The insights series: Rodrigo Barbano Tejera

Rodrigo Barbano Tejera.

Interviews with Wikimedians from emerging communities from Africa, Asia and Latin America, sharing their experiences of Wikimedia Conference 2018 and what the free knowledge movement means to them.

Over the last few years, the annual Wikimedia Conference has seen many more individuals in emerging communities. This year, Wikimedians from 79 countries, representing nearly one hundred movement affiliates, contributed to the event’s cultural, regional, and language diversity.

Community member Rupika Sharma interviewed several of these attendees to get their thoughts on the Wikimedia movement, their own communities, the Wikimedia 2030 strategy process, and how their involvement with it all will change over the next five years. They include:

  • Felix Nartey, Open Foundation West Africa
  • Sam Oyeyele, Wikimedia User Group Nigeria
  • Coenraad Loubser, Wikimedia South Africa
  • Liang-Chih Shang Kuan, Taiwan chapter/user group
  • Rodrigo Barbano Tejera, Wikimedia Uruguay and Wikimedia Digitization User Group
  • Nahid Sultan, Wikimedia Bangladesh

Here’s more from Rodrigo Barbano Tejera. Tune back in the next week to read the final interview.

What are your affiliate’s goals with respect to the global free knowledge movement and the Wikimedia 2030 strategy? What are projects and initiatives are you going to start? 

At Wikimedia Uruguay, we are focused in the growth of our organization, reaching new collectives that don’t see Wikipedia and other projects as a two-way street. In the last years, we’ve been involved in different activities to engage scientific, photographer and Uruguayan groups, as well as feminist groups.

We are currently working in projects that involve human rights organizations as well as women in sports groups. Besides this actions, we are strongly supporting the use of free licenses in the education and in the government and have achieved some big wins [recently] with the adoption of a Creative Commons license by some ministries and local governments, meaning that thousands of works will be available for  Wikimedia projects to use.

We also work very hard in copyright clearance and digitization of public domain works, for which we have created a database of Uruguayan authors (, currently holding information on around 12,000 writers, musicians, etc. allowing us to digitize less renowned authors or underrepresented collectives, like woman or ethnic minorities.

We are also very active in copyright reform advocacy in our country. We are trying to pass a bill that includes a broad set of limitations and exceptions like orphan works, library and education uses, as well as to avoid the extension of copyright to 70 years (which is currently 50 years in Uruguay). We are working towards becoming a national reference organization for GLAM institutions to partner with, for copyright reform advocacy and recovery and preservation of public domain, specially for non canon authors and works.

On the other hand, in the  Wikimedia Digitization User Group, that includes people of all over the world, we are aiming to create a comprehensive reference place for all the digitization projects of the affiliates to collect all the available information regarding digitization projects within the Wikimedia movement, the tools that they use, hardware and software needed, best practices, learning patterns, among others.

The first and main goal of the UG is to enable the existence of projects that are adapted, both technically and economic to the realities of each country. In this phase we are gathering information about each affiliate to have a good panorama of the needs and capabilities we currently have and are starting to create a toolbox of tutorials to help us in our goals.

How was your experience at the Wikimedia Conference? What did you learn, and how would you implement that in your community in Uruguay?

The Wikimedia Conference is always a great place to have first hand information of the situation of each affiliate and project in the community, as well as to learn about best practices regarding affiliate organization, reporting, financial managing and growth of a chapter or user group.

In Wikimedia Uruguay, we are aiming to implement that practices and to improve our capabilities to be able to develop new and more ambitious projects in our country.

This edition of the conference was not the exception, and also allowed us to talk about problems and challenges we face as a global movement, like net neutrality, censorship, public and private mass surveillance or copyright reforms that aim to extent copyright terms or harden current legislation frequently included in free trade agreements.

The other important topic discussed in many tracks of the conference is the next step of the Wikimedia strategy over the next decade, which will shape the face of the movement in profound ways. This represents an opportunity to keep working towards new ways to bring equity in the reach of the knowledge, as well as its generation focusing in a more diverse and democratic movement.

Besides the knowledge equity defined as a strategic pillar, we shared a lot of thought and courses of action regarding the ‘knowledge as a service’, definition, or as I think it would be a better way to call it ‘knowledge as a right’, because we should aim to transform the free knowledge into something every human being should be entitled to access freely and without restrictions of any kind, and not so much see it as a product or a service.

These kinds of discussions will be on the table of our movement for the foreseeable future, and besides the contacts, projects and new ideas we bring back to our chapters and groups, we returned with a great deal of rich and profound debates to have within our community.

As told to Rupika Sharma (User:Wikilover90), Wikimedia community member

This interview has been minimally edited, preserving as many of the interviewee’s words as possible.


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