[Foundation-l] Priorities and opportunities
saintonge at telus.net
Tue Sep 29 18:39:27 UTC 2009
Samuel Klein wrote:
> On Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 11:20 PM, Philippe Beaudette wrote:
>> On Sep 26, 2009, at 9:32 PM, Samuel Klein wrote:
>>> Do you think we will be in a position to run a second usability
>>> project of similar scope, two years from now, entirely from within the
>> Are you sure that's the best option?
> We should be capable of such a thing as a community, in terms of
> knowledge, experience, and process. That does not mean there is no
> place for the outside input or guidance you devilishly advocate.
I think that Philippe's question is important. Renewal processes from
within are often stuck in a community's own inertia, and an inability of
most people to look upon those processes with any kind of detachment.
Those who are comfortable with existing processes become ill at ease
with the notion that they might have to change the way they do things.
Inertia makes it most difficult to abandon the most outrageous aspects
of requests for adminship. Those of us who recognize those outrages most
clearly do so with the clarity of infrequent participants, and have
little stomach or patience for the hand-to-hand combat that would be
required to effect change.
>> doing anything that's entirely from within the community brings
>> its own unique set of challenges.
> That said, there are degrees of community nature. Many contractors we
> have worked with were already Wikipedians to a small degree.
That's fine. "Small degree" allows a person some time to become familiar
with the underlying philosophy and operational parameters, without the
zealotry that often comes with "large degree".
> Imagine that we succeed in helping every person in the world learn,
> and in engaging most of them to share what they know with others.
> Then we will be a global community with few boundaries. At which
> point you can ask: How much of a project requires engaging people who
> would not otherwise do it, and how much can we accomplish by
> coordinating those already gladly doing to such work?
I apologize in advance if I characterize this as starry-eyed idealism.
There's even a very American element of believing "We have the best
system in the world so why wouldn't everyone else want to adopt it."
That builds resentment and antagonism among those who are not within the
system. From the inside, it is difficult to see that we engage people
just as much when we provide them with positive encouragement to work on
a competing project. The problem with co-ordinating those already doing
the work is that it encourages inertia. Headquarters evolve into
creationist Wizards of Oz at the centre of the universe, and not because
it is decreed by any intelligent design; it just evolves that way.
The wisdom of crowds is a statistical operation. Its fractal geometry
succeeds because most people accidentally choose the right answer. At
the same time it allows for statistically deviant results which run the
gamut from great ideas to outright stupidities. This is in sharp
contrast to the kind of rigidly syllogistic thinking that has dominated
western thought since at least the time of Plato. Syllogistic thought
fails to accommodate the power of the paradox.
> An example that does not cross the community/outsider boundary:
> translating a given set of documents. Requesting translations can
> feel like pulling teeth, asking favors of people who would rather do
> something else. But every day there are ten times as many people
> enthusiastically handling translation requests to create or improve
> Wikipedia articles. This is a question of finding and directing
> existing interest, and sharing the underlying drive and vision for why
> it matters.
The community of translators is a validly defined sub-community with its
own insiders and outsiders. Some will respond to established priorities
for what needs translating; others will translate whatever they damn
well please. If the pool of translators for a given language is big
enough there is a high probability that everything that needs doing will
be done. It is that last sentence with which I take issue because it
ignores the influence of Murphy and the trickster. The people you are
trying to direct or drive (or herd) are not sheep; they're cats. The
vision that you propose to share is yours not theirs. This does not make
your vision wrong; it's just not theirs. Sheep cannot build a
Wikipedia; only cats can.
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