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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wikicamp round up

Yesterday was my decompression day after wikicamp on Sunday. I can now actually gather my thoughts and write out a round up of wikicamp.

Overall wikicamp went off pretty well. Jimmy Wales was totally awesome. He was pretty much mobbed by the press and audience throughout and was totally willing to mix in with everyone, answering questions all day long. He had a long talk + Q&A, followed by a press conference, then 1-on-1 interviews, posed for photos with everyone and still had the energy to participate in the sessions and with the audience. He was one of the highlights for his enthusiam.

I really liked how the booklet on wikis came out. Many may not know that the whole booklet was done in a few hours by collaborating over a wiki. It could have done with some final editing, but for just a few hours of work, it came out really well. Some more perspectives on this from Balaji who designed the booklet.

I missed most of the first session including Jimmy's talk because I was sitting at the registration counter. We closed the registration desk at lunch and I started attending the sessions. One of the problems was the distance between the rooms for the two tracks. For some reason, I never went upstairs, and apparantly neither did many of the audience...out of sight, out of mind I guess :( I heard from some audience members that the talks upstairs were really good.

A possible solution could be to have all sessions in different corners of the main hall itself. How do you prevent the sessions from interfering with each other? Get rid of the mic, speakers and projector :) Thats exactly what I posted to the bangalore barcamp 3 mailing list last week. Here is an example of how such a setup would look. Lots of small groups of under 10 people. A perfect example of this was when some of the guys from the organising group asked me about my session on writing a wiki in 15 mins. The session was removed because of a lack of speaking slots, so we decided to go through it on the spot, just the 7 of us.

One of the things that I noticed in Barcamp Bangalore 2 and happened here as well was that the energy levels after the lunch session seemed to drop. We were also running quite a bit late on the sessions in the main hall. Keeping things going after lunch is a big challenge. I've been wondering about group games. Many unconferences have a round of Werewolf, for example. I've never played any of these, and I'm not sure what the response would be like, but I've read a lot of good things about them.

The highlight for me was the BoF session. Unfortunately it was the last session and there was not much audience. Anyhow, I was there in the front row and there was a very nice discussion on a number of topics. Topics like getting started with editing, handling vandalism, discussions about the recent changes patrol, role of protection, how semi-protection works, policy of verifiability, delete vs speedy delete, how wikipedia handles referencing a newspaper article that is unavailable online, policy on original research, policy on biographical pages, and a whole lot more. If you are interested, just search wikipedia for the above words. Very entertaining and illuminating. Good job by the panel - Ganesh Krishnamurthy, BalaSundaraRaman, Arun Ramarathnam, Bhadani and Atul Chitnis.

I caught up with Ganesh Krishnamurthy and had a discussion about wiki bots (in Python!!). He was due to give a session on it, but unfortunately we ran out of time and he was unable to give it. Actually quite a few sessions got cut due to a lack of time. Anyway, I did catch up with him and we had a discussion about it. He runs a bot on wikipedia that reads a list of towns, then gathers information like population, latitude, longitude etc from some sources and automatically creates a wikipedia article stub on that town. Very cool.

Also met the guys Underdog Productions, who are making a documentary on Jimmy Wales. They are a group of six guys, three of whom had come to record footage for the documentary. Their previous movie was Piece by Piece, a documentary on San Frasisco's graffiti scene. Way to go guys.

So what was the benefit of wikicamp for me? Lot of knowledge gained from the BoF session. Really interested in wiki bots now and doing more investigation along those lines. Also, I've been having an account on Wikipedia since April, 2006, but I had never done any edits, except a few anonymous typo corrections. I figured out the password to my account and just started off with my first edit using the account. Plus getting to meet some interesting people.

All in all, wikicamp was really helpful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


that was a real sum up of the event.

Considering that you were wearing many hats (or should we say many 'avatars') such as manning the reception table at the early stages or passing on the mike during the subsequent sessions, you have done a great job.

Perhaps you would like to check out some of my posts during my live blogging on the wikicamp at