11 things I am reading for and about Wikimedia

It’s somehow the same story every year: the amount of reading climbs up with every month. And so I find myself reading 11 things in parallel, connected to the madness, and excitement, of running for an elected, voluntary position in an NGO (Wikimedia Germany) again after many years of exercising restraint. Most of my personal choices this year turned out to be slightly goofy, so we’ll see how this one turns out – the General Assembly of Wikimedia Germany is on November 29, so I will know very soon. Setting aside caution and reserve, here is my commented reading list:

This is how I feel: small and curious

  1. Wikimedia Germany’s mailing list. I have been strongly encouraged to post to the mailing list, but I am cheerfully ignoring that recommendation. This is not a mailing list, it’s a slaughterhouse. I am reading every message, never sure whether I will get a headache from shaking my head or laughing madly. The list is public, so if you want to, dive into a pretty stunning spectacle.
  2. Konflikte Zwischen Vorstand und Geschäftsführer in Nonprofit-Organisationen: Eine Analyse der Spannungsfelder und deren Ursachen. A great book by Sara Bürgisser, already because it makes clear that the kind of conflicts Wikimedia Germany is struggling with right now are actually quite common.
  3. Chapters Dialogue Insights & Summary. While Wikipedia is co-produced by an immense decentralised network, much of the control sits with the Wikimedia Foundation. A lot of people are unhappy with that, and though I am familiar with the Chapters Dialogue, reading through it once more helps.
  4. Burnout in Free Software Communities. A great blog post by Siobhan McKeown that resonates strongly with my own experience. “Free software, by its nature, attracts self-driven people who like to be involved in diverse and challenging projects.” Yes indeed.
  5. Twenty-two power laws of the emerging social economy. An oldie but goodie by Dion Hinchcliffe who explores a good number of theories, which, he argues, are shaping the business world as the “post-industrial knowledge economy becomes more social.”
  6. Lots of meta discussions. Meta is the space where everything is discussed, well almost, and so there are discussions around the annual plan of Wikimedia Germany for 2015. Both the discussions and the the annual plan itself are interesting reads, with a lot more nuance than the mailing list.
  7. Motions for the General Assembly. About the only link that is password-protected. Most motions seem fair enough, but there are some that just continue the trench warfare madness between those who believe the ousting of the executive director was completely absurd, and those who believe it was the only way ahead.
  8. Wikipedia and Encyclopaedism: A genre analysis of epistemological values (pdf). Master thesis of Steve Jankowski (no, not the trumpeter of Blood, Sweat, and Tears), in which he considers how Wikipedia justifies, structures, and legitimizes its production of knowledge.
  9. An Epistemological Critique of Wikipedia. Summary by Steve’s supervisor, Pierre Lévy, who asks “How can we integrate the different point of views on a given subject in a perspectivist way instead of imposing a “neutrality” or “objectivity” that reflects inevitably the dominating consensus?”
  10. Proposal to replace Neutral Point of View (NPOV) with Every Point of View (EPOV). The entire research newsletter is always worth a read, a fantastic rabbit hole every single time, but this succinct summary of an interesting research paper stood out to me.
  11. Common Knowledge? An Ethnography of Wikipedia. Written by Dariusz Jemielniak, academic and Wikipedian, who seeks to illuminate how Wikipedia functions and, in doing so, claims and aims to deliver the first ethnography of Wikipedia.

The list could of course be much longer, but I try to never read more things in parallel than the month of the year commands.

The photo by Captain Piper on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0) captures beautifully how I feel about this endeavour.