Dick Forsyth in his early 80s. photo gallery
Photo (c) Brandy Hug, 2012
If you’re lucky, you have a caring and inspiring father in your life. I was double lucky. I had two.
On November 26, Dick Forsyth (“Dad” to me) died after a couple hard years of one health problem after another. His last day was peaceful, and I was able to spend it with him, along with my mother, stepsister, and — by phone — stepbrother and many others. We were, I think, able to ease his passing; to help him keep his mind on the love and beauty he built around himself for 85 years, and not so much on the pain of a failing body, or the fear of the unknown.
Dad married Mom when I was three. He legally adopted me, and then made all the right moves that enabled me to enjoy a deep connection with my birth father, Jon Boudreau (“Jonni” to me; we first met when I was seven; he died over a decade ago).
What I’d like to talk about here, though, is his influence on my work, which — as I am now realizing more fully — had a deep and lasting impact. He shaped how I approach technology, collaboration, knowledge, and empathy. In the past, I’ve been struck by our differences. But now, the common threads stand out more clearly. Continue reading
Boston area Wikipedia meetup hosted by Wiki Strategies, EchoDitto, and TheftyJack in 2013. Photo by Pete Forsyth, CC BY license.
Are you in the Boston area? Interested in Wikipedia, knowledge, the Internet? How about tea, or a cocktail?
Please join us this evening (Tuesday, October 14) at 7pm at the Golden Temple, Washington Square, Brookline. Wiki Strategies founder Pete Forsyth and his colleagues look forward to chatting with you about Wikipedia and its past, present, and future. No host bar.
See here for further details and to RSVP.
Summary of the four principles committed to by top PR industries in June 2014
This week, several major Public Relations firms issued an announcement about their intentions toward Wikipedia. The headlines capture the spirit of the announcement nicely:
There’s just one problem: all these headlines got the facts of the announcement dead wrong. (So did about half of the two-dozen-plus articles I’ve seen on this.) Continue reading
Wikidata is a new member of the Wikimedia family, and helps many language editions of Wikipedia share structured information.
Have you heard of Wikidata? It’s a (fairly) new Wikimedia project, designed to support Wikipedia in all language editions, Wikimedia Commons, and the rest of the Wikimedia family of wikis. It collects information — like the information in Wikipedia articles, for instance — in a structured way, that makes it easy to share that information across languages and across projects. And best of all, it’s based on a (heavily customized) wiki — so if you’ve edited Wikipedia before, it should be pretty easy to get started on Wikidata!
My colleague Tom Morris, a London-based Wikipedian, announced a nice way to get to know Wikidata the other day, in an email to the Wikipedia gender gap email list. Continue reading
This week, an email list discussion I took part in ballooned to 70 messages. It started with concerns about an image of a pile of corpses, featured on the front page of Wikimedia Commons; but it turned into an argument about whether (as some have phrased it in recent years) the leadership in the Commons community is “ethically broken.” My colleague Kevin Gorman stated:
“…the fact Commons’ has a history of not wanting to comply with WMF board resolutions…”
That assertion is false, and statements like it — especially from people in leadership positions — are damaging to the collaborative spirit which drives the Wikimedia movement. Leaders in our movement have even falsely accused specific elected administrators of aiming to get as much pornography or objectionable content as possible onto Commons; seemingly, with no awareness that those specific administrators have deleted hundreds or thousands of objectionable images from Commons, or that one image (considered objectionable by some) might be more in line with Commons’ educational mission, or with its responsibilities toward various parties, than another.
There are, to be sure, sometimes problems with decisions made at Commons; when a web site hosts more than 16 million freely sharable files, there are bound to be a few disagreements. But those disagreements do not result from any lack of integrity on the part of the community that curates the collection. To accuse these dedicated volunteers of being “ethically broken” is wrong. It’s damaging to the collaborative spirit that has allowed us to amass this collection of free media.
There are many reasons why disagreements arise: Continue reading
Portland’s Damian Lillard. Photo by Mikalan Moiso, licensed CC BY-SA.
Are you a basketball fan? If so, you’ve probably seen the incredible shot Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers just hit, with under one second of playing time remaining, to win the first seven-game series of the NBA 2014 playoffs. But if not, you may find this interesting anyway — I’d like to talk about an important standard Wikipedia applies to including historic video footage. (Here’s a little background if you’re just catching up.)
The NBA, of course, provides amazing and historic footage of this feat (the first video clip below — I’ll come back to the other two in a moment.) But you will never see that footage on Wikipedia articles like 2014 NBA Playoffs, Damian Lillard, 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers season, or History of the Portland Trail Blazers.
This may seem strange — after all, this video clip is all over Facebook, Twitter, sports blogs, TV coverage, etc. So why wouldn’t Wikipedia — which aims to document historic events — publish it? Continue reading
Lila Tretikov, April 2014, by Lane Hartwell. CC BY-SA 3.0
Lila Tretikov, formerly of SugarCRM, will be the new Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Outgoing Executive Director Sue Gardner will stay for a month; June 1, 2014 is her last day. She will remain involved in an advisory capacity. Thank you to Sue for seven strong years, and especially for radically increasing the financial and technical underpinnings of Wikipedia! For context, I wrote about the Executive Director transition in USA Today and (more thoroughly) on Zocalo Public Square a month ago.
The following links may be of interest; updating regularly. Continue reading
I just submitted a talk and an edit-a-thon session, along with my colleague Sara Frank Bristow, for the upcoming Open Education Conference in Washinton DC. We plan to explore the best fit between Wikipedia and academia, drawing on our experience with the Wikipedia Education Program, Communicate OER, and a variety of case studies. Below are the session descriptions we submitted:
Wikipedia: Love it or hate it, it’s here. What to do?
Pete Forsyth presenting on Wikipedia. Photo by Sage Ross, CC BY-SA
Wikipedia’s central value to academia & learning lies more in in its processes than in its content.
In 2007, Wikipedia was banned as a citable source by the history department of Middlebury College, drawing much attention from the media, the public, and academia. This debate over Wikipedia as a trusted source has continued to rage ever since; but many professors and students have found that Wikipedia actually does have a place in academia, entirely independent of its value as an academic source. Continue reading
“We could have cages, to protect diners from each other. What might they do with their knives? No- that isn’t a good way to design a restaurant, or to live our lives in society.“
paraphrase of Jimmy Wales, 2005
Image (c) Nicholas Boudreau, used with permission.
The Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees will be considering it this week. The amendment’s passage may be inevitable, given the strong community support (837-286). [UPDATE: Please see the insights offered below by Nemo, who questions the appearance of community support] I still think it would be a mistake; Continue reading
Are you a Wikipedian? Do you want to help a museum, a library, a university, or other organization explore ways to engage with Wikipedia? Great – you should offer your expertise as a Wikipedian in Residence!
If you find yourself in such a role, you will have opportunities to help your host organization contribute to the sharing of knowledge in new and exciting ways; and to help Wikipedia readers and editors around the world benefit directly from the expertise and institutional knowledge your host possesses. Ideally, your role is that of a connector and a facilitator; you should aim to empower those around you (both the staff of your host organization, and Wikipedia volunteers who share the organization’s interests).
So what can you do to get off to a good start? Below are a few ideas, drawn from past Wikipedian in Residence programs. (It may also be helpful to review the assessment of a program that many felt was not planned effectively: Assessment of Belfer Center Wikipedian in Residence program)
1. Chat it up on Wikipedia!
A great Wikipedian in Residence will convene discussion among Wikipedians and the host organization’s people, both online and in person. ©Lettera 27, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Wikipedia’s talk pages can be drama machines – or they can be ghostly silent. But when all is going well, they can be incredible forums for processing complex information, and determining the best way to clearly and neutrally guide a reader’s learning process.
What makes discussions on Wikipedia work well? Continue reading