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City details[edit]

  • Country: USA
  • City proposed: Boston
  • Proposed dates: A weekend between June 21 and August 21, including the last one in June, five in July, and the first three in August. July 24-30 might work well.
  • Contact person(s): Sj

Conference venue[edit]

Facilities at the Harvard University Law School, through the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where Jimmy Wales is currently a fellow. The university is venerable and well-situated in the center of Cambridge, whose founding it predates.

Any facilities we need to use at the law school will be available free of charge. Much A/V work is built in; with audio/video recording in most rooms and ambient wired/wireless networks. By coordinating with the local tech support and catering crews, we can provide our own volunteer support for many things. We can also pay for catering and A/V work through the Law School.

Some of the larger halls will need to be arranged separately.


Unless otherwise noted, capacities below are for auditorium seating. More chairs can almost always be provided. For multipurpose rooms, receptions can generally fit 20% more people than that capacity. Distances given are from Baker House on the Law School campus, home to the Berkman Center.

I. Ceremony space:

  • For opening/closing ceremonies, there are a few options.
  • Sanders Theater is an option if booked early; glorious, expensive and well-booked, at times. Seats ~1000. Fabulous acoustics; two levels of seating. Pricing depends on how it is used, how the conference is classified, and how much support is needed. Hard to book for many days straight, but easier to book during the daytime.
    Cost, variable. Distance : 1.5 blocks. A/V support : great support for elaborate miking, staged events, drop-down stage-length screen.
  • Annenberg Hall offers a similarly-sized space next to Sanders, a magnificent wooden-floored apse. Suitable for a banquet (normally used as the Freshman dining hall) or large party. Room for an 800-person reception. Difficult to book, but possible for an event this size.
  • The Ropes Gray Room on the 3rd floor of Pound Hall is a two-level function room. Space for a 450-person reception, with unusually-shaped space well-suited to
  • Tented, outdoors - Harvard engages in extensive tented activities, and knows all about how, where, and how quickly tents can be set up and taken down for functions and events. May be slightly more expensive than the above halls for one day; but could be used creatively over multiple days. 2 suitable green fields within 2 blocks (in front of the science center, in front of the Law library.

II. Main hall:

  • Sanders Theatre : seats 1050; 1.5 blocks away. Difficult to get for a full weekend, but amazing acoustics. Used for some of Harvard's largest classes.
  • Science Center auditoria : two auditoria seating ~500 people. Easier to book, less fancy.
    Cost, variable. Distance: 1 block. A/V support : good support, projection. Massive quad-blackboards.
  • Law School buildings [1] are the easiest to book, and will definitely be free.
  • Austin Hall's Ames Courtroom - seats 295, A/V/VC (videoconferencing) built in... as are the shelves of law texts in the background.
    Austin hall also has 3 large classrooms seating 200/140/140; see below.
  • The Kennedy School of Government has a significant forum, with floor and elevated seating; can manage 500+ people depending on the viewing setup (with video monitors on the upper floors, more), and has extensive attached space for food/drinks to be laid out on the ground floor.
    Cost, variable. Distance : 5 blocks. A/V support : excellent sound and videography. Multiple simultaneous-projection screens, good acoustics.

III. Presentation and other rooms

  • Austin Hall : Three large classrooms, North, East and West (seating 200, 139, and 137) together seat over 400, all with A/V/VC. Distance: 100m
    Also in Austin Hall: Morgan Courtroom (30, A/V/VC) and two seminar rooms (20, 14).
  • Pound Hall : Four large classrooms, 100, 101, 102, and 107 (seating 119, 114, 93, and 78) together seat over 400 (A/V)
    Two smaller rooms, 106 and 108, seat 34 each (A/V)
    Second floor : (Pound is full of useful rooms) four seminar rooms seat 75/65/56/30. The John Chipman room seats 120 or feeds 80. Rm 204, a small seminar room, would be perfect for isolated interviews.
    Third floor : Two multipurpose rooms seat 80/60 or feed 72/40.
  • Langdell Hall : two classrooms, North and South, each seat 160 (A/V)

IV. Hacking days

  • Requirements for a good hacking environment are slightly different; access after normal work hours, tech books and flatscreens rather than legal archives in the background, lounges and whiteboards. The CS department at Harvard has such space just abutting the Law School, in the Maxwell-Dworkin building. M-D has a few seminar rooms.
  • Rm 132: 2nd-floor conference room, seating 30 at around-table. A/V is easy to set up.
    A lounge with wall-length whiteboard is outside; grad student offices make up the rest of that part of the building.
  1. Other rooms (organisation, staff, speakers, interviews/press, storage):
  • Small rooms are available for extra or emergency uses in Berkman itself; possibly at all hours. These could be used for organization during the Hacking Days, moving to the M-D conference room or another law building (there are many rooms suitable for quiet organization) during the main conference.
  • Rooms will be booked through the Law School, if it is a Bermkan event. There will be some room fees, as well as catering and overtime fees depending on where we eat and how late we use various facilities.
  • Technical facilities
    • The Berkman center and the Computer Science department have experience with broadcasting audio and video, with live transcriptions, and with videoconferencing.
    • AV equipment for lectures is automatically available in most targetted rooms, and available for the rest.
    • All residence halls offer free wireless and wired Internet for conference attendees. There will also be terminals set up for those without their own machines.


  • Distance from international airport: 7 miles from Boston Logan Airport
  • Distance from mainline railway terminal(s): 4 miles from South Station.
  • Subway: The area is served by two subway stations on the same line. It is 300m from the Harvard Square station. Two buses stop directly outside Baker House, travelling along Massachusetts Avenue.
  • Estimated travel costs from all continents: According to the chart at m:Talk:Wikimania 2006/Planning... a round trip from New York is 20-40€ by bus and 100-150€ by plane; from London, 600-800€...
  • Distance from most accommodations: under 1 block from dorms; under 10 blocks from nearby hotels and B&Bs.


Main accommodations: The most convenient accomodation is in dormitories on and near the law school campus, in the middle of the university (within a stone's throw of the venues above).

  • Dorm details: Around $40 per person per night at law school dorms, for singles with shared baths. Cost varies with the size of the group and timing during the summer; group rates are available. We would probably take at least 1 entire dorm (150 rooms). Free broadband and wireless 'net access; basement function rooms and lounges suitable for all sorts of things. Getting precise quotes for a few weekends.
  • Local hostels: There are a few large hostels in Boston.
    -The Irish Embassy international hostel : from $20/night. 3 minutes from the North Station subway stop; 30 min from Harvard Square. ~40 beds.
    -Hostelling International : 1105 Commonwealth Ave; from $22/night. 30 min from Harvard Square.
    -Prescott International Hotel And Hostel  : from $21/night. 30 min from Harvard Square.
    -The Cambridge YMCA. They offer rooms from $25/night, are 15 min from Harvard Square.
    -Hi-friendly Crossways, a "country hostel" 30km from Boston. Travel via communter-rail into Porter Square, and then to the law school : a 75-min commute. Piano, fireplace, and many nearby parks. $20/night. (I've always wanted to go here for a vacation but have never been -- +sj +)
  • Hotels, B&Bs: Harvard is surrounded by excellent hotels and bed & breakfasts. The Charles Hotel, the Hotel @ Harvard, the University Hotel, and the Sheraton Commander are all within a few blocks of the venue. Non-group rates in summertime : around ~$120 for a double and $180 for a quad.
    Nearby B&Bs are quite small, but might be nice to rent for clusters of special guests. (cf. Irving House, et al). $60-$150/night with quiet locations and great service; some rae less than a mile away (up Oxford Street, up Garden St).

Catering and meals[edit]

Food packages are available through local kitchens for $7/$12/$18 breakfast/lunch/dinner. Something would have to be arranged specially for large groups.

  • Catered group lunches through the law school would come to around $10 per person. Other arrangements could be made with outside caterers.
  • Group discounts offered by a local gourmet pizza house (~$4/person/meal). Local helpers include people in the food industry; better deals and sponsorships can definitely be arranged.
  • Dinners and events are often held at the Faculty Club, 3 blocks away; cost depending on size, bar, and complexity. There is space for 100 people in an event room below ground, for 60-80 on the first floor, and smaller meeting rooms upstairs.

Local sponsorship potential[edit]

Interested local sponsors

  • IBM Watson Research in Cambridge is interested in working with us. They have a team of 2-3 people who work on wiki ideas; including the team developing the History Flow tools.
  • The FSF (main offices here in Boston)
  • Wolfram Research has expressed interest
  • The Science Commons of the Creative Commons, which has offices here. (Talked Thursday, Sept 29)
    Also a synthetic biology group that is interested in promoting MediaWiki development
  • The Boston Language Institute [2]
  • PlanetTran airport taxis
  • The local CSS consortium; 2 designers have offered help with site design
  • The local librarian community; we have good connections with ~4 librarians at Harvard and MIT.
    • Several of the organizations jkb participates in might be very interested in helping to support this event, most likely through volunteer efforts, but perhaps with some funds. They would probably want their name used, however.

The usual suspects (potentials)

  • MIT/CSAIL (Comp sci and AI labs), particularly their W3C offices


  • Sj (Have helped organize events at the Law school before; know the campus and city inside out. Worked on last year's Wikimania. Live near campus; have space for other organizers to crash with me if necessary during planning sessions)
  • Pingswept, also help with local news coverage
  • Brettstil, also help with site design (+ 2 colleagues), Wikimania laptop stickers schwag
  • DanKeshet
  • Jessamyn local-ish. Can help with crack team of local reference librarians to meet/greet/orient/assist.
  • Aaronsw
  • PaulAugust
  • Mysekurity
  • Deborah Elizabeth Finn, all around cyber-yenta, nonprofit and other tech connections across the east coast
  • Recafe (has experience, contacts with event rentals and in the real estate industry)
  • Rednblack (addict)
  • EricaG, official Berkman contact and wikiphile; plans local and Berkman events
  • jkb, involvement with much Boston-area event planning
  • Jeremy T
  • Alexander (Sasha) Wait
  • Tracy Adams
  • Ezra Keshet
  • Zak Stone
  • A brace of Watlingtons (pro blog PR)
  • Josh Ain
  • Shimon Rura
  • DustinBoyer Experience organizing conferences, Friendly, Competent & 2 couches for crashing 7 minutes walking distance from the vard.

Other local interest[edit]

  • Berkman interest : Fellows (very partial help from x10-20 interested people)
    Berkman tangents : SR, Bob D, PG
  • Harvard interest : Patrick O. (stats dept, computer services), Mike L. (computer services across the river), Matt G & HCS (xN), CS club (especially for Hacking Days & Maxwell-Dworkin support)
  • Local Wikipedians : Many; ~40 from recent meetups/events. Bcorr, Cunctator, dpbsmith, moink, AndyCarvin, Henry M., Karen R., Zak, Cyberfest hackers
    Nearby Wikipedian clusters : others who could come in from parts of MA and from NYC (like jessamyn above; 20+ from NYC, 20+ from regional MA)
  • Large community of librarians/information professionals interested in the technology/Wikimedia (we can publicize this to thousands of local l/ips; only about 100-300 may actually turn up.)

Total : 150 potentials



  • Widener Library, with the world's largest single-building collection; and fantastic multilingual manuscript archives. Other excellent specialized libraries on campus.
  • The Boston Museum of Science; a great place to hold a party (check with them?) [Exhibits? link]
    • jkb has been in a function room at the Museum of Science that holds about 100, beautiful view of the Charles River & Boston, highly recommends it, especially at sunset
    • The museum also does events with local organizations to allow people entrance to a special exhibit and getting into the museum.
  • 3+ museums directly on campus next to the site. H.M.N.History? Glass flowers!  :) right next to the conference; suitable for a lunchtime visit. Also the native cultures museum; botanical center; etc.
  • MIT museum, sites, sights.
  • Theater, Opera, Ballet, Arts
  • Landmarks/sights : The walk through downtown, Freedom Trail, Citgo :), The Prudential, Fenway Park, ice cream!
  • Parallel conferences (check Jun-Aug)
  • Outdoor fun: hiking, beaches, waterfront, sailing, July 4th fireworks, free concerts at the Hatch Shell, etc.

Community and Culture[edit]


  • Weaknesses of the proposed location ...and how to overcome those weaknesses
  1. Entering the US can be difficult, or at least an annoyance, for attendees from some countries.
    Solution: Harvard deals with this constantly. Visa problems can be mitigated by preparation in advance and with help from the university. Harvard has an office that handles visas, invitation letters, and foreign dignitaries; they can help both getting visas for attendees and properly inviting government and other officials whom we wish to attend or speak.
    The annoyance factor is harder to overcome, but it is an annoyance, rather than a barrier.
  2. Driving around Boston is dangerous -- where did all those pedestrians come from??
    Bring a bike, not a car. Or rent a bike while you are in town.
  3. Americans are rude and multilingual
    Only the tourists...
  4. ... (suggest your own :)
  • Strengths of the proposed location
  1. Collaboration with Berkman gives us free facilities, expertise in holding conventions, and links to other groups around the University (30,000 students across the various schools). We have contacts in the Law school, Medical school, and the departments of Computer Science interested in helping out.
  2. Harvard Square is in the heart of one of the greatest college towns in North America.
  3. Local organizations which have sponsored Wikipedia related events before and would be interested in doing so again include IBM Watson research labs (where they developed History Flow), the Boston Cyberarts group (which hosted a Wikipedia demonstration last spring), and the Museum of Science (which is scheduling a Wikipedia-related project for one of their educational programs).
  4. Location : Within 5 hours of New York City. Directly on a beautiful river (now clean!) and on the ocean.
  5. Public transportation: The MBTA, the public transit system around Boston, includes a subway system, buses, boats, and commuter trains. It's very easy to get around the area without a car.
  6. Walkability/Bicyclability: It's very easy to get around Cambridge and Boston because of the infrastructure and short distances between things.
  7. Food: The area hosts lots of excellent restaurants representing the many cultures and ethnic identities present in the city. It's possible to find vegan pizza, halal meat, etc.