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July 14, 2012

Wikimania 2012 tackles diversity issues

Wikimania 2012 tackles diversity issues – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikimania 2012 tackles diversity issues

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mary Gardiner gave the keynote speech at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Image: Andrew Bennetts.

Jimmy Wales addresses attendees of Wikimania 2012 at the Library of Congress.
Image: User:Deror Avi.

Chinese language contributor Shang Zhang meets Jimmy Wales at the Library of Congress.
Image: User:Shujenchang.

Community leaders at the Wikimania 2012 conference, which is largely attended by Wikipedians and volunteers from other Wikimedia Foundation projects, focused attention on diversity within the projects and specifically on the inclusion of women, people who come from developing countries, and those people who, while not tech geeks, are potential contributors.

Wikipedia is the fifth top web site visited on the internet, according to Wales.

Mary Gardiner, co-founder of the Ada Initiative, delivered the opening address, where she encouraged conference participants to think about how they could be more inclusive, especially toward women, in their work. She is the first woman ever to give an opening address at a Wikimania conference. The conferences have been held annually since 2005.

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, echoed the theme of diversity in his remarks during his annual State of the Wiki address and expanded on Africa and including more people who are not technically savvy.

Participants from 87 countries gathered in Lisner Auditorium on the campus of George Washington University, Washington, D.C. for the opening session on Thursday morning.

Mary Gardiner focused on the lack of gender diversity within the Wikipedia community. She said reader and editor surveys have shown that while over one third of the readers of Wikipedia are women, the number of women who are editors is around 10 to 15 percent in the English Wikipedia and as low as 8.5 percent for all Wikipedias. “As a project of social change, even if it’s not an activist project, the Wikipedia community has a responsibility both to its mission and to the people out there in the world to always be on a journey toward diversity — to increase the size of the umbrella of the world”, Gardiner said.

The Ada Initiative, co-founded by Gardiner, encourages women’s involvement in open source projects like Wikipedia, open-source software, and open government. Prior to the conference, the Ada Initiative sponsored an AdaCamp where women shared their experiences across these projects. Gardiner, who is a graduate student in Computational Linguistics, delivered the keynote, entitled “Fostering diversity: not a boring chore, a critical opportunity.”

Gardiner said Wikipedia should not only increase diversity because it would be good for the community to have more voices, but also the community should reach out with sincerity and both engage and hear women’s voices and be open to change from their contributions.

Jimmy Wales recommended Wikipedians “reexamine [their] premises.” As an example, he asked them to consider article topics that other audiences who are not currently being served well could find meaningful. He became involved in a deletion debate about whether Kate Middleton’s wedding dress was worthy of an article. He contrasted this topic choice with the large number of obscure pages about Linux and asked the audience to consider why important fashion events could be of interest to a different audience with other interests. He said if Wikipedia is not providing content for this audience, they will go elsewhere to create and read that content.

Gardiner also said when women or another subculture focus on their identity it can actually create a stronger Wikipedian identity. “The more you encourage people retain parts of their identity that are important to them, in my case as a woman, the more you enhance their other identity as a Wikipedian… You can encourage both identities by allowing minorities to acknowledge and embrace that they are a member of a minority.” Wikipedia has encouraged the development of subcultures through the creation of chapters, portals, and even individualized user boxes.

Jimmy Wales, on a personal note, announced that he and his partner had named their daughter Ada after Ada Lovelace, who Gardiner had explained to the audience is considered the first software programmer and was an inspiration for the Ada Initiative. Gardiner credits her fellow Ada Initiative co-founder Valerie Aurora, executive director, for naming the organization after Lovelace.

Wales devoted a large portion of his speech to Wikipedia’s footprint in Africa. Wikipedia is currently offered in 285 languages and of African languages, Yorùbá, Swahili, and Afrikaans are the largest. Wales described how in a one month period in 2011 Yorùbá jumped to first in the number of articles. Yorùbá Wikipedia User:Demmy created a bot that added 15,000 articles to the language in one month and his activity doubled the number of active editors to about four. Wales presented the second annual “Jimbo Award” to User:Demmy for his contribution to the Yorùbá language version of Wikipedia.

Wales said the Wikimedia Foundation’s mobile initiative would be an important part of bringing people from developing countries to Wikipedia and would even offer new editing tools for the community worldwide.

New software is in development that could also expand the number of editors of Wikipedia. Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, announced that Wikimedia Foundation is currently testing its Visual Editor Software that she says will make it as easy to edit Wikipedia as it is to update the status on a person’s Facebook account. “Editing is unnecessarily difficult,” Gardner said. “We’re using an older technology. And it’s an open-source environment and developers of that kind of software are not typically dedicated to design and usability issues” but to solving technical problems.

Wikimania is an international event and past conferences have been held in Frankfurt, Germany; Boston, USA; Taipei, Taiwan; Alexandria, Egypt; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Gdańsk, Poland; and Haifa, Israel. Next year’s Wikimania is to be held in Hong Kong, China.

The main conference has attracted over 1,000 participants and will be open through July 14.



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July 13, 2012

Wikimedia Foundation launches Wikipedia Zero

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Wikimedia Foundation has set a goal of reaching 1 billion readers by 2015 and currently it is close to reaching only half that much. So how will the organization that serves Wikipedia and its sister projects meet its goal?

The Wikimedia Foundation is currently launching Wikipedia Zero with mobile telecommunication partners Orange and Telenor as a solultion to bringing it closer to its vision that “every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”

According to Amit Kapoor, WMF Mobile Partnerships, Wikipedia currently has an audience of around 480 million, but the mobile phone initiative has the potential to tap into the population from developing countries who are part of the 5 billion mobile phone customers around the world.

Kapoor says the success of Wikipedia Zero faces several obstacles, such as cost and technology.



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March 23, 2012

Wikimania 2012 announces Mary Gardiner as keynote speaker

Wikimania 2012 announces Mary Gardiner as keynote speaker

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Friday, March 23, 2012

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Mary Gardiner will give the opening keynote at Wikimania 2012
Image: Andrew Bennetts.

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The planning committee for Wikimania 2012, the international conference for Wikimedia, announced on March 22 that Australian women’s open source advocate and computer programmer Mary Gardiner will be the keynote speaker for the opening session of the conference on Thursday, July 12, 2012. This will make Gardiner the first woman to keynote at Wikimania.

Gardiner is the co-founder of the Ada Initiative, a non-profit organization devoted to improving support for women in open source tech and communities, including Wikipedia. Based in Sydney, Australia, she founded AussieChix, the first and largest open source organization for women in Australia. AussieChix eventually moved into the broader Oceania area, and has since been renamed as Oceania Women of Open Technology. Gardiner is also highly active in the Australian Linux community, having served as program chair of linux.conf.au and as a council member for Linux Australia. For her service to the Australian Linux community, Gardiner was awarded Linux Australia’s 2011 Rusty Wrench award. As an activist, she has provided a voice for women in open source, and through the Ada Initiative she works to fight against “the social norms and beliefs of a minority of contributors who are not interested in women as colleagues or who do not believe women have the capability to successfully contribute”.

“Mary has been a strong advocate for open source and has worked extensively to elevate the role of women and increase their participation in open source and open culture,” stated James Hare, Wikimania 2012 coordinator. The decision for Gardiner to keynote coincides with the Wikimedia Foundation’s goals to close the gender gap in Wikipedia, by encouraging the participation of and retaining women editors. Gardiner’s appearance will coincide with AdaCamp, an unconference planned by the Ada Initiative which aims to bring women in open source tech from around the world to Washington, D.C. to work together to build community and dicuss women’s issues in the world of open source.

Wikimania 2012 takes place July 12-14, 2012, in Washington, D.C.



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June 30, 2011

Wikinews interviews US National Archives Wikipedian in Residence

Wikinews interviews US National Archives Wikipedian in Residence

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Dominic McDevitt-Parks speaks during a January 2011 Wikipedia Campus Ambassador training event.
Image: Sage Ross.

The National Archives at College Park, Maryland, known informally as Archives II, was built due to space constraints at the main building in Washington, D.C..
Image: National Archives and Records Administration.

Dominic McDevitt-Parks, a prolific contributor to Wikipedia and a graduate student in history and archives management, agreed to answer a few questions about his new role as “Wikipedian in Residence” at the US National Archives and Records Administration.

“Wikipedians in Residence” are volunteers placed with institutions, such as museums and libraries, to facilitate use of those institutions’ resources on Wikipedia.

According to a Pew Internet report, 42 percent of Americans use Wikipedia as an online source of information. The online, collaborative encyclopedia boasts more than 3.5 million articles in English and versions in over 250 languages. Given the website’s vast readership, the Archivist of the United States has proclaimed himself “a big fan of Wikipedia” and emphasizes the need for the National Archives to work with the project. The Archives posted the internship listing in March, expressing its desire for an employee who “will work as a community coordinator and strengthen the relationship between the Archives and the Wikipedian community through a range of activities”.

McDevitt-Parks, who describes himself as a “history buff, a word nerd, a news junkie and an occasional pedant,” is a 24-year-old graduate student at Simmons College in Boston. On Wikipedia, he has contributed for more than seven years under the username “Dominic”, his work focusing mostly on Latin American history.

He began his work at the Archives in late May, and since then he has undertaken numerous projects, including uploading onto Wikipedia 200 photos taken by Ansel Adams for the National Park Service. Although those photos have always remained in the public domain, accessing their high-definition versions could be problematic. Researchers who wanted to view the files had to visit the Archives facilities in College Park, Maryland.

McDevitt-Parks is also preparing a “Today’s Document challenge” on Wikipedia, where works featured as “Today’s Document” on the Archives’ website are also the main focus of newly written or expanded encyclopedia articles displayed on Wikipedia’s home page. The first — and so far only — winner of the challenge was the Wikipedia article “Desegregation in the United States Marine Corps“, which incorporated an Archives-held photo of the first African-American recruit to the US Marine Corps. Before the challenge, according to McDevitt-Parks, “a thorough history of desegregation in the U.S. Marines didn’t exist in Wikipedia’s knowledge ecosystem. The topic wasn’t totally ignored, but simply split among related entries; a devoted, focused article never existed solely in its own right.”

The “Wikipedian in Residence” position falls within the Archives’ social media staff within the Open Government division of Information Services, since the institution’s goal is to distribute as much content to the widest audience possible. The internship is 40 hours per week from mid-May to late August.

Interview

The Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, has been very supportive of Wikipedia. He is shown here welcoming Wikipedians to the Archives to celebrate the project’s tenth birthday.
Image: Sarah Stierch.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Before you started your internship, how close of a relationship did the National Archives have with Wikipedia?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDominic McDevitt-ParksWikinews waves Right.pngThere was no official relationship, however the National Archives has long been supportive of Wikipedia. Earlier this year, for instance, the National Archives hosted a meetup in the main DC location in honor of Wikipedia’s tenth anniversary. The Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, is incredibly friendly to Wikipedia, as are many of the National Archives’ staff. As he wrote after WikiXDC, “As an agency, I look forward to our staff learning more about the fabric and culture of Wikipedia and how to get involved.” He also penned a letter to the Wikimedia Foundation offering support from the National Archives for the successful Washington D.C. bid for Wikimania 2012. In all likelihood, this is not a relationship that will end after this summer, either.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Why is it important that institutions like the National Archives foster this sort of relationship with Wikipedia?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngArchives and other such institutions preserve our cultural heritage not just for the sake of keeping them, but so that we may access and use them. In the 21st century, accessibility is about more than just having exhibitions or a public research room; it is about having a digital presence and proactively delivering content to people with an information need, whether or not they were looking for a particular document from an institution’s holding. Wikipedia and its sister projects are perfectly suited for this purpose in a number of ways. The most obvious is visibility. There is no institutional web site in the world that is more popular among general web users than Wikipedia, which is one of the top 10 ranked web sites according to volume of traffic. Its article on a given topic will nearly always rank higher in search engine results than any institution’s page, even one about a document actually held by that institution. In general, Wikipedia is the first and often only place online searchers will go to learn about the issues and items in which an institution might specialize. This means that there is no better way to reach the public than Wikipedia, and there is no better way to make one’s holdings accessible and—just as important—discoverable than by making it directly available on Wikipedia. The pervasiveness of Wikipedia also means that work to improve it will have much more impact than many other education and outreach programs.

Wikimedia’s projects can do more than just reach people, though. It’s not merely a content host or a forum, like YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Wikimedia is a community with an intellectual mission. It will not only make holdings findable, but it will add value to them. They write encyclopedia articles related to the holdings of cultural institutions, or to subjects for which holdings are valuable source material or illustrations; they organize, categorize, and even sometimes digitally restore images; they transcribe and proofread textual documents. They are doing this for their personal fulfillment, nearly always without the knowledge and cooperation of associated cultural institutions. Indeed, thousands of Wikimedians are already engaged in their own little projects which donated content or expertise can help along; both parties are interested in adding value to their work by partnering with the other.

Finally, Wikimedia is unique among the major online fora and hosts for cultural content in that it shares cultural institutions’ commitment to open access and public education. Wikipedia is a non-profit, and creating free public knowledge is its sole purpose. All original content is released under a free copyright license so that it can be widely disseminated without permission or fee. In fact, its commitment to freedom of information is so strong that it often cannot even accept works from some cultural institutions which restrict their use in some way (such as by disallowing derivative works or requiring non-commercial use), and making institutions truly free and compatible with Wikipedia is one of the jobs of Wikipedans in Residence. Wikipedia is not just a venue for presenting our cultural heritage, it is an active ally for all institutions that seek to do so.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What aspect of having a Wikipedian in Residence is seen as most valuable to the National Archives? What would you, personally, say is the greatest benefit to any cultural institution from engaging with the Wikimedia community?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngFor the National Archives, all of the above apply. This is about public outreach and increasing access and use. NARA wants to find users where they are, not just wait for them to visit, and the people are on Wikipedia. According to David Ferriero, the National Archives would like this collaboration with Wikipedia to exemplify their “commitment to the Open Government principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration.” Wikimedia partnerships are so promising because they can be extensions of any institution’s mission in a number of conceivable ways.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You have already told The Washington Post that other institutions have hired Wikipedians in residence, including the British Museum, the Museu Picasso, and the Archives of American Art. Do you know of any other institutions that may develop similar relationships with Wikipedia in the near future?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngYou can see a listing of other Wikipedian residencies here. There have been several, but still less than ten, and each situation has been unique. I can’t really speak to any specific future collaborations being worked on, as I am not privy to those negotiations. However, I will say more generally that these relationships are only going to become more common. Wikimedians and chapters around the world have been in touch with various institutions interested in working with us. I saw and met many of these people firsthand at GLAMcamp NYC, which was attended by dozens of excited representatives from cultural institutions attracted by the prospect of a relationship with Wikipedia and just as many incredibly motivated Wikimedians who are involved in reaching out to these institutions.

The National Archives is reaching out to other crowdsourced projects for scanning and transcription. During a program on citizen archivists, Jessica Zelt (North American Bird Phenology Program), Matthew Knutzen (New York Public Library), and Darla Adams (Ancestry.com) are shown with moderator Meredith Stewart (National Archives).
Image: National Archives and Records Administration.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are there other — non-Wikimedia — opportunities online you feel the National Archives should look for?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngThe goal of cataloging, describing, digitizing, and transcribing the entire holdings of the National Archives is an impossible one using traditional methods and within traditional budget constraints. Cultural institutions need to engage the interested public to become active partners in preserving cultural heritage, rather than simply consumers. The work with Wikimedia is an important aspect of that new thinking, but there are all sorts of allied projects out there that would also make good partners. This includes similar crowdsourced projects for scanning and transcription, which the National Archives is already seeking out, as well as other specialized groups interested in digital history or particular topic areas.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How have your experiences — both in school and in Wikipedia — prepared you for this job?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngI am a history geek and an archivist-in-training. In my life off of Wikipedia, I have an undergraduate history degree, have worked in library/archive settings before, and am currently pursuing master’s degrees in both history and library science (archives management). I think these real-life experiences in their field are one of the main reasons that the National Archives was comfortable letting me on to their staff. I hope to be able to relate to the people and the practices here on a higher level than the average Wikimedian. I believe strongly in the work and the mission of the National Archives completely apart from how it syncs up with Wikipedia.

As a Wikimedian, I have been deeply immersed in various aspects of the project for many years now. I first started back in 2004, and have been an administrator since 2005. Along the way, I served as arbitrator, CheckUser, oversighter, and OTRSer, gaining a useful perspective on some of the project’s inner workings and (for lack of a better word) governance. I’ve also done outreach to real people as a Wikipedia Campus Ambassador for university students in Boston. I am cross-project Wikimedian, having also been very involved in Wiktionary over the years, where I am also an administrator. I have written content ranging from dictionary definitions of modern colloquialisms to articles on Chilean revolutionaries. But, most importantly, I hope that my familiarity with the culture and practices of Wikimedians will help facilitate this National Archives collaboration.

This photo, taken by Ansel Adams at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, was provided by the National Archives as part of its partnership with Wikipedia
Image: Ansel Adams.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Having worked in the National Archives for a few weeks now, has your approach to or perception of your work in Wikipedia or the National Archives changed in any way?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngI really wasn’t sure what to expect when I got here. The staff have all been exceedingly welcoming and cooperative which is a major relief. The real work has been figuring out what I can do and where best to spend my time. Most of the National Archives’ documents are not digitized, and possibly not even cataloged on the item-level. Those certainly include some items that Wikimedians would like to use for their projects, but it remains to be seen how much I can realistically do in one summer with those documents. I do want to get as much digital content as possible on Commons, but aside from the technological challenges we face at Commons in trying to figure out how to do mass uploads, the situation with the National Archives’ scan files is just as much of a barrier. They are often confusingly named, difficult to locate, or incomplete. I hit the ground running with the upload of an important batch of Ansel Adams photographs, but it turns out that that was actually the lowest-possible hanging fruit.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What challenges do you foresee having to face in your work?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngThe real challenges are about organization, both of documents—as I mentioned—and of people.

One of the biggest challenges is that we need Wikimedians to get on board with the project in a big way. This is an incredible opportunity for us as a project, but it requires a special community effort to take full advantage of it. We need volunteers to tag articles, to categorize media, to help with templates and coding tools, to write related article content, to transcribe and proofread texts, to add new images to articles, to digitally restore images, and so on. I can personally serve as the point of contact between the National Archives and Wikimedia, but it needs to be much more than that to be a successful project. At this point, the project spaces I am creating on-wiki are my attempt to create an inviting and useful infrastructure to serve as a hub for this effort, but they are not organically grown like most Wikimedia projects. I, and various helpers with templates and coding, have magicked them into existence in the last few weeks. They need participants to sign up and adopt them as their own so we can really get the ball rolling.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The New York Times reported in January that less than fifteen percent of Wikipedia’s contributors are women. The article raised concerns that this gender gap has affected the relative emphasis of topics covered on the encyclopedia. In what ways would this problem affect your own efforts to organize the Wikipedia community, and how do you plan to address it?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngThis is an issue that I care strongly about. (And somewhat relatedly, I served, and will continue to serve, as Campus Ambassador at a women’s college, and it was a wonderful experience.) The problem is really about more than gender imbalance; it’s about having a community that represents a diversity of backgrounds, viewpoints, and personalities. Those of us who work in the humanities can also sometimes feel like a minority on Wikipedia, as one would expect from a male-dominated culture. There is a lot of room for improvement on Wikipedia of articles related to women’s history—as well as the history of minority and non-Western peoples—and the National Archives has some incredible resources for these topics. One of the things that I would like to be able to do at the National Archives is to tap their existing pool of volunteers and funnel them towards NARA-related volunteerism on Wikimedia projects. As a national organization with various facilities and presidential libraries throughout the country, there is a lot of potential for various local volunteer communities to get involved. Institutions like the National Archives have volunteers eager to help their cause, but who would otherwise not get involved in Wikipedia, and this group of people likely has a very different demographic makeup than Wikipedia as a whole. I can attest that the library/archives community is certainly not male-dominated. The National Archives is interested in collaborating with Wikipedia not because it wants to lay work at the feet of the Wikipedia community specifically, but because it wants Wikipedia to be a platform for the public at large to be able to become active participants in preserving and interpreting their cultural heritage. This plan also means organizing a corresponding corps of Wikipedian volunteers to welcome and mentor such new editors.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Which aspects of this particular internship attracted you more than any other job opportunity you could have obtained?

Wikinews waves Left.pngDMPWikinews waves Right.pngI am a longtime, obsessive Wikimedian with a passion for history who is studying to become an archivist. Every aspect of the opportunity attracted me as soon as I learned about it. 🙂

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December 30, 2008

Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Poland bid promoter

Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Poland bid promoter

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

One of the Gdańsk candidature banner projects.
Image: Airwolf.

Wikimania is an annual conference for users, developers and other people involved in the wiki projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is held yearly since 2005. The first conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 4-8, 2005. The second one was held in Boston, USA (on August 4-6, 2006), the third one was held in Taipei, Taiwan (on August 3-5, 2007), the fourth Wikimania was held in Alexandria, Egypt (on July 17-19, 2008) and Wikimania 2009 will be held in Buenos Aires.

Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Gdańsk, Montpellier and Oxford are among current unofficial Wikimania 2010 bids. Below is Wikinews‘ conversation with the Gdańsk bid promoter and initiator, Wojciech Pędzich.


Wikinews

Wikipedians from Tricity are involved in the process of making an offer, which will give Poland a chance of organizing a world-wide conference of Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimania 2010. Among the competing cities are Washington, D.C., Rio de Janeiro, and Oxford. This year the conference was held in Alexandria, Egypt, where the famous Library of Alexandria is located. Does Gdańsk stand a chance among such known cities?

Cquote1.svg Poland is still an interesting, unknown, and a cheap-to-visit country Cquote2.svg
  • Wojciech Pędzich: Because of Wikimania continental rotation, Australian and European bids have the biggest chances in 2010. Australian, because they have not hosted Wikimania yet, and Europe, because the first Wikimania was held in Frankfurt back in 2005. Do we have a chance among other European cities’ proposals? Poland is still an interesting, unknown, and a cheap-to-visit country with a comprehensive list of countries from which their members can visit Poland without requirement of having a visa. We propose the conference to be held inside two adjacent buildings – Polish Baltic Philharmonic and the Polish Maritime Museum buildings, located just few steps from Long Market at the city’s centre. Yes, I do think that our offer will be attractive and will give us a real chance of organizing the Wikimania 2010 in grad upon Motława.

Democrative changes in Gdańsk were initiated before the Berlin Wall’s Fall.
Image: Yann Forget.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The tagline of your proposal is Gdańsk – the city of freedom. Could you tell us, why do you promote yourself with this line?

  • Gdańsk is associated by many with freedom, with its political impact. On the other hand, we have the Wikimedia Foundation and its values of sharing knowledge created freely by volunteers. A conjunction of a cosmopolitan city with strong revolutionary and liberal inclinations and a world-wide free culture is in this case, kind of, natural.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How many are involved into creating a proposal? Poland is relatively small country. Are you sure you will be able to guarantee the efficiency of conference, if your proposal wins?

Cquote1.svg We can say we have a great community potential here. Cquote2.svg
  • Poland is not exactly small – of course we cannot be compared to the USA, India, or China, but we are not a small country either. Let’s remember that according to the old way of presenting the Wikipedia language editions’ ranking, we were the fourth edition. Even after committing a change to this ranking system, we are still in the first ten. Therefore, we can say we have a great community potential here. Moreover, other Polish Wikimedia projects also place themselves within first tens of respective projects.
Speaking about people involved – so far we have only few, and sometimes I lament about that. Every next person is a possibility of sending few mails, talking with other people, additional pair of eyes looking at the offer, some ideas, contacts, knowledge. That’s why Patrol110 has spammed Pomeranian Wikipedians, so they could get involved, and so am I giving a weight to this: we need more people. Especially if our offer will win, but then I believe in another famous Polish “national spurt”.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Were there, in Gdańsk, already some world-wide conferences? Did the city manage to organize them?

Cquote1.svg I do have a hope that we will get a world-wide coverage thanks to the Wikimania Cquote2.svg
  • On December 5 and 6, 2008, the 25th anniversary of awarding president Lech Wałęsa with Nobel Peace Prize was held. Furthermore, it was held inter alia inside the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, which we propose as a place of the Wikimania 2010 conference. It was an event with over one thousand attendants from all over the world, and the city, in my humble opinion, did manage to organize this very well. The mayor of the city, Paweł Adamowicz, has confirmed it, by saying After successful celebrations of 25th anniversary of awarding Lech Wałęsa with the Nobel Peace Prize we see that we can organize big events. […] Ołowianka does its job as a big congressional place perfectly. […] Gdańsk will, once again, get a world-wide coverage in Dziennik Bałtycki interview. I do have a hope that we will get a world-wide coverage thanks to the Wikimania.
The City organizes a lot of cultural and trade events. There are Gdańsk International Fair, St. Dominik Fair, Shakespeare Festival, Good Humor Festival. We should also not forget other parts of the Tricity: Sopot and Gdynia which are also rich in cultural events.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Lately Poland tried to get a bid for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and Euro 2012. Both actions have brought a large government support. How is it this time?

  • We’ve contacted the city’s authorities. After a meeting with representatives of the Mayor’s Promotion and Chancellery Department we have got assurance about supporting our actions, what was confirmed by Mayor’s letter sent to us. The representatives assure us about their support all the time. They even have made an initial reservation of both buildings for July 9-11, 2010. They also offer an organizational support, which will be extremely important in case or city is chosen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Poland is a part of the European Union. What about Wikimedians, who are inhabitants of countries requiring a visa?

  • As I stated before, the list of countries, which citizens are not required to have a visa when entering Poland for 90 days is pretty long[1], and it does not restrict to Schengen Agreement participants. Long list of Polish missions abroad[2] and freely available Visa application form [3] should allow easy access to Poland for other countries citizens.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Information about Gdańsk application to host Wikimania started to appear in local media. What is local community reaction to this idea?

  • One can see it in the comments to the articles. Those that do not like Gdańsk in general are slightly against but most is for the idea. There are also people and organisations declaring help – I’ve got already some mails from potential supporters.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png As you said before some people are objecting, probably not knowing possible benefits. How will Gdańsk and it’s inhabitants benefit?

  • In addition of prestige, as we are talking about international event run by the organisation managing a flagship of Free Culture movement, world’s focus, city presence in world’s media, the conference will cause a money influx, new guests who can decide whether to come back to the city or suggest visiting it to their friends. We try not to make any troubles to city inhabitants, hoping that a conference held in one place will not paralyse the whole city.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Many possible visitors are not able to cover the cost of travel to Wikimania. What about organizers sponsorship?

  • It will depend on talks with companies willing to be sponsors. But I do not imagine leaving such requests unanswered.

Gdańsk by night
Image: Rafał Konkolewski.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Wikimania is not only lectures, but also a possibility for long night talks with participants from other countries. How does Gdańsk’s night-life looks like?

  • There are plenty of places where you can meet and talk with each other. You can see it in a draft offer where one can see hundreds of places where you can talk while eating and drinking. Proximity of Old Town invites for a walk through streets with a wonderful and unmatched atmosphere, you can only feel by yourself.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png English is the language of Wikimania. Will the attendants be able to communicate with employees of restaurants, clubs, shops, etc.?

  • Personally, I encountered the shop assistant, who couldn’t sell the product to foreign people only once; also just once I saw a rough translation of “polska kuchnia” as “Polish kitchen” instead of “Polish cuisine”. The Poles are able to communicate in English, I saw their communicativeness by teaching adults English for seven years. Most of menus and other informations in Old City’s venues are translated into English and German, and the waiters know English at a level, which allows the customers to get a trouble-free service.

File:Wpedzich z synkiem.jpg
Wojciech Pędzich with his son

Wojciech Pędzich (b. 1979) – comes from Szczytno, graduate of English linguistics in 2001, inhabitant of Gdańsk since 2001. Except of husband and father’s roles, an employee of the Purchase Department in a power hydraulics company. Involved in Wikimedia projects since December 2006, in the beginning as a translator of articles and guidelines for Polish Wikipedia, then the administrator of the project, a member of the first Arbitration Committee Board in Polish Wikipedia. Wikimedia projects’ steward since December 2007, member of the Wikimedia Polska Association. One of the initiators of Gdańsk Wikimania 2010 bid proposal.

Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

References

  1. Countries, which citizens are not required to have a visa when entering Poland
  2. List of polish missions abroad
  3. Visa application form


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December 29, 2008

Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter

Monday, December 29, 2008

One of the Gdańsk candidature banner projects.
Image: Airwolf.

Wikimania is an annual conference for users, developers and other people involved in the wiki projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is held yearly since 2005. The first conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 4-8, 2005. The second one was held in Boston, USA (on August 4-6, 2006), the third one was held in Taipei, Taiwan (on August 3-5, 2007), the fourth Wikimania was held in Alexandria, Egypt (on July 17-19, 2008) and Wikimania 2009 will be held in Buenos Aires.

Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Danzig, Montpellier and Oxford are among yet unofficial Wikimania 2010 bids. Below is Wikinews’ conversation with the Gdańsk bid promoter and initiator, Wojciech Pędzich.


Wikinews

Wikipedians from Tricity are involved in the process of making an offer, which will give Poland a chance of organizing a world-wide conference of Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimania 2010. Among the competing cities are Washington, D.C., Rio de Janeiro, and Oxford. This year the conference was held in Alexandria, Egypt, where the famous Library of Alexandria is located. Does Gdańsk stand a chance among such known cities?

Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter
Poland is still an interesting, unknown, and a cheap-to-visit country
Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter
Wojciech Pędzich: Because of Wikimania continents rotation, Australian and Europan bids have the biggest chances in 2010. Australian, because there was no Wikimania yet, and European, because the first Wikimania was held in Frankfurt back in 2005. Do we have a chance among other European cities’ proposals? Poland is still an interesting, unknown, and a cheap-to-visit country with a comprehensive list of countries from which their members can visit Poland without requirement of having a visa. We propose the conference to be held inside two adjacent buildings – Polish Baltic Philharmonic and the Polish Maritime Museum buildings, located just few steps from Long Market at the city’s centre. Yes, I do think that our offer will be attractive and will give us a real chance of organizing the Wikimania 2010 in grad upon Motława.

Democrative changes in Gdańsk were initiated before the Berlin Wall’s Fall.
Image: Yann Forget.

WN The tagline of your proposal is Gdańsk – the city of freedom. Could you tell us, why do you promote yourself with this line?

Gdańsk is associated by many with freedom, with its political impact. On the other hand, we have the Wikimedia Fundation and its values of sharing knowledge created freely by volunteers. A conjunction of a cosmopolitan city with strong revolutionary and liberal inclinations and a world-wide free culture is in this case, kind of, natural.

WN How many are involved into creating a proposal? Poland is relatively small country. Are you sure you will be able to guarantee the efficiency of conference, if your proposal wins?

Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter
We can say about a great community potential here.
Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter
Poland is not exactly small – of course we cannot be compared to the USA, India, or China, but we are not a small country either. Let’s remember that according to the old way of presenting the Wikipedia language editions’ ranking, we were the fourth edition. Even after committing a change to this ranking system, we are still in the first ten. Therefore, we can say about a great community potential here. Moreover, other Polish Wikimedia projects also place themselves within first tens of respective projects.
Speaking about people involved – so far we have only few, and sometimes I lament about that. Every next person is a possibility of sending few mails, talking with other people, additional pair of eyes looking at the offer, some ideas, contacts, knowledge. That’s why Patrol110 has spammed Pomeranian Wikipedians, so they could get involved, and so am I giving a weight to this: we need more people. Especially if our offer will win, but then I believe in another famous Polish “national spurt”.

WN Were there, in Danzig, already some world-wide conferences? Did the city manage to organize them?

Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter
I do have a hope that we will get a world-wide coverage thanks to the Wikimania
Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Gdańsk bid candidature promoter
On December 5 and 6, 2008, the 25th anniversary of awarding president Lech Wałęsa with Nobel Peace Prize was held. Furthermore, it was held inter alia inside the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, which we propose as a place of the Wikimania 2010 conference. It was an event with over one thousand attendants from all over the world, and the city, in my humble opinion, did manage to organize this very well. The mayor of the city, Paweł Adamowicz, has confirmed it, by saying After successful celebrations of 25th anniversary of awarding Lech Wałęsa with the Nobel Peace Prize we see that we can organize big events. […] Ołowianka does its job as a big congressional place perfectly. […] Gdańsk will, once again, get a world-wide coverage in Dziennik Bałtycki interview. I do have a hope that we will get a world-wide coverage thanks to the Wikimania.
The City organizes a lot of cultural and trade events. There are Gdańsk International Fair, St. Dominik Fair, Shakespeare Festival, Good Humor Festival. We should also not forget other parts of the Tricity: Sopot and Gdynia which are also rich in cultural events.

WN Lately Poland tried to get a bid for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and Euro 2012. Both actions have brought a large government support. How is it this time?

We’ve contacted the city’s authorities. After a meeting with representatives of the Mayor’s Promotion and Chancellery Department we have got assurance about supporting our actions, what was confirmed by Mayor’s letter sent to us. The representatives assure us about their support all the time. They even have made an initial reservation of both buildings for July 9-11, 2010. They also offer an organizational support, which will be extremely important in case or city is chosen.

WN Poland is a part of the European Union. What about Wikimedians, who are inhabitants of countries requiring a visa?

As I stated before, the list of countries, which citizens are not required to have a visa when entering Poland for 90 days is pretty long[1], and it does not restrict to Schengen Agreement participants. Long list of Polish missions abroad[2] and freely available Visa application form [3] should allow easy access to Poland for other countries citizens.

WN Information about Gdańsk application to host Wikimania started to appear in local media. What is local community reaction to this idea?

One can see it in the comments to the articles. Those that do not like Gdańsk in general are slightly against but most is for the idea. There are also people and organisations declaring help – I’ve got already some mails from potential supporters.

WN As you said before some people are objecting, probably not knowing possible benefits. How Gdańsk and it’s inhabitants will benefit?

In addition of prestige, as we are talking about international event run by the organisation managing a flagship of Free Culture movement, world’s focus, city presence in world’s media, the conference will cause a money influx, new guests who can decide whether to come back to the city or suggest visiting it to their friends. We try not to make any troubles to city inhabitants, hoping that a conference held in one place will not paralyse the whole city.

WN Many possible visitors are not able to cover the cost of travel to Wikimania. What about organizers sponsorship?

It will depend on talks with companies willing to be sponsors. But I do not imagine leaving such requests unanswered.

Gdańsk by night
Image: Rafał Konkolewski.

TC: Wikimania is not only lectures, but also a possibility for long night talks with participants from other countries. How does Gdańsk’s night-life looks like?

There are plenty of places where you can meet and talk with each other. You can see it in a draft offer where one can see hundreds of places where you can talk while eating and drinking. Proximity of Old Town invites for a walk through streets with a wonderful and unmatched atmosphere, you can only feel by yourself.

WN English is the language of Wikimania. Will the attendants be able to communicate with employees of restaurants, clubs, shops, etc.?

Personally, I encountered the shop assistant, who couldn’t sell the product to foreign people only once; also just once I saw a rough translation of “polska kuchnia” as “Polish kitchen” instead of “Polish cuisine”. The Poles are able to communicate in English, I saw their communicativeness by teaching adults English for seven years. Most of menus and other informations in Old City’s venues are translated into English and German, and the waiters know English at a level, which allows the customers to get a trouble-free service.

Wojciech Pędzich with a son

Wojciech Pędzich (b. 1979) – comes from Szczytno, graduate of English linguistics in 2001, inhabitant of Gdańsk since 2001. Except of husband and father’s roles, an employee of the Purchase Department in force hydraulics technologies company. Involved in Wikimedia projects since December 2006, in the beginning translator of articles and guidelines for Polish Wikipedia, then the administrator of the project, a member of the first Arbitration Committee Board in Polish Wikipedia. Wikimedia projects’ steward since December 2007, member of the Wikimedia Polska Association. One of the initiators of Gdańsk Wikimania 2010 bid proposal.

Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
This is a complete or partial translation of the article “Wierzę w kolejny polski “zryw narodowy” – wywiad z Wojciechem Pędzichem, promotorem gdańskiej kandydatury do Wikimanii 2010” from the Polski language Wikinews.
  • “Wikimania 2010 w Gdańsku? Mamy dużą szansę!”. ((Polish))
  • “Ludzie Wikipedii zagoszczą w Gdańsku?”. ((Polish))

References

  1. Countries, which citizens are not required to have a visa when entering Poland
  2. List of polish missions abroad
  3. Visa application form
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

July 18, 2008

Wikimania 2008 opens at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

Wikimania 2008 opens at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt

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Friday, July 18, 2008

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Wikimania 2008 press conference

Press conference

Thursday saw the start of the fourth International Wikimedia Conference, better known as Wikimania 2008. The conference is being held in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a modern library with conference facilities for multiple tracks as well as a grand hall where the opening ceremony and first presentation were held.

Wikimedia Board Panel

Speakers for the opening ceremony: His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Darwish, the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Florence Devouard, the outgoing chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, Mohamed Ibrahim the active lead volunteer, who took the initiative of approaching Bibliotheca Alexandrina to collaborate on the bidding and the organization of Wikimania 2008 along with the enthusiastic local volunteers, and finally Jakob Voss head of the program committee.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Change the shape of wisdom”, and the choice of location is seen as an outreach to the Arabic and African communities.

According to Dr. Darwish, the conference has the full support of the Egyptian Prime Minister who would have attended but for a clash with a prior engagement. In his introductory talk he described wikis as becoming more reliable and being a form of globalization which did not destroy local identity.

Talking of Egyptian efforts to improve education and make it a more continuous process he discussed increased e-Government and the fact that in this area Egypt had come in the top 25% of UN surveyed countries. The country’s young population is seen as a driving factor in increasing Internet use. Optimistically, Dr Darwish spoke of the move from a two-sided situation to more collaboration between government and citizens.

Florence Devouard spoke briefly about the library, comparing their goals with those of the Wikimedia Foundation and drawing a number of parallels. One of the projects hosted by the library is a mirror of the Internet Archive. As a surprise announcement, she revealed that the language subcommittee had approved the creation of a new Wikipedia version for Egyptian Arabic.

Mohamed Ibrahim talked on how Alexandria winning the bid had significantly raised the profile of wiki projects within the Arab and African media. This was evidenced at a press conference held early that afternoon. Around six or seven TV crews were present along with at least 30 reporters. Despite not being Western media, the focus of questioning was on academic skepticism towards Wikipedia; the oft-repeated confusion between Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation was dismissed when raised.

Jakob Voss, the last member of the opening ceremony team, gave a rundown of a number of statistics. The conference received over 150 submissions for talks and workshops. Of these approximately 75 were approved with around 100 speakers due to talk during the course of the three day conference.

Participation in the conference is around 650 attendees, coming from 47 different countries around the globe, in addition to some 80 other participants, including individuals from local and international media, sponsors representatives, BA directors and WMF advisory and board members.

At a well-attended press conference the usual issues were raised, such as the reliability of Wikipedia as a source. It was also announced that with the stepping down of Florence Devouard as Chair of the WMF board, her successor will be Michael Snow.

Jimmy Wales gave a speech titled Freedom of speech, human rights, and free culture. In his speech he made a comparison between the Freedom House rating with the size of the Wikipedia in that language. He found a link between the two in the cases he examined.

Other presentations included Rhonda Shearer’s speech on media accountability, Foundation goals and plans with Sue Gardner and Erik Möller.

The day ended with a board panel providing an opportunity for discussion with the board and a question & answer segment. This included the announcement that the new chair of the Foundation is Michael Snow.



External links

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March 30, 2008

Wikimania jury chooses Buenos Aires for 2009 location

Wikimania jury chooses Buenos Aires for 2009 location

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

The General San Martín Cultural Centre.
Image: Beatrice Murch.

On March 28, the jury in charge of selecting the location of Wikimania 2009 announced that the annual conference will be held in the city of Buenos Aires, the capital of the Argentine Republic.

According to a an official mailing list post from Wikimedia Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass, Phoebe Ayers, and James Forrester made on behalf of the jury, Buenos Aires was chosen because of the “strong, organized team” behind the bid, the “detailed budget proposal and planning schedule,” the “significant number of sponsors already lined up,” “relaxed visa rules,” because it has a “solid venue, situated within a well-maintained cultural center in a major international city,” and because of its “good Spanish-language media contacts.”

Buenos Aires was selected out of 4 official bids, including Toronto, Brisbane, and Karlsruhe.

The conference venue will be the General San Martín Cultural Centre, located in the heart of the city. The conference will also be sponsored by entities like the Buenos Aires Tourism Authority and the National University of La Plata.

The bid was mainly organized by the members of Wikimedia Argentina, a local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation.

This will be the first Wikimania celebrated in the South American continent and the first in a Spanish-speaking country.

Wikimania is an annual international conference for the editors of Wikimedia projects. The first conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 4-8, 2005; the second conference was held in Boston, USA, on August 4-6, 2006; the third one was held in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 3-5, 2007; this year’s conference will be held on July 17-19 in Alexandria, Egypt.

Wikimedia Argentina reacts to the selection

The members of Wikimedia Argentina.
Image: Beatrice Murch.

Wikinews interviewed Patricio Lorente, the President of Wikimedia Argentina, on his reaction to the selection of Buenos Aires for Wikimania 2009.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you feel about the selection?

Patricio: The whole group feels great satisfaction and an enormous responsibility. We’ve been working on this candidacy for over a year and the expectancy of getting the jury’s support was very big.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.pngHow will Wikimania 2009 be different from other years?

Patricio: The location is part of the newness: it’ll be the first Wikimania celebrated in the southern hemisphere and in a Latin country. The Spanish-speaking community has had, up until now, a weak participation in the global Wikimedia community, and we think this event will help integrate us.

Secondly, it’ll be a Wikimania more integrated to the host city than previous ones: we based our bid on that, making sure that the venues are in the very heart of Buenos Aires. In addition to having a comfortable ambiance for carrying out the discussions, we want the wiki community to live the city.

Thirdly, it’ll be a bilingual Wikimania. Up until now, the official language of Wikimania has been English. As part of this effort to integrate the Spanish-speaking community to the Wikimedia world we will make sure that there is simultaneous translation between Spanish and English, so that conferences are available in both languages.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.pngHow do you think Wikimania will affect Latin America?

Patricio: We hope it gives new impulse to the organization of existing communities in countries in the region, developing new local chapters. We also expect important press coverage, stimulating the appearance of new Wikimedians.



Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
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October 10, 2007

Wikimania jury chooses Alexandria for 2008 location

Wikimania jury chooses Alexandria for 2008 location

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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File:BACC.jpg
External view of the venue, Bibliotheca Alexandriana Convention Center

According to an official mailing list post from Wikimedia Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass, Wikimania 2008 will be held in Alexandria, Egypt.

The location was chosen because it is “particularly strong in the areas of reflecting the Wikimedia Foundation’s roots in geo-diversity and multi-lingualism”. According to the final tally, Alexandria placed first in the Funding, Location, Organizing Team, Rotation, Cost, and Venue. Alexandria had 3026 points total.

In second place with 2419 points was Atlanta, Georgia, United States. They placed first in Accommodation, Internet Access, Local Laws, Press, and Social Areas.

Finally, Cape Town, South Africa had 2003 points, placing first in Visas only.

The motto selected for Alexandria’s bid is “Let The Knowledge Be Free Everywhere”, Atlanta’s was “A new day for the New South”, and Cape Town’s was “Wikimania 2008. The International Wikimania Conference.”

According to the post, the Jury used 12 different categories including Accommodation, Funding, Internet Access, Press, Organizing Team, and Visas. Each member of the jury had 60 points to assign to the three proposed venues.

The decision has provoked some debate on the selection process, complaints have been raised about honour killings and gay rights within Egypt, with some asserting that the human rights record of the country should have factored more into the decision process. In reaction to this criticism Jimmy Wales has decided his talk at the conference will be entitled “Free knowledge and human rights“.

Karlsruhe, London, and Toronto submitted official bids, but later withdrew at various points throughout the process.



Sources

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August 6, 2006

Day 1 report of Wikimania 2006

Day 1 report of Wikimania 2006 – Wikinews, the free news source

Day 1 report of Wikimania 2006

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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Wikimania (spacing).png

Wikimania 2006 is the second annual Wikimedia conference. Hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard Law School campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it began August 4 and will run until August 6.

Wikimania began with a keynote presentation from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation. Wales played a short portion of a clip from a recent episode of U.S. television program The Colbert Report discussing Wikipedia. In the clip, Colbert says that “any website that has a longer entry on truthiness than Lutheranism has got its priorities straight.” His keynote continued by re-emphasising Wikimedia’s mission, as stated by Wales in a Slashdot interview: “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing”.

Wales stated that Wikipedia is “not as good as Britannica — yet”. Additionally, he also stated that in the coming year, Wikipedia will be making “a turn towards quality”. “We have always had this goal, but we all know we’re not there yet – in the coming years one of the themes is going to be a turn towards quality.” said Wales.

He then introduced Brad Patrick, the general counsel and recently-appointed interim CEO of Wikimedia. Patrick said he found Wikimedia after reading Wales’ list Ten Things That Will Be Free on Lawrence Lessig’s blog. After discovering the Wikimedia Foundation, Patrick emailed Wales about meeting for lunch. He had lunch with Wales a few months later and was hired as general counsel shortly after.

Wales went on to describe Wikia, the company he co-founded with Angela Beesley. He announced that Wikia has received venture capital, allowing them to hire full-time engineers to work on the MediaWiki software. He emphasized that Wikia, has “a total commitment to free knowledge and respect for communities.”

Later, Wales announced that the One Laptop Per Child project will be including Wikipedia as the first element in the content repository. He also announced that the board has approved Wikiversity as “a center for the creation and use of free learning materials and activities”. Wikiversity will “create and host a range of free-content multilingual learning materials for all age groups in all languages”. It will be launched soon with a three language, six month, beta trial period.

Wales described a project called Wikiwyg: a WYSIWYG editor for the wiki. Wikiwyg is an attempt to make the wiki easier to edit. “An intelligence test by making it hard to edit, just does not work,” noted Wales. While the release date is uncertain both Wikia and Socialtext are devoting full-time engineers to the project.

Wales emphasized the need to focus on quality. He also briefly discussed the commitment in the German Wikipedia to rolling out a stable version. He stated that if we do not have it rolled out by next year’s keynote “we are making a big mistake”.

Wales finished his keynote by giving an update on his Ten Things That Will Be Free and proposing “that the foundation seek funding to hire community coordinator and recruiters for important languages where we currently do poorly”.

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Other notable speakers included Ward Cunningham, Lawrence Lessig, Eben Moglen and many members of the Wikimedia communities.

The day wrapped up with a poster reception and a party celebrating Wikia’s 250,000 articles and Wikia’s founders Angela Beesley and Jimmy Wales birthdays.

Archived copies of many of the presentations are available on the Wikimania wiki.

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