[Foundation-l] Black and White

simonpedia simon at cols.com.au
Mon Dec 17 22:45:55 UTC 2007

This thread is based on a comment Florence made on that

update in board of trustees membership  

thread above
She was talking about Michael and Eric leaving the board (damn it) and then
“I feel there are two paths for the future. Either we keep a board mostly
made of community members (elected or appointed), who may not be top-notch
professionals, who can do mistakes …….., but who can breath and pee
wikimedia projects, dedicate their full energy to a project they love,
without trying to put their own interest in front. A decentralized
organization where chapters will have more room, authority and leadership.
Now we probably all agree that one or the other is not taking the best from
both old institutions. But WMF projects have proved that a new one has been
born. The idea of a Head Office and National and local chapters might be OK
for Rotary and its like, but looking at WMF projects, this is not how the
new one works, so I thought it should be made clear.
We live at a time when global groups will gather around an article and edit
the hell out of one at a time, coming to a consensus and understanding (of
sorts) about it’s meaning. Which makes a nice change from having bureaucrats
get on planes to attend talk fests and then say, “We’ve agreed to keep
talking” as the ones in Bali just have. The change in the ways WMF-inspired
communities organize themselves has proved that a bureaucracy “delivering
policy” is just a figment of the dimming past. It’s by talking on threads
like this where the belief in “top down” organisation just evaporates.
(Constantly reading about CEO’s being rewarded for their incompetence or
dishonesty doesn’t hurt either).
Let’s face it, in a democracy all leaders are amateurs. That’s what the
concept means. At the same time we want to make sure that they get the best
professional advice. If the rest of the English speaking world learns what
we’ve just learnt in Australia, when you only talk to PLU (people like us,
professionals like us) then “sorry mate you’re out”; our PM even lost his
own seat, which shows how irrelevant he’d become.
The main thing is that we have global groups for each of the functions
required by an org; each board member of which will keep us across their own
learning (like a meeting with a Minister of culture which became a private
thing). The detail stuff will occasionally get stuffed up, but if a Board
member doesn’t make a doozy (like winning a war and losing its peace), then
OK, let them just admit it’s a mistake and let’s move on. So long as we
remember as a group and don’t let it happen again.
Now Florence might fear Knol as “probably our biggest threat since the
creation of Wikipedia”. But it can only be that if one thinks that
aggregating content is the main aim of the WMF (around which ads might be
wrapped). I just can’t see that it is. And Florence doesn’t either. As Milos
says “.…the community is confused and it needs answers. At least, how do
*you* (Board members) see WMF in the next two or five years? If you are not
possible to make a collective statement, please make personal statements”. I
thought it was a great invitation to find a way of settling on a shade of
grey, which would help blacks and white gain an understanding, if not a
So at this (Christmas) time can I just second Milos’ motion and ask that we
all take a step back and talk to our children and friends until the New
Year. Ultimately we are building a Next Generation Network, today. To be
.org/wiki/Next_Generation_Networking. If that’s the case, then we are
talking about how little groups like this communicate, not how they
aggregate stuff at huge portals. Every country has a National Research and
Education Network which contain engineers and course builders who would love
to help our wiki-orientated content builders. They all communicate, just
like us, in little groups of interest. Trouble is, their correspondence gets
buried, like here.
Merry Christmas. Simon.

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