Earlier this year when we decided to cancel Wikimania 2020, many of us were hopeful that we would be able to postpone it a year to 2021. I was looking forward to connecting with all of you in Bangkok in August for our first ever Wikimania in Southeast Asia.
However, as we look forward, in spite of promising developments in vaccine research it seems unlikely that we will all be able to travel freely and convene together by August 2021. Over the past several months, the Wikimedia Foundation Events team has been meeting with the Wikimania Steering Committee and the ESEAP Core Organizing Team (East, South East Asia and Pacific regions) to discuss how we can move forward with Wikimania in 2021. Together, these stakeholders have decided that next year’s Wikimania will be a virtual event. Instead of being hosted by the ESEAP Core Organizing Team, this virtual Wikimania will be hosted by a wider group of community members. Since there still is a strong wish to host Wikimania in the future from the ESEAP team, they will remain the hosts for the next in-person edition of Wikimania.
For many of us, hearing that we won’t be gathering in person at Wikimania in 2021 is disappointing news. But I am encouraged by the success and creativity of all of the recent virtual movement events, from regional events like itWikiCon to the Wiki 20 event in Asia Pacific event to celebrate Wikipedia’s 20th birthday and the Movement Strategy Global Conversations held in December. I have gotten to hear from more of you over the past months than I could have imagined at the beginning of this pandemic. As always, Wikimedians have adapted and found new ways to connect with each other.
We believe that this new virtual format will create opportunities for more people within our movement to be involved in putting together a movement event than ever before. We will further build on the collaborative, open process for creating a Wikimania program that we started during Wikimania in Sweden last year. Since this is our first virtual Wikimania, we will also be able to learn from this experience and hopefully include options for virtual participation in future in-person Wikimanias as well. Wikimania 2021 may not happen as any of us initially imagined, but it will still be an opportunity for celebration, especially as Wikimania 2021 will happen during Wikipedia’s 20th birthday year.
We welcome ideas for this virtual Wikimania and in January, we plan to share more information about how you can get involved in the planning process. We will also be able to share more information in the coming months about what this means in terms of invitations, submitting sessions and scholarships. In the meantime, please share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions with the Wikimania Steering Committee on Meta.
As a movement, we value those opportunities to connect together in person, and look forward to when we can all gather in person again. Until then, stay safe and take care!
Janeen Uzzell, on behalf of the
- ESEAP Core Organizing Team
- Wikimania Steering Committee
- Wikimedia Foundation Events Team