Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wikipedia/Buenos Aires

This summer, I was part of a group that came together to respond to an RFP from the Wikimedia Foundation, the people who operate Wikipedia. The hub of our group was Fenton in San Francisco. They're a public advocacy PR and communications firm with clients like MoveOn and Greenpeace. Sea Change was brought in for their online fundraising expertise. Their clients have included Amnesty International and World Wildlife Fund. And I lead the creative.

With three different entities and four strong personalities, the pitch could've easily been a mess of control and leadership. Instead our process found its center very naturally, with each of us leading when required. What might have looked from the outside like deference or politeness was actually an acknowledgement that all four of us had much to offer, so we listened. We also shared a belief in the fundamental power of story, which rooted our work.

So we pitched and it went well, and last week made it official. And now I'm in Buenos Aires for Wikimania 2009, the 5th annual global conference for the people who write and edit Wikipedia.

The 500 or so volunteers from around the world are here to talk about their work, how to make it better, how to get it to more people, how to get more people to participate. Tomorrow morning the conference officially kicks off with a speech by Richard Stallman, the far out guy behind the free software movement. I can't wait.

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