Jump to content

2021:Submissions/Shortcutting the Identify topics for impact recommendation by reusing free content

From Wikimania

Pre-recorded lightning talk. Subtitles are available in English and Swedish.


[edit | edit source]

Jan Ainali, Wikimedians for Sustainable Development


[edit | edit source]

One of the recommendations of the 2030 Strategy is Identify Topics for Impact. To be able to make change before 2030 it is essential to move quickly. In this lightning talk I will argue for skipping the identification process by reusing an already established framework that was constructed to meet the largest problems of our time by the countries of the world. That is of course the United Nations's Sustainable Development Goals. By adopting these 17 goals as being the topics that will have impact on the world we can save a lot on time on research and get down to business i improving the content quicker.

Session Outcomes

[edit | edit source]
  • Viewers will see the benefits of using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for our topics with impact.

I'm planning to attend live!

[edit | edit source]
  1. Rich Farmbrough (talk)


[edit | edit source]

What if i told you there is a strategy and a plan so important that it is signed by 195 countries and that these countries spend around $21 trillion dollar every year on developing and refining the goals of that strategy and implementing actions to reach them. And that these goals are available under a free license for us to reuse in the implementation of our movement strategy.

My name is Jan Ainali, I am a co-founder of Wikimedians for Sustainable Development and I have been thinking about Wikimedia strategy since I joined the board of Wikimedia Sverige in 2008. In 2016 I walked over 1200 kilometers talking to municipalities and agencies about the Sustainable Development Goals and open data. I learned a lot about how much backing the Sustainable Development Goals have gotten from public institutions around the world the last couple of years when working for the greens in the European Parliament in the end of the last mandate.

Together, we, the Wikimedia movement, recently developed an ambitious and detailed strategy, the movement strategy, that we now are starting to implement and aim to fulfill in less than ten years. With 10 recommendations divided in 45 initiatives, there's a lot to do, and our resources, especially in terms of who will actually do the work are sparse. By short-cutting a few of these initiatives, through high quality externally researched and developed topics, we can use those resources on other parts of the strategy. Parts that are more unique to our situation and circumstances that will need tailored solutions.

Today I will make the case for how using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for our topics with impact can save us time, get us better coverage and gain trust from our partners.

So let me start with the time, the most pressing issue to address.

By using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for our topics with impact we can save precious time and start writing instead of researching.

So how exactly can we save time? I think there are three main ways.

First, two of the initiatives in the movement strategy "Identifying impactful topics" and "List of high-impact topics" can be completely forgone by reusing the Sustainable Development goals as a framework. The packaging has already been done, and the documentation around it is of highest quality and available in many languages which makes this easy to reuse off the shelf for our community. This is also the biggest benefit since we don't need to await the results of the research to give people the knowledge they need to start addressing the looming problems. It will be too late if we only by 2030 manage to identify the topics.

Second, we get a guide for how to approach the initiatives "Identify the impact of Wikimedia projects & content" and "Misinformation" and may get to more detailed results than we could have gotten otherwise since we can narrow down the field to well established topics. Topics that there is also already other people doing research on which means that we can tie in our findings to other bodies of knowledge, and may also more directly be useful for others to reuse.

Third, we get a flying start for the initiatives "Bridging content gaps" and "Content initiatives in underrepresented communities" since these topics are already known to our community and there is already a user group coordinating efforts around them. Even for newcomers in our community it will be easier to get started if they can just use prior knowledge when joining us rather than needing to pick up new ontologies to interact.

These content gaps takes us to the completeness of the SDG framework.

By using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for our topics with impact we get a package that covers all important topics and won't risk missing anything in our own research.

The Sustainable Development Goals covers 17 wide areas and aims to improve the quality of life for every single human and the entire humanity. They are broken down on 169 targets and over 240 indicators. Tens of thousands man years have been spent on thinking what should go in here to make sure we don't miss any important aspects. An enormous effort has also been made to have them easy enough to understand.

To paraphrase Greta Thunberg again, we don't need to "solve the climate crisis". It has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. But most of us don't know these basic facts.

And that is where we come in.

However, If we set out to develop our own framework for what has impact, we are risking to miss some aspects that could change people's lives for the better.

Changing people's lives for the better is also something we could use some help with.

By using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for our topics with impact even people outside Wikimedia will recognize what we are working on and might want to help, because they are working on the same things.

As I mentioned before, the fact that 195 countries have signed the Paris Agreement, that the Sustainable Development Goals are part of, makes these goals very well known around the world. Public institutions in these countries have been tasked to align their work with them. Some of them are scrambling to come up with ideas on how to do it, some are already working hard. For both of these groups we can help by signaling that we are on the same page as them, and working towards similar goals. This will make it easier for them to partner with us, partly because they can understand the value of what we are doing, partly because that our allies within these institutions now have a way to frame the collaboration internally in their institution.

And we need to partner around these topics. As we are all volunteers we can't demand of everyone in our existing community to entirely switch tasks and start working on these topics. For many people working on what they love is the only reason they keep on doing it. And we should of course embrace that, since their energy works towards our larger mission. That also means that we must embrace the people outside of the Wikimedia movement that cares about having impact on the world and make it a better place in the near future. We need to provide them with a framework for operating with us, as partners and becoming a part of our community.

In conclusion, today I have made it clear how using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for our topics with impact can save us time, time that is oh so precious, get us better coverage and not risk to miss life changing topics and gain trust from our partners who we need to work with if we want to succeed.

I would like that each of you listening to this who will be working with the recommendation Identify Topics for Impact in the movement strategy, whether you are in a chapter, user group, another affiliate or even just an inspired volunteer, to not waste any time thinking about what could have impact, but to embrace the global and well established framework of the Sustainable Development Goals instead.

And even further, to promise to spread the word about this and inform anyone about to undertake activities in this area that parts of the puzzle have already been solved and to focus their mindset of making impact instead of reinventing the wheel.

Imagine a world where every single human can freely share the knowledge needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals before 2030, that is what we should be doing right now.