The Virtual Conference - Wikimania

The Wikimania Conference 2005 was held in Frankfurt this past weekend. Unfortunately, I could not be physically present in Frankfurt. Fortunately, the folks at freematrix had set up an Internet Radio feed so that those of us who at least had an Internet connection could listen in to some of the talks.

Friday was extremely interesting because I had the radio feed running and mIRC open to #de.wikipedia and spent the time discussing what was being said during the talks with some folks that were on the channel. There was a bit of a cognitive dissonance associated with listening in English and writing in German, but it was a very interesting experience. I even was able to post a question by proxy (Thanks, Appleboy!), someone physically in the room and on IRC at the same time!

But of course, you missed the chatting during the coffee breaks. I was especially irritated at a questioner at the end of the third round stated that he thought the fine-grained censorship exercised now in China was "good" because it let so much other "good stuff" get through the filters instead of blocking the Wikipedia completely. WHAT? There is no such thing as "just a little bit of censorship". Either there is censorship or there is none. What if the little bit that got caught in the filters was everything he ever wrote? If they pretended he did not exist? Is he still happy? I would have loved to a) know who this was and b) give him a piece of my mind on the topic of censorship. But as it was, I just bleated on the chat.

Saturday was flakey - I had the choice of mIRC or freematrix. The folks on IRC noted that mIRC was a piece of §$%& and suggested many alternatives, none which I felt like installing at the spur of the moment, in addition to which I paid the fee for mIRC so I will use it, darn it! So I decided to stick with freematrix. They had a chat page connected to their IRC forum, this was great for letting the operators of freematrix know that a feed had died and one of them would willingly go kickstart a server which had gone to sleep or defaulted to off.

I got to hear three keynotes:
* Ross Mayfield explaining to me why I was drowning in email and that I really need a Wiki (he's right!)
* Ward Cunningham musing on the history of Wikis. I especially liked hearing the stories and how HyperCard fit into all of this - I teach HyperCard as an oddity precursor to the WWW in my Hypermedia course, lovely to have a nice story about how it was useful for the creation of Wikis!
* Richard M. Stallmann - what shall I say, if I could have made it to Frankfurt, I would have gone just to hear RMS, seeing as how I spent 7 years of my life living in EMACS, programming in a LISP-like language. His thoughts on intellectual property are, of course, radical. It was great that his talk was so nicely structured (he must have held it a million times already) that I could easily follow, even without the slides. I don't agree with everything he says, but I think I understand his reasoning a lot more now.

At the final session the Global Voices Session, there were many interesting tidbits to be heard. It was funny that this session seemed just as important to me as Stallmann's - but one of the people asking a question noted that it was a shame that there were so few people in the room. It was interesting that my perception of the talk was not colored by the fact of me choosing a not-so-popular topic or some such, but I just chose on interest.

Anyway, thanks to the freematrix team, that was lovely! You don't have a donations possibility on your pages, that needs fixing.... And the discussions in #de.wikipedia during or after the talks were so enjoyable, I felt that I had really attended a conference, even if it was only a virtual one and I don't have a name tag for my collection...

1 comment:

Pterygolepsis said...

Hi Debbie!

You told about an mIRC channel of wikipedia. Can you tell me the exact name or address to find it?