Thursday, May 2, 2013

What I Know Now - Thought/Research drop

Hello Prof. Chan!

Here are my quick notes on my project. I am going to continue working on this and expanding it into different sections (blogs) over the next few days through research and input from some people working with Wikipedia that I've written to.  Right now it's just my rough thoughts/questions/notes, but it should develop into something of a research proposal over the next week.

Then I will have a research structure and methodology that I can use for my ethics review. I'm hoping to have that in by mid-next week.

Hope it's not too messy! Any and all comments are highly encouraged and enthusiastically welcomed! Please pay extra attention to any italicized text, as these are logistical questions/comments I'd really like your input on!


Internal Dialogues happening right now (gender gap, revisionists versus inclusionists, epistemologies of knowledge/authority of knowledge, conceptualizations of knowledge, the use of knowledge, deletion of information/knowledge that is deemed to be “insignificant” [see article from Leslie Chan], but personal [article from Pranesh on the women writers]: is female knowledge (culturally sanctioned) just a larger part of global blindness to female histories and female experiences? [example: division of labour ((women's work versus men's work, unseen unpaid household and related labour, etc.))], etc.)
Can I incorporate dialogues about local knowledge and the recognition of that knowledge as valuable knowledge and its “knowers” as “authoritative sources” into my discussion, particularly my justification? Widespread global movement towards the collection of local knowledge and the creation of repositories for that knowledge--women, particularly in India, are often the keepers of a lot of “local knowledge”; why couldn't Wikipedia become a platform for that knowledge? However, this cannot be discussed without incorporating discussions of epistemological debates on what is knowledge and what kind of knowledge should be archived on/through Wikipedia taking place within the Wikipedia sphere. This is a significantly large and multifaceted debate, and I may not be able to cover it in the scope of the research I am doing right now. Maybe I can write on it later on once I am performing a more in-depth analysis?
Why is this something important to research (justification)?
Comparison to other encyclopedia-like things
Issues of access (both physical, educational and cultural)
Are women just vessels for male knowledge? Is that how they are perceived? Is that how they perceive themselves? Is this being re-iterated on Wikipedia, in the Indian English-Language editing community? What about in the indic language community? How many female editors are there in the various Indic language editing communities?

Current Resources:
-Reports done by CIS A2K Wikipedia team (particularly on the Women editors' event(s))
-Heather's work
-Various articles from “Wikipedia: A Critical Reader”
-Various online articles [list these]
-Members of the A2K/Wikipedia team (particularly Dr. Pavanaja and Vishnu for the language questions)

My Questions
-Useful/not useful – note on this (Is asking about the types of knowledge edited/added by women useful (no question of significance))

Without narrowing down my scope at all, and asking just the questions that I've got in my head, some of things I would like to understand are:

For women that are already editors (and may be involved [in some form] in the editing community):
-What backgrounds are current female editors possess. Are they are predominately from similar groups in society (middle class, high levels of educational attainment, urban, etc. [these are just examples based on my own assumptions])?
-What prompted them to become involved in editing Wikipedia? What prompted them to continue to stay involved? If they are not involved, why not?
-How do they edit? Do they tend to add knowledge, or revise knowledge that has already been added?
-How often do they edit?
-What kinds of barriers have they faced in their editing careers/experiences?
-What have been their experiences interacting with the editing community a) in India b) internationally?
-Do they feel that they've faced barriers to their participation in the editing of Wikipedia? If so, what were/are they? Have these changed? Do they face barriers to their involvement with the editing community? If so, what were/are they?
-Have they ever felt like they've been treated differently because of their gender, either in their editing, during their participation in the community, from other editors, from non-editors, from the general public, etc.?
-How do they feel that their knowledge additions/revisions are received? What about their inputs into the community?

For women that are anonymous/infrequent editors:
-Do women tend to edit anonymously? How do we know? Why?
-Are there any mechanisms/things that are discouraging women from editing more frequently?

For women that are not editors/not involved (these are general, overarching themes/questions):
-What barriers are women facing to their involvement in Wikipedia? In the Indian context, how much of this lack of women participation is due to physical/infrastructural barriers? How much is it due to educational barriers? How much is it due to language barriers? How much is it due to cultural barriers?
-What roles do cultural narratives surrounding the authority of knowledge play in women's participation in editing/adding to the "sum of all knowledge"?
-What role does the inclusionist versus revisionist debate play into cases where things that are typically viewed as "Women's knowledge" (knowledge that is traditionally/culturally feminine or associated with the female gender) are revised/deleted for being insignificant or having "no indication of importance"?
-What are some of the current efforts to ameliorate the gender gap? Are they working? Why or why not?
-What else can the editor community and Wikipeda/the Wikimedia Foundation do to bring women in?

It may also be really helpful to get insights from the A2K team, as they are officially affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation and are carrying out what was the Foundation's Strategic Plan for India. Their insights into the project would really help shape my scope and recommendations, I think. I am not sure if I should just ask for their insights now, or interview them later on as research subjects, or do both?
     Update: I emailed Vishnu, the Programme Director of the A2K programme, for his insight, and Noopur, who used to work with the team and had a particular interest in women editors. I hope to email Subhashish Panigrahi and Nitika Tandon similar requests for input once I have more structure/narrower scope.

How do we fix this?

How do I go about this?
       Research Methodology
       Research Strategies/Approaches
-Subject: English Language editing community
          -Would like to branch out into Indic language editing communities, as I assume that they have very few women editors
-Survey of community (find out how many members this mailing list has)
-Interaction with editing community via mailing list
-How many posts have been by declared female editors on the English language mailing list?
-Can I create a data map of all the edits/additions done by all the female editors in India to understand what/how they are editing? [I have two-three months, I'm sure between waiting for replies for interviews, remote data gathering, etc., I can put this together and get a graphic artist to make it pretty]. But will this be useful? AWESOME=commission the creation of a data map of all edits/additions of all declared female editors, as well as the deletions/revisions afterwards. I'm sure the outputs of that could be compared to statistics about how often pages are edited/revised, etc. Has anyone done this? If not, can we suggest this for Wikimania? This would be so interesting if there were general statistics of page edits, etc. available.

Further Reading

1 comment:

  1. Great questions!! Messy is fine at this stage, research is supposed to be messy.

    I particularly like this line of question:
    "Widespread global movement towards the collection of local knowledge and the creation of repositories for that knowledge--women, particularly in India, are often the keepers of a lot of “local knowledge”; why couldn't Wikipedia become a platform for that knowledge?"

    Part of the barriers now is the verification requirements of Wikipedia. Most traditional knowledge are not "published" and provide no "verifiable" sources for wiki entries. There are work being done to allow for "oral" and "video" evidence I believe, you may want to look into this. But this is where the link to open access becomes clear as well, as OA is beginning to enlarge the pool of primary sources from around the world, and this could be a synergistic effect for Wikipedia and OA.

    Keep the questioning going!