Wikipedia at IA Summit 2016

As a Wikipedian who has been increasingly involved with editathons in New York City since completing my MLIS degree at Pratt Institute School of Information, I have been interested in creating bridges between the Wikipedia and IA communities. Thanks to a Wikimedia Foundation TPS grant, I was able to represent Wikipedia at the 2016 IA Summit in Atlanta and at the IA Institute’s workshop on Architecting the Information of Georgia House Bill 757, hosted by the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

I am especially interested in the linked data capabilities of Wikipedia and Wikidata as it is a growing topic among Information Architects and increasingly affecting how digital environments are structured and built. Last year, I created WikiProject: Information Architecture to pique interest among the IA community in Wikipedia editing, with the ultimate goal of showing IAs how their knowledge and expertise contributes to engaging Wikipedia users. I also presented a session on IA and Wikipedia at the 2015 Information Architecture Summit in Minneapolis and wrote an article on IA in Wikipedia for the ASIS&T Bulletin, which increased interest in potential editing and collaboration with the Wikipedia community. While I was originally interested in getting more IAs involved to develop Information Architecture topics in Wikipedia, it is becoming increasingly clear that the IA community is equipped to collaborate with Wikipedia on its own technology development and projects.

This year’s IA Summit was a continued exploration of the relationship between the Wikipedia and IA communities at the 2016 IA Summit in Atlanta. On Saturday May 7, I represented Wikipedia at two events, a workshop hosted by the Information Architecture Institute at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, and IA Summit Game Night which took place the same evening at the Omni Atlanta Hotel. The workshop, “Architecting the Information of Georgia House Bill 757” was the Institute’s response to the proposal of a bill that would potentially discriminate against the LGBT community. About 30 IAI members attended. The format was primarily discussion and centered on the role and impact of language in legislative processes. My input centered on Wikipedia as an information architecture tool that describes and related concepts internationally through its articles and Wikidata. I proposed that the IA Institute and its members should take a greater role in editing and offer their expertise in the structure of information to the Wikipedia community. I further made an appeal for information architects to take greater ownership of the structure of language and concept relationships as defined in Wikidata and its tools and APIs.

IA Summit Game Night, held immediately after the IAI workshop at the Omni Atlanta Hotel, hosted 85 attendees. Players selected from ten tables, one which was dedicated to Wikipedia. We set up the unofficial Wikipedia game and also used it as a way to introduce information architect practitioners to Wikipedia editing. The evening went from 8–11pm and we played several rounds of the game. Most of the people who stopped by the table who inquired about my role with Wikipedia turned out to already be editors, but mostly on a very casual level. I encouraged them to continue to edit and discussed the structure of Wikidata as a tool that IAs can use in developing information spaces outside of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia Gamers at IA Summit 2016 Game Night

Wikipedia Gamers at IA Summit 2016 Game Night

Wikipedia Swag at IA Summit 2016 Game Night

Wikipedia Swag at IA Summit 2016 Game Night

Game night was a lot of fun and opened a conversation about the ways that IAs can participate in local Wikipedia activities in their areas as well as generally as editors and developers of tools that utilize Wikidata. I handed out pins and stickers throughout the three day conference.

My roommate during the event, Marianne Sweeny, will be one of three co-chairs at the 2017 Information Architecture Summit in Vancouver, March 22–28. She is very interested in developing a greater role for Wikipedia at the 2017 event and has asked me to prepare a proposal for engagement next year. Thoughts include an ongoing Wikipedia booth or table in the exhibition hall, train the trainers events, weekend long Editathon related to the conference theme, Game Night participation and other activities TBD.

I plan to share a report of the event at the May 25 meeting of the NYC Wikipedia meetup.

My goal for this event was to get more information architects involved with Wikipedia: what it is, why it aligns with their own work and how they can be involved. Last year’s editathon in Minneapolis was a good start. I am confident that this has been an important activity to build bridges to ensure that our communities support each other. Over time, the benefit to WMF of a collaboration with the IA community will be improved architecture and user experience based on sound information architecture practices.

As for the conference itself, my notes from the IA Summit sessions are available at:

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