[A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

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[A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

noopur

Dear all,

Wikimedia Foundation, beginning from September 1, 2012, awarded the Centre for Internet & Society (CIS) a two-year grant of INR 26,000,000 to support and develop free knowledge in India. Consequently, Wikimedia Foundation’s India Program became the Access to Knowledge (A2K) program of CIS. In the first issue of our newsletter for 2013, we are glad to introduce you to our new programme director, Vishnu Vardhan, provide you an update of the Access to Knowledge (September to December 2012) Report, the Indic Languages Wikipedia Statistical Report 2012 and reports of the events organised in Goa in the month of December 2012. Archives of our newsletters are here.

Wikipedians from various communities can reqDeuest for outreach programs, technical bugs, logistics-merchandize and media, public relations and communications at http://bit.ly/TOcXId.

# CIS Office in Delhi

# New Project Director for Wikipedia Project

# Distinguished Fellow

  • Tejaswini Niranjana, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS), Bangalore, and Visiting Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai is joining our team as an Adviser to the 'Access to Knowledge' programme. She will guide the A2K team in expanding the Indian language Wikipedias and in increasing the number of active editors through strategic partnerships with Higher Education institutions across India.

# Events Organised by CIS:

Note: The events in Goa were organized in the month of December 2012. However, reports were published the following month.

# Meeting

# Event Participated

# Media Coverage

*About CIS*
CIS was registered as a society in Bangalore in 2008. As an independent, non-profit research organisation, it runs different policy research programmes such as Accessibility, Access to Knowledge, Openness, Internet Governance, and Telecom. The policy research programmes have resulted in outputs such as the e-Accessibility Policy Handbook for Persons with Disabilities with ITU and G3ict, and Digital Alternatives with a Cause?, Thinkathon Position Papers and the Digital Natives with a Cause? Report with Hivos, etc. We have conducted policy research for the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, etc., on WIPO Treaties, Copyright Bill, NIA Bill, etc. 

CIS is accredited as an observer at WIPO. CIS staff participates in the Standing Committee for Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) meetings regularly held in Geneva, and participate in the discussions and comments on them from a public interest perspective. Our Policy Director, Nirmita Narasimhan won the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India and also received the NIVH Excellence Award.

*Follow us elsewhere*

*Support Us*
Please help us defend consumer / citizen rights on the Internet! Write a cheque in favour of ‘The Centre for Internet and Society’ and mail it to us at No. 194, 2nd ‘C’ Cross, Domlur, 2nd Stage, Bengaluru – 5600 71.

*Request for Collaboration*
We invite researchers, practitioners, and theoreticians, both organisationally and as individuals, to collaboratively engage with Internet and society and improve our understanding of this new field. To discuss the research collaborations, write to Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, at [hidden email] or Nishant Shah, Director – Research, at [hidden email]

CIS is grateful to its donors, Wikimedia Foundation, Ford Foundation, Privacy International, UK, Hans Foundation and the Kusuma Trust which was founded by Anurag Dikshit and Soma Pujari, philanthropists of Indian origin, for its core funding and support for most of its projects.

 
 

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Nishant Shah

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


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Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# +49-0176-841-660-87
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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

theo10011
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# +49-0176-841-660-87
http://www.facebook.com/nishant.shah
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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Bishakha Datta


On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 

Since there are probably many people on this list who are not familiar with the process of recruiting 'appointed' trustees to the WMF board, it's best I provide some information here. By way of background, please see this page to understand the composition of board members and how they are selected: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Board_of_Trustees

In my case, the process began with Achal giving my name to the Nominations Committee, after which I went through the following steps (as did other candidates, although I don't know who they were or are):

-A phone interview with a headhunter or recruitment firm

-In-person interviews at the WMF office in San Francisco with three board members (Michael Snow, then board chair; Kat Walsh; Stu West) and the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Sue Gardner

-Skype interview with board member Jimmy Wales

I was then invited to be on the WMF board in March 2010. I remember this process well, since even though I serve on other non-profit boards, I had never gone through such an extensive and rigorous selection process before this.

The board positions are unpaid; all of us serve in a volunteer capacity.

Best and hope this throws some light on the WMF trustee selection process. Just so people know, there is currently a vacancy on the board and another search process is underway.
 
Bishakha

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Arun Ramarathnam
In reply to this post by theo10011

Theo ad WIkimedians,

As a member of the interview committee and as a chapter nominee on the panel a response is due from me. 

I have been part of the interview process post shortlist of applications by CIS. Sunil and the CIS team have extended all due process and courtesies since then till the final selection. Within the panel I have been vocal on a few matters and all the feedback has been give due consideration and acted upon by the CIS team.

I have no hesitation in saying that the post short list interview process has been very open to the panel and decisions taken by consensus of the panel. We spent time to drive consensus than merely go by votes.

As far as the two short listed candidates are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying they will bring immense value to the movement. They were the pick of the shortlisted candidates. I say this as a volunteer,  a wikipedian passionate about the movement and as someone who spent a lot of my personal time in getting the chapter off the ground as a co-founder. 

The community should know that the panel did its due diligence sincerely and to the best of our abilities. We should all as Wikimedians welcome VIshnu and Dr. Tejaswini to the movement. They bring rich experience from their careers and that would be very helpful to the movement. I see no reason why they being academicians and researchers ought to make their candidatures any less compelling.  

A warm welcome to Vishnu and Dr. Tejaswini. It is great to have you join the movement in India.

regards
Arun
   
On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# <a href="tel:%2B49-0176-841-660-87" value="+4917684166087" target="_blank">+49-0176-841-660-87
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http://cis-india.academia.edu/NishantShah

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

ansuman-2
Hello everyone,

I was off on this list for over 15 months. I just resubscribed yesterday, and this is really disappointing reading this. 

I don't know anything about the selection process, but what I understand and feel the system lack or missed, am sharing. Hope everybody understands!

1. I hope there was a proper announcement publicly when the process was started on meta, this list, and wiki.wikimedia.org

2. This already happened once, so what method had the panel taken to make sure this'd not happen again? Was there a discussion either privately or publicly on this?
3. Everybody knows it's a collaborative movement (Does anybody have doubts on this?) and we have many volunteers here. Still why there is lack of communication within the community? Whoever is on top of this taking decisions incapable of realizing that how much transparency the system need! 

So how can we believe that everything will go as we planned when the initiation seems wrong ? 

So my sincere request to whoever it may concern, consider doing it properly else there is no point doing it at all. Because this kind of incidents make volunteers leave. Then what's the point starting off like this? So I think may be Foundation should pitch in and do something about this. I hope for the best.

And on other note, I think (and I reckon many'd agree) there should be some eligibility criteria to have on-wiki experience.

Let me say it again, this kind of discussion is not healthy for the community. So be prepared to abstain in future. 

Thank you!

*PS : I shared what I felt like sharing. So please note that while writing I didn't imply anybody. This is totally generic. Also I haven't discussed this with anyone. Only my individual thought.


Regards,
Ansuman



On 11 February 2013 10:57, Arun Ramarathnam <[hidden email]> wrote:

Theo ad WIkimedians,

As a member of the interview committee and as a chapter nominee on the panel a response is due from me. 

I have been part of the interview process post shortlist of applications by CIS. Sunil and the CIS team have extended all due process and courtesies since then till the final selection. Within the panel I have been vocal on a few matters and all the feedback has been give due consideration and acted upon by the CIS team.

I have no hesitation in saying that the post short list interview process has been very open to the panel and decisions taken by consensus of the panel. We spent time to drive consensus than merely go by votes.

As far as the two short listed candidates are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying they will bring immense value to the movement. They were the pick of the shortlisted candidates. I say this as a volunteer,  a wikipedian passionate about the movement and as someone who spent a lot of my personal time in getting the chapter off the ground as a co-founder. 

The community should know that the panel did its due diligence sincerely and to the best of our abilities. We should all as Wikimedians welcome VIshnu and Dr. Tejaswini to the movement. They bring rich experience from their careers and that would be very helpful to the movement. I see no reason why they being academicians and researchers ought to make their candidatures any less compelling.  

A warm welcome to Vishnu and Dr. Tejaswini. It is great to have you join the movement in India.

regards
Arun
   
On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# <a href="tel:%2B49-0176-841-660-87" value="+4917684166087" target="_blank">+49-0176-841-660-87
http://www.facebook.com/nishant.shah
http://cis-india.academia.edu/NishantShah

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

ansuman-2
Correction: Sorry the link I meant is wiki.wikimedia.in not .org!


On 12 February 2013 00:13, ansuman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello everyone,

I was off on this list for over 15 months. I just resubscribed yesterday, and this is really disappointing reading this. 

I don't know anything about the selection process, but what I understand and feel the system lack or missed, am sharing. Hope everybody understands!

1. I hope there was a proper announcement publicly when the process was started on meta, this list, and wiki.wikimedia.org

2. This already happened once, so what method had the panel taken to make sure this'd not happen again? Was there a discussion either privately or publicly on this?
3. Everybody knows it's a collaborative movement (Does anybody have doubts on this?) and we have many volunteers here. Still why there is lack of communication within the community? Whoever is on top of this taking decisions incapable of realizing that how much transparency the system need! 

So how can we believe that everything will go as we planned when the initiation seems wrong ? 

So my sincere request to whoever it may concern, consider doing it properly else there is no point doing it at all. Because this kind of incidents make volunteers leave. Then what's the point starting off like this? So I think may be Foundation should pitch in and do something about this. I hope for the best.

And on other note, I think (and I reckon many'd agree) there should be some eligibility criteria to have on-wiki experience.

Let me say it again, this kind of discussion is not healthy for the community. So be prepared to abstain in future. 

Thank you!

*PS : I shared what I felt like sharing. So please note that while writing I didn't imply anybody. This is totally generic. Also I haven't discussed this with anyone. Only my individual thought.


Regards,
Ansuman



On 11 February 2013 10:57, Arun Ramarathnam <[hidden email]> wrote:

Theo ad WIkimedians,

As a member of the interview committee and as a chapter nominee on the panel a response is due from me. 

I have been part of the interview process post shortlist of applications by CIS. Sunil and the CIS team have extended all due process and courtesies since then till the final selection. Within the panel I have been vocal on a few matters and all the feedback has been give due consideration and acted upon by the CIS team.

I have no hesitation in saying that the post short list interview process has been very open to the panel and decisions taken by consensus of the panel. We spent time to drive consensus than merely go by votes.

As far as the two short listed candidates are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying they will bring immense value to the movement. They were the pick of the shortlisted candidates. I say this as a volunteer,  a wikipedian passionate about the movement and as someone who spent a lot of my personal time in getting the chapter off the ground as a co-founder. 

The community should know that the panel did its due diligence sincerely and to the best of our abilities. We should all as Wikimedians welcome VIshnu and Dr. Tejaswini to the movement. They bring rich experience from their careers and that would be very helpful to the movement. I see no reason why they being academicians and researchers ought to make their candidatures any less compelling.  

A warm welcome to Vishnu and Dr. Tejaswini. It is great to have you join the movement in India.

regards
Arun
   
On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# <a href="tel:%2B49-0176-841-660-87" value="+4917684166087" target="_blank">+49-0176-841-660-87
http://www.facebook.com/nishant.shah
http://cis-india.academia.edu/NishantShah

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Arun Ganesh
I probably don't write as many mails as I should, but as someone from the community, I would like to let the new A2K team and my fellow Wikipedians know:
  • My contributions to the Wikimedia project will continue irrespective of how you function, or the rants on this list, because I enjoy contributing.
  • That I hope your efforts will be towards increasing the numbers of Indians who enjoy contributing to the project and not mere editor count.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
I look forward to seeing how we will be surprised.
Good luck and be bold.



On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 12:34 AM, ansuman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Correction: Sorry the link I meant is wiki.wikimedia.in not .org!


On 12 February 2013 00:13, ansuman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello everyone,

I was off on this list for over 15 months. I just resubscribed yesterday, and this is really disappointing reading this. 

I don't know anything about the selection process, but what I understand and feel the system lack or missed, am sharing. Hope everybody understands!

1. I hope there was a proper announcement publicly when the process was started on meta, this list, and wiki.wikimedia.org

2. This already happened once, so what method had the panel taken to make sure this'd not happen again? Was there a discussion either privately or publicly on this?
3. Everybody knows it's a collaborative movement (Does anybody have doubts on this?) and we have many volunteers here. Still why there is lack of communication within the community? Whoever is on top of this taking decisions incapable of realizing that how much transparency the system need! 

So how can we believe that everything will go as we planned when the initiation seems wrong ? 

So my sincere request to whoever it may concern, consider doing it properly else there is no point doing it at all. Because this kind of incidents make volunteers leave. Then what's the point starting off like this? So I think may be Foundation should pitch in and do something about this. I hope for the best.

And on other note, I think (and I reckon many'd agree) there should be some eligibility criteria to have on-wiki experience.

Let me say it again, this kind of discussion is not healthy for the community. So be prepared to abstain in future. 

Thank you!

*PS : I shared what I felt like sharing. So please note that while writing I didn't imply anybody. This is totally generic. Also I haven't discussed this with anyone. Only my individual thought.


Regards,
Ansuman



On 11 February 2013 10:57, Arun Ramarathnam <[hidden email]> wrote:

Theo ad WIkimedians,

As a member of the interview committee and as a chapter nominee on the panel a response is due from me. 

I have been part of the interview process post shortlist of applications by CIS. Sunil and the CIS team have extended all due process and courtesies since then till the final selection. Within the panel I have been vocal on a few matters and all the feedback has been give due consideration and acted upon by the CIS team.

I have no hesitation in saying that the post short list interview process has been very open to the panel and decisions taken by consensus of the panel. We spent time to drive consensus than merely go by votes.

As far as the two short listed candidates are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying they will bring immense value to the movement. They were the pick of the shortlisted candidates. I say this as a volunteer,  a wikipedian passionate about the movement and as someone who spent a lot of my personal time in getting the chapter off the ground as a co-founder. 

The community should know that the panel did its due diligence sincerely and to the best of our abilities. We should all as Wikimedians welcome VIshnu and Dr. Tejaswini to the movement. They bring rich experience from their careers and that would be very helpful to the movement. I see no reason why they being academicians and researchers ought to make their candidatures any less compelling.  

A warm welcome to Vishnu and Dr. Tejaswini. It is great to have you join the movement in India.

regards
Arun
   
On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# <a href="tel:%2B49-0176-841-660-87" value="+4917684166087" target="_blank">+49-0176-841-660-87
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http://cis-india.academia.edu/NishantShah

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Pradeep Mohandas-4
In reply to this post by noopur

Hi,

Having tried to leave before, I concur with planemad. Its easier to leave this list than it is to quit Wikipedia :)

Pradeep

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From: Arun Ganesh <[hidden email]>;
To: Wikimedia India Community list <[hidden email]>;
Cc: Mailing list for Wikimedians / Wikipedians in & from Bangalore, India <[hidden email]>;
Subject: Re: [Wikimediaindia-l] [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13
Sent: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 8:55:00 PM

I probably don't write as many mails as I should, but as someone from the community, I would like to let the new A2K team and my fellow Wikipedians know:
  • My contributions to the Wikimedia project will continue irrespective of how you function, or the rants on this list, because I enjoy contributing.
  • That I hope your efforts will be towards increasing the numbers of Indians who enjoy contributing to the project and not mere editor count.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
I look forward to seeing how we will be surprised.
Good luck and be bold.



On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 12:34 AM, ansuman <<a rel="nofollow" ymailto="mailto:ansumang@gmail.com" target="_blank" href="javascript:return">ansumang@...> wrote:
Correction: Sorry the link I meant is wiki.wikimedia.in not .org!


On 12 February 2013 00:13, ansuman <<a rel="nofollow" ymailto="mailto:ansumang@gmail.com" target="_blank" href="javascript:return">ansumang@...> wrote:
Hello everyone,

I was off on this list for over 15 months. I just resubscribed yesterday, and this is really disappointing reading this. 

I don't know anything about the selection process, but what I understand and feel the system lack or missed, am sharing. Hope everybody understands!

1. I hope there was a proper announcement publicly when the process was started on meta, this list, and wiki.wikimedia.org

2. This already happened once, so what method had the panel taken to make sure this'd not happen again? Was there a discussion either privately or publicly on this?
3. Everybody knows it's a collaborative movement (Does anybody have doubts on this?) and we have many volunteers here. Still why there is lack of communication within the community? Whoever is on top of this taking decisions incapable of realizing that how much transparency the system need! 

So how can we believe that everything will go as we planned when the initiation seems wrong ? 

So my sincere request to whoever it may concern, consider doing it properly else there is no point doing it at all. Because this kind of incidents make volunteers leave. Then what's the point starting off like this? So I think may be Foundation should pitch in and do something about this. I hope for the best.

And on other note, I think (and I reckon many'd agree) there should be some eligibility criteria to have on-wiki experience.

Let me say it again, this kind of discussion is not healthy for the community. So be prepared to abstain in future. 

Thank you!

*PS : I shared what I felt like sharing. So please note that while writing I didn't imply anybody. This is totally generic. Also I haven't discussed this with anyone. Only my individual thought.


Regards,
Ansuman



On 11 February 2013 10:57, Arun Ramarathnam <<a rel="nofollow" ymailto="mailto:arunram25@gmail.com" target="_blank" href="javascript:return">arunram25@...> wrote:

Theo ad WIkimedians,

As a member of the interview committee and as a chapter nominee on the panel a response is due from me. 

I have been part of the interview process post shortlist of applications by CIS. Sunil and the CIS team have extended all due process and courtesies since then till the final selection. Within the panel I have been vocal on a few matters and all the feedback has been give due consideration and acted upon by the CIS team.

I have no hesitation in saying that the post short list interview process has been very open to the panel and decisions taken by consensus of the panel. We spent time to drive consensus than merely go by votes.

As far as the two short listed candidates are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying they will bring immense value to the movement. They were the pick of the shortlisted candidates. I say this as a volunteer,  a wikipedian passionate about the movement and as someone who spent a lot of my personal time in getting the chapter off the ground as a co-founder. 

The community should know that the panel did its due diligence sincerely and to the best of our abilities. We should all as Wikimedians welcome VIshnu and Dr. Tejaswini to the movement. They bring rich experience from their careers and that would be very helpful to the movement. I see no reason why they being academicians and researchers ought to make their candidatures any less compelling.  

A warm welcome to Vishnu and Dr. Tejaswini. It is great to have you join the movement in India.

regards
Arun
   
On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <<a rel="nofollow" ymailto="mailto:de10011@gmail.com" target="_blank" href="javascript:return">de10011@...> wrote:
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <<a rel="nofollow" ymailto="mailto:itsnishant@gmail.com" target="_blank" href="javascript:return">itsnishant@...> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first
 place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# +49-0176-841-660-87
http://www.facebook.com/nishant.shah
http://cis-india.academia.edu/NishantShah

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Rohini Lakshané
Agree with Pradeep and Arun. This mailing list has become a place of spectator sport -- one of the reasons why I rarely show up here.

On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 8:24 AM, Pradeep Mohandas <[hidden email]> wrote:

Hi,

Having tried to leave before, I concur with planemad. Its easier to leave this list than it is to quit Wikipedia :)

Pradeep

Sent from Yahoo! Mail on Android



From: Arun Ganesh <[hidden email]>;
To: Wikimedia India Community list <[hidden email]>;
Cc: Mailing list for Wikimedians / Wikipedians in & from Bangalore, India <[hidden email]>;
Subject: Re: [Wikimediaindia-l] [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13
Sent: Mon, Feb 11, 2013 8:55:00 PM

I probably don't write as many mails as I should, but as someone from the community, I would like to let the new A2K team and my fellow Wikipedians know:
  • My contributions to the Wikimedia project will continue irrespective of how you function, or the rants on this list, because I enjoy contributing.
  • That I hope your efforts will be towards increasing the numbers of Indians who enjoy contributing to the project and not mere editor count.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
I look forward to seeing how we will be surprised.
Good luck and be bold.



On Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 12:34 AM, ansuman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Correction: Sorry the link I meant is wiki.wikimedia.in not .org!


On 12 February 2013 00:13, ansuman <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hello everyone,

I was off on this list for over 15 months. I just resubscribed yesterday, and this is really disappointing reading this. 

I don't know anything about the selection process, but what I understand and feel the system lack or missed, am sharing. Hope everybody understands!

1. I hope there was a proper announcement publicly when the process was started on meta, this list, and wiki.wikimedia.org

2. This already happened once, so what method had the panel taken to make sure this'd not happen again? Was there a discussion either privately or publicly on this?
3. Everybody knows it's a collaborative movement (Does anybody have doubts on this?) and we have many volunteers here. Still why there is lack of communication within the community? Whoever is on top of this taking decisions incapable of realizing that how much transparency the system need! 

So how can we believe that everything will go as we planned when the initiation seems wrong ? 

So my sincere request to whoever it may concern, consider doing it properly else there is no point doing it at all. Because this kind of incidents make volunteers leave. Then what's the point starting off like this? So I think may be Foundation should pitch in and do something about this. I hope for the best.

And on other note, I think (and I reckon many'd agree) there should be some eligibility criteria to have on-wiki experience.

Let me say it again, this kind of discussion is not healthy for the community. So be prepared to abstain in future. 

Thank you!

*PS : I shared what I felt like sharing. So please note that while writing I didn't imply anybody. This is totally generic. Also I haven't discussed this with anyone. Only my individual thought.


Regards,
Ansuman



On 11 February 2013 10:57, Arun Ramarathnam <[hidden email]> wrote:

Theo ad WIkimedians,

As a member of the interview committee and as a chapter nominee on the panel a response is due from me. 

I have been part of the interview process post shortlist of applications by CIS. Sunil and the CIS team have extended all due process and courtesies since then till the final selection. Within the panel I have been vocal on a few matters and all the feedback has been give due consideration and acted upon by the CIS team.

I have no hesitation in saying that the post short list interview process has been very open to the panel and decisions taken by consensus of the panel. We spent time to drive consensus than merely go by votes.

As far as the two short listed candidates are concerned, I have no hesitation in saying they will bring immense value to the movement. They were the pick of the shortlisted candidates. I say this as a volunteer,  a wikipedian passionate about the movement and as someone who spent a lot of my personal time in getting the chapter off the ground as a co-founder. 

The community should know that the panel did its due diligence sincerely and to the best of our abilities. We should all as Wikimedians welcome VIshnu and Dr. Tejaswini to the movement. They bring rich experience from their careers and that would be very helpful to the movement. I see no reason why they being academicians and researchers ought to make their candidatures any less compelling.  

A warm welcome to Vishnu and Dr. Tejaswini. It is great to have you join the movement in India.

regards
Arun
   
On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi Nishant

That is an excellent, lengthy, professional, PR-friendly response. I congratulate and thank you on it. I appreciate the effort you took to explain and I wish that you might have disclosed the conflicts and the history before the hiring.

Allow me to offer this critique that some of the facts were a bit needlessly obfuscated. Most of the assumptions were right, but you clarified them now, which I think is still helpful. Jadine is indeed an intern, who was the primary contact between the list and CIS, though she might have been overseen, it was still true. The conflict was indeed present. But I'll go ahead and direct questions to you directly that appeared in my mind after a quick read-

1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here at all. Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a team. I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise. Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. - this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests were put ahead of the Job requirements. This seems like a step or two further back than ahead, and brings me back to assume that older contacts/relationships might have been put ahead of qualifications, and it seems very apparent when you see the mismatch.

2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they were put up for any vote.

3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for WMF, some time after the start of the India programs. 


Regards
Theo

PS my condolences on the passing of your colleague.

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 7:53 AM, Nishant Shah <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear All,

My name is Nishant Shah and I work at the Centre for Internet and Society. I am the Director-Research and have been one of the co-founders of CIS and currently on a research fellowship a the Centre for Digital Cultures, Germany. My involvement with the Wikipedia community (online and offline) has been more in terms of understanding it as a significant and systemic move in our knowledge production practices and as a way to learn new forms of self-organisation, collaboration and governance. This means that I haven’t been an active editor on Wikipedia but that I have tried to interact with Wikipedia both as a concept as well as a platform and worked with other communities of researchers in the area through the ‘Critical Point of View’ project which also resulted into an English language Wikipedia Reader. I have variously, in my academic as well as my public writing, I have looked at the principles of Wikipedia as signalling new practices of learning and pedagogy, and am in the process of editing a special issue for the MIT Press’ Journal of Media and Learning on ‘The Classroom in the time of Wikipedia’. Also, in my teaching, I have used Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool, encouraging students to edit both English and local language Wikipedias as a part of their assessment.

I am joining this conversation to try and give some information that different members have sought, and which might help in throwing some light on how we welcome our collaboration with the Wikimedia foundation through the A2K programme, and also perhaps, to explain some of the rationale behind the current state of transition and building of the project. I just want to begin with 2 disclaimers:

1.      It has been our attempt at CIS to build a new kind of research organisation where we do not have only voice and one ‘party-line’ that everybody subscribes to. So my responses will neither be exhaustive nor singular, and my colleagues will join with more details and ideas, perspectives and explanations soon. We are right now, slightly emotionally fragile, because we have just lost a dear friend, colleague and champion of causes that we firmly believe in – Rahul Cherian – and a lot of the people are at his funeral, trying to cope with the loss this means to them personally and politically. However, more people will join the conversations in the coming week, and hopefully there will be more clarity on things.

2.      I am what might be called the official CSCS – CIS link because I have done my doctoral work at CSCS, and have had research collaborations with colleagues there on several small projects. Which means that Vishnu and I have been fellow-students and Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana has been a key advisor and collaborator for my own intellectual trajectories.

Having made that small introduction, let me try and address some of the questions that I think I might be able to contribute to, and others will chip in soon.

Srikanth wrote: Would you or someone from CIS help me understand the rationale for selecting two individuals affiliated with CSCS which is also affiliated with CIS?
 Theo wrote: “I don't know you and I don't know Dr. Niranjana, try and understand "Wiki-movement in India" doesn't have any relation with you, in fact, it barely knows you. I barely know CIS, the organization that hired you. If there is an older link that might have conflict of interest in this hiring, I believe it should have been disclosed.” and “You are probably missing an year and a half of context. The problem with your predecessor and the previous direction has been criticized, not just by some people on the list, but several Wikipedians abroad, even in an official report, for not having enough experienced Wikimedians on hand. Add to that your hiring, and your advisor, it is odd how 2 people who barely know about Wikipedia will be leading a team that has been criticized for not having enough experience and exposure in the first
 place.“

 

Dear Srikanth and Theo, thank you for the questions and I appreciate that they help us make things as transparent as possible to build common grounds for working together. CIS has had a few reciprocal and mutual research collaborations with CSCS so far. Under the CIS-Researchers At Work Programme, we commissioned four people at CSCS, students and faculty, to help us work on disciplinary histories of the Internets in India. Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Zainab Bawa, Nitya Vasudevan (with Nitin Manayath), and Dr. Aparna Balachandran and Dr. Rochelle Pinto (with Abhijit Chaterjee), have joined us as CISRAW fellows, for contracts between 300,000 – 500,000 INR, depending upon the nature of deliverables and scope of work.

Apart from this, CIS has entered into a contract on 2 significant projects with CSCS – The first is to do a monograph examining the history of privacy in India and its implications on identity in the face of new e-governance initiatives like the Aadhar Project. The research is spear-headed by Malavika Jayaram who is a fellow at the CIS, and brings in  500,000 INR for the research costs. The second is a collaboration with the ‘Higher Education Innovation and Research Applications’ cell that is led by Dr. Niranjana on a project supported by the Ford Foundation called ‘Pathways to Higher Education’. CIS was asked to be a technology partner in designing pilot workshops that seek to make interventions in undergraduate education in the country, to re-think ways in which questions of inequity – caste, language, class, access, etc. – can be centrally placed in our pedagogic practices and policies. This four year contract was for a sum of 520,000 INR towards the execution of the workshops in 9 undergraduate colleges in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala. I am highlighting these affiliations to gesture towards three things: First, the financial relationships between CIS and CSCS have been extremely tiny, especially if you look at the duration of partnership and the other revenue streams (including the A2K partnership) at the Centre. Second, the relationships have been intellectually motivated because we found common grounds of research and intervention for which institutional MoUs were signed. Third, the relationships have been strategically entered into with full disclosure about the amounts involved and ties mentioned to the donors who support this project. I hope this gives some sense of past formal and institutional relationships between the two centres.

The rationale for selecting two individuals who have different affiliations with CIS, on to the A2K team is something that the interview committee will be in the best position to describe. However, there are a few qualms about Conflict of Interest that I can address, from my own location within CIS and our attempts at building networks of working together. Especially because in the collaborative world of research and policy, where institutions need to work together in order to have sustainable interventions, it is something that is promoted highly by all stake-holders to build solidarity and over-lapping teams that help strengthen the causes we stand for.

In most instances that I am familiar with, Conflict of Interest is resolved through process. In the interview process initiated by the CIS for appointment of the Director for the A2K programme, we mitigated any possible conflict of interest by ensuring that CIS  had 1 out of 5 votes on the interview panel. While Sunil and I both were a part of the interview at different times, we did not overlap in the process, and we had equal say in the final decision as all the other 4 panelists. We were acutely aware that the new director would need support of all the different stakeholders – The community, the chapter, the India Office, the WMF and the CIS – and tried to make sure that each body had a nominated representative in the interview process.

During the interview process, we made sure that the interview panel was given sufficient information about the applicants’ background and past work so that any questions of conflict of interest could be flagged by the panel. This was doubly necessary because we were expecting applications from people who have been associated with Wikipedia since many years in different capacities, as well as people who might have had a more external association with the causes that Wikipedia champions. I sat on the interviews for the first round of short-listed applicants, and when I was informed that Vishnu will be on the second round of interviewees, I had categorically mentioned at that point (and I am sure my fellow-panelists will be able to corroborate) that I have known Vishnu since many years as a colleague and friend, and that I would want to be recused from interviewing him, in case it exerts undue influence on the process.

I was not privy to the discussions that emerged at the end of the second round of interviews so I don’t know what steered the final decision, but I just want to emphasise that we have tried to enforce transparency in and about the process, and the fact that Vishnu was eventually appointed after a rigorous process by a panel consisting of 5 people representing different stake-holder bodies of the Wikipedia body, was a unanimous decision that was arrived at by people who did not personally know him and did not have any institutional connections with him, though CIS did have collaborations with an organisation which is one of the many that he has been affiliated with.

Dr. Tejaswini Niranjana was also one of the applicants who was short-listed for the interviews for the same position and the panel met with her. Again, the only person who has institutional ties with her was Sunil, but I want to highlight that the research collaboration with CSCS has been through me, and not through Sunil per se. It is a small point to labour, about distinguishing between institutional and personal tie-ups but I hope that it helps reflection on the process. As Vishnu has already mentioned in his response, the interview panel felt that Dr. Niranjana was over-qualified for this position. However, it was recognised that her contributions to the project in the role of an advisor would help us greatly to achieve some of the grant deliverables that CIS has promised to the WMF.

Dr. Niranjana’s own interventions in the field of Indian language translation, accessibility, educational resources and integration have been consolidated in her intellectual work but also in the institutional growth beginning with the establishment of the Higher Education Cell with the Tata Trust and now the formal HEIRA that she leads. In our conversations with the A2K team, we had also separately realised that one of the ways of ensuring that Wikipedia reaches younger and new editors is by placing it within the undergraduate-university learning environments. The Interview Panel also realised that the work that HEIRA is doing right now, in building a nation-wide network of academic institutions which are interested in the questions of local language resource development through digital technologies and OER platforms is in close sync with our ambitions for the A2K team. Hence, it was recommended and then actualised, that Dr. Niranjana is joining us as a Distinguished Fellow at the CIS, who will help grow our networks, enhance our strategies, and consolidate our presence in the academic-university spaces which will lead us to our ambition of positioning Wikipedia more strongly within the local language communities as well as within education systems.

I hope this helps to clarify some of the doubts and to make the process more transparent.

 

Theo Wrote: Hisham left almost 7-8 months ago, the hiring has been delayed for a few months, then the entire game of charades with the new hire. I'm lead to deduce that CIS wasn't itself thrilled with the prospect of getting involved to this level, I believe they used an intern for the majority of correspondence to this list. All the while a team remained employed with no one to oversee them, no direction.

Theo, one of the things we are very proud of at CIS, and indeed, are learning from the new possibilities that structures like Wikipedia offer, is our commitment to not creating hierarchies, working within an environment of mutual trust, and believing in peoples’ commitment to their work without micro-managing them. I am giving a short-hand summary there (it almost sounds like an elevator pitch even as I write it) only so that I can respond to some of the concerns that you have flagged.

There is no denying that CIS is thrilled to be collaborating with the WMF for setting up the A2K programme. Not only does it help us in getting closely associated with a community and a structure that we have been deeply involved in researching, but we also see it sitting very tightly with our other endeavours in the field of open access, intellectual property rights and accessibility. As a young independent research institute, we feel privileged to have this formal collaboration with the WMF and the Wikipedia community and even though I am not very hands-on involved in the everyday running of this team, I want to just reiterate that we are indeed thrilled with this collaboration. That is not to say that we appreciate the risks involved and the huge administrative responsibilities that come with such a valuable project (not just monetarily but also in terms of is real-life politics), but we hope that we will be able to provide it the support and housing it needs, and also learn from the process.

Unlike some of my other colleagues who were more closely working with the India Office under Hisham’s leadership, I am not privy to the range of events that happened in the early part of the setting up. However, once CIS got involved with the project and the decision was made to house the A2K programme at CIS, I can confidently say that the A2K team members were guided and managed as much as any other members at the Centre. There were regular visits from other colleagues, one-on-one conversations with the team as well as with individual members helping them to transition into the new structure, and long reviews stretching into several days, of conceptualising, strategising and planning towards the deliverables of the  WMF grant. We firmly believe, at CIS, that people who are in the field, and know the mechanics of actual functioning, should be trusted and encouraged to perform their tasks in a manner that they think best, and our role, institutionally, is to help them grow to their full potential. And this is the position we have taken with the A2K team, as we have, with all our other team members, and I do sincerely hope that the team did not feel ‘orphaned’ in that stage of transition.

However, I do take the critique that the team might not have been at its most productive during the transition because it required a lot of restructuring and setting up of institutional processes which requires a learning curve. Also, we believe that adequate time spent on consolidating and planning our activities- even at the risk of being inactive for a short period – is generally more productive to efficient work for the future and that the delays in the new kick-start might have been because we were spending time in reviewing and planning for the future.

The hiring process has been long, and indeed, the most rigorous that I have ever been a part of. The delays in it and the final appointment are things that others who were more involved with it might be able to explain better – I am guessing there were a lot of factors at play – and so I will leave it to them to chip in.

You mentioned that most of the correspondence happened through Jadine Lennon who is an intern at CIS and I want to just explain that at CIS, we take our long-term interns very seriously. Jadine is at the CIS for 11 months, through a long-standing relationship with the University of Torronto. This is not an off-the-cuff short-term internship to get those credits to graduate, but a serious commitment from both sides to integrate her in our work. At CIS, very frankly, our interns rock the world. They are there to learn, but they learn through supervision and personal attention and we take pride in the fact that most long-term interns have managed professional grants, delivered research and policy publications, and even after their official internships, have returned to be a part of our team in different capacities. In the non-hierarchical space that CIS is striving to be, the fact that communication happened through an intern is not any indication of our disinterest in the project.

Also, it might be worthwhile mentioning that while Jadine was the official contact person on the list for this process, it was closely supervised by Sunil Abraham, who is the executive director at the CIS.  Emails were drafted collaboratively, checked to make sure that they are correct, and sent after deliberation by the people involved. If there were errors, those are not because an ‘intern’ was managing them, but because we are also quite human (and also like most non-profit organisations, generally have multiple commitments to various projects) and we did try our best, but sometimes these things happen.

I just want to end by saying that we are very proud and thrilled to be a part of the collaboration. We see the A2K as deeply central to much of our research and policy work and we hope that we will be able to bring our institutional knowledge and network, as well as independent commitment to Wikipedia’s interventions in the world of Access to Knowledge. We also see this as an opportunity for us to learn and grow through these interactions and work. I, for one, am excited to see the A2K team coming together and do hope that despite the baggage of the past, we will get a fair chance to prove our mettle and to earn trust (because trust must be earned) from the different communities involved. In the meantime, we do ask for some faith (because faith can be asked for) and support from the community to help us achieve the goals that the WMF has set for us through this project.

Warm regards

Nishant

P.S. I do apologise for the length of this email. But sometimes these things require the space, and partly, I guess it is a professional hazard where researchers find it difficult to say less when they can say more!


--
Nishant Shah
Director (Research), Centre for Internet and Society,Bangalore, India ( www.cis-india.org )
International Tandem Partner, Inkubator - Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
# +49-0176-841-660-87
http://www.facebook.com/nishant.shah
http://cis-india.academia.edu/NishantShah

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Sunil Abraham-2
In reply to this post by theo10011
Dear Theo,

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2) The hiring process wasn't nearly as neutral as you are suggesting. From
> what I know CIS didn't have 1 in 5 vote, it first picked who got selected
> for the first round to even have a vote, and I am told that qualified
> candidates were eliminated outright by Jadine in the first week before they
> were put up for any vote.

This is indeed a serious concern. I can think of one way of
determining whether CIS [Jadine and I made those decisions jointly
after some background checks regarding the ethical fibre for the
candidates] has indeed eliminated qualified candidates. Could you send
me or the members of the recruitment committee directly a list of such
candidates? I will then organise a con-call of the recruitment
committee without me participating and one of them will post to the
list with their final verdict on whether those candidates should have
made the short list. If indeed such mistake has been committed by CIS
- I will personally publish a public apology on the CIS website which
will feature in our monthly bulletin which in turn reaches 4k people
and will also be fwded to this mailing list.

Best wishes,

Sunil

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Sunil Abraham-2
In reply to this post by theo10011
Dear Theo,

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as I know
> achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct memory of there
> being some association here. He also still serves on the Advisory board of
> WMF and had a lot to do with selecting Bishakha. He was also a fellow for
> WMF, some time after the start of the India programs.

Achal used to be on our board from the time we registered in July
2008. He has not attend board meetings since September 2011. Current
board members of CIS are listed here:
http://cis-india.org/about/people/board-members. Achal continues to be
a member of the registered society and CIS does contract him
occasionally for research support activities like editing manuscripts.

Best wishes,

Sunil

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Sunil Abraham-2
In reply to this post by theo10011
Dear Theo,

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here
> at all.

There was no rationale behind hiring academics. It just happens that
two of the three people that the recruitment committee selected turned
out to be academics. The other finalist was not an academic.

>  Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job
> requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a
> team.

We did not choose. The recruitment committee chose.

> I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise.
> Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline
> of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia
> or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. -
> this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests
> were put ahead of the Job requirements.

We did not have enough Wikipedians applying. I am sure the Recruitment
Committee would have gone with a Wikipedian if there had been enough
applications from the community.

I have been a Free Software activist for the last 10 years. I have
contributed to national policy formulation and practice w.r.t. Free
Software, Open Standards and Open Content in multiple countries
including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Moldova and Tajikistan. But I have never
submitted a line of code to any Free Software project. Similarly, I
believe that those who don't edit Wikipedia can also make significant
contributions to the Wikipedia movement.

Best wishes,

Sunil

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

theo10011
Thanks Sunil.

I really appreciate the replies and the clarification on some of these points. 

Kind Regards
Theo

On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM, Sunil Abraham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Dear Theo,

On Sun, Feb 10, 2013 at 8:45 PM, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 1) I can't seem to understand the rationale behind hiring academicians here
> at all.

There was no rationale behind hiring academics. It just happens that
two of the three people that the recruitment committee selected turned
out to be academics. The other finalist was not an academic.

>  Your organization chose researchers and academicians but the job
> requirement was and is, for a management person to oversee and direct a
> team.

We did not choose. The recruitment committee chose.

> I don't think either of the candidates present that kind of expertise.
> Their field of reference is narrow to begin with, limited to the discipline
> of their speciality, add to that how little exposure they have to Wikipedia
> or similar online culture - this doesn't sound like remotely a good fit. -
> this fact was actually the first point that made me think other interests
> were put ahead of the Job requirements.

We did not have enough Wikipedians applying. I am sure the Recruitment
Committee would have gone with a Wikipedian if there had been enough
applications from the community.

I have been a Free Software activist for the last 10 years. I have
contributed to national policy formulation and practice w.r.t. Free
Software, Open Standards and Open Content in multiple countries
including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Moldova and Tajikistan. But I have never
submitted a line of code to any Free Software project. Similarly, I
believe that those who don't edit Wikipedia can also make significant
contributions to the Wikipedia movement.

Best wishes,

Sunil

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Gautam John
On 14 February 2013 18:30, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I really appreciate the replies and the clarification on some of these
> points.

Gracious of you to do so. Now could you please apologise for your half
baked assertion of facts backed by nothing more substantial than your
thoughts? In particular:

"3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as
I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct
memory of there being some association here."

Your caveats notwithstanding.

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

theo10011
On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM, Gautam John <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 14 February 2013 18:30, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I really appreciate the replies and the clarification on some of these
> points.

Gracious of you to do so. Now could you please apologise for your half
baked assertion of facts backed by nothing more substantial than your
thoughts?

No.
 
In particular:

"3) I am still curious about some of the relationships here. As far as
I know achal still serves on your board? because I have a distinct
memory of there being some association here."

Perhaps you didn't read the clarification where Achal did serve on their board till September of 2011, he does happen to still be a member of the registered society who is still consulted by CIS. Perhaps you can read again below and clarify what you are characterizing as "baked assertion on facts". 

-Theo

On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 5:33 AM, Sunil Abraham <[hidden email]> wrote:
Achal used to be on our board from the time we registered in July
2008. He has not attend board meetings since September 2011. Current
board members of CIS are listed here:
http://cis-india.org/about/people/board-members. Achal continues to be
a member of the registered society and CIS does contract him
occasionally for research support activities like editing manuscripts.

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Gautam John
On 14 February 2013 19:15, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Perhaps you didn't read the clarification where Achal did serve on their
> board till September of 2011, he does happen to still be a member of the
> registered society who is still consulted by CIS. Perhaps you can read again
> below and clarify what you are characterizing as "baked assertion on facts".

You didn't send that email in September of 2011 or prior to that. You
sent it in February of 2013 - when Achal no longer serves on the
board. Nor is he listed on the page Sunil referenced. And it's "half
baked". I do wish you'd be more careful in your reading.

Quick to make assertions and slow to offer corrections. You truly are
a joy Theo.

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

theo10011
On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 11:49 AM, Gautam John <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 14 February 2013 19:15, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Perhaps you didn't read the clarification where Achal did serve on their
> board till September of 2011, he does happen to still be a member of the
> registered society who is still consulted by CIS. Perhaps you can read again
> below and clarify what you are characterizing as "baked assertion on facts".

You didn't send that email in September of 2011 or prior to that. You
sent it in February of 2013 - when Achal no longer serves on the
board. Nor is he listed on the page Sunil referenced. And it's "half
baked". I do wish you'd be more careful in your reading.

If you read again, I questioned, denoted by a question mark -  if achal *still* serves on their board and if there was still an association. I asked still, because I knew he did at one point and I don't follow either of them. 

I asked Sunil directly instead of forming conjectures and basing accusations.
 

Quick to make assertions and slow to offer corrections. You truly are
a joy Theo.


What assertions? He *did* serve on their board, he just quit some time ago. I don't follow achal or CIS's internal structure.

You are getting awfully defensive here for achal, for asking a direct question if Achal was still on their board or not. The answer was, Yes, he was on our board but not any longer, though we do consult occasionally - Apparently, that is all baseless by your standards.

What correction should I offer for asking that question? 

-Theo

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

Gautam John-3
On 14 February 2013 19:31, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> If you read again, I questioned, denoted by a question mark -  if achal
> *still* serves on their board and if there was still an association. I asked
> still, because I knew he did at one point and I don't follow either of them.

Which is why I said "Your caveats notwithstanding."

> What assertions? He *did* serve on their board, he just quit some time ago.
> I don't follow achal or CIS's internal structure.

"As far as I know achal still serves on your board?" or "Does Achal
still serve on your board?". Weasel wording will take you places.

> You are getting awfully defensive here for achal, for asking a direct
> question if Achal was still on their board or not.

Oooh! Look! A red herring!

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Re: [A2K]: The Access to Knowledge - Bulletin - January '13

theo10011
On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 12:04 PM, Gautam John <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 14 February 2013 19:31, Theo10011 <[hidden email]> wrote:

> If you read again, I questioned, denoted by a question mark -  if achal
> *still* serves on their board and if there was still an association. I asked
> still, because I knew he did at one point and I don't follow either of them.

Which is why I said "Your caveats notwithstanding." 

> What assertions? He *did* serve on their board, he just quit some time ago.
> I don't follow achal or CIS's internal structure.

"As far as I know achal still serves on your board?" or "Does Achal
still serve on your board?". Weasel wording will take you places.

Jeez!? You think that is weasel wording. Fine, let's say I assumed he was still on the board. Boy, was I wrong! It was the worst accusation ever! He should be here demanding an apology for that defamation himself. How dare I!
 

> You are getting awfully defensive here for achal, for asking a direct
> question if Achal was still on their board or not.

Oooh! Look! A red herring!

I'm getting awfully tired by your point, if you make it one of these days. I'm not sure if you defending achal's reputation by repeatedly pointing out that he quit the board or just chose a weak point to begin with. So, saying that you are getting defensive is a red herring now? I don't see you defending anyone else here....or anywhere. 

-Theo

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