Meeting:2018 AGM/Secretary Report
Annual Report WMAU 2018 - Secretary report
I would like to thank our President Pru Mitchell for such a comprehensive report on the activities of WMAU in the 2017-2018 time, it is timely fitting in its detail, and I do hope that succeeding committees are able to see how and why such a summary of activity is important for the organisation.
For this report, as coordinator of the West Australian Branch (Wiki Club West), and as Secretary of WMAUI would like to focus on a few specific items that impact the role of Secretary, and WMAU in general. This report is different from my report of 2017-2018 in that I believe it is imperative that reporting by members of committee both develops and encapsulates the changes occurring in the organisation.
As a secretary I am very impressed as to how our team on WMAU has managed to gain the acceptance and understanding of the WikiMedia Foundation (WMF) for funding. It is the first time in some years that this has been achieved, and it is impressive that we have gained what we have. A very definite thanks to our Vice President Gideon Digby in his efforts to facilitate the processes that created the appropriate environment for the funding to be considered. Also of the various WMF employees who I talked to at the Montreal wikimania in 2017, and subsequently to the rest of the committee, I thank them for their time and effort to explain to WMAU what they understood as the requirements and processes required. Their efforts are appreciated.
For the very specific organisational structure as WMAU (Which I believe is unique in all of the WMF Chapters) - where we are individuals (in most cases) live in very physically separated locations across the country, and being able to coordinate a chapter of relative low membership, in a country with very disperses populations. I still feel that most of the wider Wikimedia community still have no idea of the physical dimensions to the Australian chapter, and I hope that in the long term more appreciation of the challenges to sustaining such an organisation in everyday matters is better understood, and that the committee in any way rigorously reminds the wider Wikimedia world of the fact.
What was obvious from the conversations I was able to have at the Montreal Wikimania in 2017, and what I have heard anecdotally from various gatherings since, is that there is a very distinct lack of understanding of what the distances and locations of the Australian chapter’s members really are. There seems a persistence of misunderstanding the distances involved. I believe that the increasing ‘’closeness’’ of Australia in relation to recent changes to air travel will help in this issue.
In relation to the committee and its functions over the year I would like to thank Pru, Steve (Melbourne, Victoria), Caddie (Northern Territory), Robert (Wagga Wagga, New South Wales), Sam and Gideon (Perth, Western Australia) for their support and their persistence in effort to keep the WMAU committee functioning and operational., and their roles in the various challenges that have occurred over the last year.
I would like to thank the outgoing member Steve for all his work over the years with committee, and his sharing his wealth of experience and knowledge.
Normally in the functioning of the committee, the Secretary is also Membership officer. Some years ago an eccentric formulation of tasks within committee created the situation where parts of this responsibility was separated. I would like to thank Pru and Robert for their attention to the details of current and past membership information. It is my hope that the responsibilities remain fluid and that we can see the maintaining the information by a co-operative responsibility if it is suitable., rather than any one individual carrying all the responsibility over the information
At the ASA conference in 2018 we have, as far I understand, have had the first availability of paper membership application forms available at public events. I hope that all wiki clubs and events in future have such items available, as there are and will be more benefits to membership as the organisation grows and develops into a significantly larger membership base.
I believe that the opportunities available for membership from organisations and bodies with similar interests in the Australian community needs to be fully explored by the committee and membership in the coming year
Important within the wider Wikimedia community, is the presence of the WMAU chapter in whatever form, at relevant conferences where the latest information and processes are being either announced or tested. It is my personal belief that to be in it, one must make sure that the WMAU is represented. So when the two conferences occur - either ‘Berlin’ - the usual shorthand name for the Wikimedia Conference, and Wikimania - the annual international conference for wikipedians, I believe that the specific WMAU presence is essential. Most Wikimanias have Australians per se at the meetings, I am specifically designating offical representatives whose responsibility to report to various people or sectors of the WMF at the meeting, as well as back to WMAU on return. Since my attending the Montreal conference in August 2017, I have been very pleased to see that our Treasurer Robert, has been to Berlin 2018 and to Wikimania 2018, as well as the new regional conference in Bali in May. Continuity of representation as well as consistent reporting back gives the organisation a capacity to understand the wider community in a way that does not come from documents.
I believe that the real life presence and interaction is something that cannot be supplanted by any electronic means, and feel satisfied that whatever circumstances may arise to challenge that idea, that WMAU is capable to sustain a presence at all conferences relevant to keeping up with the rest of the community at regional and international events.
ESEAP. May 2018 Bali
The interest in regional meetings or conferences around the world goes back to some very early Wikimanias where representatives from countries around the world were able to collectively agree on regional groupings.
In recent years, at Wikimanias and Berlin events, such meetings had happened for Asian meet ups within the conference, usually composed of representatives who were at the conference due to their being students within the range of the conference. That means in most cases they could identify with or have associations with the countries that were part of the region. The reason for the torturous prose on this means that individuals from Singapore or Hong Kong say, might be studying in the US or Canada and were able to get to the Montreal wikimania, not necessarily as representatives of the editing groups in their home country, but as people either in contact with or association with the local editing groups.
That qualification is important in understanding the evolution of ESEAP (from my perspective, the Treasurer Robert as member of the organising committee may well have a different way of explaining) is that in 2018 in Bali, the first ESEAP conference occurred.
The ESEAP conference has specific representatives from the editing communities in South East and East Asian countries. In distinction to those who attend the Asia meeting at Wikimania, the attendees almost entirely include individuals for whatever reason would be unlikely to attend a Wikimania. But that being said there is also a cohort of editors who constitute Wikimania attendance as part of their involvement as well as the regional conference.
I was fortunate to be one of three Australians attending the conference. With an Honours degree in Asian Studies at Murdoch university with my thesis focusing upon things to do with central Java, as well as researching and studying a large dose about tourism in Bali as a focus in the late New Order era history of Indonesia, it was in a sense a homecoming to an island and a country that was in mind for well over three decades of my life.
I was in all probability old enough to be grandfather age for most participants of the conference, and have had memories of the academic literature about their countries utilised in my undergraduate studies, and it was quite amazing to realise that the conference had brought people from almost all of the component ASEAN nations, and beyond.
What also was interesting was the opportunity to announce and present an introduction to the ESEAP conference of 2019 to the final part of the conference - being in Perth Western Australia. Although focusing upon Fremantle as the site of the conference.
I will have reported separately on meta about the conference.
In relation to the planning and formulation of the ESEAP 2019 committee, my understanding is that it is in good progress at this stage and further details will be available in the new year.
ASA September 2018 Perth
In my experience of three wikimanias, and one regional conference, the similarities resonated daily - it was as if at the Archives Conference in the Crown complex in Perth was for me a wiki mania.
It is very hard to not want to fill this section of this report with effusive purple prose.
The potentialities, the synchronicities and the general ambience take me well out of the acceptable proses required in reporting. The Archives Society of Australia conference was for all intents and purposes the ultimate GLAM experience.
We had an English wikipedian here in Australia for the second time in two years, Andy Mabbett as a keynote speaker, expounding about wikipedia and Wikidata. We had the Australian archivists community on tap for the most amazing networking facility possible.
Having worked as a voluntary librarian and archivist in a number of situations over the years, I was able to understand why conferences like this one are so vital for WMAU to be associated with. It was in all intents and purposes the classic example of why GLAM related events such as this are important to be involved with.
I am hoping to provide a much much longer report on this event for internal WMAU committee perusal as it effects how we might as an organisation look to more involvement in similar conferences in the future. I would like to thank all involved, and hope we are able to make sure that all the benefits gained from being involved in the conference are utilised and taken advantage of as soon as possible.
Importantly at a personal level I was able to create an article about the ASA which had not been on wikipedia before the conference. Also Andy Mabbett and Sam. Wilson were able to provide the architecture (as I think of it) for material from the conference to be able to be linked and listed on Wikidata.
In view of the success of the conference, one of the most important processes is the post conference follow up with people whose cards were exchanged. At a personal level, one aspect of this is that it takes substantia; time and energy to follow up every contact made. In view of the opportunities that may arise from the conference, I believe that it is imperative that anyone from WMAU who attended have a level of responsibility to document, or if they are unable to do do,dot hand information to those who can do so, followup and substantiate the organisational capacity to engage with the range of people with who we cam into contact with. Failure to do so is tantamount to throwing away an opportunity that could be lost if delayed or not followed up upon unreasonable time.
Although generally internal and generally unavailable to membership apart from knowledge about, the committee information system for WMAU has been in the past a very erratic and spread out affair, existing in meta, on English wikipedia, on the WMAU website, and on the internal committee wiki.
When I became secretary a few years ago, I had as the aim of my time on committee as intending to standardise and organise the information required for committee to understand what had preceded them. Also for some updated information where previous committees or committee members had not updated , for whatever reason.
Multiple archiving of materials of the organisation requires standardisation, secure archiving and adequate access protocols.
The allusiveness of a lot of short hand cryptic pseudo archive material simply had a limited range of search terms or categories to be able to tabulate information in the past. It is hoped that with the full implementation of a rigorous over-categorised system (completely anathema to the basic principles in English wikipedia for instance) will create a more usable search capacity.
It has been a tortuous road, and there have been some challenging parts to the process, however I am now confident that with the excellent assistance from the committee member most able to help with this, that Sam Wilson will have helped create a valuable and much more accessible information system for the committees of the future.
As far as WMAU is concerned in the public sphere - membership should also be assured that the information on the website is adequate, updated regularly, and sufficiently appraised. Too often in the past personal whims in naming and filing materials has effectively ‘lost’ material in the organisational record, either accidentally or intentionally.
I feel that if it was the only legacy issue for people taking the WMAU into the 2020s, it would be a searchable and viable database of information within the committee wiki. It looks a lot more probable now than when I first became secretary.
Wiki Club West
Western Australia can claim to have had the longest most continuously meeting wikipedia group in Australia, and has evolved into a viable entity as a group that sustains editor interest, and even as a bonus has a WMF employee as an enthusiastic member, and has had three WMAU committee members to sustain the group and its activities.
The re-naming and establishing the group as ‘Wiki Club West’ has also extended to presence in social media, and the expansion has also allowed linkages with other organisations who are either collaborative or sympathetic to WMAU - so that their is a benefit in time and effort spent on creating and sustaining the presence.
Wiki Club West - and the earlier more commonly known ‘Perth Meetup’, has benefited greatly by being a social venue for editors first, and technicalities as a lesser priority. Some people have had problems with the days of the meetings, so they have tended to alternate to compensate for the complex demands of time.
No planned outdoor or beyond the state library meeting point events have occurred like the earlier Fremantle Harbour trip, or bus trips to country locations - however in the next twelve months, it is hoped to organise some trips associated with the re-starting of some dormant projects.
In the 2017-2018 set of meetings have been promoted as having the capacity to tie in with projects that utilise scanning and copying material suitable for archive projects. Increased utility of Wikidata, to assist in tabulation of data relative to collected materials has expanded the
The peak of the meetings was with the event tied in with the ASA conference in September 2018. That specific event attracted follow on interest from individuals who had attended the conference and its workshops on the Friday, which had Andy Mabbett in a workshop outlining Wikidata and materials. It was the most task oriented meet up of the year, with articles being updated, material being explained, and a range of possible linkages with people in other organisations and work contexts investigating possible future collaborations.
The most significant aspect of what the group meetings can produce is when people with different datasets, or collections of materials - are able to discuss and run through the ranges of issues relative to sharing data. In same cases the discussions require careful consideration on both sides, and at times are unable to develop further. This has happened more than once over possible collaborations where a range of administrative and financial strictures basically halt a potential project before it starts. Although the ‘potential projects’ are not publicised before developing to a certain level, some still might re-start in the event of changed circumstances.
It would be relatively difficult to explain the linkages and circumstances at this point, but the possibility of a project related to Australian music is being investigated.
It is hoped that the WA branch can work on a set of documents that borrows on other GLAM projects from the whole outreach realm, to be able to facilitate a process that helps prospective partners become aware of the range of potential partnerships. In many cases individuals knowledge of the larger range of Wikimedia projects and how they might faciitate a GLAM organisation or institution share records or develop projects requires considerable explanation.
Within the state, the Freopedia and Toodyaypedia projects are still in activity, and the newer York wiki Town has developed well beyond a basic start stage. It is hoped to have in the Wiki Club West annual report in future - metrics as to the outreach projects and how they benefit not just local participation in events, but also increased involvement in the wider range of Wikimedia projects.
The Noongarpedia project received interesting attentional the ASA conference, and aspects of it developing further through a range of participants is an ongoing process. The establishment of further involvement in other Indigenous Australian language groups in a broad sense is also an ongoing interest.
Other projects within WesternAustralia include some dormant projects being re-started in 2019, and other investigations from GLAM related meetings being still pursued.
The Wheatbelt project and the wheatbelt railways project are the two main re-starts expected in 2019, and will involve a more complex approach to the whole wheatbelt region of Western Australia compared to the format envisaged in 2103.
Reporting about the projects needs to be definitely improved to make sure that adequate knowledge of the activities is caught outside the relatively narrow geographic scope of some of the projects, and there is the possibility that wider publicity might also catch further contributors or editors.
Further project details will, if they advance be announced in the Newsletter of the WMAU and online information points.
Wikipedian in Residence
In my meta user page https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:JarrahTree - there is an allusion to going to Edinburgh, Scotland for an interview about a possible WIR position in the National Library in Scotland (WIkipedian in Residence). I was on the shortlist for interviewees and did not want to utilise Skype for the event, I did not get the job, but I did gain a significant amount of knowledge of the WIR processes and institutional partnerships.
In 2018, the trip was a lot shorter and less problematic for a WIR position at the MoP, a short bus ride away from where I live.
The MoP - Museum of Perth is a project to work upon history of Perth and Western Australia.
Much better to read their own description and activity at.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_Perth.
There are a number of subject/project areas being investigated to develop - with at least three streams that are being developed.
The residency is initially very low key, as the involvement is in the process of preparing a database of material that requires collection from outside the museum, and delivering piece by piece to the museum. It is like to take another three months to complete that stage
The director and staff of MoP are very friendly and wikipedia friendly as well, and it is a matter of time that will take in the initial preparation stages, before functioning as a fully publicised and organisationally functional WIR.
I hope to report at length about the MoP residency for Wiki Club West in the appropriate places in the new year.
I would like to thank my wife Anne for tolerating the trip to Bali without her, and various other aspects of being a committee member. Also to fellow committee members for tolerating a more absent than present secretary this year (technical, personal and others). I trust that the new year of the committee might see more developments that simply makes being involved even more rewarding than it has been to date.
Thanks for enduring this report, any queries or other comments to the secretary please…
Tom Hogarth, Secretary, WMAU, Monday 8th October 2018
Secretary Wikimedia Australia firstname.lastname@example.org