Tag: Alice White

You can’t be what you can’t see.

Creating new role models on Wikipedia to encourage the next generation of #ImmodestWomen

By Siobhan O’Connor, Dr. Alice White, Dr. Sara Thomas and Ewan McAndrew.

Wikipedia, the free, online, multilingual encyclopaedia is building the largest open knowledge resource in human history. Now aged eighteen years old, its English language version receives over 500 million views per month, from 1.4 billion unique devices, and has over 130,000 active users collaboratively writing and editing millions of articles online. As topics on Wikipedia become more visible on Google, they receive more press coverage and become better known amongst the public.

Yet while English Wikipedia has significant reach and influence as the go-to source of information around the world, it also has significant gaps in its coverage of topics, articles in other languages and the diversity of its editors. Less than 18 per cent of biographies on English Wikipedia are about women, while most editors on the platform are white men.

This disproportionate gap on Wikipedia silences women’s contribution to science which continues their marginalisation in public life, a vicious circle that leads to more women being lost to careers in STEM. This gender imbalance mirrors the 2017 findings of the WISE campaign with women making up just 23% of those in core STEM occupations (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in the UK and 24% of those working in core STEM industries. Only 17% of physicists worldwide are women and studies have shown that it will take approximately 258 years for equality in physics. The rate of progress is even starker for the fields of computer science (280 years) .

Recent research published earlier this year by Asst. Professor Neil C. Thompson at MIT and Asst. Professor Doug Hanley at the University of Pittsburgh has also evidenced that scientific research is actually shaped by Wikipedia; demonstrating the influence of the free encyclopedia.

“Our research shows that scientists are using Wikipedia and that it is influencing how they write about the science that they are doing… Wikipedia isn’t just a record of what’s going on in science, it’s actually helping to shape science.” – Professor Neil C. Thompson

The randomised controlled trial the researchers undertook evidenced a profound causal impact that, as one of the most accessed websites in the world, incorporating ideas into Wikipedia leads to those ideas being used more in the scientific literature.

Chemistry graduates were asked to create forty-three new Wikipedia entries about topics in chemistry, with half being posted on Wikipedia while the rest were held back. Two years later, the chemistry entries created on Wikipedia had collectively over 2 million views. Analysing the text of publications from fifty high-impact chemistry journals during this period, showed words in the publications were influenced by content from the new Wikipedia entries.

For example, the ‘History of Chemistry’ entry on Wikipedia features over 200 men but only mentions 4 women and is missing notable female chemists such as Nobel Prize winning biochemist Gerty Cori and Professor Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist and one of the pioneers of a new breakthrough genetic engineering technology called CRISPR.

Another example of the gender imbalance can be seen in the entry for ‘Benzene’ on Wikipedia. There are several paragraphs describing many male scientists who tried to discover the structure of this chemical compound in the 1800’s. However, only one single sentence in the same Wikipedia article acknowledges the female scientist, Kathleen Lonsdale, who finally confirmed the structure of benzene in 1929.

Consequently, the Wikipedia community has established numerous initiatives to address this acknowledged systemic gender bias as they are committed to diversity and inclusivity to ensure knowledge equity. One such initiative, “WikiProject Women in Red (WiR)”, aims to crowdsource turning dormant red links for biography articles that do not yet exist into clickable blue ones which do, directing readers to female biographies and works by women on the platform.

New articles recently created by Women in Red volunteer editors from around the world include: Zheng Pingru, a spy whose life inspired a film; Bridget Jones (academic), a pioneer in the field of Caribbean literature studies; and Paquita Sauquillo, a campaigner in defence of democratic freedom. Entries recently improved by Women in Red editors include: Ruth Schmidt, an award winning American geologist; and Wilma Mankiller, an activist and social worker who was the first woman elected as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.

As a result of targeted Wikipedia editing events, or ‘edit-a-thons’, there are also now entire series of articles for the Edinburgh Seven, the first female students to matriculate at a British university, and the nineteen pioneering women chemists who, in 1904, petitioned the Chemistry Society (later to become the Royal Society of Chemistry) for the admission of women as Fellows of the Society.

Chemistry staff and students c.1899 at the Royal Holloway College, University of London. CC-BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons from Royal Holloway, University of London – RHC PH 201/11 Archives, Royal Holloway, University of London

“These were a group of extraordinary women who had done chemistry to degree and postgraduate level at a time when you couldn’t do that… and they had extraordinary stories and they did extraordinary chemistry.” – Dr. Michael Seery, Director of Teaching at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Chemistry.

Often if articles are not missing entirely, the contributions of women in science are reduced to bit part status as an addendum on the Wikipedia articles of their husbands or male contemporaries. Marie Curie’s Wikipedia article reportedly started out shared with her husband. That was, until someone pointed out that her scientific contributions might just warrant an article of her own. There is also a new article for Scottish physical scientist, Katherine Clerk Maxwell, whose contribution to measurements of gaseous viscosity was recorded by her husband, James, and is associated with his paper “On the Dynamical Theory of Gases”, where he states that Katherine “did all the real work of the kinetic theory” and that she was now “…engaged in other researches. When she is done I will let you know her answer to your inquiry.”

Katherine Clerk Maxwell, 1869. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The achievements of extraordinary pioneering women are recorded in various sources, however no one has chosen to write their stories on Wikipedia. Focused attention in themed editing events means more articles are being created all the time.

Surveys have indicated that only 8.5–16% of Wikipedia editors are female. One particular 2011 survey suggested that on English Wikipedia around 91% of editors were male, and typically formally educated, in white-collar jobs (or students) and living in the Global North.  The same survey found that fewer than 1% of editors self-identified as transsexual or transgender.

“if there is a typical Wikipedia editor, he has a college degree, is 30- years-old, is computer savvy but not necessarily a programmer, doesn’t actually spend much time playing games, and lives in US or Europe.”

This means that articles within Wikipedia typically reflect these gender, socioeconomic and cultural biases. Among the findings of the 2016 research article, Women through the glass ceiling: gender asymmetries in Wikipedia, were that women in Wikipedia were more notable than men; that there was linguistic gender bias manifest in family-, gender-, and relationship-related topics being more present in biographies about women; and there was also linguistic gender bias in positive terms being used more frequently in the biographies of men while negative terms appeared more frequently in the biographies of women. The authors also found structural differences in terms of the metadata and hyperlinks, which had consequences for information-seeking activities. Wikipedia is only ever as good as the diversity of editors who engage with it, with many articles reflecting the perspective of white male English speakers in the northern hemisphere, and many of the topics covered reflect the interests of this relatively small group of editors. Wikipedia therefore needs a diverse community of editors to bring a range of perspectives and interests that truly represent human knowledge.

Awareness of this systemic gender bias has prompted the development of a tool called the Concept Replacer which simply highlights the gendered nouns and pronouns in the text of an article and temporarily shows you how a biography article of a notable woman would read if it was written instead as a biography for a man (and vice versa). This easy to use tool is useful for editors and article readers alike in order to help identify instances of unconscious bias at a glance. For instance, exposing why the marital status is included in the first lines about some biographies, and not others.

 

Wikipedia is also a community that operates with certain expectations and social norms in mind. Sometimes new editors can have a less than positive experience when they are not fully aware of this. As mentioned previously, there are over 130,000 regular contributors to Wikipedia. Of these, only 3,541 are considered ‘very active. That’s the population of a small village like Pitlochry in Scotland trying to curate the world’s knowledge.

There is a need to increase both the diversity and number of Wikipedia editors. One way to do that is to run ‘edit-a-thons’ and other facilitated activities that introduces some of the norms and expectations of the online platform while at the same time learning how to technically edit Wikipedia pages and create high quality content.

Edit-a-thons have been running globally for a number of years to facilitate the creation of new profiles of women on Wikipedia. For example, the University of Edinburgh has been hosting Women in STEM Wikipedia editathons on the second Tuesday of October for the last four years to mark Ada Lovelace Day,  an international celebration of the achievements of Women in STEM. The Wellcome Library in London has also run women in science edit-a-thons to build new biographies of prominent female chemists, engineers and nurses on Wikipedia. These events have surfaced the achievements a number of notable women online including: Hilda Lyon, who invented the “Lyon Shape”, a streamlined design used for airships and submarines; structural engineer, Faith Wainwright, director of the Arup Group, who led in the structural design of multiple landmark buildings including the American Air Museum and the Tate Modern; Annie Warren Gill, a British nurse who was awarded the Royal Red Cross in recognition of her service during World War I and served as president of the Royal College of Nursing in 1927; Frances Micklethwait MBE, an English research chemist, among the first to study and seek an antidote to mustard gas during the First World War.

Despite this global campaign and investment to encourage more female editors and the creation of content related specifically to women, progress is slow. Since 2014, WikiProject Women in Red’s volunteer editors regularly help create in the region of 1000-2000 new articles every month. As a result, this has increased the proportion of biographies on women from 15% to 17.83% of the total. It has been estimated that it will take until 2050 or later until gender parity is achieved on Wikipedia.

Tackling this bias online requires collective responsibility. A number of actions at an individual, organisational and national level can be taken to bring about positive change.

“Women in STEM are under-represented and maybe the lack of role models is one reason why. Also biographies of women in STEM on Wikipedia are much fewer than they should be and maybe if we can change that, we can change the way future generations look at science and technology as a career path”

Athina Frantzana, PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics & Astronomy.

Firstly, those of all genders everywhere could commit time and energy to becoming dedicated Wikipedians, who regularly create female scientific biographies and other content related to women in science. Those who do so tend to benefit from a sense of reciprocity and altruism which results from the direct impact that Wikipedia has worldwide.

For instance, Dr. Jess Wade, a physicist and postdoctoral researcher in electronics at Imperial College London, attended a Wellcome Library editathon and was horrified to learn about the gender gap on Wikipedia.

Dr Jess Wade, physicist and diversity champion at Imperial College, London.

“The majority of editors are men. The majority of editors are white men. So representation of people of colour, of LGBTQ+ people is really, really bad. So many young people use [Wikipedia] as the sole source of their information. They don’t use textbooks anymore. They go to Wikipedia first when they’re looking something up. And I don’t want that to be an incredibly biased view of the world… you could be looking up some kind of new solar material, you could be looking up a cathedral in Florence [but] the people that you read about will be men. And that really frightened me… So I just thought I’d start off by doing one a day. And yeah it’s really fun.”

This experience motivated her to start creating Wikipedia entries about contemporary female scientists, with over 450 new articles published in the last twelve months. These include Isabel Ellie Knaggs, a crystallographer who worked with Kathleen Lonsdale on the crystal structure of benzil; Noël Bakhtian, director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at Idaho National Laboratory and described as one of the most powerful female engineers in the world by Business Insider in 2018; Katherine Mathieson, the Chief Executive of the British Science Association; Ronke Mojoyinola Olabisi, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers University working with Mae Jemison on 100 Year Starship, an interdisciplinary initiative that is exploring the possibility of human interstellar travel; and Powtawche Valerino, the first Native American woman to receive a PhD in mechanical engineering from Rice University. Valerino is a mechanical engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory who worked as a navigation engineer for the Cassini mission.   Wade says the response to her work surfacing the achievements of these inspiring women on Wikipedia has been incredibly positive.

Secondly, organisations in these fields could provide training for staff at all levels via edit-a-thons to build capacity for an inclusive, global, online community. Investing in a Wikimedian, an in-house expert that is dedicated to educating and supporting an organisation to contribute to Wikipedia, would enable larger institutions to permanently embed gender equality within their organisational culture.

Institutions that currently host, or have hosted, a Wikipedian in Residence include libraries (e.g. the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Wellcome Library), charities, museums, archives, the Royal Society of Chemistry, heritage organisations (eg. Museums Galleries Scotland), UNESCO and universities (University of Edinburgh, University of Oxford).

At the University of Edinburgh, discussion around meeting the information literacy and digital skills needs of staff and students, and how to better meet the university’s commitment to Athena SWAN led to working with Wikimedia UK. Research by Professor Allison Littlejohn at the Open University validated that running editathons at the University contributed to the formation of networks of practice and development of social capital.

“Editathons, if run well, can develop not just technical knowledge but also workplace cultural capital and networks. These are the things women need in STEM (science, technology, mathematics and engineering) workplaces. ” – Melissa Highton, Assistant Principal at the University of Edinburgh.

Participants also saw it as an important part of their professional development and felt that editing was a form of knowledge activism which  helped generate important discussions about how knowledge is created, curated and contested online and how Wikipedia editors can positively impact on the knowledge available to people all around the world and addressing those knowledge gaps.

“It’s an emotional connection… Within, I’d say, less than 2 hours of me putting her page in place it was the top hit that came back in Google when I Googled it and I just thought that’s it, that’s impact right there!” Anita – editathon participant.

Reproductive Medicine undergraduates (CC-BY-SA)

Thirdly, national policies across education, research and workforce development could put the spotlight on the powerful impact online platforms like Wikipedia have on women in science and recommend strategies to capitalise on them. For its part the University of Edinburgh has recommended that Wikipedia Women in Red editing forms part of its new four year action plan for meeting its commitment to the Athena SWAN charter by surfacing role models in ten academic disciplines; to encourage and inspire the next generation of immodest women.

Search is the way we live now

According to 2011 figures in the book “Google and the Culture of Search”, Google processed over 91% of searches internationally. Google’s ranking algorithm also narrows the sources clicked upon 90% of the time to just the first page of results.

American feminist scholar of 18th-century British literature, and a noted Wikipedian, Adrienne Wadewitz noted the important role in addressing knowledge gaps on Wikipedia and Google could have:

“Google takes information from Wikipedia, as do many other sites, because it is licensed through a Creative Commons Share-Alike license. Those little boxes on the left-hand side of your screen when you do a Google search? From Wikipedia. The information that is on Wikipedia spreads across the internet. What is right or wrong or missing on Wikipedia affects the entire internet.”

More recently, researchers at the University of Minnesota and Northwestern University have underlined the substantial interdependence of Wikipedia and Google. The results of two deception studies, whose goal was to better demonstrate the relationship between Wikipedia and Google, demonstrated Google depends on Wikipedia and vice versa. Click through rate decreased by 80% if Wikipedia links were removed. Wikipedia was shown to depend on Google. 84.5% of visits to Wikipedia were noted to being attributable to Google.

This means that addressing knowledge gaps on Wikipedia will surface the knowledge to Google’s top results, help populate and power Google’s ‘Knowledge graph’ (presented as a box to the right of search results) and increase visibility, click through and knowledge-sharing. Wikipedia editing can be seen as a form of activism in the democratisation of access to information.

A powerful reminder of the impact Wikipedia can have can be seen among young women and girls, who often lack easily identifiable female role models to follow. Bringing female role models to the fore  beyond the world of celebrity and reality television is something that both Girlguiding UK and psychologist Penelope Lockwood noted was necessary for female students to feel that success is possible in order to broaden their future career aspirations.

Last Summer, schoolgirls from across London were invited by the Mayor of London’s office to take part in a editathon at Bloomberg for London Tech Week to redress the gender balance on Wikipedia through adding new entries on women CEOs, editors, entrepreneurs, lawyers and artists. The hope is this will kickstart further editathons across London and the UK; to further empower students up and down the country that their contributions are valued and that there are inspirational people out there achieving success in fields they just might aspire to join.

A new Open Access book on Gender Equality in higher education, EqualBite, asserts that the problem is persuading girls to consider and apply for STEM courses in the first place when they could apply for any number of courses, given that girls outperform boys at school including in STEM subjects. Recognising women’s achievements and contributions through creating and editing Wikipedia articles can encourage the next generation to take up careers in science. This could help address workforce shortages across many STEM fields and generate significant amounts of economic growth through diversifying innovation and entrepreneurship. Beyond this, we need to look at how improving the visibility of women role models in the online world can better shape our physical environments. The University of Edinburgh Student Association has recently worked on a project to improve diversity in student spaces through replacing the all-male portraits on the walls with more diverse group of portraits to encourage a greater sense of belonging. Similarly, a project in Hertford College, Oxford to mark 40 years of women at the college specially commissioned photograph portraits of women graduates, staff and students to replace the all-male portraits on the walls. By increasing awareness of female achievements online, we can create more inclusive, more diverse, more representative, more empowering physical environments to help breed confidence and undo the negative impact this lack of representation engenders.

Portraits hanging outside the Playfair Library, Old College. CC-BY_SA, Mihaela Bodlovic, http://www.aliceboreasphotography.com/

“Meanings are projected not just by the buildings themselves, but by how they are furnished and decorated. And where almost every image –portrait, photograph, statue – of academic achievement and leadership is masculine (and nearly always white middle-aged), the meaning is clear: to be a successful leader, gender and ethnicity matter.”

The benefits are clear but the scale of the challenge is massive. It has taken Women in Red editors two years to move the percentage of biographies of women on Wikipedia up by 2%. Looking to the future, Artificial Intelligence may prove one method to help address the gender gap. The software tool, Quicksilver, developed by San Francisco startup Primer has been created to help address the blind-spots on Wikipedia, with women in science a particular focus. Using machine-learning algorithms, Quicksilver searches the internet for news entries, links to sources, scientific citations and helps pull all this information together to auto-generate fully-sourced draft Wikipedia entries. This has since been tested at an editathon in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History.

“Maria Strangas, the museum researcher who organized the event, says it helped the 25 first-time editors update the pages for roughly 70 women scientists in just two hours. “It magnified the effect that event had on Wikipedia,” Strangas says.”

So far, over 40,000 summaries have been generated by the Quicksilver method. These entries then need proofread by Wikipedia editors before they can be added to Wikipedia’s livespace. Given that the number of ‘very active’ Wikipedia editors on English Wikipedia remains low at around 3,541 (the population of a small village) the importance of encouraging and empowering a diversity of editors to engage with Wikipedia editing is crucial in terms of increasing the visibility of inspirational female role models online to, in turn, encourage and empower the next generation of women in STEM whose scientific breakthroughs can continue to shape our world for the better.

If you’re feeling motivated to contribute, create a Wikipedia account today and join WikiProject Women in Red.

Facts and Fallacies: Cultural Representations of Mental Health

On Wednesday, 14 November, join us in the Project Room, 50 George Square, for a series of short talks centring on cultural representations of mental health as part of Student Wellbeing Week.

Session 1 – Talks (11am to 1pm)

Marking a joint effort between several Schools and Support Services across the University, Facts and Fallacies aims to open up an honest discussion on mental health in a safe environment through six wide-ranging talks comprising neuroscience perspectives on mental wellbeing, complex mental illness in the media, BAME mental health in the UK, mental health representations in the Lothian Health Services Archive, and gendered aspects of mental health.

Staff and students from the Chaplaincy and Wellcomm Kings will be on hand throughout this event to support attendees and offer additional information regarding University of Edinburgh resources for mental wellbeing.

Tea and coffee will be shared on arrival from 11am to 11:10am.

Short talks chaired by Professor Jolyon Mitchell

  1. Professor Stephen LawrieNine Myths about Depression and its treatment.
  2. Dr. Alice White – Mental Health, History, Gender and Wikipedia. This talk will discuss how the histories of mental health are told online, from particular moments in history to narratives of psychological conditions. It will touch upon how gender bias shapes editing.
  3. Dr. Laura A. CariolaPresentations of Complex Mental Illness in the Media: A discursive focus on Borderline Personality DisorderThis presentation reports on an in-depth corpus-assisted discourse analysis which explores how borderline personality disorder is presented in UK newspaper articles and medical case studies. Special attention is given to identifying how discourse types compare in their communication of stereotypes and prejudices that create and reinforce existing social stigma against individuals affected by mental illness.
  4. Louise Neilson – Inside the Asylum: Archival records of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Looking at the surviving records of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital this talk will focus on the asylum buildings and the conditions for the patients housed within them.
  5. Rianna Walcott – The Colour of Madness – BAME mental health and scholarship. This talk will explore issues of poor mental health amongst BAME students, and in the wider UK. With reference to Rianna’s own experience as a black student at the University of Edinburgh and in collating BAME experiences for the anthology The Colour of Madness, the talk will address current failings in mental health services as well as contemporary activist efforts for improvement of UK healthcare.
  6. Angela McLaughlinProject Soothe. A unique ‘Citizen Science’ project combining research and public engagement with the goal of developing a bank of soothing images to improve mental health and wellbeing. Since its launch in 2015, Project Soothe has collected over 700 images from members of the public in 29 countries. Its multi-cultural global research has already established that viewing 25 of these images significantly improves people’s mood even if depressive symptoms are present. Find out more and get involved at www.ProjectSoothe.com 

This session will also conclude with an open discussion on the topics presented facilitated by two co-chairs offering both staff and student perspectives. We hope you’ll join us for what promises to be an insightful morning. Together, we hope to build deeper understandings of mental health in order to strengthen our community as a whole.

Book here for session 1 in the Project Room (11am-1pm).

Session 2 – Wikipedia editing event (1.30pm-5.30pm)

Join us in Computing Lab 1.02 on the first floor of 50 George Square, for a Wikipedia editathon focused on improving the coverage of mental health online.

Have you ever wondered why the information in Wikipedia is extensive for some topics and scarce for others? On Wednesday, 14 November, the University’s Information Services team are hosting an edit-a-thon as part of Wellbeing Week. Full Wikipedia editing training will be given at the beginning of the workshop. Thereafter the afternoon’s editathon will focus on improving the quality of articles about all things related to mental health.

Working together with liaison librarians, archivists & academic colleagues we will provide training on how to edit and participate in an open knowledge community. Participants will be supported to develop articles covering areas which could stand to be improved.

Come along to learn about how Wikipedia works and contribute a greater understanding of mental health!

Book here to join the Wikipedia editing event from 1.30pm-5.30pm

View the Wikipedia event page for suggested topics to work on but do also feel free to make further suggestions of pages to create/improve.

Session 3 – Screening the Inner World: Mental Health and Emotion in Film and Television (6pm-7.30pm)

Cinema and television have contributed greatly to public understanding and misunderstanding of mental health, emotion and psychological and psychiatric practices. In this panel discussion we will screen a number of clips from a range of films and programmes and invite panellists and the audience to reflect on the representations of mental health and illness. We will discuss the practical effect that such representations may have on the public perception of mental health and also explore the specific ways in which the moving image tries to show our apparently invisible inner worlds and emotional lives.

This event will be chaired by Dr. David Sorfa, Programme Director MSc Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

Invited panellists include:

  • Dr. Calum Neil – Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis & Cultural Theory at Edinburgh Napier University.
  • Dr. Laura Cariola – Laura is an applied linguist and psychologist. Her research focuses on the intersection of language, discourse and mental health. She explores the language of individuals affected by mental health problems and healthcare professionals, as well as the presentation and phenomenology of mental health in the media and literature.
  • Dr. Rosie Stenhouse – With a background in Social Science and mental health nursing, Rosie joined Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh as a full time lecturer in 2013. Her teaching focuses on research methods in mental health including a course she developed on Contemporary issues in mental health: engagement through the arts, humanities and social science, and critical engagement with professional issues relating to working in healthcare organisations.
  • Professor Stephen Lawrie – Chair of Psychiatry and Neuro-Imaging & Head of the Division of Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh. Professor Lawrie graduated in Medicine from Aberdeen University and completed basic Psychiatry training at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Following six months as a Wellcome Research Fellow, he was Lecturer and then Sackler Clinical Research Fellow/Reader in the Department of Psychiatry in Edinburgh.  As an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist with NHS Lothian, he works as a general psychiatrist in Edinburgh and in the South-East Scotland regional adult ASD clinical service.

While we will steer away from the more lurid and gruesome representations of mental distress, some may find the topics raised or scenes depicted upsetting. Please do check the BBFC descriptions of the material to be screened here: http://www.bbfc.co.uk

Short clips from the following films may be shown:

  • Cabinet of Dr Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)
  • A Page of Madness (Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926)
  • Gaslight (George Cukor, 1944)
  • Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, 1945)
  • Whirlpool (Otto Preminger, 1950)
  • The Three Faces of Eve (Nunnally Johnson, 1957)
  • Asylum (Peter Robinson, 1972)
  • Demons of the Mind (Peter Sykes, 1972)
  • The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
  • Frances (Graeme Clifford, 1982)
  • An Angel at My Table (Jane Campion, 1990)
  • Girl, Interrupted (James Mangold, 1999)
  • In Absentia (Stephen and Timothy Quay, 2000)
  • Prozac Nation (Erik Skjoldbjærg, 2001)
  • Lunacy (Jan Švankmajer, 2005)
  • Mad Detective (Johnnie To, 2007)
  • A Dangerous Method (David Cronenberg, 2011)
  • Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, 2012)
  • Inside Out (Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen, 2015)
  • Mad to Be Normal (Robert Mullan, 2017)
  • Killing Eve (BBC1, 2018)
  • Maniac (Netflix, 2018)
  • Eat Pray Love (Ryan Murphy, 2010)
  • We Need To Talk About Kevin (Lynne Ramsay, 2011)
  • The Orphan (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2009)
  • The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976)

Book here to join session three in the Screening Room at 50 George Square from 6pm-7.30pm.

OER17 – Less goat and More (empathetic) bear

I attended OER16, my first OER conference, but did not present. I had my own side room, just off the main drag, where I could provide respite from the main programme and entertain the Wiki curious.

Mostly I fired out tweets, recorded sessions and observed. And, it has to be said, had a great time doing so.

This year’s OER17 Conference was a different kettle of fish. I felt there was a lot to say, and be said, so I ill-advisedly submitted four sessions (I retracted a fifth on ‘Wikimedia vs. the Right to Forgotten‘).

Martin Poulter: Putting Wikipedia and Open Practice into the mainstream in a University at OER17 (Own work, CC-BY-SA)
Martin Poulter: Putting Wikipedia and Open Practice into the mainstream in a University at OER17 (Own work, CC-BY-SA)

Thankfully, my colleague Martin Poulter came to my aid to assist, and improve, on two of these sessions (one about goats and one about Wikimedia games) and in the end I’m glad we went for it this year because, between Lucy Crompton-Reid’s brilliant keynote and fab sessions from Alice White, Stefan Lutschinger, Sara Mörtsell, Martin Poulter and Navino Evans, I think the Wikimedia presentations played a really positive role in this year’s conference after what has been such a low year in politics. But maybe I’m just biased.

And our biases were laid out in the open this year, I think, because the theme was ‘The Politics of Open‘ and politics is, no getting away from it, deeply personal. ‘Shouting from the heart‘ was the mot juste. Perhaps because of this, or the steady supply of coffee and biscuits, the conference did seem that much fuller of warm embraces, smiles and laughter as much as critical discourse. People being good-natured with one another, huddling together in dark times, espousing what they held to be true. And this was not so much bonhomie as ‘bonfemie’ (doubtful this will catch on) because the conference had such a surfeit of brilliant articulate women forming its backbone with an all-female list of keynotes and plenary speakers. (The Arsenal fans in the pub next door would have appreciated such a strong backbone to their side no doubt.)

Lorna Campbell - The Distance Travelled: Reflections on open education policy in the UK since the Cape Town Declaration (Own work, CC-BY-SA)
Lorna Campbell – The Distance Travelled: Reflections on open education policy in the UK since the Cape Town Declaration (Own work, CC-BY-SA)

I still need to catch up on Thursday’s talks but here’s what I observed:

I observed passion (Lorna Campbell’s blistering first talk on UK Open Education policy left scorched earth in her wake and her second ‘Shouting from the Heart’, invoking the Declaration of Arbroath, had her choked and us fair greetin’).

I observed cool logic (because logic is cool and, from what I observed, there are no greater purveyors of undeniable reasoning than the three M’s: Martin Poulter, Martin Weller and Melissa Highton).

Handy definitions from Melissa Highton's talk - 'Brexit, praxis and OER redux – why not being open now costs us money in the future.' (Own work, CC-BY-SA)
Handy definitions from Melissa Highton’s talk – ‘Brexit, praxis and OER redux – why not being open now costs us money in the future.’ (Own work, CC-BY-SA)

I observed fun and playfulness in our Wikimedia Games session (which exposed Lucy’s competitive side) and Charlie Farley’s Board Game Jam. The #LILAC17 Credo Digital Literacy award-winning Charlie Farley no less.

Passion. Logic. Playfulness. Qualities that, to my mind, are what education should be about.

Godwin’s Law (redefined) meant that Trexit had to be discussed at some point during the conference while calls to action and calls for solidarity were also asked and answered (Let’s make copyright right right now“,Repeal the 8th” and “#IWill” for instance).

'Get your smart phone out!' - Lisette Kalshoven, and Alek Tarkwoski fixing copyright for teachers and students at OER17 (Own work, CC-BY-SA)
‘Get your smart phone out!’ – Lisette Kalshoven, and Alek Tarkwoski fixing copyright for teachers and students at OER17 (Own work, CC-BY-SA)

And we came out of the two days feeling pretty upbeat that there may actually be a way through the woods, out of the “unenlightenment” and into the bright future of a Viv Rolfe and David Kernoghan chaired #OER18.

(I could be wrong but there may even have been a moment of demob happiness around the room watching David rise out his seat to announce we could call him #OER18 co-chair).

No mean feat anyway after a grim year.

In this respect, I think Maha Bali’s keynote was an inspired choice and really set the tone for the whole two days. If politics is personal then the act of gift-giving is personal too; imposing your choices on someone else; whether it is the ‘gift’ of an open educational resource or the ‘gift’ of your elder brother buying you a Pixies CD for your birthday when he had the only CD player in the house and you’d never heard of the Pixies at that point. (He gave me a cassette copy in the end and kept the CD).

I’m grateful to Maha for the reminder of my brother’s wiliness but also that the best quality an educator has (beyond passion, logic and playfulness) is empathy.

Being able to empathise with other learners and considering how they can best access learning materials and the kinds of barriers they come up against is critical in OEP. You may think you’re being inclusive but we are too often trapped in our own worldview, traveling those same over-trammelled thought pathways; unable to see that our solutions aren’t really solutions at all or understand, or even acknowledge, the challenges of access or licensing others face; the obstacles they may have to overcome; the risks they may have to take.

Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
― Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships

So that’s my takeaway:

Be less goat.

Be more empathetic bear.

Cheers to Josie, Alek, Maren and the rest of the ALT team.

Link to the summary of the Wikimedia related sessions at the Open Education Conference.

Related post:

Wikimedia- on the edge of OER17

The 2017 Open Educational Resources Conference (OER17) will be held at Resource for London on the 5th and 6th April. The conference theme is “The Politics of Open” and has never been more timely. Registration closes 16th March so don’t delay.

Once again, there is a strong presence of people associated with Wikimedia UK, as well as other Wikimedians. As Wikipedia edges towards 17 years old and we get ever closer to OER17, here’s a look at the presentations coming up from Wikimedia – on the edge of OER17.

Stevie Nicks. By User:SandyMac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Stevie Nicks. By User:SandyMac [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
(Sadly there will be no Stevie Nicks.)

  • The conference is co-chaired by Wikimedia UK trustee Josie Fraser and Creative Commons Poland co-founder Alek Tarkowski.
  • Wikimedia UK Chief Executive Lucy Crompton-Reid is one of the keynote speakers.
    Lucy Crompton-Reid (CEO Wikimedia UK) – By Simoncromptonreid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Lucy Crompton-Reid has a career in the cultural, voluntary and public sectors spanning two decades, with a strong emphasis on leading and developing participatory practice and promoting marginalised voices. As Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK since October 2015, she has led the development of a new strategy focused on eradicating inequality and bias on Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, with an emphasis on the gender gap and geographic bias. In the past year Lucy has given talks on equality and diversity at the Open Data Institute, Open Source Convention and MozFest, and recently spearheaded an international partnership between Wikimedia UK, Wikimedia communities around the world and the BBC, focused on closing the gender gap on Wikipedia. Lucy will be presenting: “Open as inclusive: Equality and Diversity on Wikimedia” at OER17.
  • Sara Mörtsell, Education Manager of WikimediaSE, will present on “How openness in mainstream K-12 education can advance with Wikimedia and GLAMs in Sweden” – This proposal addresses how mainstream K-12 education can transition to use and share open educational resources and play a part in the future direction of the open educational movement (Weller 2014). The presentation is based on practical experience of a one year OER project in 2016 with 230 students in K-12 education from both minority and dominant communities in the city of Stockholm.
    Sara Mörtsell. Pic by Jonatan Svensson Glad [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
    Sara Mörtsell. Pic by Jonatan Svensson Glad [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Stefan Lutschinger, an academic and Wikipedia Campus Ambassador at Middlesex University, will present on “Open Pedagogy and Student Wellbeing: Academic Confidence Building with Wikipedia Assignments“. Stefan’s talk talk will introduce the use of Wikipedia assignments in higher education, present a case study, discuss its benefits for students’ academic confidence building and propose a framework for evaluation and critical reflection. The evidence is based on the compulsory course module (level 6) ‘MED3040 Publishing Cultures’ of the BA (Hons) Creative Writing and Journalism degree programme at Middlesex University, Department of Media, developed in cooperation with Wikimedia UK and the Wiki Education Foundation.
  • Me in Mallaig after walking the West Highland Way and riding the Harry Potter train.
    Ewan McAndrew – Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh (Own work CC-BY-SA)

    Ewan McAndrew, Wikimedian In Residence at the University of Edinburgh, is delivering a presentation on “Lo and Behold: Reveries of a Connected Campus: Reflections from the Wikimedian in Residence at the University of Edinburgh”.  While there have been previous Wikimedia residencies based in UK cultural institutions focussing on opening up collections, five years have now passed since Grathwohl (2011) acclaimed Wikipedia had ‘come of age’ in formal education settings with Wikipedia still representing the oft-ignored “elephant in the room (Brox, 2012). Hosting a Wikimedian at a Higher Education institution to embed the creation of OER in the curriculum does therefore represent something of a shift in the paradigm. This presentation discusses one such residency and the lessons learnt from the first 15 months.

  • The artwork "Een vertaling van de ene taal naar de andere" / "A Translation from one language to another" by Lawrence Weiner. Placed in 1996 at the Spui (square) in Amsterdam. It consists of three pairs of two stones placed against each other. On each stone there is an inscription "A Translation from one language to another", in another language - Dutch, English, Surinam and Arabic. Author: brbbl (CC-BY-SA)
    The artwork “Een vertaling van de ene taal naar de andere” / “A Translation from one language to another” by Lawrence Weiner. Author: brbbl (CC-BY-SA)

    Ewan will also be giving a lightning talk on “Building bridges not walls – Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool”. Wikipedia’s new Content Translation tool offers an impactful means of sharing open knowledge globally between languages as it brings up an article on one side of the screen in one language and helps translate it, paragraph by paragraph, to create the article in a different language taking all the formatting across to the new article so a native speaker just has to check to make sure the translation is as good as it can be. This presentation will outline the successful models already employed in a Higher Education context.

  • Martin Poulter By Ziko (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Martin Poulter By Ziko (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Martin Poulter, Wikimedian In Residence at the University of Oxford, is giving a presentation on “Putting Wikipedia and Open Practice into the mainstream in a University”. OER Conference attendees are often part of a minority group of Open Education advocates in their institutions, and it is a hard challenge to change wider institutional policy and culture. This presentation will share lessons learned from experience in a UK university, using Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects as well as Open Access research publication as levers to encourage an open approach to education. The drive towards open access to the outputs of research, and open access to the collections of cultural institutions, are potentially powerful drivers for the creation of open educational content. This session explores how to push academic culture in that direction.
  • #1Lib1Ref - 1 Librarian adding 1 Reference
    Citation (desperately) needed. #PoliticsOfOpen

    Ewan and Martin are jointly giving a lightning talk on “Citation Needed: Digital Provenance in the era of Post-Truth Politics“.This session covers why the most important frontier of Wikipedia is not its content but its 30 million plus citations (Orlowitz, 2016) and the latest developments behind the WikiCite project after its first year. The WikiCite initiative is to build a repository of all Wikimedia citations and bibliographic metadata in Wikidata to serve all Wikimedia projects. The ultimate goal to make Wikipedia’s citations as “reliable, open, accessible, structured, linked and free as our Knowledge is.”(Orlowitz, 2016)

  • Gamifying Wikimedia - Learning through play (Pic from Ada Lovelace Day 2016 at the University of Edinburgh - own work CC-BY-SA).
    Gamifying Wikimedia – Learning through play (Pic from Ada Lovelace Day 2016 at the University of Edinburgh – own work CC-BY-SA).

    Ewan and Martin will also be running a workshop on “Gamifying Wikimedia – Learning through Play (Workshop)“. This workshop will demonstrate that crowd-sourcing contributions to Wikimedia’s family of Open Education projects does not have to involve a heavy time component and that short fun, enjoyable activities can be undertaken which enhance the opportunities for teaching & learning and the dissemination of open knowledge. Participants will be guided through a series of Wikimedia tools; running through the purpose of each tool, how they can be used to support open education alongside practical demos.

  • Wikimedia UK volunteer Navino Evans is giving a workshop on “Histropedia – Building an open interactive history of everything with Wikimedia content“.
    By Wittylama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Navino Evans and Histropedia. Pic by Wittylama (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Histropedia is a web application aiming to create free interactive timelines on every topic in history using open data from Wikimedia projects like Wikidata, Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.All Histropedia timelines are published under an open licence, which means they can be reused and remixed for any purpose, both within Histropedia and elsewhere on the web. Tools like Histropedia provide an incentive for donating text, data and images to Wikimedia projects, as it can instantly be visualised in exciting ways without incurring any cost.
    Histropedia timeline of University of Edinburgh female alumni; colour-coded by place of birth and with language labels in Japanese, Russian, Arabic and English.
    Histropedia timeline of University of Edinburgh female alumni; colour-coded by place of birth and with language labels in Japanese, Russian, Arabic and English.

    It also shows how data becomes more valuable when it’s open, as it can be combined and compared with other data in a way that is not possible when kept in isolation. It’s our hope that Histropedia can play a role in getting more educational institutions to engage with Wikimedia content and other open resources, as well as inspire others to build innovative applications on top of the wealth of free knowledge that’s available. In this workshop, we will learn how to use Histropedia by completing a sequence of practical exercises to find, combine and improve content.

  • Alice White, Wikimedian in Residence at the Wellcome Library, will also in attendance running a Wikimedia session in the Lewis Suite.
    Alice White- By Zeromonk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Alice White- By Zeromonk (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Something for everyone there. Look forward to seeing you there!