(Apologies for the formatting issues in the previous email.)
On Thursday, we released an extensive research report  about Wikimedia’s
role in shaping the future of the information commons. The report was
created as part of the Wikimedia 2030 strategy process, as the Foundation
engaged research teams to examine awareness and usage of Wikimedia projects
and evolving information consumption habits. The consulting teams conducted
desk research and spoke both with people familiar with and involved in the
Wikimedia movement and expert observers who could inform the strategy
process but who are not directly involved today. In one-on-one interviews,
experts in geographic areas where the projects are most heavily used were
asked to think about future trends in their fields and how the trends might
apply to the Wikimedia movement’s strategy. This particular research
focused on six broad topics that seemed most likely to further or frustrate
the vision for growth that the Foundation embraces.
In this report, the Foundation’s staff and its consulting teams present
top-level insights from this global process. Perspectives from interviewees
around the world are also provided with context about their region and area
of expertise. The report draws from six comprehensive research briefs,
published on Wikimedia’s strategy website, which address these topics:
- Demographics: Who is in the world in 2030? The report outlines global
population trends, which project the highest population growth in places
where Wikimedia has significant room to expand.
- Emerging platforms: How will people around the world be using
communications technologies to find, create, and share information? The
report considers future technologies, from the imminent to the speculative,
and examines what range of new hardware, software, and content production
capabilities might mean for content creation and user access.
- Misinformation: How will people find trustworthy sources of knowledge
and information? The report explores how content creators and technologists
can ensure that knowledge is trustworthy and also identifies threats to
- Literacy: How will the world learn in the future? The report forecasts
that technology will transform learning and educational settings as well as
expand the requirements for literacy beyond text and images.
- Open knowledge: How will we share culture, ideas, and information? The
report documents the global trend toward opening collections and archives
to the public and making them freely available online, and explores ways
the Wikimedia movement might partner with people and organizations to
accelerate this sharing.
- Expect the unexpected: How can we know what the world will look like in
2030 — and what the Wikimedia movement’s role will be in it?
The report proposes that a study of trends can never be truly predictive
and introduces alternative visionary tools such as scenario planning and
speculative social science fiction.
The consulting team published an additional research brief on the future of
the digital commons, examining the political and commercial forces that
could lead to the contraction or expansion of the open web. Looking at the
constellation of issues most important to the Wikimedia community, this
brief identifies access, censorship, privacy, copyright, and intermediary
liability as active battlefronts.
The fate of the digital commons is the single subject that rises above and
intersects with each of the other areas of research. The commons of the
future will shape the environment that ultimately fosters or blocks all of
the Wikimedia projects’ work. Thus, this report weaves research findings
about the future of the commons throughout.
Specifically, the report highlights growing concerns across civil society
about the quality of and access to open knowledge online, as well as
compounding threats to the Wikimedia movement and its open knowledge
allies. Between now and 2030, open knowledge advocates face headwinds that
include censorship by governments and corporations, internet shutdowns,
surveillance of users, information monopolies, and troubling developments
such as the arrests of scholars and journalists operating in closed
The Wikimedia movement is positioned to work toward potential solutions to
these threats. Despite the trend toward a “darkening globe,” some leaders
see the Wikimedia movement as among the brightest hopes and most inspiring
exemplars of the global digital commons.
The Wikimedia movement has immediate internal challenges to address,
including adapting to an increasingly mobile internet, recruiting a new
generation of volunteers, and expanding its partnerships with schools and
“GLAM” organizations (i.e. galleries, libraries, archives, museums, and
other cultural institutions that have access to knowledge as their
mission). But Wikimedia and its open knowledge allies, working together,
can lift up people everywhere, empowering communities through access and
participation in knowledge creation and sharing. Across the interviews and
salons, there was a clarion call for the building of this larger, more
active, and multi-partner open knowledge movement.
For extended narratives, many more citations, and community discussion of
the research, visit the Wikimedia strategy page that aggregates into a
single web directory not only this work but also the totality of the
Foundation’s strategy process: 2030.wikimedia.org
The report concludes with an analysis of cross-cutting themes that arose
from the research, as well as a set of recommendations and discussion
questions for the movement and its partners. The goal of these final
sections is not to close the discussion. Instead, it is to set the stage
for the next phase of work for the Foundation and the movement: to move
from strategies to actions that not only will preserve what has already
been built, but also make the projects useful and vital for billions of
future Wikimedia users.
We're grateful to the Wikimedia staff, volunteers, consultants, and
interviewees who made this report possible.
 You can read this on Wikimedia Commons (PDF):
Director of Development
(415) 839-6885 x6733
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