Submissions/Ghosts of Wikis Yet to Come: Three Stories of Wikimedia's Future

From Wikimania 2013 • Hong Kong

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2013.

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Submission no.
Subject no.
Title of the submission
Ghosts of Wikis Yet to Come: Three Stories of Wikimedia's Future
Type of submission
Author of the submission
Erik Moeller
Country of origin
Germany (US resident)
Wikimedia Foundation (VP of Engineering and Product)
E-mail address
Personal homepage or blog
Userpage on Meta

Gather round, and hear a tale of three futures. One where Wikimedia is absorbed into the all-consuming collective known as the Ogleborg, one where it joins the vast global network of Facepalmia, and one where it turns into Wikiville, a small indomitable tribe that resists any and all invading forces. Each future reveals promise, hope, and fear about technologies (augmented reality, perfected social profiles, semantic antics, etc.) and how they shape our lives. Which future do you want to live in?

Detailed proposal

Telling stories can help us understand possibilities. If we look at the world of today, we can see how commercial players are planning to model our digital futures in their own image. Facebook wants our social connections to be everywhere, making us look at our friends' latest shenanigans the moment we look at a screen. Google is trying to gently persuade us that being an augmented reality cyborg is not so bad, and entirely affordable as long you occasionally look at a few unobtrusive ads. Wikimedia, meanwhile, is proudly clinging to a user experience that represented a major leap forward at a time when cassette tapes were still being displaced by the Compact Disc.

In 5, 10, 15 years the names of the leading players may be different, but we can still imagine the impact they could have on the world -- and the impact on Wikimedia, should we choose to embrace them or the ideas they represent. Let's imagine three futures (all naming similarities completely coincidental, of course):

  • Meet the Ogleborg collective. You recognize them by the mechanical parts sticking out of their faces. The Ogleborg are everywhere nowadays. And everywhere they are, you are as well -- if they see you, you're being profiled, analyzed and assimilated. Wikimedia, too, is part of the collective, tenuously maintaining its noncommercial identity. As the collective roams, freely licensed video is uploaded and annotated, and existing Wikimedia content is enriched with it. A member of the collective has to barely think a question, and an answer from Wikimedia is provided in their field of vision. The collective is controlled by a corporate megamind that makes no promises of doing good -- but maintains a standing pledge of doing no harm. Will it?
  • Welcome to Facepalmia! You'll love it here. Did you bring any friends? If you didn't, we'll help you make some. (Would you look at that adorable genetically enhanced kitten! Sorry, got distracted.) You're looking for Wikipedia? Oh yeah, we connected a while ago. It was pretty boring then, a whole lot of text to read! How are you supposed to learn anything from that? Nowadays, it's much more accessible. Just pick a topic and we'll show you all your friends who have something to say about it. You can still go as deep as you want, of course. But hardly anyone does.
  • The year is 2025 CE. The world is entirely occupied by tech corporations. Well, not entirely ... one small tribe of indomitable Wikimedians still holds out against all invaders. The residents of Wikiville do not take kindly to social networks, augmented reality, or semantic web nonsense. What they care about is simple: high quality information. And they're still the best at creating it. But more and more residents have left, disillusioned by infighting or feeling left behind as the rest of civilization has moved on. Even readership numbers have begun to dwindle. Will the resilient tribe make it through its biggest crisis yet?

We will explore these stories together -- and map out a future that connects some threads found in all of them, and that we may be able to embrace and work towards.

  • WikiCulture and Community
Length of presentation/talk
30 minutes
Language of presentation/talk
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?
Slides or further information (optional)
Special requests
I would like a pony

Interested attendees

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  1. Jan-Bart (would like a pony as well)
  2. Erik Zachte (talk) 12:06, 8 April 2013 (UTC) (via stream, can we have Google Glass stream of audience as well?)[reply]
  3. This sounds pretty interesting! --Waldir (talk) 23:29, 11 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  4. អមីរ ឯ. អហរោណិ 07:37, 12 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Jtmorgan (talk) 23:31, 17 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  6. Daniel Mietchen (talk) 21:40, 22 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  7. The wub (talk) 14:08, 30 April 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  8. Sharihareswara (WMF) (talk) 01:30, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  9. Ori.livneh (talk) 09:13, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  10. Gyoung (talk) 09:38, 1 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  11. What the hell. SarahStierch (talk) 00:51, 2 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Ijon (talk) 08:03, 2 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Bishdatta (talk) 17:46, 2 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Micru (talk) 16:01, 3 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Ziko (talk) 17:55, 3 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Multichill (talk) 14:13, 4 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  17. Graham87 (talk) 12:25, 5 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Axel Pettersson (WMSE) (talk) 10:55, 6 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  19. Heatherawalls (talk) 18:56, 6 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  20. MPelletier (WMF) (talk) 01:41, 8 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  21. Superbellymonster (talk) 03:34, 8 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  22. sats (talk) 08:16, 17 May 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  23. Marcio De Assis (talk) 15:14, 6 June 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  24. Michael Jahn WMDE (talk) 20:47, 22 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  25. Nicole Ebber (WMDE) (talk) 23:33, 31 July 2013 (UTC)[reply]