2010-2011 AGM/Candidates/Adam Jenkins
Hi! First, may I say that I’m extremely grateful to Sarah and John for the nomination. As I'm not sure how many members know me - I tend to think of myself as a relatively quiet editor on Wikipedia - I'd like to take this as a chance to introduce myself, let you know who I am, and give you an idea of the sorts of directions that I'd like to see the chapter take and the role I'd like to perform.
First off, I'm Adam, and I was born, raised and educated in Adelaide. On the education front, I studied at Adelaide University in the late 80’s and early 90’s, completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in philosophy and classical history – although on the way I tried a bit of everything, including computing, geology, physics, English, European history and anthropology. My HECS bill is impressive. Having completed a BA with two majors that have almost no practical application, I thought that I was unemployable, but decided that I could do better – thus I undertook Honours in philosophy as a combined degree between Flinders and Adelaide. That was good, but there was still a distinct risk that someone might employ me, so to fix that I started a philosophy Masters, focusing on an obscure mix of ethics and philosophy of mind.
Sometime during that period we had our first child, (Caitlin), and it dawned on me that work might be worth pursing, so I went into computing, working mostly as a programmer and web developer. Nevertheless, as was my wont, I returned to part-time study for a doctorate in Information Systems. (Information Systems is a mix of computing and other reference disciplines, focused on the interplay between computer programmers, who can build cool things, and end users, who want cool things, but where neither group can readily express their needs to the other). Study led me back to academia, and I left industry to take full time work as an academic at the University of South Australia. These days I lecture in a variety of topics related to IT, with research focused mainly on Knowledge Management, which tends to draw parallels with Wikipedia.
Ignoring university, I’m an avid sailor, enthusiastic photographer, and I play the piano accordion – the last of which might serve as a useful threat, should the committee be in need of one.
Technically, I’ve been editing on the English Wikipedia as Bilby since 2006, as I had one edit back then, but I didn’t start editing seriously until March 2007. I’ve edited a broad range of topics, I guess because my interest has been in the project as a whole rather than in any particular subject area (although I’ll admit to a special fondness for Australia’s Big Things). My focus is generally research – I’m not too bad at digging up sources when needed, and I enjoy working through the papers, but I do a bit of the normal anti-vandalism work, BLP stuff, writing, photography and formatting. I don’t have any featured articles to my name, but I’ve worked with some great editors at FAR where I’ve helped save some, and I have a few Good Articles, although I don’t tend to aim at GA/FA in particular.
Generally speaking, Wikimedia Australia has a broad set of goals, and is aimed at a large range of people – in particular, from my perspective, contributors, potential contributors, and end users. This is great, and I’d like to see that broad picture continue, as all three groups are essential for the continual development of free cultural content, whether it be through Wikimedia or otherwise. Looking back, many of the initiatives covering these groups have been excellent – the GLAM-Wiki was, of course, a high, but there are a number of other projects that spring to mind.
But – and of course there was always going to be a "but" – I’m also a fan of having an overall plan as to how an organisation can meet its purpose. So I’d like to see Wikimedia Australia develop longer-term plans as it moves beyond the initial creation and establishment phase, and to develop a clear idea of what it wants to achieve as outcomes of its work. I’m a big fan of defined outcomes, and while they can’t always be expressed in a manner that can be readily quantified, they help form the direction that you need to take. So one thing I’d like to help develop is a strategic plan which will both assist the 2010-2011 committee and help inform committees that come after.
More specifically, there are a few things I’d like to bring some additional focus to. In particular:
- Improved communication within the chapter. One thing I’ve found with previous committees (non-Wiki related) is the value of having a regularly scheduled update. The newsletter that Sarah’s been working towards is a great idea, and I’d like to see that paired with an official and more frequent notification that has a fixed release date.
- Assisting with wiki meet-ups around the country. It seems to me that there are resources that could be provided by the chapter that would help make it easier and more rewarding for people to get together and to contribute to the projects.
- Regional and national projects to encourage participation. The Wiki Loves Monuments contest is a great example of what could be done here.
- Encouraging involvement from local and regional groups, and providing resources to assist – the information pack is a great idea in this direction which I’d like to help develop. However, in my case I have a specific interest in local history groups and volunteer "friends of" organisations. These groups have both a strong interest in their subject and, as volunteers, a desire to share their skills and knowledge, but it isn’t always clear to them that there are Wikimedia projects that can assist, nor is it clear how the various requirements of the projects can affect their involvement.
There are other things I’d like to work towards, of course, but a lot of what the committee does should be guided by the members, and prioritising what we do is something that needs to come down to consensus. Towards this end, while the role of VP is generally a tad hard to define, I've always seen the VP as someone who is there to officially support the working of the organisation and the committee members, so that's going to be my first priority, if I'm able to take on the role: rather than run the risk of everything dropping on one or two people, be there as someone in a position to help develop consensus, share some load and help the initiatives come to fruition.