Wikimania is the annual conference of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the international meetup for community members from all Wikimedia projects. This year's Wikimania is happening from August 4-6 in Cambridge, Mass. on the Harvard Law School campus. As well as an international community gathering, this will be a research conference, with many exciting presentations and workshops. There will also be a smaller 'hacking days' session from August 1-3 at the MIT Media Lab.
The first Wikimania was held in August 2005, in Frankfurt, Germany. It was a public and social event, with 380 people from over 50 countries. Events included three days of conference sessions; a room of poster presentations; trivia, writing, and multimedia contests; a series of hacking days for MediaWiki and Wikimedia developers, and trips into the surrounding city. Keynote speakers included Jimmy Wales, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, Ward Cunningham, inventor of the wiki, and Ross Mayfield, CEO of Socialtext. There were 50+ other presenters, split between community members and interested outsiders studying or relying on Wikimedia projects. The proceedings of last year's presentations can currently be found on the Meta-wiki.
This year's Wikimania will follow a similar format, with invited speakers, submitted presentations, and social events. The conference has five broad themes : the projects and their content, MediaWiki & technical infrastructure, free knowledge and access to information, law and policies, and the social science of wikipedia and online communities. These themes are not exclusive, but represent some of the topics the conference will be about.
Presentation submissions and participation
All are welcome to submit proposals for a presentation or discussion. You can find out more at our [http://wikimania2006.wikimedia.org/wiki/Call_for_participation call for participation]. The deadlines for submitting workshop ideas is April 15, and for presentation, panel, discussion and poster submissions the deadline is April 30. For workshop submissions, please have an idea of something that you could teach, or an activity that workshop members could explore in depth. Discussion sessions are a free-form format for participants to discuss, round-table style, a particular issue or set of issues.
A panel session is a related group of speakers who address the same question, often in response to audience questions; panel submissions need to describe the topic of the panel, possible panelists, and propose a moderator. Presentations are talks, often with slides or supporting materials, that one person or a small group of people gives; most presentation slots will be twenty minutes long with ten minutes of questions and answers. The poster format is the most flexible - a poster is a large display of information that will hang the entire conference, and can be about a research project, a related project, or anything related to the conference themes.
Volunteering and feedback
The Wikimania team welcome interested volunteers. Open tasks this month include reviewing papers, planning remote participation, and designing the website. There will be an initial volunteer meeting this weekend; would-be attendees should note which times they will be available.
Wikimania is, first and foremost, an event for the community; please share your ideas and dreams for what the conference could be. Suggestions for the conference and general questions can be posted to the main discussion page. Comments about what you would like to see in this feature in coming weeks would be welcome.