The Promise of Collaborative Magic*
Open source thrives on the idea of people helping one another in reaching their project's goals. But is it working the way that it's supposed to be? This session hopes to discuss the importance of constructive collaboration in our communities, how we encourage them, and what we can do if they're not working out the way they're supposed to.
The promise of many collaborative communities, especially in the open source world, is that we are part of a larger community that strives to build itself together. Where we fall short, others will naturally come in and help fill the shortage. Community members are reasonably expected to help others who may be in need, and if they see something wrong or missing, they are supposed to be motivated to fill in the gaps. On Wikipedia, this puts into practice one of its five pillars: that it is free content that anyone can edit (emphasis deliberate). fulfilling Wikimedia’s mission of spreading knowledge and learning a little more about something every step of the way.
This is the wonder of open-source collaboration: we start something, then others jump in to help. Whether we call it “Wikimagic”, stygmergy, a collaborative ethos, etc., this is the promise that is sold to community members both new and old: the fact that this will somehow help build a better project because we can’t reasonably expect everyone to know everything from the get-go. That, perhaps, everybody can’t do things right the first time, and we need to help them out because that’s what’s expected of us. But what if this promise is very different from the reality that is presented to community members: that, in fact, this “promise” doesn’t really exist at all?
In this session, I hope to bring together different communities on how they deal with the idea of a “magic” collaborative ethos, how we can continue to foster an environment of constructive collaboration and to prevent sending signals to users that their work is of lesser value, and whether the solution to reinforcing this ethos of collaboration is dependent on the creation of structures or on the redefinition of our values as a community. I will also bring in perspectives from the Wikimedia movement on how “Wikimagic” works in theory, how it has been applied (or not applied) in practice, what’s wrong, and what we can do about it.
(This session is an expansion of a session I’ve submitted for Wikimania 2014 called The (Broken?) Promise of Wikimagic.)
organization, collaboration, Wikipedia, Best Practices, community
I presented "Sharing Beyond 'Sharing': Fostering an Open Sharing Culture in the Philippines" (http://opensourcebridge.org/sessions/939) at Open Source Bridge last year. :)
I have also previously presented at Wikimania 2011 and 2013, and I was likewise part of a panel discussion during Wikimania 2010. I am also a debater in my spare time, having participated in various debating competitions, public speaking contests and the like over the last 6-8 years.
Josh Lim is a student at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, majoring in Political Science. He is also a longtime Wikipedia editor, having edited since April 2005, and is currently the Secretary of Wikimedia Philippines, the Philippine local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation.
Since 2011, he has taken interest in analyzing social relations on the Wikimedia projects (and, since then, with online communities in general), and hopes that he can contribute something meaningful to the discipline somehow.
- Title: The Promise of Collaborative Magic
- Track: Culture
- Room: B204
- Time: 4:45 – 5:30pm
Open source thrives on the idea of people helping one another in reaching their project’s goals. But is it working the way that it’s supposed to be? This session hopes to discuss the importance of constructive collaboration in our communities, how we encourage them, and what we can do if they’re not working out the way they’re supposed to.
- Speakers: Josh Lim