Alice from Uganda: Knowledge Equity Calendar

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Alice (2nd from the right) with other members of the Wikimedia Community User Group Uganda. Bukulu Steven, CC BY-SA 4.0

December 24

There are several kinds of knowledge gaps, for example the generational gap in knowledge between the old and the young, the technological gap between the Global North and the Global South. The most important one for me though is the “Know-Do” gap.

If we are to carefully consider knowledge as “all the facts that someone knows about a particular subject” and equity as “a fair and reasonable way of behaving towards people, so that everyone is treated in the same way” (cf. Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners) – it only makes sense that if we as a Movement, we deal with free knowledge, we should then work towards it collectively. While some factors are the same across the board, to state a fact we already know, there is “no one size fits all” approach on how this can be achieved.

Alice Kibombo with Jimmy Wales during Wikimania 2019. AKibombo, CC BY-SA 4.0

Much of my work has had a deceptively simple objective: increasing the amount of content related to Uganda on Wikipedia and Wikidata especially, regardless of subject, theme and so on. I was not so much concerned about the quality than the quantity of the content. In hindsight, it was a failure on my part to apply my existing knowledge to improve the situation – I knew but I was not doing hence the “Know-Do” gap.

Along the way, as an editor and a facilitator of various events under different projects and competitions, the scales fell from my eyes. We were facilitating a number of events and edit-a-thons but we were not making much headway even in our targeted areas for a number of reasons. The existing methods though tried and tested as good were serving as mostly “knowledge dumps” with a lot of room for improvement.

Through consultation and careful thought, we decided to use a different approach as we made inroads into GLAM institutions. Instead of calling for an outright edit-a-thon, we instead had a sensitization day: Wikimedia and its projects, the state and presence of Ugandan GLAM institutions, and how they are represented on Wikipedia and its sister projects – and how GLAM institutions could get involved. In the run-up to it, we greatly benefitted from the use of expertise locators to better access and utilize experiential knowledge, meaning that a diverse range of individuals were represented.

The feedback we gained was very helpful – invest in local solutions that took into account how potential users could use relevant knowledge. Gauge the available technologies to identify those that meet local demands and can ensure interoperability between international systems. Local was the operative word – our participants wanted ownership.Up until 2030 and beyond, it is not so much addressing the knowledge gap as the “Know-Do” gap that will foster and further knowledge equity. In my experience, when we sensitize people about who we are, what we do and especially WHY we do it, then people now know better what to do with the knowledge they possess, they can leverage it better. Strategically cultivating a respect for knowledge makes for more innovative and relatable projects which are locally relevant. In the words of Katherine Bates acting as Dorothy Kenyon in the movie “On the Basis of Sex: ‘Change minds first’…

Archive notice: This is an archived post from Wikimedia Space, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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