Gearing up for Wikimania in Gdańsk
The Baltic Philharmonic, site of this year's Wikimania
This year's Wikimania, the sixth annual conference on Wikimedia projects, will take place from July 9–11 in the Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk, Poland.
Below are a few highlights from the schedule, with an emphasis on topics that Signpost readers might recognize from earlier issues. There is a separate overview Wikimania 2010 for Developers in our "Technology Report" this week.
Among the novelties this year will be a 15-minute Wikimania Madness session at the beginning of each day, where speakers can give a 30-second preview of their presentation. Also different from previous Wikimanias was the open Call for Participation process, where interested attendees could comment on submissions while they were being selected for the program, and also sign up for a talk to indicate they are interested in attending it. A byproduct of this is the list of submissions sorted by number of interested attendees. While the numbers are not necessarily precise, the list provides some insight into what might be the most popular topics:
Currently, the presentation Conflicts between chapters and communities (Saturday) is at the top of that list; the speaker, Harel – a bureaucrat on the Hebrew Wikipedia – will examine the relationship of that project to Wikimedia Israel, as well as examples from other countries such as Germany. Also, many users have signed up as interested attendees for From Russia with love and squalor, an overview of the Russian Wikipedia, and for the panel Allow, invite, encourage: growing Wikimedia in the world (both on Saturday).
Several Foundation employees will talk about the usability initiative on Friday, in a presentation and a panel which might also touch some questions about the relationship between the community and staff developers that were raised last month in the debate about the display of Interwiki links (see Signpost coverage).
In Saturday's presentation Google translation, a Google employee will talk about the company's effort to use its machine translation software to increase Wikipedia content in languages such as Swahili, where it held a contest among university students (see Signpost coverage: February 2010 and November 2009).
Saturday will see two invited talks, by Felipe Ortega and Erik Möller: first, Ortega's talk Flagged revisions study results will present findings from an ongoing study commissioned by Wikimedia Germany (see Signpost coverage: Research group to evaluate impact of flagged revisions on German Wikipedia). Ortega is a Wikipedia researcher whose statistical research prompted media coverage and community discussions about the sustainability of Wikipedia communities last year (see Signpost coverage). Second, Möller's presentation Beyond the Encyclopedia: The frontiers of free knowledge will be a follow-up on Ten things that will be free, Jimmy Wales' keynote speech at Wikimania 2005.
The three hour Video Workshop on Saturday joins Michael Dale, who has been working on MediaWiki's video capabilities since 2008 (sponsored by Kaltura), with a representative of the "Let’s Get Video on Wikipedia" campaign launched in March by the Open Video Alliance (see Signpost coverage) and several others.
On Saturday evening, there will be a screening of Truth in numbers, a documentary about Wikipedia whose completion has long been awaited (at Wikimania 2007, a trailer and some clips were shown, and the New York Times reported that the filmmaker had already spent a "year filming Mr. Wales as he traveled around the world" by then. A Wikipedia article about the film had existed for years and was finally deleted in December 2009 after several deletion discussions).
The Outreach session on Sunday will feature a presentation about the Foundation's Public Policy initiative, which also introduced itself in last week's Signpost.
Also on Sunday, Benjamin Mako Hill (a Wikimedia Foundation advisory board member), Ortega and Mayo Fuster Morell will present The State of Wikimedia Scholarship 2009-2010, "a quick tour of scholarship and academic research over the last year that has focused on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects" (intending it to become an annual Wikimania tradition). Ortega will focus on published results from WikiSym, the academic conference on wikis (held in Gdansk just before Wikimania), where he is Program Chair.
The program will also feature poster sessions and an "Unconference", which will include lightning talks.
This year, the Wikimania-l mailing list saw more than the usual share of complaints about delays and other organizational issues (even the Wikimedia Foundation's executive director observed that "Wikimania in Gdansk this year has had some problems", in the context of a recent discussion of establishing a permanent Wikimania oversight committee on the Foundation-l mailing list). However, several volunteers have worked hard in recent weeks to fix these issues, and all major problems seem to have been resolved at this stage.