Japanese author of “A 70-Year-Old Wikipedian” to hold talk event

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On December 14, 2023, I held a talk event on my book “A 70-year-old Wikipedian talks about the charm of libraries” at the book cafe TAKIBI (meaning Bonfire) in Tokyo. Including myself there were nine participants, we had a friendly and open conversation, knee to knee.

TAKIBI author talk event

The talk consisted of three parts: (1) What is Wikipedia, (2) Who writes Wikipedia, and (3) What articles I have written on Wikipedia. Since most of the participants were library professionals, I focused on “talking about the charm of libraries”.

(1) What is Wikipedia?

At first I mentioned the “Wikimedia Foundation” and the “Wikimedia Movement”, which are responsible for the operation of Wikipedia, and introduced their mission: “to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally”. I also introduced the “Wikipedia:Statistics” page and mentioned the participation trends of countries around the world and Japan.

(2) Who writes Wikipedia?

Next, I gave an overview of Wikipedians around the world based on statistics, and mentioned the articles “List of Wikimedia chapters” and “Wikimedia Deutschland“. I recently translated these two articles into Japanese. I also mentioned that although there is no chapter in Japan, “Wikimedians of Japan User Group” has recently been launched. There are currently 146 user groups, and I discovered “Wikigrannies User Group” among them, so I am thinking about joining it. I also mentioned “Wikimania” and “Wikimedian of the Year“, then introduced Eugene Ormandy, the first Japanese to win the “Newcomer of the Year” award. Eugene recently wrote an article about my book in English on Diff.

(3) What articles I have written on Wikipedia

I mentioned several articles that I have fond memories of, and I will write about three of them. First, I mentioned Yaeko Nogami’s novel “Meiro (The labyrinth),” which I first wrote on Wikipedia. The novel is set in Japan and China, and it gave me a glimpse of China as a battleground during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Next, I introduced the “Tokyo Orchestra Troupe,” which played on ocean-going passenger ships between Japan and the United States before World War II. After returning to Japan, the musicians spread the music they heard in America to Japan. 

Kashima Maru on which the Tokyo Orchestra Troupe had sailed (Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The third topic, the Chinese literary magazine “Jintian (Today)”, was first published in 1978 by the contemporary poet Bei Dao, was republished overseas after being suspended by the authorities, and is still published quarterly in Hong Kong. The entire volume of this magazine could be browsed at the Keio University Library, Tokyo. 

Bei Dao, at Tallinn Freedom Squar, 8 May 2010 (Avjoska, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

It was the first time for me to give a coherent talk about Wikipedia in public, but I felt that I had an unexpectedly good response, and I would like to do so again in the future when I have the chance. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to everyone who participated, to Mr. Tetsuya Ando of TAKIBI for organizing the event, and to Ms. Mitoe Onoda for planning and promoting the event.

Participants of the talk event at TAKIBI, 14 December, 2023

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