Feb. 22nd, 2006
11:34 am - ahem..
Feb. 4th, 2006
09:23 am - Who is me?
In a Skype conversation with Jenni last night, I said that the things I've shown her that I've done recently aren't me. Hmmmm.
I suppose this is true to an extent - I write essays because they satisfy a course agenda and a deadline, I choose topics because they fit in with other things I plan on doing, or because they push me to explore something I want to find out more about. And I'm always interested in some aspect of my work at least.
But is it me? Well, who am I?
I'm here (in university) after a substantial break from education. I've travelled around, worked in various places, and met some pretty inspirational people. All of these things inform who I am. It's all experience, and I've learnt from it. But I can't exactly say who I am. I can describe myself by things I've done, or things I like doing (the usual fill in the box with your favourite bands etc.) But I think a better picture of who I am is more about where I'm going. And where that is I haven't a clue. But I have this sense of it.
Thinking about it, it seems that I'm always working up to something. I do this and I do that, and I never know *exactly* why I'm doing this or that, but it always seems to make a certain sense. An emotional sense, I suppose I could call it - it feels right. Often I find that after I've done something, or at least after I've decided to do something, it starts to make sense retrospectively. "Ah, that's why I'm here!" Or, "no way, you've been working with those people? So have I!"
So these days, I'm working with Wikip/media. And it's a fascinating place, a mini-society around a mind-boggling endeavour. Occasionally frustrating, of course - what group of people isn't? But constantly stimulating, surprising - keeping me (and a whole load of other people), well, pretty much addicted. I'm there, primarily, because I'm interested. And along with these other people, to feel that I'm helping out in some way - with my little works in progress (eg. w:Photogram) or developing projects (eg. w:WikiProject Education, m:Wikiversity).
But I also think that all this is taking me somewhere. As before, i don't know where this is, but I can sense it. Obviously it's taking me into this Masters/PhD. But what's that about? That's what I'm really asking myself at the moment. I have this sense of it, but I can't say exactly what the nature or even the subject of it is. And I think that's because I know that it's important, and that I want it to connect up with my previous work (ie media, development education, (sustainable) community development). It obviously does (connect) but I'm trying now to find the links. In fact, possibly, that's the research! Finding links. Consolidating networks. Developing projects. (whisper) Changing the world (/whisper).
The last things I did for myself that were really 'me' were when i was last in college studying photography. A magazine, "The Shpeel", a (slightly pretentious) critique of advertising and modern society - that was 'me'. A (supposedly) therapeutic project on exploring identity through constructed photographic portraits - that was 'me'. I hope that, during this process, my current educational journey, I'll have done something that is 'me'. That's why I came here in the first place...
Feb. 3rd, 2006
Interesting article briefly describing a school teacher's experiment in his class where he got students (in groups) to write what they knew about a particular word in a subject, then pass the sheet to another group who would add their own information about that word and edit out what they knew to be wrong from the previous groups' sheets. The teacher himself acted as 'über-editor' so that at the end, they had a list of good definitions on the subject which they had all created through their collaboration. The principle of wiki in a nutshell!
The incorporation of Wiki Educational Resources (the company, which will set up the charity which will operate as Wikimedia UK) is just around teh corner. The documents are to be signed by the temporary directors this weekend and then to be sent off to Company House. We've been given her "benediction" by Delphine (Chapter coordinator), so we're pretty much all set to go.
Jan. 15th, 2006
11:04 am - Minor update
I've updated my research plan to give a bit more context. In the midst of a literature review which will give me a good idea of what kind of things we could be doing. I'll link to that from here when it's done.
I can't be at the meeting today in London (mainly because of this work), which is crap. Loads of people I haven't yet met will be there, including VampWillow, Secretlondon, Andreww and Scott Kier, all of whom are knowledgeable in the process. Hopefully there will be another meeting (on the 29th) and most people there could make that too. All the best to all those going (if you're reading this)...
Dec. 16th, 2005
04:43 pm - Wikiversity and Wikimedia UK
I graduated from my MEd yesterday!!
But back to business today - there's an article today in "The Chronicle" (a Washington-based newspaper on higher education), for which i was interviewed, as one of Wikiversity's leading proponents. The article falsely says I think that Wikiversity "should focus on original research" - rather, I think that research could become a core component of Wikiversity, in the creation of learning communities, which may or may not serve as interfaces for Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia and Wikibooks, for example. There has already been an initiative of the Wikimedia Research Network to promote university collaboration, and I believe that Wikiversity could serve as a central repository and starting point for such research and, in the process, try to reach out to more people involved in educational activities. But there is currently quite a bit of confusion about Wikiversity and where it is going, and which I've tried to get some clarification in this email to the foundation-l list.
How all this is relevant to Wikimedia UK, I have yet to figure out exactly, but it may well be central to getting teachers to use Wikimedia projects themselves. There is a list, on Wikipedia, of school projects which use Wikipedia in some way, none of which, however, are in the UK (mostly in the States). I've read one or two papers on this, and I'm sure there are more papers written that I haven't found yet (possibly on the excellent Wiki Research Bibliography). But I think it would be great to see Wikimedia being used more in this way by teachers/lecturers getting their students to collaborate on improving their fact-checking, writing, or photographing skills.
So, the questions I constantly ask myself these days; what's been done and what is possible in this respect? I'll have to dig into the literature, for sure, but I'll also need to talk to a few teachers/lecturers about this, I think. But on this front, I'm not sure about who to talk to and why. I have one contact on my research plan, but I'll need to figure this out pretty soon (ie in the next month or so). However, I'll be busy writing essays over this period and i don't know how frequently I'll be posting here, but I'll add thoughts as they come to me. You're welcome to add yours here too..
Dec. 11th, 2005
12:23 pm - Research plan
I've just written up a work-in-progress research plan, in which I list people I want to get in touch with for my research. I was going to do that kind of stuff here, but it's just a whole lot easier to do it on Meta (easier syntax on a wiki, links are all there anyway..). I think what I'll do is - hopefully (with consent) to upload the actual transcripts of interviews I do there, or possibly just the IRC ones (depending on time etc). I think I've realised (after reflecting on an interview I did with John Schmidt about Wikiversity) that I need to think of a diverse blend of ways of talking to people, and not simply sending out an email questionnaire, or setting up a wiki dialogue page (which gave limited success for my MEd dissertation), but doing IRC interviews and follow up emails (or vice versa) alongside Skype conversation (voice and/or video). This isn't just for non-verbal cues but also to give people different ways to express themselves, and also the time to express themselves and to think for themselves. I find Wikipedians in general very forthcoming (and obviously intelligent) so it isn't always a problem, but I think that this kind of project is not just about tapping people's experiences but also their hopes, and that it requires time (ie constant presence) with the people I am working with. After all, this project is about me learning about what to do with Wikimedia UK - rather than simply writing up a list of recommendations about what other people should do.
Dec. 8th, 2005
11:33 pm - Update..
07:18 pm - David Gerard on Radio 4
David Gerard was on Radio 4 today, talking about the current stories that have the media buzzing (the Guardian had a leader praising "the" Wikipedia's "gold dust"). Here's David's blog - hopefully will get transcript soon...
More debate about the company name we're to set up - Wiki UK, Wiki Educational resources, just anything but Wikipersonages, please...
10:37 am - Schools
I just found this tool within Live Journal that lets you search schools by area, and which shows LJ users who are associated with those schools. Here's a list of schools in Manchester (where I'm based). I wonder how people use this - do teachers get students to share with other students in nearby schools (or far away ones)? Anyway, I'll look into this for my research - it's all part of creating community and learning through collaboration. I'd also like it (my research) to be focussed locally (hence the Manchester schools list) as well as to look at the wider picture of Wikimedia local chapters around the world - well, just Europe at the moment...
Dec. 7th, 2005
02:01 pm - Legal Spiegel
There has been some discussion on the WikiEN-l mailing list about the purpose of Wikimedia UK and the legal responsibility/relationship it has with/to the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). This is partly brought up by the recent clash with John Seigenthaler, which can be read about in this transcript of an interview between Mr Seigenthaler and Jimmy Wales on CNN, or on the incident's Wikipedia article.
So, Wikimedia UK is not to be in any form a legal representative of the WMF, which has been drilled into my head since the first meeting in London. We're not even going to necessarily give them money. Instead, we are to be "locally based lackeys" of the Wikimedia Foundation. (Although how does this all fit in with EU law?)
And hooray - another possible project - write a decent quality article for every politician in the UK - interesting (or not, perhaps)..
In other news, Jon (Jguk) is trying to incorporate the company before Christmas - i have to say I agree - the sooner the better. I think we've done the groundwork. Gordon's set up a roadmap. As a [[Gobshite|great man]] once said, bring it on..
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