Monday, January 28, 2013

Short reflection on our Wikipedia workshop in Amman


I'm on my way home from a two-day workshop that our team organised in Amman, Jordan for Wikipedia editors from the Middle East and North Africa. We had a wide ranging discussion about representation, voice and participation and had participants from all over the region (from Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Israel, The Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon).

In the next few months, we aim to properly write a lot of this up and hopefully capture the diversity of perspectives, but I just wanted to quickly mention a few of the things that struck me the most. As might be expected, there were a range of ideas and opinions and some significant disagreement in our debates. It was difficult to agree on whether there should be limits to what should go on Wikipedia, what neutrality means in the context of articles about places, and how we agree on truths (both in sources and in the articles themselves). 


However, what was inspiring to see was just the shared goals and passion of everyone involved. Everyone genuinely wanted to share knowledge and really make the world better (in their own ways) by editing articles about various parts of our planet. When thinking about the combined contributions that the people in our meeting room created and shared, it is difficult to understate the reach and impact that they have. Wikipedia significantly shapes how tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people create understandings about the world, and these editors play a major role in those processes. In other words, it is simply inspiring to see the difference that a small group of non-professional writers can make to global geographies of knowledge.


p.s. thanks to the IDRC for sponsoring this work and thanks to Bernie Hogan, Heather Ford, Clarence Singleton, Ahmed Medhat, and Ilhem Allagui for making the workshop a success. 

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