WMSE-WMF joint initiative concerning GLAM communities of practice

Building increased capacity for content partnerships
Presentation about the joint initiative at Wikimania 2019.

Expanding and investing in our work with GLAM communities of practice edit

Many organizations across the world want to connect with Wikimedia volunteers and affiliates, disseminate their information and knowledge with global audiences, and participate in the free knowledge ecosystem. There is a huge opportunity to gain free content to include into the Wikimedia platforms.

For GLAM communities of practice, it can be complex to do work with us, given the lack of technical infrastructure for large-scale content partnerships, including batch uploads and editing, analytics and data synchronization. (“GLAM” is here broadly defined; besides collaborations with 'typical' cultural and knowledge institutions, it also includes content such as private collections, bottom-up initiatives, community archives...). Existing tools are difficult to find and use, especially for newcomers, and are not integrated or sustainably supported and often lack documentation. This makes strategic content partnerships and coalitions around global heritage with aligned organizations difficult.

Leveraging existing expertise edit

The 2030 strategic direction states that Wikimedia will become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and that anyone who shares that vision will be able to join us. One way to do this is to build a socio-technical support structure for GLAM communities of practice, where all Wikimedia communities and partners can easily work together, be part of a support network, and have access to user-friendly tools and technical infrastructure.

In the upcoming year, the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Sverige will partner around GLAM tools and services to explore together how to establish this essential expertise, infrastructure, community engagement, and activity for GLAM communities of practice.

Wikimedia Sverige has been involved in GLAM technical development with international focus for a long time: the organization has developed tools for batch uploads and MediaWiki extensions. It has developed expertise in international GLAM projects (e.g. Connected Open Heritage, FindingGLAMs) and has access to a growing network of international funding opportunities. The Wikimedia Foundation is looking at ways to support community capacity, develop a resilient and growing affiliates ecosystem with fewer single points of failures, increase and diversify content, and strengthen and diversify movement leadership. This initiative is a good opportunity to work together for maximum impact.

A full year of research and planning edit

The first step will be scoping, researching and planning this idea further, coordinating with other Wikimedia affiliates, communities and stakeholders.

Our work around this initiative will integrate the recommendations from the Movement Strategy Working Groups, and the focus will be adjusted accordingly and with time to best serve the needs of GLAM communities of practice in the longer term. Wikimedia Sverige and the Wikimedia Foundation will from mid-2019 to mid-2020 co-develop a suggested blueprint for other free knowledge initiatives to build expertise, capacity, sustainability and leadership within a given field. Such a blueprint will make it easier for other organizations across the world to take a larger role in the movement.

The GLAM team, led by Ben Vershbow, will serve as the primary partner at the Wikimedia Foundation, with strong engagement and mentorship from the Product and Technology teams, and other contributors across the Foundation. At Wikimedia Sverige, John Andersson and André Costa will lead this initiative. This builds on the collaboration the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Sverige have already had on the FindingGLAMs and Structured Data on Commons projects.

This research and scoping year will explore the existing technical needs for content partnerships in different contexts and different platforms, a multi-year technical direction with a prioritized list of outcomes, as well as a sustainable governance and sustainable financing model for such an initiative. Wikimedia Sverige and the Wikimedia Foundation intend to use a participatory approach to engage stakeholders from across the movement and in the GLAM sector on these issues. Another priority will be to identify needs in emerging communities and ensure their participation.

By 2020, Wikimedia Sverige hopes to have initiated the work to become a supplier of sustainable partnership tools and services for the Wikimedia movement and connected organizations. With financial and technical support from the Wikimedia Foundation, coupled with external grants and other sources of income, this initiative strives to be a resource for the wider global movement.

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