I celebrated Wikipedia Day with Wikimedia NYC


Wikipedia Day Cake

On January 14, I celebrated Wikipedia’s birthday in New York City. Wikimedia NYC hosted a celebration for the day Wikipedia first went public – Wikipedia Day! There were loads of Wikipedia Day celebrations around the world. These celebrations happen each year around January 15. This just happened to be the first celebration I attended since I started editing Wikipedia.

Lots of amazing circumstances came together to make this trip possible. First, Sherry Antoine from AfroCROWD and I shared a room at the Wikimedia Diversity Conference. We talked about bias and her work with AfroCROWD connecting people with Wikipedia. She said Wikimedia NYC and AfroCROWD focus on showing people how they can use their natural interests on Wikipedia. What a great way to get them hooked! She suggested I come present in New York as part of Wikimedia NYC’s Wikipedia Day celebration. I told her I would love to come! About a month later, one of the Wikimedia NYC Board members, Ryan McGrady, emailed me. Wikimedia NYC was able to provide me with a travel scholarship and another Wikimedia NYC volunteer offered to host me.

Central Park

After a quick airfare panic – the price went up from $270 to $306 overnight! – I booked my flight to New York City. I had never been before, so I was beyond excited. In Sweden, Sherry and I swapped stories about how we always wanted to go to each other’s homes. I had always wanted to go to her home of New York and she always wanted to visit mine of the Midwest. We each got a chuckle as our homes are just home to each of us. Now that I have gone to New York, I will certainly have to figure out a way to get Sherry to the Midwest!

I took an early flight on Saturday morning so I would have a little time to settle in and see the city before the event on Sunday. Due to the tunnel construction, instead of taking the subway, I ended up taking a taxi to the place where I was staying.

The Apple Store at 5th Avenue under construction

Taking a taxi was a little funny in itself. I flew into LaGuardia airport. It was really quiet, and the few people I saw went outside to board busses. I eventually found the taxi signs and eventually a yellow path painted on the ground. I started following the path. After a while of following the yellow path, I started to wonder how long this line gets at busy times. I finally arrived at the taxi stand and there were 3 attendants and 5 taxis sitting at numbered signs. One attendant told me to go to number 3. Another told me to get back in line. Another told me to go to number 4. The second attendant told me to get back in line. The attendant who waved me to number 4 waved me back over and yelled at the second attendant. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I did eventually take the taxi at number 4.

It was neat looking out the window on the way to Brooklyn. I saw pigeons huddled on a sunny rooftop. I observed a lot of graffiti on just about everything. I always find graffiti as an interesting art form.

Where I stayed was a beautiful neighborhood. My hosts told me the history of the neighborhood and how it all came to be. Turns out, my hosts are academics like me! They also have a large collection of books, so I felt right at home.

Sign outside the Central Park Zoo

That evening, I went to dinner with a few fellow Wikipedians. We walked to Numero 28 Pizza. It was great. I learned all about choices of pizza, mozzarella, bakery items, fish, and produce. The New York City version of feeling people out involves asking where they get their pizza/mozzarella/other food item. In St. Louis, this is like the dreaded, “Where did you go to high school?” question.

A view of the MET from Park Avenue

The next morning we all headed to the Ace Hotel, where Wikipedia day was being held. I got to meet loads of new friends and reconnect with old friends. Lots of people were interested in implicit bias. It’s a good topic to talk about.

Jackie Koerner Presents on Implicit Bias at Wikipedia Day 2018, a work by King of Hearts [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International
The day was full of great presentations, panels, and lightning talks. My presentation went really well and I was glad to have the group engage with me. The Internet Society was wonderful and recorded and live-streamed the day’s events. If you couldn’t attend, the recording of my session and the slides are available on Commons.

The Vegan Wikipedia Day Cake

Serious thanks and admiration to the organizers. The event went well. Your preparation and planning paid off! Also, the food was good and well-labeled. If you have food allergies, you know how amazing this is. The labels didn’t just have common allergens listed (like “contains peanuts and soy” but they had the actual ingredients listed! There were vegan and regular cake options. The cake was delicious! As illustrated by the picture, everyone else thought so too!

Visible Storage at the MET

After the closing remarks, a few of us Wikipedians headed upstairs to the Breslin for a well-deserved drink. I always get a laugh at the drink names different bars have on their menus. Sometimes I think it’s a contest of who can make up the wildest drink name. An example from the Breslin’s drink menu: Captain Corto Swizzle.

Visible Storage at the MET

During our chat, everyone gave great suggestions on what I should do the following day while touring the city. Ultimately, as I had my heart set on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I decided that would be my main focus. I had orders from my kids to get Pokémon from the Nintendo store, so between the MET and the Nintendo store I planned to check out several of the traditional tourist stops: Central Park, Rockefeller Center, and the Apple Store being built on 5th Avenue.

I have leggings created from photos of Henry VIII’s armor. My leggings-and more importantly the education of others-wouldn’t be possible without the MET’s open policies about photos of their collections.

After we all decided it was time to turn in, I needed to know how to get back to my host family’s home. I really wanted to take the subway. The locals gave a chuckle, but to me, I don’t get to experience mass transit in my home city very much at all, so it was fun. On the train they pointed out all the sights to me, and they’re right: the city is very beautiful at night.

Amiibos in a case at the NYC Nintendo Store

Although I did not get nearly enough time in New York City, I am very grateful for this opportunity. I was able to meet new friends and reconnect with friends I met at Wikimania or earlier with my visiting scholar role. I cannot wait to see where my adventures takes me next!

My Wiki-filled visit to San Francisco

About a month ago I was fortunate to get to go to San Francisco for part of my visiting scholar role. The intention of my trip was to go to the Patient No More exhibit at the San Francisco Public Library. This exhibit is a production of San Francisco State University and the Longmore Institute on Disability.

I was arriving on Friday at 10 am and staying until Sunday at 5 pm. The event for Patient No More was only from 1 – 4 pm on Saturday. I wanted to make the most of my visit so I emailed some friends and colleagues. After a couple of hours, I had a wonderful weekend planned.

This trip, of course, didn’t start without a few flight delays. After a lengthy delay in Las Vegas, I arrived in San Francisco with just enough time to go to my Airbnb, freshen up, and grab a Lyft to head to coffee with a few members of the Wikimedia Foundation staff. The coffee was just what I needed to revive from my 1 am start! We walked past the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It was incredible. Our chat was very helpful. It helped me reflect further on my own research and the Wikipedia community. I am very passionate about the community health work that is happening right now and their investment in the future of the community’s health. It really will create a stronger community by empowering contributors of all levels.

After my afternoon coffee, chat, and office tour, I headed back to change for the evening and headed to the Wiki Education Foundation offices in the Presidio. What a gorgeous ride it was! I passed quite a few painted ladies, and finally got to see the hills of San Francisco!

The staff and board at Wiki Edu are just as awesome as all the other wiki folks I have met. Thank you all for letting me crash your board gathering! I got to chat with others about the work I am doing, and started some collaborations while I was there. (I cannot wait to examine the lived experiences of people with disabilities in their career. It might be a long project, but incredibly important! Thank you, Helaine, for connecting with me on this.) I also met the soon-to-be newest member of the Wiki Edu staff. I am just blown away by everyone and the work they are doing. I really wish everyone well in their own projects.

I went back to my Airbnb around 9 pm because the Golden State Warriors were in town and slotted to win a pinnacle game. (They didn’t win that night, but they did win the championship!) My Airbnb host was amazing! Seriously, if you’re in San Francisco, stay there. It’s a very walkable location and a great place. It even comes with its own rescue pup, who is adorable.

Saturday morning I worked out and grabbed breakfast at a local dive with great reviews. It was awesome and the people watching made it even better. After breakfast, I checked out the International Art Museum of San Francisco. Once I finished the last gallery, it was time to head to the opening of Patient No More.

The exhibit is full of quotes and artifacts from the activists during the 504 protests. It was cool to see on so many levels. First, it was neat to see an exhibit about the history of one of the most notable pieces of disability legislation in the United States, second, it was great seeing another exhibit about disability, (previously my only experience was with Allies for Inclusion), and finally, I got to experience history all around me.

Let me explain: the main purpose of my visiting scholar role is to affect bias on Wikipedia regarding disability topics. I have a great desire to get speeches, letters, pictures, and other artifacts from the history available on Wikipedia. This would enable everyone to learn from these events, and experience the artifacts as if they were almost there. To be around people who wrote the letters, people who took the pictures, people who gave the speeches…it was powerful. These were people who participated in the 504 Sit-Ins right there next to me. This included Judith Heumann! She was the main organizer of the event in San Francisco, she served two US Presidents, and worked tirelessly for disability rights her whole life!

I was then talking to Cathy Kudlick, the Director of the Longmore Institute, about my desire to upload pictures, speeches, and other artifacts to Wikipedia. She then turns around and says, “Oh, then you must meet Anthony.” Anthony Tusler has been an invaluable source of information. Not only is he supportive of my plan, but he is willing to get me the info I need to get there. I have pages of notes from our last phone conversation I still have to act on. Hopefully I can make some progress once fall starts! I love the written word, but I love experiencing the audio of speeches, the details of the photographs, and the physical information stored in the letters. So much more can be learned from these additional resources. I’m stoked!

After the event was over, I wandered about town for a while before heading to dinner with a friend. It was a great dinner and we got to connect over some career concerns I was feeling. It’s always nice knowing you’re not alone! It is difficult when you are a creative person and know your path, but just must find how to make your path in this paved world.

Sunday I was on my own to explore the city. My Airbnb host had incredible suggestions of the best local places to visit. I literally walked down Market Street to Embarcadero, where I had amazing views as I walked all the way up the Bay to Fishermans Wharf. There I stopped at Boudin Bakery for some delicious clam chowder. Then I walked to San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to get a great view of Alcatraz. After that, like any good chocoholic, my nose led me to my next location: Ghirardelli Square. There I got to see the historic factory and I had an ice cream that was just completely unreasonable…really.

I called it quits at about 600 calories in. No wonder the waiter gave me two spoons. Ha! Luckily my walk back to my Airbnb was 2.3 miles up and down the San Francisco hills. On my trek back, I passed Lombard Street. Even more impressive: I saw a person on a motorcycle going down Lombard Street! All the tourists applauded when the motorcyclist made it to the bottom.

After that, I finished my trip back and grabbed a ride to the airport. Another delayed flight, but I made my connection with 20 minutes to spare! On my flight from Los Angeles to home I got to see the Strawberry Moon from 30,000 feet! Pretty cool.

I am glad to be home, but my trip to San Francisco is on my top 10 list. I also have a lot of work to do! I am very thankful of the connections I have made during my time with this visiting scholar role. I am now looking forward to meeting new friends and gathering with new-old friends in Montreal for Wikimania in August.

No laughing matter: my experience as a Wikipedia visiting scholar at ACPA

WikiEdu.org screenshot of Jackie Koerner: Wikipedia Visiting Scholar at SFSU

Wednesday night I got home from a higher education convention I attend each year. ACPA is an international organization for higher education personnel. Beyond an annual convention each March, ACPA provides professional development opportunities and various publications.

Last year, I attended the ACPA convention as a PhD candidate and graduate assistant at Saint Louis University. I graduated with my PhD in August 2016.

This year, I attended convention as an independent researcher and visiting scholar with San Francisco State University’s Longmore Institute on Disability. On the daily, I do independent research, submit my articles to publications, and I edit Wikipedia. In editing Wikipedia, I use sources available to me through SFSU to improve content on Wikipedia. I focus on disability topics, whether it’s culture, history, or adjusting bias in existing content.

For the 2017 ACPA convention I was a program review coordinator on the organizing committee. I also presented an educational session about attitudinal bias in disability and career. I also gave a PechaKucha talk about mental health and graduate programs. I was stoked!

That was, until I had a crowd of hundreds of people laughing at me.

It all started Saturday morning at a council meeting for the leadership of the state chapters. I talked about the work I was doing with San Francisco State University’s Longmore Institute on Disability and Wikipedia. At first, I was a little skeptical of talking about what I was doing in my group of professional peers, considering the mixed bag of responses I have received when talking about Wikipedia in the Midwest. The thirty plus people in the room thought this was pretty cool. I was super excited by their responses! I thought, “Yes! They get it!”

Then on Tuesday, I was presenting in a session with two of my colleagues (and friends) about attitudinal bias about disabilities in career. I mentioned media representation of self-hate of people with disabilities as an overwhelming theme, especially in movies. I mentioned Million Dollar Baby as an example, and noted although I had not seen it, I had read about its problematic plot on Wikipedia. A man in a suit seated at the front table loudly yelled, “HA!” I started at his outburst, then I laid out the logic for him. I told him numerous scholars are on Wikipedia, and commented on how funny it was he was attending a session about attitudinal bias and scoffing at Wikipedia. He turned red and continued mumbling under his breath lamenting the “problems” of Wikipedia. In interest of time, I continued with my presentation intending to catch up with him after the session. He left before I could greet him and hand him my card. The guy, however, was lucky enough to sit behind me in a later session, where I was able to continue my clarification about Wikipedia. His only concession was that maybe it “has gotten better” and a shoulder shrug.

That night, I prepared myself to go on stage to deliver a talk to a crowd of hundreds of people about mental health and graduate education. The evening’s M.C. mentioned I edit Wikipedia in my introduction. The crowd laughed. It was like they were watching slapstick or some incredibly funny cat video.

It hurt. It really hurt. After I got off stage, I posted this thread on Twitter:

No one responded, but some other Wikipedians retweeted my posts.

Evidently we still have some work to do educating educators about education. Sadly, those educators in the room did not know that very likely they had people at their educational institutions using Wikipedia in their courses. When I say use, I mean assigning editing Wikipedia as the course assignments, watching emerging events unfold as civic learning, and learning to engage in the scholarly community by learning to debate and support their arguments (and more…). Oh, and it’s been shown educators teaching with Wikipedia have students who achieve the course learning goals. (See “Read more…” below)

So, I want to hear it: what are your thoughts about Wikipedia? Why do you feel this way? I want to hear from academics, educators, scholars, and from other Wikipedians!

Read more…

Wikipedia community suggested practices about students editing as assignments

Editing Wikipedia is becoming a class assignment

Teach with Wikipedia

How to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool

Case Studies: How professors are teaching with Wikipedia

Wikis and Wikipedia as a teaching tool: Five years later