Wikimania Closing & Day #4+

The Wikimania Closing Session was a bit long, but I liked the results of the Wikimania Media Competitions very much. After that, some of us went out for dinner again and had at-length discussions about Wikipedia issues and the like, so it got late once more, but on day #4+ (Monday) we had to get up early for the meeting of the Wikimedia Local Chapters, the word local means something like ’national‘ here. I don’t know why they are called local—perhaps this is a measure to avoid nationalism—I don’t know…
The governing board of Wikimedia Deutschland had a meeting with a possible sponsor, too, which was quite interesting. Unfortunately, I had to hurry away to get my train. I shared the taxi with Hanno Wagner, one of the network people of the event. He had done a good job and blogged about the event. The network was sometimes unstable, but it worked! They even could fix the temporary unstabilities on day #4! I hope that Hanno aka Rince will be actively involved at the 22c3, the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress, the next big event I’m looking forward to.
Back at home, I had guests arriving from Montreal. It’s nice to be home again and have an international atmosphere there too. I’m getting addicted… 🙂 I will, however, continue my blog in German, since more local stuff is concerned [You are allowed to protest!]. Perhaps, I’ll switch to English for another special on my Wagner experience in Bayreuth in ten days and for the 22c3 special at the end of the year.
Brenno de Winter pointed out to me an interesting article on Bruce Schneier’s security blog: It is about the Orlando airport security program where you can get some sort of security-clearance subscription, in order to get to your flight faster than uncleared people. Beside the fact that this “clearance” may be a security problem in itself, it reminds me of Rop Gonggrijp’s proposal to let people check themselves.

Wikimania Day #2 & #3

The first day of Wikimania was rather long again, so I missed the first morning lectures of the second day.
I went to the presentation of Logos, a multilingual collaborative dictionary. The dictionary would be great, but unfortunately they haven’t thought about a license, so the material is simply unusable, because one doesn’t know to whom the material belongs. Since there are no regulations, every entry and every modification belongs to its creator, which means that the material is not free. Each and every contributor has to be asked, which is simple not feasible.
An old friend of mine, whom I haven’t met for years, had a contribution on Wikitution, an interesting idea of his to create a European constitution in a wiki.
The day’s highlight was Ward Cunningham’s lecture on the genesis and future of the original wiki. Although the topic is interesting in itself, the presentation was a bit monotonous (perhaps the sound system contributed to this, because the sound was a bit low). I had to fight against sleep, which is always bad. I am thinking of suggesting Ward to come to the Chaos Communication Congress, perhaps the audience can make a difference…
We went out for dinner and later to the Wikimania Party. I met some people that were no wikipedians, but had other interests or experiences about Wikis. To a certain degree that was quite interesting too, although the real thrill always is to meet people you have known virtually for a long time and meet for the first time in real life. In the evening there was a very interesting television documentary about Wikipedia on Arte. Before going to bed, I wanted to go online once more. It worked, but the network was rather unstable. I don’t really know why the organizers are so proud of their network.
I started the third day early enough to go to Richard Stallman’s lecture. It was quite interesting to see him, because his old-school hippie appearance is quite spectacular. Unfortunately, he told us what most, if not all of us, already knew: that software and knowledge had to be free as in free speech and not as in free beer and so on… nothing really gnew came out of it.
The session on wikis and scientific publications was partly interesting, but again I gained most out of quite a number of informal conversations with other participants. By the way, don’t miss the pictures on flickr.


Yesterday afternoon I arrived in Frankfurt for the Wikimania Conference. After getting my room at the Haus der Jugend, I went out for dinner with a Frankfurt-based friend of mine. I returned to the Youth Hostel after one o’clock and was at once drawn into some nightly discussions: showed us his bird-whistling interface for Wikipedia: According to certain criteria (concerning contents, author etc.) a Wikipedia article is translated into bird songs on a Mac, and we discussed a system to generate InterWiki links almost automatically. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the person that programmed that system.
It got very late and I missed the morning session on the following first congress day, but I did make it to Jimmy Wales’s opening lecture and its discussion which was quite interesting (perhaps more than the lecture itself). At lunch time I had very interesting discussions with fellow wikipedians and with KDE developers. KDE is now integrating Wikipedia access into their system which happens to be the operating system I use. There are nice things to come: One will be able to access Wikipedia directly from the desktop, get information about the displayed date (some kind of news service) and applications like amaroK or KStars can directly access the Wikipedia knowledge base. Of course, there are problems: is KStars accessing Wikipedia language dependently or is there a language-independent approach, perhaps making use of InterWiki links?
What is most important about such gatherings is that they allow for loads of informal discussions. Just now I’m following the section about NPOV and I’m really looking forward to discussing some of the issues informally.