Open software, culture and knowledge projects like Wikipedia are based on the principle that the world is democratised faster and better when data or content is free for anyone to use, reuse and redistribute. Yet this laudable intention does not always translate into practice when open projects also find themselves accused of being unsafe or unwelcoming to women, people of colour, and other marginalised communities.
Each of us comes from different parts of the world and domains of expertise on the continuum from software to social justice, and each of us explores how to be “open” while also being diverse and inclusive. Esra’a Al Shafei has set up platforms to amplify underrepresented Arab voices in the region, Astra Taylor co-founded the Debt Collective to organise and resist debt in the US, Adam Hyde has created multiple open publishing platforms, and Anasuya Sengupta works at making online public knowledge (including on Wikipedia!) more diverse and plural. We are all supported by the Shuttleworth Foundation, which was created to see if the values, processes and licences of the Free and Open Source Software (F/LOSS) world could be applied to areas outside of software.
We will explore together and with the audience some of the key strategies we use and insights we have from working on these different issues, and challenge ourselves to ensure that “open” is also “safe” and “welcoming” to diverse communities, individuals, and perspectives.