Wikimania “Perks”, Organizing and Networking

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If everything else on the earth is celebrated, the best to be celebrated must be knowledge and the people who make the global knowledge easily and freely accessible. Festivities have their own perks, benefits, and sometimes a few repercussions as well. I was enough fortunate to receive a full scholarship from the Wikimedia Foundation to attend Wikimania 2023, which happened at Suntec, in Singapore, in August 2023.

Wikimania innovates in the “festivities”, and celebrates not just the “knowledge” but the “global free knowledge”. Every year, volunteers who make the most commonly freely-accessible encyclopedia of Wikipedia, and its sister projects, go in the right direction, join one another to celebrate their achievements, and discuss on the future of free knowledge, at Wikimania, a community-led conference, supported by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Aafi giving a lightning MSIG talk during Pre-Conferencing

Wikimania like other festivities has perks, benefits, and repercussions. It helps organizers in the Wikimedia movement make better circles, take inspirations back home, and innovate in the free knowledge. It gives green signals to several new initiatives. It helps people to resonate their problems and issues with the challenges that people on the other side might be facing. Repercussions? Does this even make a sense? I believe, yes. Some people do get disconnected afterwards, and this is a loss; a repercussion that requires a good solution. Wikimania Singapore made some sense in responding to this. The scholars were given a notebook highlighting, “DON’T JUST PARTICIPATE, BE AN ACTION SEEKER”, and this has inspired me to make myself uncomfortable with “un-seeking”.

In this blog, I delve very briefly in “perks and benefits of Wikimania”, which it helped me with, particularly related to “Organizing and Networking”. There are very few places where presidents meet. Wikimania is also one; it often brings presidents and chairpersons of Wikimedia chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups at one place. When I gave the lightning talk in the “Resourcing Movement Strategy” session on the Deoband Community Wikimedia (DCW)’s Leadership Development and Skills Infrastructure Program, I met with some interesting questions from Peter Meyer, the president of the Wikimedia DC, among several others.

Wikimania 2023 helped me meet Isaac and Sodik, the key people from the Yoruba Wikimedians User Group, with whom I had initiated the Deoband Yoruba Collaborative Project in 2022. I was fortunate to meet Rafi from the Notre Dame English Club (NDEC) Wikipedia Editorial and Research Team, whose ideas subsequently helped in establishing the Wiki Club Jamia, at Jamia Millia Islamia, in India. It did help in discussing possible problems and their solutions with others, and offer personal insights as well. I met Sam Walton, who was the speaker in our DCW Conversation Hour July 2023, who helped me get in touch with Selena Deckelmann, the Chief Product and Technology Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation. I had a conversation with her for more than thirty minutes on what Urdu language Wikipedia lacks in the aspects her teams work on. This is a benefit of Wikimania. Sam also introduced me to Ilana Fried, who works on the Campaigns Team, and she was very much ready to speak in our November DCW Conversation Hour.

I would reiterate some of my ideas that I shared in this blog which highlights some key points from WikiConference India 2023. From organizing to networking, I have briefly delved into how Wikimania 2023 helped me and the DCW go further in the way of innovating in knowledge. Other perks include that it helped me meet and discuss with people that work in my domain but in a different perspective. I met professors, students, likewise, passionate and enthusiastic, who are exploring the best ways to innovate and contribute in making the transformational leadership in global education: Walaa, Derrick, Dumisani, and many more. Wikimania helps. It contributes to fostering this leadership.

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