Dear Folks,

I'm writing to update you on the community meets held last week. (I had visited Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore along with Barry.)


First of all, thank you to everyone who came over. Appreciate your time and also the educative, informative, engaging and wide-ranging discussions we had. I look forward to carrying on these conversations going forward. I also look forward to meeting up with the community across a wider set of towns and cities.

I also wanted to share some initial thoughts that I had.

a) Communication

   I think it will be useful to open a regular channel of
   communication.  My current thinking is that this could be in the
   form of a monthly IRC, as well as periodic emails (probably once a
fortnight, but more or less frequently depending on relevance.) Would be good to get your thoughts. Also, would 8pm (India time)
   for 1 hour on the first Thursday of every month work well for the IRC?

   In addition to the above, my contact details are the bottom of this
   mail.  Do feel free to reach out; I'd love to hear from you.

b) Outreach

   A lot of the discussions that we had were centered around outreach
   activities.  There were 3 stories that I thought were particularly
   insightful which I wanted to share with you.

       * A 67 year old gentleman in Chembur (Mumbai) heard about
         Wikipedia in Kannada from a Wikimedian.  He started
         contributing because he thought it would be an novel way of
         spending his free time.  He said that it now keeps him
         occupied doing something that interests him - and it has
         reignited his family's respect for him.

       * A young student of Symbiosis in Pune said he discovered that
         he could edit while playing an online computer game - when
         some Japanese gamers told him how he could pitch in and
         contribute articles on the game's characters.

       * A young guy in Bangalore spoke about how a friend of his
         attended the 10th do - and came back and told him that he
         could contribute articles in Oriya.  He's started contributing.

   These 3 stories are familiar to many of you, and they are but 3 of
   100s if not 1000s of similarly awesome tales.  They are also
   illustrative of the kind of impact that outreach has.  Personally, I
   found them both inspiring and thought-provoking.  Here's what they
   have triggered in my head.  (...and I must confess I have more
   questions than answers right now!)

       * Outreach takes time and effort.  Given that it conducted by
         volunteers such as yourselves, there's always going to be
         limits to how much you can be devote; you all have day
         jobs/personal lives to lead.  Therefore, how can we improve
         the odds of impact?  It starts of with saying every single
         outreach activity must be regarded as precious and every
         attempt must be made to help realize the fullest potential of
         the initiative.  If that's the philosophy, then how does one
         better understand the audience and, therefore, calibrate
         messages as appropriately as possible.  (Also, and this is
         from my personal experience in community mobilization and
         outreach messaging, it's very easy to get tempted into
         providing multiple messages.  ...even more so when it comes to
Wikimedia when there are so many incredible stories to tell. ...but audiences very rarely take out more than 1 or 2 key
         points.) /Given this, how does one identify and focus on these
         key messages?  For instance, should the message be different
         when talking to IT versus arts students?  Should the tone of
         the message be different when talking to 18 years olds as
         opposed to 30 year olds?  Can outreach kits be developed?  Can
         these include some kind of capability building?/

       * Outreach requires a feedback loop.  Currently, while outreach
         is happening frequently and widely, it is physically difficult
         to stay in touch after the event. (I heard about an event in
         Trichy where 65 people attended.  It'd be physically
         impossible for one or two individuals to regular communicate
         with all of them.) /Is there a way that we can open some kind
         of simple and low-resource channel to stay in touch with
         people who have attended outreach meets.  This feedback loop
         could potentially include what message they took out from the
         event, whether that got them going to start contributing (and
         if not, why), and if they started, how things were going.  Can
         this be done online in some manner?  How do the results get
         shared with those who conducted the outreach?/

       * Potential contributors are everywhere.  They're not only in IT
         colleges, though these are significant.  Anecdotally, I
         suspect there might be greater age diversity in the India
         community as compared to the rest of the world (though I don't
         currently have evidence for this.)  One thing is for sure,
         there's opportunity all over the place. For instance, any of
         our population segment (e.g., 18-25, 25-35, 60+ etc.) are so
         huge, they're bigger than many, many countries. /Wouldn't it
         be really interesting to see how they can be reached out to,
         and the relative results?  Also, given the enormous potential,
         what are high-scale, highly-scalable models that can be piloted?/

   As I said earlier, I don't have answers to these but am excited
   about working on making an attempt at articulating these.

c) Other Bright Sparks

   I'm also sharing these examples I heard of because they are quite
   remarkable.

   * Some guys in Pune are pursuing an incredible goal of installing an
     offline edition in every school in Pune.  Mind-boggling given
     there are 10,000 schools in and around Pune!

   * A professor in Jadhavpur University has conducted a 2 day session
     on editing Wikipedia for his students, and has now integrated
     editing Wikipedia articles into the academic plan for his students.

d) Chapter Discussions

   Barry and I met up with the Chapter and discussed how we can work
   collaboratively for the community.

e) Next Steps

   In terms of next steps, specifically with regard to outreach, I'd
   like to study past outreach efforts with Wikimedians and
   identify/design about 5 pilots that we can explore.  I hope to
   identify these pilots and flesh them out to the richest possible
   extent in the next two weeks. I'm going to request anyone and
   everyone to share examples that you think are relevant.  More on
   this in the IRC.

It'd be wonderful to hear your thoughts on these and any other aspects. (btw, if you prefer to write to me directly, my email ID is hmun...@wikimedia.org)

There's amazing opportunity for Wikimedia in India. I'm excited and looking forward to serving the community to support taking Wikimedia project to even greater heights.

Thank you for your time.

Kind Regards,
--
/hisham/
*India Programs - Wikimedia Foundation*

mobile : +91 750 300 1971
skype : hisham.wikimedia
google talk: hmun...@wikimedia.org

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