Wikimania 2023 : My Rewarding Adventure in the Universe of Collaborative Knowledge

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AdjoEsse at Wikimania 2023 in Singapore

My name is Adjovi Essenam FUMEY, I’m an engineer in information science. Currently working as a media librarian, I’ve been living in Senegal for 11 years, a West African country with a population of 17.54 million. Senegal is renowned for its magnificent beaches and exceptional tourist sites. I’m part of an emerging community of editors in Senegal and I participate in several Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, Meta Wiki, and my personal favorite, Wikidata.

How did I get into the movement?

The adventure began during lockdown in May 2020, when one of my colleagues encouraged me to sign up for a series of webinars on “Editing on Wikipedia” organized by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). My enthusiasm immediately prompted me to take part in the 1lib1Ref campaign during African Librarian Week, which was taking place at the same time.

My passion for this initiative inspired me to continue my involvement, and I participated in the following editions in 2021 and 2022. In 2021, I signed up for the Wikipedia in African Libraries Course (#WikiAfLibs) organized by the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AFLIA). In 2022 and 2023, I had the honor of being one of the “country organizers” for Senegal and Togo. Since 2022, I’ve also been actively involved in organizing various contests related to Wikimedia projects.

This ongoing engagement with the Wikimedia movement stems from my passion for learning and sharing knowledge. For me, Wikimedia projects are an exceptional way of achieving this goal. What’s more, as a documentary information professional, I’m deeply convinced that our role is essential in supporting collaborative contribution to online content creation.

My Wikimania 2023 experience

I was incredibly lucky to take part in my first Wikimania this year in Singapore. This wonderful experience was a real eye-opener for me. Not only did I learn a lot about creating and sharing collaborative knowledge, but I also had the opportunity to meet brilliant minds from all over the world.

At the WikiWomen Summit, I had the opportunity to give a presentation on “Women and leadership in Wikimedia projects in Africa: Wiki Wake Up Africa (WWUA) – An opportunity”. During this presentation, I shared the experience of mobilization and action of five remarkable women in their communities, namely: Ourytima, Andriah Laingo, Bassératou Kindo and Pascale Appora-Gnekindy and myself AdjoEsse, thanks to the support of the Wiki Wake Up Africa Project, which enables us to learn and organize Wikimedia events.

From the moment we submitted our presentation summary to the day of our speaking engagement, the Wikimania organization team never stopped supporting us and providing us with their expertise so that we could deliver a quality presentation. The WikiWomen Summit was an opportunity for me to discover the achievements of other Wikimedians in promoting women’s participation and reducing gender gaps. I’d also like to commend the work of the organization team and the friendliness of the participants. At no time did I feel isolated, lost or excluded in this multicultural environment.

Wikimania as a whole has been an invaluable source of inspiration. I attended captivating presentations on a wide range of subjects, from artificial intelligence to the preservation of cultural heritage. There was also a presentation by Iola Pensa, chair of Wikimedia Italy, on the collaboration between Wikimedia projects and museums, and one by Mark Graham, director of Wayback Machine, on the latest advances at Internet Archive aiming to make Wikipedia more useful and reliable. I had the opportunity to understand how Wikimedia actively contributes to influencing our understanding of the world through its open collaboration.

What really stood out in my experience were the human encounters. I had the opportunity to interact with passionate people from diverse backgrounds, ranging from dedicated Wikimedia editors to open source software developers. The round table discussions were particularly enriching, offering an opportunity for exchange and learning. They highlighted the universal challenge that every Wiki community has faced at some point: retaining its editors. These conversations reinforced my commitment to sharing knowledge and creating a global community devoted to this mission. Given that the Wikimedia community in Senegal is still in its development phase, I was also able to build strategic connections to support it as it evolves and matures.

I can’t conclude without mentioning Africa Baraza, satellite meetings, sightseeing tours, relaxing evenings, and above all the excellent gastronomic discoveries of Singaporean flavors.

To sum up, Wikimania 2023 was an exceptional educational and human adventure. I learned, I shared, and I was inspired. The experience reinforced my belief that collaboration and knowledge sharing are powerful forces that can change the world.

After participating in Wikimania in Singapore in August 2023, I modestly plan to do the following within my community:

Sharing knowledge: organizing a discussion workshop to share information, ideas and lessons learned at Wikimania, in order to encourage massive participation in Wikimedia projects and international meetings.

Constant contribution: continuing my commitment to Wikimedia projects. Sharing my expertise and knowledge whenever needed to help reduce gender and knowledge biases about Africa.

Raising awareness of the cause: informing members of my community about the importance of free and collaborative documentation, as well as the challenges and issues faced by the Wikimedia community.

Creating a local network: connecting with other Wikimedia enthusiasts from Senegal and creating a local network to collaborate on specific projects or organize more educational events across the country.

Overall, my participation at Wikimania is an exceptional opportunity to foster engagement and contribution within the Senegalese community, putting into practice the lessons and ideas I’ve learned at this event. I hope that my commitment will lead to other opportunities as rewarding as this one.

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