On Sat, Feb 20, 2016 at 10:56 PM, Anthony Cole <ahcole...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Lila should have taken the community along with her as the Knowledge Engine
> project was evolving. I don't know what was behind her reticence. I presume
> an element was unwillingness to announce a thing while the thing was
> shifting and changing from one day to the next.
>


It was pointed out to me today that there is a court exhibit, no. 666, made
public in 2014 as part of the [[High-Tech Employee Antitrust Litigation]]
(the same case Arnnon Geshuri was involved in), which reproduces some
correspondence between Sue Gardner, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and various
Google managers.[1]



In short, Sheryl Sandberg (who'd formerly worked for Google) helped Sue
Gardner by introducing her to senior management at Google. To do so,
according to the court exhibit, Sandberg forwarded an email from Sue
Gardner to Jonathan Rosenberg (then Senior Vice President of Products) and
others at Google:



---o0o---



From: Sheryl Sandberg

Sent: Saturday, August 09, 2008 7:40 PM

To: Jonathan Rosenberg; Omid Kordestani; David Drummond; Megan Smith

Subject: Fw: Thanks + a request re Google



Jonathan, Omid, David, Megan - I was introduced to Sue by Roger. As you can
see below, they would love a better and more senior relationship with
Google. Can I email introduce her to one of you?



Please excuse blackberry-caused typos.



-----Original Message-----

From: Sue Gardner

To: Sheryl Sandberg

Sent: Mon Aug 04 10:02:01 2008

Subject: Thanks + a request re Google



Hi Sheryl,



It was terrific to finally meet you last week :-)



Here's a recap of the Google issue that I raised:



I started as Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation last summer.



A few months after that, Roger McNamee began introducing me to potential
Wikipedia donors in the valley. Most of that was great and successful, but
in a few cases -including once with a Google board member- I was surprised
to be have people cite 'loyalty to Google' as a reason to not give money to
Wikipedia.



Their objections, which have been echoed to me several times since then,
seem to fall into three categories:



* A belief that Wikia Search is an attempt by Wikipedia to compete with
Google. (Many people don't realize the only thing shared between Wikipedia
and Wikia is our founder, Jimmy Wales. Nor do they realize that Jimmy has
no day-to-day responsibilities at the Wikimedia Foundation.)

* The view that because Wikipedia is non-commercial, it is anti-advertising
and anti-Google.

* A belief that Knol is an attempt by Google to compete with Wikipedia.



I personally don't believe any of this: I think Google and Wikipedia can
and should have a complementary and positive relationship. And I gather
Larry and Sergey feel the same: I believe they've told Jimmy that Google
has no ill will towards Wikipedia, and that they'd be willing to make a

donation to us in order to signal that publicly.



I also believe that any real or perceived tensions in the Google/Wikipedia
relationship may be being exacerbated at some levels inside Google by their
unfulfilled desires to do business with us. Since relocating to the Bay
Area in January, we've had plenty of Google folks reach out to us. But --
we have a total staff of 21 people, with just one person responsible for
business development, so I am not sure we are even able to politely keep up
with their pitches. IMO, rather than spending our time on multiple
product-specific pitches, it would probably be more productive for
Wikipedia and Google to develop a single umbrella relationship/agreement
(obviously within the limits of Wikipedia's non-commercial context).



So. I think a good next step would be some kind of high-level meeting
between Wikipedia and Google, to talk through these issues and see if a
donation and/or business deal makes sense.



I appreciate your advice on this issue :-)



Thanks,

Sue



 ---o0o---



Now, some of this isn't earth-shattering news -- it's long been known that
relations between Google and Wikipedia have been friendly. The lobbying
partnership between Google and Wikipedia may well date back to the meetings
that followed that email exchange.



What wasn't known to me was that Sue found people in Silicon Valley
unwilling to donate because of their "loyalty to Google". (This reasoning
raises questions of its own about Google's influence, but we'll leave that
aside.)



Now it has become clear over the past few days that Damon Sicore, to use
Jimmy Wales' words at Lila's Knowledge Engine FAQ,[2] "really was
advocating for taking a run at Google", and gave "strict orders to keep it
top secret".



Sue referred to her wish to have "a single umbrella relationship/agreement"
with Google, in part to help with the donation problems she was
encountering. If such an agreement ever came into being, then being seen to
be planning a campaign against Google behind Google's back, as it were,
might well jeopardise that relationship, and be seen as disloyal.



That would have been a compelling reason for continued secrecy, especially
if these plans to compete against Google were in the end given up, meaning
that any loss of face vis-à-vis Google and its friends would in effect be
for nothing.



Of course this is just supposition.


But there are issues here worth reflecting upon. I recall plenty of
volunteers over the years saying it was very good that Google seemed to
treat Wikipedia favourably. Yet I don't recall the community ever being
asked whether they wanted the WMF to seek any kinds of agreements with
for-profit players.



At any rate, whatever the facts of this case, it seems to me that
maintaining transparency becomes very hard if you pursue such agreements.
It becomes very easy to tie yourself into knots.



[1] http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/sandberg.pdf

[2] https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_Engine/FAQ
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