I think it will be useful to open a regular channel of communication. My current thinking is that this could be in the form of a monthly IRC, as well as periodic emails (probably once a fortnight, but more or less frequently depending on relevance.) Would be good to get your thoughts. Also, would 8pm (India time) for 1 hour on the first Thursday of every month work well for the IRC?b) Outreach
In addition to the above, my contact details are the bottom of this mail. Do feel free to reach out; I'd love to hear from you.
A lot of the discussions that we had were centered around outreach activities. There were 3 stories that I thought were particularly insightful which I wanted to share with you.
These 3 stories are familiar to many of you, and they are but 3 of 100s if not 1000s of similarly awesome tales. They are also illustrative of the kind of impact that outreach has. Personally, I found them both inspiring and thought-provoking. Here's what they have triggered in my head. (...and I must confess I have more questions than answers right now!)
- A 67 year old gentleman in Chembur (Mumbai) heard about Wikipedia in Kannada from a Wikimedian. He started contributing because he thought it would be an novel way of spending his free time. He said that it now keeps him occupied doing something that interests him - and it has reignited his family's respect for him.
- A young student of Symbiosis in Pune said he discovered that he could edit while playing an online computer game - when some Japanese gamers told him how he could pitch in and contribute articles on the game's characters.
- A young guy in Bangalore spoke about how a friend of his attended the 10th do - and came back and told him that he could contribute articles in Oriya. He's started contributing.
- Outreach takes time and effort. Given that it conducted by volunteers such as yourselves, there's always going to be limits to how much you can be devote; you all have day jobs/personal lives to lead. Therefore, how can we improve the odds of impact? It starts of with saying every single outreach activity must be regarded as precious and every attempt must be made to help realize the fullest potential of the initiative. If that's the philosophy, then how does one better understand the audience and, therefore, calibrate messages as appropriately as possible. (Also, and this is from my personal experience in community mobilization and outreach messaging, it's very easy to get tempted into providing multiple messages. ...even more so when it comes to Wikimedia when there are so many incredible stories to tell. ...but audiences very rarely take out more than 1 or 2 key points.) Given this, how does one identify and focus on these key messages? For instance, should the message be different when talking to IT versus arts students? Should the tone of the message be different when talking to 18 years olds as opposed to 30 year olds? Can outreach kits be developed? Can these include some kind of capability building?
- Outreach requires a feedback loop. Currently, while outreach is happening frequently and widely, it is physically difficult to stay in touch after the event. (I heard about an event in Trichy where 65 people attended. It'd be physically impossible for one or two individuals to regular communicate with all of them.) Is there a way that we can open some kind of simple and low-resource channel to stay in touch with people who have attended outreach meets. This feedback loop could potentially include what message they took out from the event, whether that got them going to start contributing (and if not, why), and if they started, how things were going. Can this be done online in some manner? How do the results get shared with those who conducted the outreach?
- Potential contributors are everywhere. They're not only in IT colleges, though these are significant. Anecdotally, I suspect there might be greater age diversity in the India community as compared to the rest of the world (though I don't currently have evidence for this.) One thing is for sure, there's opportunity all over the place. For instance, any of our population segment (e.g., 18-25, 25-35, 60+ etc.) are so huge, they're bigger than many, many countries. Wouldn't it be really interesting to see how they can be reached out to, and the relative results? Also, given the enormous potential, what are high-scale, highly-scalable models that can be piloted?
As I said earlier, I don't have answers to these but am excited about working on making an attempt at articulating these.c) Other Bright Sparks
I'm also sharing these examples I heard of because they are quite remarkable.
Barry and I met up with the Chapter and discussed how we can work collaboratively for the community.e) Next Steps
In terms of next steps, specifically with regard to outreach, I'd like to study past outreach efforts with Wikimedians and identify/design about 5 pilots that we can explore. I hope to identify these pilots and flesh them out to the richest possible extent in the next two weeks. I'm going to request anyone and everyone to share examples that you think are relevant. More on this in the IRC.It'd be wonderful to hear your thoughts on these and any other aspects. (btw, if you prefer to write to me directly, my email ID is email@example.com)
mobile : +91 750 300
skype : hisham.wikimedia
google talk: firstname.lastname@example.org