This week hundreds of Wikimedia volunteers and enthusiasts will converge at the historic center of global knowledge and wisdom, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, for the annual Wikimania conference.
Wikimania is the official conference of Wikimedia’s free knowledge projects, which include Wikipedia, the largest free knowledge encyclopedia in human history. Presentations and discussions at this year’s conference will address topics related to public collaboration, open source initiatives, free knowledge, wiki technology, and open education, with the theme of this year’s conference ‘changing the shape of wisdom.’
Since the first official gathering in 2005 in Frankfurt, Germany, Wikimania has served as the main opportunity for project volunteers, staff, and enthusiasts to meet and discuss the technology, impact, and future of wiki-based, free knowledge projects. Organized by a local team of Wikimedia volunteers, Wikimania also acts as the primary opportunity for local populations to explore free knowledge and public collaboration, and the growth of Wikimedia projects in local languages.
“Wikimania is the one time each year when Wikimedia volunteers from all over the world gather together in a single location,” said Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner from the Foundation’s headquarters in San Francisco, California. “This year is particularly special, because we will be in Alexandria, at what was once the site of the largest library of the ancient world. It’s an exceptional opportunity for us to explore topics around reach, participation, and quality of the Wikimedia projects in one of the world’s most important centers for wisdom and knowledge.”
Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the entire planning team from the library have been actively involved in development of Wikimania 2008 alongside the volunteer team. “Free-content projects such as Wikipedia are an essential tool for the collection and dissemination of knowledge, especially in the developing world,” offered Dr. Serageldin. “We hope that Wikimania 2008 will raise local awareness of new possibilities and indeed take us towards changing the shape of wisdom. In hosting this event, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina upholds the values of its ancient namesake.”
Alexandria volunteer organizing committee head Mohamed Ibrahim has been leading efforts on the ground with the Wikimedia Foundation and the volunteers to ensure conference attendees have an excellent experience. “We’re hoping that our main goal of increasing awareness of free knowledge and the free software movement among Arabic speakers is going to be a success. The Arabic Wikipedia is getting a lot of attention, Wikimania is an ideal opportunity for all attendees to start thinking about how to improve both quality and quantity of our projects,” said Ibrahim.
For the complete Wikimania 2008 program, visit: http://wikimania2008.wikimedia.org/wiki/Schedule
This year conference participants, as well as volunteers not able to attend the conference, will be encouraged to upload and share related video content on Kaltura’s Wikimania video site. Kaltura’s collaborative video-editing process allows users to create new videos, or edit, improve, re-organize other videos. http://www.kaltura.com/devwiki/index.php/Wikimania_Video_Site
Principal sessions such as those of the keynote speakers and the invited speakers will be webcast live through the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Webcast website: http://webcast.bibalex.org
Wikimedia Blog, the Foundation’s official blog, will be updated frequently during the conference with ongoing podcasting information, participant activities, and media coverage: http://blog.wikimedia.org/