[Wikimedia-l] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

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[Wikimedia-l] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Toby Negrin
Hi everybody,

We have made some changes to our Product and Technology departments which
we are excited to tell you about. When Wes Moran, former Vice President of
Product, left the Wikimedia Foundation in May, we took the opportunity to
review the organization and operating principles that were guiding Product
and Technology. Our objectives were to improve our engagement with the
community during product development, develop a more audience-based
approach to building products, and create as efficient a pipeline as
possible between an idea and its deployment. We also wanted an approach
that would better prepare our engineering teams to plan around the upcoming
movement strategic direction. We have finished this process and have some
results to share with you.

Product is now known as Audiences, and other changes in that department

In order to more intentionally commit to a focus on the needs of users, we
are making changes to the names of teams and department (and will be using
these names throughout the rest of this update):

   -

   The Product department will be renamed the Audiences department;
   -

   The Editing team will now be called the Contributors team;
   -

   The Reading team will be renamed the Readers team.

You might be asking: what does “audience” mean in this context? We define
it as a specific group of people who will use the products we build. For
example, “readers” is one audience. “Contributors” is another. Designing
products around who will be utilizing them most, rather than what we would
like those products to do, is a best practice in product development. We
want our organizational structure to support that approach.

We are making five notable changes to the Audiences department structure.

The first is that we are migrating folks working on search and discovery
from the stand-alone Discovery team into the Readers team and Technology
department, respectively. Specifically, the team working on our search
backend infrastructure will move to Technology, where they will report to
Victoria. The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project
entry portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
knowledge-sharing for the end user.

The second is that the Fundraising Tech team will also move to the
Technology department. This move recognizes that their core work is
primarily platform development and integration, and brings them into closer
cooperation with their peers in critical functions including MediaWiki
Platform, Security, Analytics, and Operations.

The Team Practices group (TPG) will also be undergoing some changes.
Currently, TPG supports both specific teams in Product, as well as
supporting broader organizational development. Going forward, those TPG
members directly supporting feature teams will be embedded in their
respective teams in the Audiences or Technology departments. The TPG
members who were primarily focused on organizational health and development
will move to the Talent & Culture department, where they will report to
Anna Stillwell.

These three changes lead to the fourth, which is the move from four
“audience” verticals in the department (Reading, Editing, Discovery, and
Fundraising Tech, plus Team Practices) to three: Readers, Contributors, and
Community Tech. This structure is meant to streamline our focus on the
people we serve with our feature and product development, increase team
accountability and ownership over their work, allow Community Tech to
maintain its unique, effective, and multi-audiences workflow, and better
integrate support directly where teams need it most.

One final change: in the past we have had a design director. We recognize
that design is critical to creating exceptional experiences as a
contributor or a reader, so we’re bringing that role back. The director for
design will report to the interim Vice President of Product. The Design
Research function, currently under the Research team in the Technology
department, will report to the new director once the role is filled.

Technology is increasingly “programmatic”

The Technology department is also making a series of improvements in the
way we operate so that we can better serve the movement.

The biggest change is that all of our work in fiscal year 2017-2018 will be
structured and reported in programs instead of teams (you can see how this
works in our proposed 2017-2018 Annual Plan).[2] This will help us focus on
the collective impact we want to make, rather than limiting ourselves to
the way our organization is structured. These programs will be enabled by
the platforms (MediaWiki, Fundraising Tech, Search, Wikimedia Cloud
Services, APIs, ORES, and Analytics) that the Technology department builds
and maintains, and they will be delivered by teams that provide critical
services (Operations, Performance, Security, Release Engineering, and
Research). Distinguishing the work of the Technology department into
platforms and services will also allow us to treat platforms as products,
with accountable product managers and defined roadmaps.

In addition to moving the Search subteam into Technology, we are creating a
separate ORES team. These changes mark the start of something big -
investing in building machine learning, machine translation, natural
language processing and related  competencies. This is the first step
towards supporting intelligent, humanized, user interfaces for our
communities - something we’re thinking of as “human tech”.  Not because we
think that machines will replace our humans, but because these tools cans
help our humans be much more productive.

Why these changes, why now?

When the Product and Technology departments were reorganized in 2015,[1]
the stated goal was establishing verticals to focus on specific groups of
users and to speed execution by reducing dependencies among teams. These
smaller changes are meant to “tune-up” that structure, by addressing some
of its weaknesses and making additional improvements to the structure of
our engineering work.

The process that brought us to these changes began informally shortly after
Victoria arrived, and took on a more formal tone once Wes announced his
departure in May. Katherine asked Anna Stillwell, the Foundation's
newly-appointed Chargée d’Affaires in the Talent & Culture department, to
facilitate a consultation with both departments to identify their pain
points, and better understand their cultural and structural needs. After
collecting feedback from 93 people across the two departments, as well as
stakeholders around the organization, she offered a draft proposal for open
comment within the Foundation. After making some changes to reflect staff
feedback, the Foundation’s leadership team decided to proceed with the
changes described above.

The leaders of some of the teams involved will be following up in the next
few days with the specifics of these organizational moves and what they
mean to our communities. If you still have questions, please ask here or on
the talk page of this announcement:
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Engineering/June_2017_changes.

Best regards,

Toby Negrin, Interim Vice President of Product
Victoria Coleman, Chief Technology Officer

PS. An on-wiki version of this message is available for translation:
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Engineering/June_2017_changes

[1]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Engineering_reorganization_FAQ

[2]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Annual_Plan/2017-2018/Draft
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Jan Ainali-3
2017-06-07 23:12 GMT+02:00 Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>:

>
> The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project entry
> portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
> realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
> knowledge-sharing for the end user.
>
Does maps going to readers mean that there will be less focus on editors
tools for adding maps to articles and more focus on the readers possibility
to interact with the maps? If so, what is actually in the pipeline for maps?

/Jan
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Peter Southwood
In reply to this post by Toby Negrin
This looks reasonably rational to me. I am not sufficiently expert to be able to make more specific comments. One thing I would like to know - in the new arrangement, where does the group responsible for fundraising user interface fit in? Are they tech or audience?
Cheers,
Peter

-----Original Message-----
From: Wikimedia-l [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Toby Negrin
Sent: Wednesday, 07 June 2017 11:13 PM
To: [hidden email]; Wikimedia Mailing List; [hidden email]
Subject: [Wikimedia-l] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Hi everybody,

We have made some changes to our Product and Technology departments which we are excited to tell you about. When Wes Moran, former Vice President of Product, left the Wikimedia Foundation in May, we took the opportunity to review the organization and operating principles that were guiding Product and Technology. Our objectives were to improve our engagement with the community during product development, develop a more audience-based approach to building products, and create as efficient a pipeline as possible between an idea and its deployment. We also wanted an approach that would better prepare our engineering teams to plan around the upcoming movement strategic direction. We have finished this process and have some results to share with you.

Product is now known as Audiences, and other changes in that department

In order to more intentionally commit to a focus on the needs of users, we are making changes to the names of teams and department (and will be using these names throughout the rest of this update):

   -

   The Product department will be renamed the Audiences department;
   -

   The Editing team will now be called the Contributors team;
   -

   The Reading team will be renamed the Readers team.

You might be asking: what does “audience” mean in this context? We define it as a specific group of people who will use the products we build. For example, “readers” is one audience. “Contributors” is another. Designing products around who will be utilizing them most, rather than what we would like those products to do, is a best practice in product development. We want our organizational structure to support that approach.

We are making five notable changes to the Audiences department structure.

The first is that we are migrating folks working on search and discovery from the stand-alone Discovery team into the Readers team and Technology department, respectively. Specifically, the team working on our search backend infrastructure will move to Technology, where they will report to Victoria. The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project entry portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and knowledge-sharing for the end user.

The second is that the Fundraising Tech team will also move to the Technology department. This move recognizes that their core work is primarily platform development and integration, and brings them into closer cooperation with their peers in critical functions including MediaWiki Platform, Security, Analytics, and Operations.

The Team Practices group (TPG) will also be undergoing some changes.
Currently, TPG supports both specific teams in Product, as well as supporting broader organizational development. Going forward, those TPG members directly supporting feature teams will be embedded in their respective teams in the Audiences or Technology departments. The TPG members who were primarily focused on organizational health and development will move to the Talent & Culture department, where they will report to Anna Stillwell.

These three changes lead to the fourth, which is the move from four “audience” verticals in the department (Reading, Editing, Discovery, and Fundraising Tech, plus Team Practices) to three: Readers, Contributors, and Community Tech. This structure is meant to streamline our focus on the people we serve with our feature and product development, increase team accountability and ownership over their work, allow Community Tech to maintain its unique, effective, and multi-audiences workflow, and better integrate support directly where teams need it most.

One final change: in the past we have had a design director. We recognize that design is critical to creating exceptional experiences as a contributor or a reader, so we’re bringing that role back. The director for design will report to the interim Vice President of Product. The Design Research function, currently under the Research team in the Technology department, will report to the new director once the role is filled.

Technology is increasingly “programmatic”

The Technology department is also making a series of improvements in the way we operate so that we can better serve the movement.

The biggest change is that all of our work in fiscal year 2017-2018 will be structured and reported in programs instead of teams (you can see how this works in our proposed 2017-2018 Annual Plan).[2] This will help us focus on the collective impact we want to make, rather than limiting ourselves to the way our organization is structured. These programs will be enabled by the platforms (MediaWiki, Fundraising Tech, Search, Wikimedia Cloud Services, APIs, ORES, and Analytics) that the Technology department builds and maintains, and they will be delivered by teams that provide critical services (Operations, Performance, Security, Release Engineering, and Research). Distinguishing the work of the Technology department into platforms and services will also allow us to treat platforms as products, with accountable product managers and defined roadmaps.

In addition to moving the Search subteam into Technology, we are creating a separate ORES team. These changes mark the start of something big - investing in building machine learning, machine translation, natural language processing and related  competencies. This is the first step towards supporting intelligent, humanized, user interfaces for our communities - something we’re thinking of as “human tech”.  Not because we think that machines will replace our humans, but because these tools cans help our humans be much more productive.

Why these changes, why now?

When the Product and Technology departments were reorganized in 2015,[1] the stated goal was establishing verticals to focus on specific groups of users and to speed execution by reducing dependencies among teams. These smaller changes are meant to “tune-up” that structure, by addressing some of its weaknesses and making additional improvements to the structure of our engineering work.

The process that brought us to these changes began informally shortly after Victoria arrived, and took on a more formal tone once Wes announced his departure in May. Katherine asked Anna Stillwell, the Foundation's newly-appointed Chargée d’Affaires in the Talent & Culture department, to facilitate a consultation with both departments to identify their pain points, and better understand their cultural and structural needs. After collecting feedback from 93 people across the two departments, as well as stakeholders around the organization, she offered a draft proposal for open comment within the Foundation. After making some changes to reflect staff feedback, the Foundation’s leadership team decided to proceed with the changes described above.

The leaders of some of the teams involved will be following up in the next few days with the specifics of these organizational moves and what they mean to our communities. If you still have questions, please ask here or on the talk page of this announcement:
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Talk:Wikimedia_Engineering/June_2017_changes.

Best regards,

Toby Negrin, Interim Vice President of Product Victoria Coleman, Chief Technology Officer

PS. An on-wiki version of this message is available for translation:
https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Engineering/June_2017_changes

[1]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Engineering_reorganization_FAQ

[2]
https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Annual_Plan/2017-2018/Draft
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Rogol Domedonfors
In reply to this post by Jan Ainali-3
Thanks for explaining that.  You said that two of the main goals were "to
improve our engagement with the community during product development,
develop a more audience-based approach to building products", and yet you
do not mention any discussion with people outside the organisation over
their needs and aspirations and whether the new structures under
consideration were more or less likely to deliver them – some people might
see that as a missing element in the process.  Perhaps you could say a few
words about how the new structures will improve cooperation and
collaboration in order to"better serve the movement".  You do see a need
for improved consultation, cooperation and collaboration with the
community, don't you?

On Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 10:21 PM, Jan Ainali <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2017-06-07 23:12 GMT+02:00 Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>:
>
> >
> > The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project entry
> > portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
> > realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
> > knowledge-sharing for the end user.
> >
> Does maps going to readers mean that there will be less focus on editors
> tools for adding maps to articles and more focus on the readers possibility
> to interact with the maps? If so, what is actually in the pipeline for
> maps?
>
> /Jan
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Toby Negrin
In reply to this post by Jan Ainali-3
Hi Jan --

Thanks for the question. We'll be making a more specific announcement this
week about the future of the discovery projects. Sadly we don't have a lot
of new information for maps in particular and will need to do a bit more
scenario planning before we talk to the community.

As far as focus, most of our "reading" features are actually content
created by editors that is consumed by readers and maps is no different.
While we don't have specifics as far as the roadmap, both authoring and
consumption features are totally in scope.

Hope this helps to provide some information (if not clarity :) about how we
are approaching this.

-Toby

On Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 2:21 PM, Jan Ainali <[hidden email]> wrote:

> 2017-06-07 23:12 GMT+02:00 Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>:
>
> >
> > The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project entry
> > portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
> > realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
> > knowledge-sharing for the end user.
> >
> Does maps going to readers mean that there will be less focus on editors
> tools for adding maps to articles and more focus on the readers possibility
> to interact with the maps? If so, what is actually in the pipeline for
> maps?
>
> /Jan
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
_______________________________________________
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

jmh649
Looks like a reasonable change. Glad to see the degree of internal input
that went into it.

Does maps also include other rich content like graphs, charts, heat maps
and other forms of data visualization?

Best
James

On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 8:44 AM, Toby Negrin <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Hi Jan --
>
> Thanks for the question. We'll be making a more specific announcement this
> week about the future of the discovery projects. Sadly we don't have a lot
> of new information for maps in particular and will need to do a bit more
> scenario planning before we talk to the community.
>
> As far as focus, most of our "reading" features are actually content
> created by editors that is consumed by readers and maps is no different.
> While we don't have specifics as far as the roadmap, both authoring and
> consumption features are totally in scope.
>
> Hope this helps to provide some information (if not clarity :) about how we
> are approaching this.
>
> -Toby
>
> On Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 2:21 PM, Jan Ainali <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > 2017-06-07 23:12 GMT+02:00 Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>:
> >
> > >
> > > The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project entry
> > > portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
> > > realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
> > > knowledge-sharing for the end user.
> > >
> > Does maps going to readers mean that there will be less focus on editors
> > tools for adding maps to articles and more focus on the readers
> possibility
> > to interact with the maps? If so, what is actually in the pipeline for
> > maps?
> >
> > /Jan
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>



--
James Heilman
MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian

The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Pine W
James: thanks for asking; I'm copying that question to the Wikitech list.
While we're on that topic, what's happening to multimedia? I believe that
at one time there was a multimedia team, and I could understand how pairing
multimedia with maps in the same team could make sense. If multimedia is
separate, it would be good to know where that's being housed now; I believe
that there's work happening with 3D files for Commons, and I vaguely recall
hearing about improvements to the Commons upload wizard.

Pine


On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 8:07 AM, James Heilman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Looks like a reasonable change. Glad to see the degree of internal input
> that went into it.
>
> Does maps also include other rich content like graphs, charts, heat maps
> and other forms of data visualization?
>
> Best
> James
>
> On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 8:44 AM, Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > Hi Jan --
> >
> > Thanks for the question. We'll be making a more specific announcement
> this
> > week about the future of the discovery projects. Sadly we don't have a
> lot
> > of new information for maps in particular and will need to do a bit more
> > scenario planning before we talk to the community.
> >
> > As far as focus, most of our "reading" features are actually content
> > created by editors that is consumed by readers and maps is no different.
> > While we don't have specifics as far as the roadmap, both authoring and
> > consumption features are totally in scope.
> >
> > Hope this helps to provide some information (if not clarity :) about how
> we
> > are approaching this.
> >
> > -Toby
> >
> > On Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 2:21 PM, Jan Ainali <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > 2017-06-07 23:12 GMT+02:00 Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>:
> > >
> > > >
> > > > The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project
> entry
> > > > portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
> > > > realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
> > > > knowledge-sharing for the end user.
> > > >
> > > Does maps going to readers mean that there will be less focus on
> editors
> > > tools for adding maps to articles and more focus on the readers
> > possibility
> > > to interact with the maps? If so, what is actually in the pipeline for
> > > maps?
> > >
> > > /Jan
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > > wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > > wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> > >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> > wiki/Wikimedia-l
> > New messages to: [hidden email]
> > Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> > <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
> >
>
>
>
> --
> James Heilman
> MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
>
> The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
> _______________________________________________
> Wikimedia-l mailing list, guidelines at: https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Mailing_lists/Guidelines and https://meta.wikimedia.org/
> wiki/Wikimedia-l
> New messages to: [hidden email]
> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l,
> <mailto:[hidden email]?subject=unsubscribe>
>
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Re: [Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Changes to Product and Technology departments at the Foundation

Deb Tankersley
In reply to this post by jmh649
Hi James,

Does maps also include other rich content like graphs, charts, heat maps
> and other forms of data visualization?


​In reference to your question above, have you had a chance to read through
the email that was sent yesterday, in regards to the Discovery team? [1] We
discussed maps and graphs in that email, but not things like heat maps or
other data visualizations as those are not a part of Discovery's current
annual goals.

Cheers,

Deb

[1] https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2017-June/087777.html


--
deb tankersley
irc: debt
Product Manager, Discovery
Wikimedia Foundation

On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 9:07 AM, James Heilman <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Looks like a reasonable change. Glad to see the degree of internal input
> that went into it.
>
> Does maps also include other rich content like graphs, charts, heat maps
> and other forms of data visualization?
>
> Best
> James
>
> On Mon, Jun 12, 2017 at 8:44 AM, Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
>
> > Hi Jan --
> >
> > Thanks for the question. We'll be making a more specific announcement
> this
> > week about the future of the discovery projects. Sadly we don't have a
> lot
> > of new information for maps in particular and will need to do a bit more
> > scenario planning before we talk to the community.
> >
> > As far as focus, most of our "reading" features are actually content
> > created by editors that is consumed by readers and maps is no different.
> > While we don't have specifics as far as the roadmap, both authoring and
> > consumption features are totally in scope.
> >
> > Hope this helps to provide some information (if not clarity :) about how
> we
> > are approaching this.
> >
> > -Toby
> >
> > On Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 2:21 PM, Jan Ainali <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > 2017-06-07 23:12 GMT+02:00 Toby Negrin <[hidden email]>:
> > >
> > > >
> > > > The team working on maps, the search experience, and the project
> entry
> > > > portals (such as Wikipedia.org) will join the Readers team. This
> > > > realignment will allow us to build more integrated experiences and
> > > > knowledge-sharing for the end user.
> > > >
> > > Does maps going to readers mean that there will be less focus on
> editors
> > > tools for adding maps to articles and more focus on the readers
> > possibility
> > > to interact with the maps? If so, what is actually in the pipeline for
> > > maps?
> > >
> > > /Jan
> > > _______________________________________________
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>
>
> --
> James Heilman
> MD, CCFP-EM, Wikipedian
>
> The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
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