As a humanities person myself, I did read into Lila's post that the 
non-engineering aspects of Wikimedia would take a back seat... perhaps a far 
back seat to all the shiny new things happening in Silicon Valley. This may not 
be the case, but if it is, I can understand it as to an engineer, everything is 
a tech issue.
I have been a college professor for 20 some-odd years and despite my linguistic 
and humanities background, donĀ“t hate technology. I dont love it as much as 
others, but simply the fact that I will touch it has made me something of the 
technology "expert" in the various colleges and universities language 
departments I have taught.
Brion touches on something very important here... especially with the words 
"user disconnection."  Integration computer technology has been the buzzword 
for decades, but we are still in many ways no closer to effectively using 
technology in educational institutions than we were in the 1990s.  Some of it 
is how fast technology changes, but most, IMHO, is a lack of understanding of 
how to best use the tools that we have and will be invented.
Teachers and administrators, in my area at least, either swing toward 
"Technology is useless." to "If we buy stuff, it will solve all our problems."  
Heck, I had to laugh when MOOC's got introduced as a way to have large classes 
with only one lecturer. We have learned nothing from the first online classes 
in the 1990s, mostly because adminstrators still pray for 1000-student classes 
paying for only one professor. I exaggerate, but not by much.
Perhaps the most difficult thing is matching technology with the needs of end 
users, often because computer people and the rest of us look at the technology 
so differently. Unlike a doctor, who can tell patients what is good for them 
(or rather their bodies), engineers often understand what we non-techie end 
users need about as much we understand how to code.
This is one reason why schools waste so much money when it comes to technology. 
We have teachers who understand their classes but not the technology, and 
technology experts that do not know how to teach writing, history, philosophy, 
foreign language etc. 
Finding someone to bridge the gap, IMHO is crucial. 
It could be tempting for a Foundation in Silicon Valley to work solely on the 
technology end, but the end users (readers and editors) see Wikipedia/Wikimedia 
as a reference first. The technology serves the goal of informing and 
educating.  Not all technologies do help this. For example, in the 1990s and 
part of the 2000s, early research seemed to indicate that the immediate 
feedback from foreign language practice software was a benefit for students, as 
they could do more practice in less time. More recent research seems to 
indicate this benefit is limited at best. Fast and superficial feedback seems 
to get ignored, especially after the novelty has worn off.
My point is that it is necessary to monitor trends and make sure Wikipedia does 
not get so aniquitated that is it left behind. But on the other hand, blindly 
chasing new tech fads can tear the organization and the humans still very much 
needed to add to, improve and update a huge gathering of data. Any new 
technologies we want to explore must conform to the main purpose of Wikimedia, 
the free dissemination of information. I have no problem with, say, Wikipedia 
content be reused for other formats (it is already.) but that encyclopedic 
basis needs to remain intact and accessible to all, not just those who know all 
the new tech gizmos.


> Date: Tue, 23 Feb 2016 13:29:17 -0800
> From: bvib...@wikimedia.org
> To: wikimedia-l@lists.wikimedia.org
> Subject: [Wikimedia-l] What it means to be a high-tech organization
> 
> I think there are many different interpretations of what it means to "be a
> high-tech organization", which makes it a difficult label to base arguments
> around; readers will interpret it very differently depending on their
> personal experiences and biases.
> 
> One view might concentrate on notions of "innovation", "excellence", or
> "return on investment" achieved through super-smart people creating unique
> technology -- this view associates "high-tech" with success, competitive
> advantage, brand awareness/marketshare, and money (profit for traditional
> corporations, or investment in the mission for non-profits).
> 
> Another view might concentrate on other features considered common to
> "high-tech" companies such as toxic work environments, lack of diversity,
> overemphasis on engineering versus other disciplines, disconnection from
> users' needs, and a laser-focus on achieving profits at the expense of
> long-term thinking. This view associates "high-tech" with social and
> economic inequality and exploitation of employees and users for their labor
> & attention to the detriment of their physical and emotional health.
> 
> And there are many, much subtler connotations to be found in between.
> 
> 
> I believe a high-tech organization should invest in smart people creating
> unique technology. But I also think it should invest in people, period.
> Staff and volunteers must be cultivated and supported -- that's how loyalty
> and passion are developed, and I believe they pay dividends in productivity
> and recruitment.
> 
> Absolutely Wikimedia Foundation needs to build better technologies --
> technologies to serve the needs of our editors, our readers, our
> photographers, our citation reviewers, etc. This means Wikimedia Foundation
> needs a good relationship with those people to research, brainstorm, plan,
> develop, test, redevelop, retest, and roll out software successfully. The
> people who represent Wikimedia Foundation in those relationships are its
> staff, so it's important for management to support them in their work and
> help them succeed.
> 
> It is my sincere hope that when the current crises are resolved, that the
> Board of Trustees and the executive can agree on at least this much as a
> shared vision for the Foundation.
> 
> -- brion
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