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Reflections on the Inclusion in the Network Society workshop

Chris Foster and I have just returned from the inspiring meeting on ‘Inclusion in the Network Society’ that was put together by IT for Change in Bangalore, India. 

The meeting brought together a diverse activists and scholars from every corner of the world to critical think through who (and what) increasing digitally-mediated connectivity is actually empowering. The contributions were often heartfelt and inspiring, and grounded in deep domain knowledge and research.   

The final day also led us to attempt to think through what a shared research agenda might look like. We split into four groups and were tasked with attempting to congeal our efforts into only five questions. My group’s efforts are listed below (thanks to Sumandro Chattapadhyay for making sure we noted them all down). This is our first draft, and will be both reworked by the IT for Change into a more coherent form and combined with the questions produced by the three other groups (who were all tackling somewhat different issues)

  • what is [X] in the context of an inclusive network society?
  • who creates, controls, captures, and gains social and economic value in digital networks?
  • what systems and structures, at different scales, constrain or enable communities and individuals living the lives they have reason to value?  What transformations count as emancipatory inclusion? How do we transform systems and structures to achieve those goals? And how do we ultimately work towards something that might look like an inclusive network society?  
  • what are the power structures, configurations, and geographies of voice and representation; and under what institutional conditions do these voices and representations lead to claim-making?
  • what do the institutional landscapes of data regimes look like, who control them and how are they controlled? How can these regimes be made accountable, and under what kinds of ethical frameworks?
The full agenda should be published soon, and many of the papers can already be accessed at IT for Change website (Chris and I have uploaded ours). The organisers will also soon be uploading videos of presentations and subsequent discussions for people who weren’t at the meeting. 
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. 

دعوة للمشاركة في ورشة عمل بخصوص ويكيبيديا



تسرنا دعوتكم لورشة عمل بخصوص ويكيبيديا لمدة يومين و تضم ثلة من الباحثين و ممثلي مؤسسة وكيميديا، نتبادل خلالها الأفكار و الخبرات حول ويكيبيديا بمشاركة خبراء و منتجين و مهتمين بشأن ويكيبيديا.
الغاية من هذه الورشة هي تبادل الآراء و فهم أهم العقبات و الحواجز التي تحول دون المشاركة في تطوير ويكيبيديا العربية.

للمشاركة يجب ان تتقن اللغة العربية أو الإنجليزية كما يجب أن تتوفر لديك أحد الشروط التالية:

أن تكون :

محررا لويكيبيديا العربية ،
محررا لويكيبيديا (أي لغة من اللغات) و تكتب مقالات حول الشرق الأوسط.
مترجما لمقالات بأي من اللغات التالية: العربية الفصحى، العربية باللهجة المصرية، الإنجليزية، الفرنسية، العبرية و الفارسية.
راغبا في المساهمة الفعالة بخصوص تطوير ويكيبيديا عربي.
عازما على تبادل أفكارك مع الحضور من خلال تقديم محاضرة بخصوص المواضيع التي من ضمنها

الصراع و التهميش على ويكيبيديا.

الحواجز التي تحول دون المشاركة في تطوير ويكيبيديا عربي.

استراتيجيات و أدوات التحايل على المشاركة في ويكيبيديا عربي.

منضمو الورشة:
الدكتور مارك قراهام، معهد الأنترنت بأكسفورد-المملكة المتحدة.
الدكتور برني هوقان، معهد الأنترنت بأكسفورد-المملكة المتحدة.
الدكتورة الهام العلاقي، الجامعة الأمريكية بالشارقة- الإمارات العربية المتحدة.

مكان الورشة: معهد الإعلام بالأردن - عمان.

تاريخ الورشة: 11 و 12 أبريل/ نيسان 2012.
يجدر العلم بتوفر منح المشاركة لدعم مصاريف السفر و الإقامة بمكان الورشة بعمان الأردن (حسب الحالات). كما يجدر التنويه بأن الأماكن محدودة، وعلى الراغبين في المشاركة أن يرسلوا طلب (صفحة واحدة) في أقرب وقت ممكن و قبل 10 مارس/ آذار 2012 يتضمن عرضا توضيحيا بخصوص مساهمتكم في اثراء ورشة العمل حسب ما تقدم ذكره.
للمزيد من المعلومات و التسجيل يرجى الاتصال بالدكتورة إلهام العلاقي عن طريق البريد الإلكتروني ilhemallagui@hotmail.com
Open invitation to a workshop in Amman: Middle Eastern Participation and Presence in Wikipedia



Your voice matters. Come and share your experience and opinions about Wikipedia with other Wikipedians, wiki producers, researchers, and representatives from the Wikimedia Foundation during a two-day workshop.

The goal of the workshop is to talk about and understand the most significant barriers to participation in Wikipedia in the Middle East and North Africa. As such, we would love to hear from you if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • A Wikipedian who edits Arabic Wikipedia
  • A Wikipedian who edits Wikipedia (in any languages) on articles about the Middle East
  • Someone who translates articles between any of the following language versions in Wikipedia: Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Persian.
  • Someone who is eager to get more involved with the project, and would like to meet people with similar ambitions.
  • Someone that would like to give a short talk or presentation to other Wikipedians from the region (e.g. about conflict or marginalization, barriers to participation, and circumvention strategies and tools).
The workshop will have limited space available, so we ask everyone to submit a one page letter detailing why your participation will benefit Wikipedia, the goals of the workshop, and your personal development as a contributor to Wikipedia. 

Sessions and conversations will be held simultaneously in Arabic and English, and you will only need to be fluent in one of these languages to participate. 

In order to facilitate participation, we have a small number of scholarships available that will support travel to (and in some cases accommodation in) Amman.

Please email Dr. Ilhem Allagui at ilhemallagui@hotmail.com and express your interest in joining this workshop. Please discuss your experience and how involved are you with Arabic Wikipedia, you may be eligible to a travel grant to attend this workshop. 

Workshop location: Jordan Media Institute- Amman, Jordan
Workshop dates: April 11-12, 2012
More information about this project at: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/?id=70

Workshop organisers:
Mark Graham (University of Oxford)
Bernie Hogan (University of Oxford)
Ilhem Allagui (American University of Sharjah)