A 17th Century map of Iceland became our most popular OER for football fans during Euro 2016. The image ‘Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas, Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura ‘ which belongs to our Centre for Research Collections was added to Wikimedia in February as part of our Wikimedian in Residence partnership project. It was then used to illustrate an article about Iceland on English and German Wikipedia. It has now been viewed more than 2 million times.
Iceland’s Euro2016 matches were on 14 June (1-1 with Portugal), 18 June (1-1 Hungary), 22 June (2-1 victory over Austria), 27 June (2-1 win over England), and 3 July (2-5 defeat to France). Around each of these events people all over the world were keen to learn about this surprising nation. Viewing numbers ( numbers of hits) show appreciable spikes for the matches against Portugal, England, and France.
Last week, as part of our PlayFair Steps equality and diversity intiative in ISG, we invited Dr Rowena Arshad to talk to ISG staff about ‘Race Matters at Work’. The presentation was excellent and thought provoking. Attendance was low though, in comparison to an earlier talk in the same series about age. I wonder whether colleagues hear ‘age’ and think ‘that’s me‘, they hear ‘race’ and they think ‘that’s someone else‘.
Rowena’s presentation helped us to ask ourselves questions about how we see people as ‘other’, and provided valuable insights into real, recent examples at University of Edinburgh.
As well as being one of the ISG change themes through which we are looking at our organisation and changing it to be fit for the future, equality and diversity is part of a larger consideration of digital transformation going on in the university, being championed by our CIO.
Our CIO challenges us to think about the ‘internet of me’, where each of us is at the centre of a web of services tailored to what the internet knows about us and what it anticipates our wants and desires to be as a result. Examples given of Uber, Airbnb etc certainly seem to make life easier for some.
I’d suggest that we cannot think about digital transformation without considering privilege and bias. For some people, their experience of the internet is not as positive as it may seem to be for white, wealthy, north american or british men. For some it is toxic, biased and perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes. It is up to us as tech professionals to consider all our users and ensure that we create an internet for all. It is up to us not only to consider our unconscious bias but also to check and recheck that the services we build are inclusive.
The best way we can do that it to have diverse teams working on every project and provide safe working environments for colleagues to share their experiences which can inform our thinking. The risk if we don’t is that the more our services become personalised, the less we are able to empathise with the experience of others.