Before this last 21st day in the 21st year of 21st century
is globally over, I try to re-initiate re-thinking
on this 15 years old proposal for a Wikipedian-in-residence
but also articles in (only) 27 language Wikipedias,
Meta, Outreach wiki and elsewhere
for updating the notion of WIR and roles it performs in Wikimedia,
an ecosystem of diverse entities, dynamics and relations.
As Wikimedians with wider perspective than a single wiki project, often
more than a single language and for sure more than single community, gear
up to discuss and act on 2030 strategy, that includes new initiatives, new
formations of decentering resources, new content, forms and methods of
working, with new priorities, conditions, tools, services and what
not…there is also a value in reflecting and reimagining what is already
established but often overlooked practice.
Some of the WIR practitioners have been self-reflecting on and off publicly
with communities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tc9YgFm2eso
there was also
3 years ago WREN UG (Wikimedians in Residence Exchange Network User Group)
was recognized with the aim to protect the common elements of the role and
for creating a peer support network of new and experienced WIRs for
collaboration and to encourage a global professional environment which
inspires institutions to appoint persons to engage with Wikimedia.
In recent times Wikipedian-in-Residence, is more often
Wikimedian-in-Residence, in rapid growth of Commons and Wikidata (but also
in 2021 first one in Wiktionary) and sometimes Wikimedian-at-Large, in more
generalized practice of strategy or direction setting work.
Additionally in time of pandemic when doing physical events is challenging
and many of the (potential) partner organizations are closing down or
limiting public events to bare essential, short and transient it is more
important than ever that individuals (rather than cohorts of editathon
enthusiasts) keep revisiting institutions and work with them in a most
flexible mode and scale.
Finally to start both re-visioning and maybe even re-positioning WIRs in
Wikimedia we should think of what this network of ‘free agents’ can bring
towards 2030, beyond what WMF, affiliates, UGs, HUBs, WikiProjects and
other organizational forms can. Also think how much more useful this
initial inspiration of artists, writers and researchers in residence could
be if these creative and critical roles in the art and cultural sector get
embraced and encouraged more often and more intentionally.