Decolonizing the wikiverse at Wikimania 2023

3 August 2023

Colourful laptop illustration with the Wikimania Singapore Logo and the Whose Knowledge? logo on the top.

Wikimania Singapore is just around the corner, bringing together wikimedians and wikipedians from across the globe to discuss free and open knowledge, under the theme of “Diversity. Collaboration. Future.” Many members of our collective are packing their bags to the convening, ready to join the critical conversations and sense-making that emerge alongside our friends and allies in the movement. 

As we prepare to convene in Singapore, we invite you to browse through the sessions and interventions we’re co-holding and joining at Wikimania 2023.

Stop by the #VisibleWikiWomen photo booth 

The #VisibleWikiWomxn photo booth is a practice and a feminist corner we have brought to different convenings, including the Forum on Internet Freedom in Africa (FIFAfrica 2022) and the RightsCon Summit. This time, we’re counting on volunteer wikimedians to help us take pictures and document womxn and non-binary individuals, especially from the Global Majority worlds, who are part of the free and open knowledge movement. Through this intervention, we’re creating visual memories that will be brought to WikiCommons as part of the #VisibleWikiWomen campaign, while also centering feminist practices of consent and image-taking and sharing. 

You can come say hi, take pictures, and talk more about creating visual memories on August 16, from 12:45 PM to 2:15 PM (4:45 – 6:15 UTC) at the concourse area of the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre. 

Talking multilinguality and multimodality

The internet we have today is not multilingual enough to reflect the full depth and breadth of humanity — most online knowledge today is created and accessible only through colonial languages. Wikipedia is accessible in over 300 languages, putting it at the forefront of language support on the internet. However, in spite of efforts for countering systemic bias and promoting knowledge equity, some projects are not able to get past the predominance and hegemony of some languages over others. In the panel “Decolonizing knowledge through languages: why making Wikimedia more multilingual and multimodal matters”, we’ll reflect on matters of language justice on Wiki projects. 

The conversation will take place online, with moderation by our Language Justice coordinator, Claudia Pozo. We’ll be joined by language activists and wikipedians Dumisani Ndubane (South Africa), Ishan Chakraborty (India), and Paska Darmawan (Indonesia) to discuss language and epistemic justice on Wikipedia through an anti-colonial analytical lens.

The panel will take place on August 18 at 10:30 (local time in Singapore). Online attendees registered to Wikimania can follow the live-streaming on the virtual event platform, in-person attendees can join us in Room 309.

Understanding the structured data gender gap at the WikiWomen Summit

In the in-person workshop #VisibleWikiWomen Lab: fostering multilingual and decolonizing structured data narratives on Wikimedia Commons, we’re focusing on action and experimentation as we approach structured data on Commons. The thousands of images brought to the repository through the #VisibleWikiWomxn campaign will allow us to experiment and better understand issues around visual and data gender gap, accessibility and multilinguality in structured data.

This will be a hands-on session in which participants will add/edit components like alternative text and image descriptions and depictions in English, or their language of choice. We’ll also share reflections about the narratives and points of view from where we describe and portray ourselves and other people from marginalized communities. We want to explore the possibilities, limitations, and impact of a project that centers the knowledge and experience of the Global Majority worlds.

Those who are interested in this session can join us in Room 311 of the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on August 16, at 10:34 am (local time in Singapore).

Diving deeper in structured data

Back in 2021, we gathered friends and allies for a virtual conversation, Decolonizing the Internet’s Structured Data, analyzing the power dynamics of structured data. We questioned whose views, whose agenda, whose ontologies, and whose decisions build and sustain these classifications and systems that are central to how the internet works. Now, we’re coming together again to dive deeper into these structures.  

We are concerned about how massive processes of colonial-capitalist datafication are reinforcing structures of power and privilege, as the often rarely discussed background of the current AI hype. As a preamble to Wikimania 2023, we’re creating an intimate space for sense-making and collective learning with unusual and unlikely allies — online and in person.

While this is an invite-only convening, feel free to contact us if you’re interested in learning more about the conference and engaging critically with structured data! 

If you are around and would like to connect in the region or chat virtually, you can always reach out to us at @WhoseKnowledge on social media channels.

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