I'm happy to tell you a little more about myself and the scope of this
short-term research project I'm undertaking, and I'm as happy to assume
that you fully intended for your messages to come across as decorous and
I've been on the Advisory Board of the Wikimedia Foundation for some
time now, and there have been large periods where I've done nothing, and
many periods when I've done a lot. This, I suspect, is the case for many
fellow Advisory Board members; overall, I can say for myself that it's
been a rewarding and interesting experience. I'm involved in various
aspects of the Wikimedia movement - from helping to organise communities
in India and South Africa to looking at broader, more global questions
around the work of the Chapters Committee and the possibility of other
kinds of affiliation that might usefully exist within our world. All of
this work, as it should be, is completely open and transparent, and is
in no way forced or mandated.
Funnily enough, I wasn't very involved with the strategic 5-year plan; I
started off trying to look at what community members from India might
want to do, but the exercise didn't get very far, and I sort of gave up
in between. I'm glad it went forward with the help of a whole lot of
others from India, and I'm glad it exists, but I haven't even read what
it says yet. So I'm forced to confess (like Shaw almost said) that
reports of my influence are greatly exaggerated. I am, however, involved
on a daily basis with all kinds of work that is related to the movement,
and I'm delighted to be of use to you.
As for me, I work on intellectual property rights as a researcher, and I
also write. I've worked in India, Guyana and South Africa, mostly as an
activist on access to medicines and access to knowledge; I am now
engaged in writing a larger piece of work that is unrelated to
Now to the project. I see that neither of you gentlemen has any thoughts
on it, and I welcome your engagement. The problem with oral knowledge
vs. published knowledge is an old one, and there are many interesting
ways in which the sum of published material in the world reflects the
order of the world. For us, unfortunately, it also means that in some
cases, to make Wikipedias work in languages where scholarly publishing
is not that strong is a difficult task. This problem applies not just to
languages with a primarily oral tradition (such as many of those in
circulation in sub-Saharan Africa today) but also for those with a
non-Latin written tradition but with a lower output of published
material (like many South Asian languages today). What excites me about
this is that I am interested in the idea of 'legitimate' knowledge - and
the manner in which our ideas of authenticity, reliability and
certification can be shaped and changed in our own lifetimes. This
spirit of consistent reinvention, I think, is central to the idea of
Wikipedia and everything else that comes under the umbrella of our movement.
I have a fairly good understanding of the academic literature on this
subject; I've had excellent discussions with Wikipedians working in
languages across India and South Africa where this is a tangible
problem; and working together with them, I think we can make a useful
contribution to this topic, or at least mark a starting point from which
to make this movement truly inclusive, plural and global.
I'm looking forward to it very much. As I am certain you are too.
Fondest wishes, etc.
*whothis* whothith at gmail.com
/Thu Jan 20 08:46:08 UTC 2011/
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I agree with what he said.
After looking him up, the only qualification I can find of this person is
that he's on the advisory board, No idea, how he got there and for how long
is his "term", makes me think that maybe there is a Cabal. Most places
mirror his description on the Advisory Board page. I am tired of seeing the
same names, doing the rounds over and over again, from groups to committees
to fellowships to whatever that comes next.
Will anyone else from the Advisory board or maybe even the board, past or
present members included, going to receive a "fellowship" now? Does it
matter that they are mostly unknown by the community, obviously not.
On Thu, Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM, MZMcBride<z at mzmcbride.com <https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
>> wrote: >/ Hi.
/>/ As Daniel noted in his earlier e-mail to the list, Achal Prabhala is now a
/>/ Wikimedia Fellow. I actually missed this announcement as it didn't hit
/>/ wikimediaannounce-l or this list (foundation-l), it apparently only got
/>/ posted to the blog, but that's not really here nor there.
/>/ There have been rumblings about some of the surrounding circumstances that
/>/ think warrant consideration and discussion. Achal is a member of the
/>/ Advisory Board but isn't very active in wikis/open source. A few
/>/ questions pop up in my head. Is there a concern about such an individual
/>/ being a Wikimedia Fellow? That is, someone who's not particularly attached
/>/ to wikis/open source? All of the other Wikimedia Fellows have fairly strong
/>/ editing backgrounds. The edits by Achal seem to be rather sparse:
/>/ More importantly, is there a concern about an Advisory Board member being
/>/ chosen as a Wikimedia Fellow? Is there a conflict of interest there? Is
/>/ there a concern about the appearance of impropriety?
/>/ Achal has a growing influence on Wikimedia, particularly its new operations
/>/ in India. This has included being part of the hiring decisions, etc. This
/>/ more of a consultant role, making his selection as a Wikimedia Fellow even
/>/ stranger. And his growing influence and power in such a big part of
/>/ Wikimedia's five-year strategy is making people wary. I think conversation
/>/ and engagement (on this list and elsewhere) would be very good in a number
/>/ of ways.
/>/ foundation-l mailing list
/>/ foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org <https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/foundation-l
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