WikiConference New York: An Open Unconference

Jimmy Wales speaking at the conference keynote, by Laurence Perry, CC BY-SA 3.0

Jimmy Wales speaking at the conference keynote, by GreenReaper, CC BY-SA 3.0

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of presenting at the first (hopefully annual) WikiConference New York, sponsored by the Wikimedia New York City chapter with assistance from Free Culture @ NYU and the Information Law Institute at NYU’s law school. I know that I am atrociously late in writing this post, but I’m not really writing it for the Wikipedians out there. Rather, the WikiConference was an interesting experiment that seemed to apply Wikipedia’s philosophy towards editing to a conference, resulting in what the organizers called a “modified unconference.”

Wikimania 2008: New Paradigms for New Tomorrows with Ismail Serageldin

Director of the Library of Alexandria, Dr. Ismail Serageldin gave a keynote speech on the first day of Wikimania 2008 titled, New Paradigms for New Tomorrows.  It was quite thoughtful and inspiring – the man is one of the most amazing individuals I have heard.  He is learned in so many different areas of academic and cultural knowledge, as well as incredibly wise.  I would recommend watching the video of his speech, but if you are pressed for time you can read my notes.


Wikimania 2008: Collaborative research on Wikiversity with Cormac Lawler

Collaborative research on Wikiversity by Cormac Lawler (user Cormaggio on Wikimedia projects) at the University of Manchester.  Wikiversity is a relatively young project in the Wikimedia umbrella, but I think it is a natural development and a great space to realize the potential of all the educators currently on Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and all the other projects.


Wikimania 2008: Wikipedia as Real Utopia with Edo Navot

Wikipedia as Real Utopia: Governance, knowledge production, and the institutional structure of Wikipedia – Edo Navot, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Sociology. Here follows my rough transcription of his speech, followed by my comments.  The fact that his is the only presentation I have so far commented on should be taken as a sign of respect, not of disparagement.  I rather enjoyed his presentation, pledge to read his paper in depth as soon as possible (I have skimmed it), and admire him for being one of the few academics out there studying social and political thought on Wikipedia.


Wikimania 2008: Flagged Revisions with Philipp Birken

From “Flagged Revisions,” a presentation at Wikimania 2008 by Philip Birken. In my opinion, flagged revisions realize the concept of stable versions without making the article actually stable.  It is not a system of voting to approve new revisions – a new revision is approved when only one autoconfirmed user says it is vandalism-free.  Yes, it won’t solve everything, but it will make things much better.  We can get rid of protecting articles that are experiencing heavy vandalism if we do this, because an edit only updates to the public when it is flagged as not-vandalism by a trusted user. However, vandals (or any other user) immediately sees the results of their edit for an hour, which is just ingenious.  Also, you can choose whether the most recent revision is shown by default, or make it so that certain users (like anonymous users) only see the most recent reviewed revision.  For those who feel that it threatens “the wiki way,” I suggest making the most recent version appear by default and giving people the option to see the latest reviewed version.

Anyways, enough of my cheerleading.  Here follows my notes from his talk:

Wikimania 2008: Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East

Content and the Internet in the (Globalized) Middle East, Dr. Ahmed Tantawi, Technical Director, IBM Middle East and North Africa.  Another copy of my notes from Wikimania 2008 – this was the keynote speech on the second day of the conference.  He began by warning us that, “I’ve changed this presentation, and I’ll change it during.  That is open content, yes?”  Everyone laughed.


Wikimania 2008: Opening Keynote with Egyptian Minister Ahmed Darwish

The official theme or slogan for this year’s Wikimania is “the knowledge revolution that is changing wisdom.” I think this phrase – especially the difference between knowledge and wisdom – was chosen very carefully and I think it is an excellent distinction to make. This morning’s opening ceremony began with a speech from the Egyptian Minister of State for Administrative Development, Dr. Ahmed Darwish. I will relay his comments here, without much analysis – that will come later, when I have the time.


Wikimania 2008

I am currently in Egypt for Wikimania 2008, which is being held this year at the Library of Alexandria. On Sunday, I will be presenting my ethnographic analysis of conceptions and misconceptions academics hold about Wikipedia. This presentation was going to be about old, computer-illiterate professors but has turned into something much more interesting: a commentary on Wikipedia’s status in the so-called postmodern digital humanities. I will update the post on this site as I finalize my presentation.

I will also be blogging and Twittering about the conference. Stay tuned for updates.