Chapters Committee/News/May 2006
I have just come back from various trips which allowed me to attend, in my capacity of member of the Chapters committee, various Wikimedia meetings across Europe.
Here is a little report on what I saw happening here and there.
I attended the annual Wikimedia Polska meeting in Wroclaw on April 30th-May 1st. The meeting consisted of two parts. The first part was a conference which gathered Wikipedians as well as non-wikipedians to talk about and around Wikimedia projects. It was all in Polish, so I can't really report on the exact content of most of the talks, but I also had Łukasz (TOR) as a personal translator who sat by my side for some of the talks given (and I hereby thank him).
- Tomasz Ganicz (Polimerek) did a very interesting presentation about NPOV, original research and how those two ground principles are linked and important for the building of Wikipedia.
- Jarosław Lipszyc presented his project of Polish wiki-textbooks writen by schoolteachers, a project designed to make free textbooks available in Polish schools.
- Zbigniew Braniecki (Gandalf), member of the board of Mozilla Europe and developper in charge of internationalisation and localisation for Flock presented Web 2.0 and how Wikipedia fits in. He explained how Wikipedia was a precursor of Web 2.0 through its social implications, and also how the Wikimedia projects and the Mediawiki software still had to improve their usability and accessibility to join the social and technical implications of Web 2.0
- Łukasz Garczewski (TOR) gave a talk about the different activities of Wikimedia Polska.
- I gave a talk on organisational issues, stressing the importance of local initiatives through chapters as a means of ensuring international outreach of the Wikimedia projects.
Among other interventions I did not follow as thoroughly, Rafał Próchniak of Creative Commons Poland gave a talk on Creative Commons Licenses, Bogumił Cieniek (A_Bach) a talk on Templates, their use and their technical background... May those I forgot forgive me. My Polish is rusty.
I attended the annual meeting of the board of Wikimedia Deutschland on May 6th-7th 2006. Every year, all members of the board get together for a week-end to work on the projects of the coming year.
Among the different issues raised:
- Officialization of the "Geschäftsstelle" for Wikimedia Deutschland. Arne Klempert, until now Vice-president of Wikimedia Deutschland, has been hired as Executive Director of WIkimedia Deutschland to start in October 2006. The creation of the position of Executive Director was given a go by the Member's general assembly in February 2006 and the position advertised brought in about 70 applications.
- Run down on the Wikipedia Academy final preparations. Frank Schulenburg gave a summary of the Wikipedia Academy, which seems to have hit its target, namely academics, students, teachers who are interested in learning about Wikipedia and how they can participate. All about the Wikipedia Academy on the official website: http://wikimedia-academy.de
- There are various projects in the air, in collaboration with partners as diverse as schools, other non-profits and possibly companies.
- Participations in trade-shows and events in Germany were planned for the year 2006
- The board of Wikimedia Deutschland also had a lengthy discussion about the role (or lack of) of Wikimedia (the organisation) in the conduct of the Wikimedia projects.
My flight to Belgrade had a stop over in Milano, which I used to have an informal meeting with some members of the board of Wikimedia Italia as well as with some wikipedians. Around a home-made pizza, we discussed a few topics.
- Wikimedia Italia has had various offers from sponsors, especially on the technical side, and needs to find out whether they are viable or not, reviewing them with the technical committee.
- Wikimedia Italia has been working in partnership with the "Politecnico di Torino" to develop an offline reader to put the Italian Wikipedia on a DVD. The reader is in working state and works with a browser, the technology being based on the html static Wikipedia. The project is released under a BSD licence, and Wikimedia Italia is looking for a publisher who could be interested in producing the DVD.
- I realized something, ie. how boring it can be for people who are not involved in Wikipedia to hear us all speaking about Wikipedia. Sitting here, listening to very particular problems involving users or articles I had no clue about, I had a thought for all our companions/friends/parents who have to put up with this Wiki thing all the time. I just want to take this opportunity to tell them I understand.
Wikimedia Србије и Црне Горе (Serbia and Montenegro)
I was in Belgrade for two days, assisting a Free culture, free software and free knowledge festival, originated by Wikimedia Serbia and Montenegro and joined by other Free-movement organisation. Talks and presentations included:
- Free art display - some real weird stuff, and some very nice art, I particularly liked the illustration of 'an axe in honey", a Serbian saying which displayed a major sized axe in a major sized pot of honey ;-).
- Free music and concerts
- Free software, open source distributions were presenting their products.
- Free knowledge (I gave a small talk about Wikimedia)
Many organisations joined this event which was in part driven by the chapter, among which an organisation about free wireless internet, a feminist organisation...
The festival was hosted by the Cultural Center DOB, a state funded organisation, which is very interested in working with Wikimedia on a longer time basis, their goal being to try and develop communities around different topics, whether software, culture, knowledge etc. Again, the presentations were in the local language, which gave me little possibility of understanding them. However, I had long talks about the Serbian Wikipedia, and very interesting ones, as this Wikipedia is much smaller than those the other existing chapters are tied to by language. Their problems and solutions are both the same and very different, which is food for thought how Wikipedias can help each other (or not).
All in all, these meetings were rich and interesting, and comfort me in the idea that local representaiton is definitely the future of Wikimedia. It is very important that we keep in touch with the initiatives that originate around the Wikimedia projects locally in order to ensure the maximum outreach, in as many countries as possible.
I also hereby want to thank all my hosts, who were just perfect. :-)