, organize information, give them some guidance and see how that connection works. And if they need any support to be able to connect. Because sometimes, especially for newcomers, there are barriers to connect, such as language barriers. Sometimes people feel afraid because they may feel very new in the Movement and they don't have things that they feel they can share. And so we wanna, with the program, reduce some of those barriers and make people feel that we all have something to learn from each other and to put the support systems in place, be it financial, connectivity, translation, guidance, so that those connections can happen. So we see ourselves as a little arm that the capacity exchange will be able to direct people towards when they connect and they need more support.

Nicole: I'd be interested from you, Rebecca. We talked about this also in the prep conversations. The main issue that you wanted to solve with capacity exchange, what were you thinking? What was the impulse of initiating this project?

Rebecca: Those of us who are both new or old timers, I suppose, in the Movement, are aware of the perennial issue or become very aware very quickly of discoverability. I've been involved in community work in the Wikimedia Movement since 2014 and ever since I've attended Wikimanias or other conferences, you have that kind of serendipitous discovery of work that other people are doing. But how do you facilitate that outside of those very kind of, not necessarily exclusive, but spaces that only happen once, twice, three times a year are only necessarily available to people who can travel, who have access to scholarships, things like that. There has been a criticism of Meta that it doesn't allow for very easy discoverability and that it is a host to an awful lot of projects that perhaps may look current. But when you scratch beneath the surface, they have been shelved or mothballed or otherwise left as archival material within Meta. So really what we're looking to do with the platform is to create something where who you contact as a person is very obvious. The fact that it is staying up to date is very obvious that it's a current project, this is a current capacity that can be shared, and that people can find them based on categories, based on where they are happening, based on who is facilitating them, be that a person or a group. So it's really about making, it's about surfacing what is happening in the movement in a more accessible way. We've been aware that the way that we have done things up until now has not helped with that in the past. Meta does not facilitate easy discovery. This idea of somebody out there is building this wheel, but based on all these barriers of geographic, time, language, you just can't find the information that you're looking for. Or you might be using different terminology for the same thing. So using things like, as I said, topics or filters, that people, regardless of some of those barriers, will have a better chance of finding the work that we're doing, that each of us are doing across the Movement. But also that piece of looking for something and finding that it is not there, that nobody else appears to be doing it, or that people are looking for particular resources and they don't exist is very important. So this idea of what people are looking for and they're not finding it is very important because we start getting into that kind of known unknowns then as regards to what people are actually looking for at different points in say their work that they're doing within the Movement. So it's really, it's that findability, that discoverability piece is very important to me personally but also to the project.

Nicole: Thanks. I like how you framed it because Meta is probably not a masterpiece in discoverability. So I look very much forward to that. And would also like to ask Jessica a bit more about, you know, okay, Meta probably promises to have all the information, but no one will be able to find them. But what is the additional promise of peer support and peer learning as a methodology?

Jessica: Yeah, so I think there's five points I'd like to highlight here. I think one of it, one of the important essences of peer learning is the flexibility and the horizontal aspect of it. So as I said, people who are facing similar challenges, they can learn from each other's experience. And this is very important in terms of building and strengthening our Movement in which movements require multiple connections to happen in diverse moments of time and across geographies. So peer learning is an important aspect of creating that human-centered connection. And that this can happen in, it can be adapted to different ways of learning. We know that people learn in very different ways and structured training can sometimes be a bit more limited to people who like to learn more hands-on. They like to practice their learning. They learn from feedback. They learn from reflection. So peer learning, and this has been written a lot in educational context, it becomes an important way of having a very deeper contextualized form of learning. The other thing, and this is quoting from a Let's Connect participant, because we're also piloting this and we already have 140 people connecting and we're getting feedback from them on the importance and significance of these connections and what's working, what's not working. And one thing they said was, the best thing about this one-on-one connection is that I had time to focus on my needs and to really share what I needed to learn in my own context. And I didn't feel afraid to, there was nobody else there kind of judging what I knew or didn't know. So I think that contextualized safe learning is very important in the Movement as well. And as I mentioned, it can help you through different stages of learning. So as Nicole was saying, there's, you know, different paths and journeys that people have in the Movement. And sometimes they need formal training to really gather skills, but sometimes they just need to refresh and see what somebody else is doing. And so this adaptability to different stages of learning is important. And I would like to also emphasize that it doesn't replace other forms of capacity building. I think still formal structured training, capacity building through funding, through communities of practice, are still very fundamental for those participants' journeys and building capacities as organizations. So peer-friendly learning is one element in that whole ecosystem of capacity building that is being discussed in that recommendation six.

Nikki: Which kind of leads us to the next set of questions about this ecosystem. Whenever we talk about the capacity to change or let's connect and people are like, yes, and then we should also do like the knowledge base and we should evaluate, we should document. And, you know, there's all these other pieces, obviously that these projects or these initiatives currently are not addressing and very deliberately not addressing because you can't do everything at once. But maybe, um, maybe Rebecca, can you talk a little bit about what other pieces need to come into effect, um, as part of this capacity building system and how peer learning sort of fits in with that?

Rebecca: It does feel a little bit like how long is a piece of string. There is layers of complexity that we can draw into a project like this that just kind of to a certain extent and we can see why maybe similar projects or projects that have attempted to address this issue in the past have been stymied or somewhat, you know, kind of were eventually overcome by all of these challenges. So I think by keeping the project that we're doing in particular, discrete, focusing perhaps on the platform and how we are interpreting at the moment how people will interact with it and the needs that we have, I suppose, addressed the assumptions that we have at the moment. I think that's one of the big things we have of our projects probably have a set of assumptions, a set of hypotheses that we have going into it. What we are doing at the moment is testing those. I think that's the really important piece that we're doing. Yes, we are aware of all these other things that have to happen and be drawn in this wider web of additional, I suppose, toolkits and all sorts of complexities that we can draw into it. But until we get those base assumptions correct, and that we actually understand the needs of those that we are hoping to benefit more fully by actually piloting something, by actually starting something. I think we're in danger of falling into the same challenges, the same issues that have been faced in similar mapping capacity projects that have happened in the past, or projects that look to address peer learning across the communities. Also, we are probably in a better position technology-wise than we were two to three years ago where people are more comfortable perhaps in the types of environments that will be used in both of these projects in a way that perhaps before the pandemic and before we all had to adapt, that people might have been slightly more reticent or less comfortable with. I think for me, we are being quite, I suppose, discreet in the project that we are addressing in this first phase, being very aware that it's not doing everything that we want it to do eventually. It will talk to other projects in the way that we're talking about these two projects eventually hopefully dovetailing together. But we do need to keep it discreet at this point because otherwise we probably will never get off the starting blocks to use another turn of phrase or another metaphor.

Nikki: Yeah, makes a lot of sense. A discrete sense of focus on this one function that you're creating and hoping that the other functions are going to be complementary, like the knowledge base, I guess, is the one that we're being asked about a lot. It's, you know, who's going to build that? Because all the stuff where people are learning from each other in a capacity or in a peer learning situation. There's so much wisdom there that those of us who think sort of at the meta level think we want to capture it and it must be documented and also it must be evaluated. But we'll get to that a little bit later. Nicole had a question about how the two things connect to each other.

Nicole: Exactly. So they are on the one hand quite similar and on the other hand quite different. So could you, or maybe could we explore a little bit what's the value of having these two different solutions as standalone and how are they probably also complementing each other? Jessica, maybe you want to start off and then Rebecca can add to it and then we can also dive a little bit deeper into what this can also mean in the future.

Jessica: In my mind, it's as I mentioned a bit of like the capacity exchange I see as a connecting cell and as a tool that's going to be a fundamental support in terms of information and offering those connections in an open fashion and an easy fashion that we can't do today through Meta. And we've actually tried in a skills directory, we're using something on Meta now to connect people. And we see all the difficulties that entail. So for us, the capacity exchange is gonna be a fundamental piece. And we hope to be one option out of many that already exist in the Movement and others that should be built of where to direct people when they want to connect. And as I had mentioned, let's connect, offer some support for people to connect. So one thing that we found in this initial pilot that's been running for six months is that setting up people for that connection that can be quite important. So how we gather enough information about what it is that you really want to learn. What skills do you need to be able to learn from that person? Is there like a learning path and what are the necessary steps? And have you gone through that learning path so that connection is useful and you're not frustrated by that connection when you perhaps, you know, wanted something different? So we're trying to support those connections by offering the information, the organization, the pedagogical kind of guidelines of how that can happen, and then following up on that connection to see was that useful for you, how did you put that into practice, what could we do differently, and we're finding out a lot of things that spaces that do work, spaces that don't work. So I think in putting that back into the capacity exchange and finding ways in which, okay, we've made the connection through the system, but where are the gaps in terms of how we support people? Is that impactful? And where do we direct people who'd want formal training? Through Wikilearn, through Mox, through external partners who can train. And so I see the capacity exchanges of all where you're sending people out to a lot of different opportunities. And that's where I see that there needs to be a discussion around what is the governance of that structure and how do we bring it together? So these two initiatives are focused very much on two pieces, but we, I think, very quickly need to create a wider discussion of what is the map of that ecosystem and how do we work together? Who governs that? Who organizes that? What funding is needed for that to work and operate as a coherent system? So that's a really interesting discussion, I think for us to have in the future.

Nicole: Yeah, thank you. Because we've been hearing this in some conversations. We also talked about it. What are potential redundancies of those two projects, which can be a good thing, because then you can test things and see what works well and what doesn't work so well, for example. But also maybe we are duplicating some of the functionalities. And then also, I mean, maybe there's a potential conflict that can arise from this. People say why are two projects doing the same thing? You are reinventing that is also something that our Movement probably is well known for reinventing the wheel over and over again. And how can we avoid that we waste volunteers time for example and address these potential conflicts really right from the start. Rebecca, do you also see some of those redundancies? Or have you been – maybe this is also initiation of having these conversations and continuing them together to see what makes most sense?

Rebecca: Well, I think having that awareness of each other's projects at this point is very important. We also are aware of projects that are happening, say, in other parts of the world. At the moment, the capacity exchange is somewhat Euro-centric with an idea, again, of keeping it kind of contained in this very pilot phase. But having these conversations, being very open with what sort of piloting, testing, the different kind of methodologies that we're using at this point I think is fundamental to ensuring that we aren't, I suppose, duplicating work, burning out volunteers, asking them to populate two different platforms or to, as you say, because we're doing things in siloed, away from each other. If we are open and transparent and have these conversations now, we can also be very clear with each other where the different projects are succeeding but also where they're failing, where they are not meeting the expectations of the people that engage with them. Again, coming back to those kind of testing, those assumptions that we have going in, if we have two different methodologies now, we can start to understand who we are serving best, who we aren't serving. Those people who might engage with one project but not the other and request things that then are happening in the other project, that sort of thing. I would say that having this broad reach or this broad methodology at this point is definitely the way to do it because we have so many unknowns now because this has not been done at this scale and perhaps these Movement strategy goals at the heart of it. So now is the time to experiment and perhaps to do that broad brush and to perhaps have some of that overlap so that we can actually know for sure where things are serving people and where they are not. If we are still, I suppose, not to say stepping on each other's toes or duplicating work in six months, 18 months time, then it'll become problematic. But I think being fully aware and open about what we are doing, when, with whom, at this point, can only serve the Movement strategy and the community as a whole better going forward.

Nikki: I want to come back a little bit to what's actually happening when people peer learn. So sorry that's not in the script. But there's a question came from the off here that I want to insert. And just so people, because we're talking very meta right now. You know, we're talking about our projects and how it connects at the meta level. And let's come back to how is this going to help people? So Jessica, you said you had already started and you had some interactions and some feedback. Do you have maybe a really sweet example of something, how peer learning sort of worked for our peers from the Movement?

Jessica: Yeah, so one of the strategies is these what we call one to one coffees or teas. And they can happen literally one to one. So we use the skills directory today on Metta, which is basically a directory of what people want to learn and what they want to share based on when they registered for the system. And then they can find people based on those skills and based on their language, on their context. And they can request that connection. We've also done some proactive matching. So finding people to connect something that we've learned is that sometimes people feel perhaps a little bit wary of making that connection themselves, and they've had to be prompted a bit to understand. And we've had a lot of newcomers come in as well. And that's another reflection of something that we've learned. So when they connect, then we, they have a coffee and tea. We share information about what they wanna learn. What are the learning outcomes or if they just wanna have a laugh and connect and have a coffee, which is just as important. So some of the feedback that we've had, some of the skills that they've shared around, how do I evaluate a small event and to see if it had impact? How do I track volunteers and be able to see whether they'd be interested in coming back? We've had some very on-Wiki sessions as well in terms of like learning the basics of Wikidata. And people go to workshops, but sometimes they don't get all the practice that is needed and all the like one-to-one support. So the workshop is a good introduction. But when they have doubts, they need that mentoring and the coffees and the teas really help so that they can dig deeper into that skills practice. So we've had about 70 people participate in these types of connections. We've also tried cluster groups. So we have one person who's sharing something with a number of learners in different contexts and they can share their challenges. What we found with this is that it requires a lot of support and a lot of organization and finding a way to best scale that and that it continues to be community led and not led by the foundation, I think is very important. The foundation should be there to offer the support in terms of is funding needed so that connection happens? So you have connectivity, so you can dedicate the time to do this. What are your needs? So the foundation can come and support that. And obviously with knowledge as well that we can share as staff and people. But we do want those connections to be led by the community and the knowledge that is shared is led by the community who's doing the work. So finding a way of scaling that and making it community led is really community led is one of the challenges.

Nikki: Yeah, I can see that. I can see how that's gonna be a challenge. I mean, one of the things that we heard a lot during the movement strategy process is the word decentralization. So we want to be a Movement to be less centralized, organized. We want to be networked. We want people to be able to connect. So some of the projects we're talking about today try to do that. However, it turns out in order to create spaces to connect and network, you need like some kind of central infrastructure that lets you do that. So that's a little bit the paradox, I guess, that we're creating. And then there are also other aspects that you guys have also hinted at, which are documentation and evaluation. So to me, since I'm a little bit knowledgeable about the capacity exchange, I'm just going to insert changing hats. I'm just going to insert one other thing, which is the mapping aspect. So what we're trying to do with the capacity exchanges actually have a real-time map. Right, Rebecca, can you talk a little bit about that? So that, yes, people can connect with each other, but there's also a way to have an overview of what are the capacities that are existing and what are the things that are needed. Like you said earlier, they are not being answered when they're searched. And then for whoever in the Movement runs capacity, building stuff to respond to those. So do you want to say more about this Rebecca or did I just make the whole point?

Rebecca: I think you covered it very well there. But I think what we will also – one of the presumptions that I have is that what we might see is a divergence in language. And I don't mean different languages. What I mean is people looking for similar things but using very different language to approach it. Because we have within our Movement very specific jargon when it comes to certain things. When you are new to the movement or perhaps coming in from quite a different movement, you might have a whole other set of vocabulary to use for that, which might then offer quite a distinct challenge for, again, that discoverability piece because you might be using a whole other set of terms for it. So that sort of map. We might see that might be geographic. People around the world are using different terminologies for things that already exist, or we might find that it's language-based, so how terms get translated across the Movement, that we might see subtleties there. But I think one of the things that might be interesting going forward and looking towards the hubs is that we might see geographic capacity specialities, which is something that's coming out of Wikimedia Argentina or Wikimedia Sweden, where they are being quite proactive in those spaces to actually set up kind of hubs or projects that can lend or map or otherwise document those capacities kind of based within a language or I suppose a technical space. So hopefully the map will also kind of accelerate or kind of add a further functionality to seeing that on our global scale.

Nikki: Let's talk about hubs a little more. Everyone's favorite topics these days. How much of this is going to be centralized and how much of this is going to be maybe at one point when we do have regional hubs taken over by hubs? Do you guys have any visions?

Jessica: Yeah, here I speak very much on my personal opinion on representing the foundation or community resources and just on what I think could be the potential and participating in some of the hubs discussions. And I'd just like to go back to a point that you made about the need for this centralized support. And I do see that type of support in terms of a group of people using tools and providing support so these connections happen could be done and should be done in a decentralized fashion. Like today, what we're doing with the working group, the Let's Connect is organized by a community and foundation working group or six people, five or four of them are community members and they're doing a lot of this support themselves. So we're discovering with them, how do, what are the systems in place, the procedures, how do we document those procedures, what is working, what isn't, so that this knowledge can then be maybe transferred to any form of structure, be it a hub or be it an affiliate themselves who does this work of supporting peer connections or a regional group. So I really see this and going to Rebecca's idea as well, that we're experimenting, but I also think documenting and evaluating what works so that we can share this knowledge with others and say, for this to be scaled, this should be done, for example, through the hubs, these are the resources you need, this is the team you need, these are some of the things that we found in our evaluation of what works and what doesn't work and go on and experiment other things. So I see the hubs as being in future hopefully where a lot of this support could be centralized. And as Rebecca said, we're seeing regional capacities in certain areas and skills and perhaps leading some of that capacity building with partners and movement led through communities themselves would be a really interesting thing. I don't think this can be scaled as we're doing it now. I don't think that the foundation should be leading it or we have just a small working group, we're doing enough to learn from it and to be able to think of how this could look like in the future, but it really does need like a community led, decentralized and resources to do this. Going back to your question, I think you need human resources to be able to operate. There's a lot of carpentry, there's a lot of day to day work, connecting people, helping them, evaluating, doing focus groups, interviews, leading sessions, finding translators. You need teams in place to do that. You need resources as well as the technological tools. So all of that is what we're trying with this pilot to give a bit of dimension so that we have a sense of reality in the future of this could work on this scale but with these conditions in place.

Nikki: So the scale could, we could imagine that the scale is a regional hub. So what you're doing right now with this pilot, with this test group could be done on a regional level and then maybe reduce at least the language issues that Rebecca talked about a little bit. I wanna get to this sort of the visionary level a little bit here. And we've talked about the method of peer learning, we talked about peer matching, about decentralization and all those things. And about, well, we didn't really talk about but the need eventually to evaluate programs like that. But what are some of the immeasurable effects of people connecting maybe that can benefit our Movement?

Jessica: Can you guys talk to this? I'd relate to two things that I've learned from talking to some of the participants. I think one was that idea of connecting to somebody who they wouldn't naturally connect to because they just don't know that person's there, but also they might feel that they can't connect to that person. So maybe the case of a newcomer who was starting to organize work with somebody who's been in the Movement for 10 years. So when that connection happened, the feeling of being kind of heard and they continued to connect after that. So those connections, the ideas, the initial kind of push leads to multiple different ways of connecting if they liked. And so there were email exchanges and then there were telegram exchanges and just discovering that happened and that the person felt very heard and seen, I think that was important. The other thing that was an interesting experience around proposal writing, we've done a lot of learning clinics around proposal writing where we have community members come in and talk about how they developed their proposal, their theory of change, and their evaluation. And what we always emphasize as well, talk about the failures or the mishaps or the things that didn't go very well or that were confusing and hard. And that led to a mentorship between people like Argentina, Chile, Uruguay who have developed proposals over a series of years to very like new first time grantees. And they've been like really digging deep into, learning from each other and what is the change you wanna bring about. But talking about failures, I think is also really, really important. And that's where we're taken out of the conversation as like foundation or grant makers. And that, I think when that happens between colleagues, that's very powerful. And so based on those conversations, an organization said, we're not ready. They're from the Caribbean. They said, we're not ready to present a proposal, but let's keep on talking. A year down the line after that first connection, they're now gonna present it, after having been supported for a while. So I think that those are the, I guess they're measurable but hard to measure. And that's what we're trying to track.

Rebecca: Well, I think that's a, there's a few things there. For me, as somebody who's been within the community, but then also kind of engaging with these projects, is that quite often, not only are people perhaps not aware that mentorship is available or is something that I suppose has happened informally within the movement in the past and that perhaps more established chapters and groups that Jessica was referencing there, the likes of Argentina and groups like that, that there is the ability as an emerging group to approach them and to talk about these things. What is found within this area of, I suppose, professional development or mentoring is that quite often those people who need mentoring most perhaps are less likely to seek it out that perhaps flagging to people, so within these kind of conversations about grants or about other resources, that this is flagged and perhaps made quite concrete. It's like not just, we think you should be mentored in this kind of wide, broad sweep of this, but specifically we can help you with this grant writing process and we can help you build capacity and build knowledge around that so that you feel then as a group you can do it as opposed to somebody coming in and perhaps giving you homework or assignments to do over a period of time. One thing that stands out for me within that is also making the work of the very large, very established groups that for, as a new user group, can feel so alien to you. They have staff, they have grants that have gone on for years, they have all of these partnerships that they've developed. What do they have in common with my user group that's two months old and there's three of us, or whatever it is. I think that reflective work, breaking it down into, well, roll back the tape five years. This is where we were, and this is what we did. Again, breaking them down into concrete pieces and being aware of perhaps the background, the silent work, the undocumented work, that interpersonal stuff that happened within your country or within your language context that allowed then what looked like this big project that came out of nowhere. I suppose that awareness just around how you make things seem accessible to newcomers or newer groups or groups that lack very specific capacities and that it would be very difficult for them to generate those capacities within their particular context without any support I think is very important. It's good to hear that kind of reflective piece happening within Let's Connect.

Nikki: Thank you so much. And I think we're going to wish you both much success with the projects and hope they connect and that they become part of this great ecosystem and we can build the Wikimedia Movement together. We're gonna go take a little break now and then move on to the next section. Thanks.

Nikki: So we are going to do a new segment today which is called The People Behind the Movement. And we had this idea because there's two really great people to ask questions other than maybe capacity building.

Nicole: First, I wanted to ask Jessica about her new perspective on the Movement because you joined last year and how is it for you as a movement newcomer, what makes a movement and probably also what makes us a Movement, what pieces are here and what is still missing to be a movement.

Jessica: Wow, big question. And I'd kind of like to start from how I felt the first few days and something that was both positive and curious for me was that I went from knowing absolutely nothing about the Wikimedia's Movement to reading about it hours on end and being absolutely fascinated and not being able to speak about anything else for days. So I felt that this, it was very clear to me and I've worked in political movements and activist movements and I'm very, I guess driven by equity and social developmental issues. So it really struck me the vision. I think that having a very clear vision the first thing I read was Movement strategy recommendations. And I was just very excited. And then when I arrived into the foundation, I thought, wow, if this is so big, why don't other people know about it? And it, it makes me, well, why didn't I know about it? If I'm connected to this world and, you know, in Latin America, because I'm Latin American, English grew up, you know, moving around the world. And how did I not know that this was happening. So it made me just try to discover like what is missing, why isn't this known. And then another thing that struck me in the first few days is that usually in social movements there's a lot of complexity. I think that's the nature of movements. But you usually have kind of an idea of how the connections happen and where they happen and who is part of it. And I remember continuously asking in meetings, like who is the community? And always getting like very different answers. So sometimes, oh, here's the map of like their affiliates and their users, and then you have editors here and you have volunteers. But really understanding those different connections and being able to map them for me was very hard. And it still is hard. Like every day I kind of discover, hey, but here it doesn't operate like that. And there are people who don't feel that they're part of the Movement, and they're not connected to the user group. But however, they're arriving, and let's connect, and they're eager to learn and to organize. So how does this operate? So I think one of the things that, for me, is a challenge is understanding those multiple connections. And that would help us understand where there are missing pieces of why don't people feel part of the Movement. The other thing that I felt is also, I'm talking on a very personal level, like the barriers to entry. So I became really excited about entering the movement, but suddenly I realized that there was a lot that I had to understand. And I was kindly reminded how newcomer I was in several meetings and that I hadn't read this document or I hadn't understood this of the past. And I hadn't understood this conflict or this tension. And so it sometimes becomes a bit disheartening when, you know, when I've been in other social movements, I've walked through the door and they're like, here's your badge, here's your sticker, go out and just feel that you're part of this. And it wasn't until the library's convention when I was actually with community members after a year of working in the foundation that somebody, a woman from a affiliate librarian like tied a thing around my head and she's like my friend and she just gave me a hug and I was like, this is what I was hoping for, you know, like I'm foundation staff, but I wanna be part of a movement. This is what drives me. This is what makes me excited. And I needed just that sense of identity and being seen and being heard. And I felt that came late from in my experience. So maybe that's the same for other people. And obviously COVID and this like lack of human face-to-face connection plays a role, but there's other elements, I think as well. And I would just finally, and I don't want to focus on the negatives at all, but just thinking of the missing pieces, because for me they're so important, is that. I was so taken by the Movement strategy and I thought, well, then this must have an action plan, you know, because movements, although they're ephemeral and there's multiple connections and pieces and they change a lot over time, you know, they have, apart from a vision, a kind of an ideology, they have a kind of this is where we're going and this is who's doing it and this is what we're and so not having that framework, I think for me was really interesting to say the least. But I hope we're moving in that direction because I do think a movement needs that sense of clarity. And I believe entirely, and I speak as Jessica, around not only decentralization, but distribution. And that I think that the implementation needs to have a lot of different governance pieces. So it was interesting from the foundation being part of this central node that is often very criticized. And that myself wanting to be part of this Movement and that for me has been really challenging, but I hope that I'm here to contribute and break some of those.

Nicole: I can say that after 12 years or more with this Movement, I still haven't found a good map of the Movement. So many people have tried to draw it and so on, but to really draw it in a representative way, I think it's almost impossible because someone will always hate it because it doesn't represent one connection well enough or something like that. So we've tried that. And, yeah, thanks Jessica. That was super interesting. And also I think good for other new people to hear actually that they are not alone, that this feeling of being overwhelmed, of not using the right language and so on, it will, I think many people will experience that and it might be helpful to hear from you about it.

Nikki: So, Rebecca, we're in awe because you're doing this podcasting thing much longer than we have been doing it and so we're so honored to have you on this podcast. Talk a little bit about your podcast and the world according to Wikipedia. Fame, fame, shameless plug.

Rebecca: Always here for the shameless plug. So myself and a non-Wikimedian, a very good friend of mine, Fanula. So she's kind of my foil. So she's the non-Wikimedia. So I explain the world according to Wikipedia to Fionnuala and our audience. So each week we talk to somebody from the Movement. So that could be somebody like who's won Wikimedian of the Year or a librarian in Scotland who's been working on Wikisource during the pandemic with staff members looking at transcribing pamphlets from the National Library of Scotland. So really, I suppose fundamentally, it's the humans of Wikimedia is really what the podcast is. It's to bring that element of humanity to it so that – people so often talk about Wikipedia, like this big monolith, this technological thing that sits on the internet. But actually we all know it's the community, it's the people that make it. And the levity, the fun, the sincerity, the hard work people put into quite often very invisible parts of what makes the Wikimedia movement work, what makes the technology work, what makes Google or Siri or whatever spit out a correct answer to you, perhaps in your own language and not always in English. I just wanted to, as we say in our promo, pop the lid, look at the engine, look at the internal workings, tease out some of those interesting stories. So we talk about our heroes of the episode, we talk about the random rules, so those kind of quirky funny historical things that why does Wikipedia do things in a certain way? Well here's the story behind it. And then as I said we interview somebody and we talk about the project that they've done, the accolade that they've won, you know, kind of the interesting project that they got up off the ground. Just so that people realise that it's really that kind of passionate engagement that a lot of people all around the world actually make Wikipedia and the sister projects. Interesting. As Jessica was saying, also talking about the complexities when especially with those rules, when we're supposed to not have any rules, that we're so laden with our own bureaucracy and history at this point and peeling back a little bit of that and talking about it in an open sort of way. I think is important for ourselves as a community to talk to each other. I mean, I love talking to my interviewee every two weeks, but equally than sharing it with a wider community and hopefully talking about it in a way that makes it accessible.

Nikki: So I can highly recommend this podcast, The World According to Wikipedia. You can find it any way you get your podcasts and I highly recommend listening to it. It's awesome. It's very, very entertaining also. All right, so that's a wrap. of the fifth episode of Wikimove. Thank you guys for being here. Rebecca, Jessica, really appreciate the conversation. Thanks to our listeners for listening.

Nicole: WIKIMOVE is a production of Wikimedia Deutschland and its Movement Strategy and Global Relations team. Eva Martin puts all the strings in the background. She makes sure that technology runs smoothly, but also she thinks with us to create the excellent content. Our music was composed and produced by Rory Gregory, and is available under CC BY-SA on Wikimedia Commons. And thank you to our wonderful guests Rebecca and Jessica it’s been a pleasure!

Nikki: We release new episodes every month. We hope that new ideas are born from the conversations in WIKIMOVE and collaborations kick-started. Please visit our WIKIMOVE meta page to react to our podcast, connect with other listeners and subscribe to always be notified of our new episode releases.

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