Yesterday I participated in a small conference at National museum of nature history in Stockholm with the aim of discussing sustainable development in relation to Wikipedia. The Swedish articles on and around sustainability and sustainable development are to say the least thin and this initiative by Dan Frendin from Kalmar together with a few representatives from the Wikimedia foundation aimed towards getting started with structuring and writing introductory articles in this subject area.
I happened to be in town and saw this as a good opportunity to meet with Dan, whose blog I’ve been following with great interest, and to find out more about Wikipedia as a tool for communicating issues of sustainability and perhaps using in educational settings. Dan let’s his students write articles as a part of their examination and one article on male circumcision have been read over 18 000 times. This is a very interesting form of examination that we consider to use in Lund. It is probably more stimulating to write an article that will be of practical use and read by a lot of people than a report that ends up on a bookshelf or at a harddrive.
Sophie Österberg from Wikimedia started by introducing Wikipedia and the writing process, getting started with an account and basic principle on how to write, use references and discussing the articles. Sophie or any of her colleagues can be invited to make these kinds of introductions to a group or class.
Dan also brought a group of visitors from Uganda and South Africa and plan to use Wikipedia as a platform for building knowledge on e.g. anything you need to build a sustainable village. An interesting initiative in this regard is the project Wikipedia Zero which aims at providing free downloading of articles and data in Africa, which is otherwise very expensive. A lot of people have mobile phone but few can afford downloading data from the internet.
A few of us started to structuring the Swedish article on sustainable development, we took departure in the English version and discussed issues such as three or four dimensions of sustainability, hard vs soft sustainability, anthropocentric vs other perspectives and so forth. The main point with Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute and everything is evaluated with respect to quality from the Wikipedia community.
So why not joining the process of knowledge construction and presentation!?