Here are my notes from the closing ceremony of Wikimania. It was really an amazing conference and I was very honored to be there.
Sue, Executive Director for the Wikimedia Foundation:
I was told “Don’t break the community,” but I’ve never seen an E.D. with less power. I can’t break it even if I wanted. But why would I take a job doing this if I wanted. But that comment shows that the community cares and is passionate.
Things we did last year: Single User Login, Flagged revisions.
What we are doing: We are launching a global survey next month. We want to work with usability issues. We want to get the staff and the volunteer community together. Launching some kind of mini grants program, have earmarked money for volunteer development – bits of money to help people get stuff done. Also, more outreach into the Arabic speaking world.
It has been a long journey to get where we are today. Good thing to reflect on the growth of the project and challenges we face as we move forward. I’m going to speak more about the community. I remember when I, Florence, and Angela met in Paris. We want community control of the organization through our philosophy of decision-making. The difference between us and dot-coms is that if you talk to someone at Ebay about their community, their community is out there distinct from the organization.
We’ve been through a lot – an enormous growth. It misleads a lot of people in the community and in the public. The site and the community work really well. People think there is more organization than there is. But we know it is decentralized. It is not chaos, it is just confusing.
As we grow, our community will be more diverse. There was a time when most Wikipedians were in Europe, U.S., and Japan. Not so today. We are seeing those communities struggle with the same issues we had. We need to be international – think about other people in other Wikipedia languages. It is the people who attend Wikimania who can best reach out to other people in other communities.
I am very excited about the future of this organization. We need to remember Florence and what she did. People ask if the community is sustainable. The issue is not sustainability. It is sustainability with our values intact.
In Frankfurt, there was a sign that said “Edit this conference.” I am not going to do that. I would like to thank the volunteers. I am glad to see so many women here. I ask for transparency, bottom-to-top decision-making, but we all know about that. But I am super pleased to see all the people here in Egypt. I’ve heard from many people who just heard about Wikipedia. The next day, they told me they went home and did it. I suggest having a set of computers there where people can try out Wikipedia, a Wikipedia academy.
You can edit this conference – we did it several times. That is why we had to keep handing out new copies of the schedule each day. We should keep that flexible spirit as part of Wikimania. That spirit is what has made Wikimania so great. But it is also because of our professionalization and organization. As well as the wonderful facility, and I thank the library.
Ismail Serageldin, Director of the BA
You are the architects of a global revolution where access to know is a fund right, and sharing knowledge is a fundamental duty. Changing the meaning of liberty, freedom, creativity. You are changing the shape of wisdom. Go forth and fashion the wise constraints that make people free. The Wikimedia Foundation has certainly found a magic formula for that freedom. The strength of this organization is not one to be doubted. It rests on the consent and participation of those who make up that community. On behalf of the Arab world, thank you for coming here and underlying the challenge that we face. We hope that the Arabic language Wikipedia explodes in size. I am moved by the nobility of your spirit, by the unsullied idealism, the quality of your education, nature of your hope, and soaring ambition of our dreams. You are the hope of the future. Count us, each and every one, as members of this community. And may it grow. I wish you Godspeed and great happiness. Stay the course, live the dream, be the change. We will continue to follow in that path to include the excluded, give hope to the forlorn and remember the forgotten.
Michael and Sue
Thanks to our sponsors: wikiHow and the open society institute – they are committed to supporting Wikipedia long term. Our benefactors are: Cisco, Kaltura, Sun, HP Middle East, Microsoft for Egypt, RAA, Intel Egypt, Advanced Computer Technology. Friends: Onkosh. Supporters: Wikia Entertainment, Wikia Gaming, and E-space. Looking forward to Wikimania 2009 in Buenos Aires, let me invite the organizers up.
Head Organizer for Wikimania 2009
I want to thank Mido and the Egyptian Team. I want to congratulate all of you. We have started working since March, and we are very happy for this. Spanish language use of the Internet is growing at the same rate as Chinese. Spanish Wikipedia is 9th in terms of articles and 2nd in terms of views. We hope Wikimania 2009 will promote this, as well as Portuguese as Brazil is nearby. It will include participation from all over the world: Europe, North America, Asia, now Africa, and next year South America. This builds a community. The location is the Cultural Center, the most important cultural center in Argentina, in the heart of Buenos Aires. A new multimedia center is being built and the first event is Wikimania 2009. To those who want to host 2010, I encourage you to submit a bid. Muchos gracias. And thanks to Fajro for giving me this link: we then saw a video from Wikimedia Argentina about the venue and the locale – it looks amazing.
Thank a lot of people who worked really hard: the program committee. Lodeveik and Yakov. It was a collaborative process: Library of Alexandria, Egypt Volunteer Committee, the Program Committee, and the Wikimedia Foundation. 645 participants from 45 countries, thank all the volunteers. Thank tech support. Thank everyone.
All the volunteers were called on stage – there were a massive amount of local volunteers here, and they were all so helpful.
My first official act as chair: I want to thank all of you and declare this conference officially closed. Let us give an ovation for everyone!