Towards Open-ish?

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Today I took part in a hybrid conversation organised as part of the Wikimania conference in Cape Town. It was an extension of the Towards Openness work that Christian Friedrich and others have been involved in and which I have admired from the sidelines until now. The provocations that underpinned the conversation were supplied by Taskeen Adam and Paul Prinsloo, and questioned the framing of the Wikimania conference around the concept of “Ubuntu” and the extent to which the term has been appropriated and/or diluted. The session was facilitated by Sukaina Walji, Shanali Govender and Chris Schwarzkopf on site and Taskeen Adam, Maha Bali, Rajiv Jhangiani and Christian Friedrich online.

Unsurprisingly with that group of people we very quickly got into some deep conversations about intersectionality and the extent to which open is not neutral, is contextual, is imbued with power and politics, can be weaponised, and the realities of various national truth and reconciliation processes. I’m not capturing even a fraction of the richness of the conversation, but one of the things we talked about was the idea of mutually constructed shared spaces, rather than notions of inclusion or empowerment.

This seems entirely relevant to a discussion at a Wikimania conference; Wikipedia has the potential to be a mutually constructed shared space, particularly given the inbuilt processes for negotiating and debating knowledge and it’s representation.

I would be keen to know what the attendees at the session in Cape Town made of this? Did they see the relevance and relationship to their own practice within the Wikipedia community?

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