[Foundation-l] The fallacy of power

Samuel Klein meta.sj at gmail.com
Tue Apr 29 09:31:52 UTC 2008

On Tue, Apr 29, 2008 at 2:26 AM, Michael Snow <wikipedia at verizon.net> wrote:

> Is vetting and scrutiny better just because there's more of it? The
> election process vets for some things and not for others. I appreciate
> the concern about capture by special interests, but can you articulate
> why that's more likely with outside experts? Financial and employment
> relationships seem to be the primary vehicle by which people imagine
> this capture. It seems to me that a resume-interviews-background-check
> approach does more to vet these issues than has historically been the
> case in our elections.

I worry more about special interests coming in after the fact and working
out who is susceptible to influence.  A person who has spent a few hundred
hours working to improve a project before engaging in governance seems to me
both more likely to weigh the values of the project well above his/her own
personal fortune, and more likely to be wary of such influence on its face.

> > How is adding Board members with expertise more suitable than having a
> > deeply trusted Board acquire and rely on a more broadly talented
> advisory
> > board?
> >
> Because unlike the Board of Trustees, members of the Advisory Board do
> not have the fiduciary obligations you so rightly emphasize. Being able
> to bounce questions off an advisor with a financial background ...

Interesting.  But the specter of fiduciary obligation alone is not enough to
compel work from everyone...  mistakes can be made by conflating the need
for experienced staff, the need for experienced advisors, and the need for
talented board members.  Selecting the latter by expertise and not devotion
doesn't seem right, though I understand weighing expertise in

Is there a list of skillsets currently being sought?

More details on the
> advisory board will come when they are ready, but for now I'd welcome
> ideas - what additional areas, broadly speaking, do we need represented
> on the advisory board to provide useful working groups to advise the
> Wikimedia Foundation?

Off the top of my head:
 - Long-term sustainability  (preparing for the future, for contingencies)
 - NGO & government relations  (synchronizing with / inspiring new
 - Education & learning      (improving usefulness to / working with
 - Music; multimedia broadly       (how to better include and reach out for
 - Information analaysis & research   (improving work with researchers)
 - Effective multilingual [internal] communication  (something we continue
to avoid)
 - Product design, marketing, and distribution   (free knowledge is cool,
wikipedia should help make it more so)

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