Wiki maniacs unite

Last year, we decided to go to at least one non-geoscience conference every year. The idea is to meet other communities, learn about other fields, have some new ideas, and find more ways to be useful. So far, Evan and I have been to symposiums on mathematics, geothermal energy, being more awesome, and science online. Continuing in this vein, I just got home from Wikimania 2012 — the international conference about all things wiki.

Strictly speaking, Wikimania is about the Wikimedia movement, the global effort to "give to every single person on the planet free access to the sum of all human knowledge". This quest is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization of professional enthusiasts. Their most conspicuous project is Wikipedia, but it's far from being the only one. Have you heard of Wikimedia Commons? Wikisource? Wikibooks? Read all about them.

The conference was unlike anything I've ever been to. Despite attracting over 950 delegates, it felt more like a meeting of colleagues and friends than a conference of professionals and strangers. I've never felt such a strong undertow of common purpose, and quiet, deliberate action. The phrase intentional community was made for this group.

In short, Wikipedia looks even more awesome from the inside than it does from the outside.

If you too are a Wikipedia enthusiast, here are some things I learned:

  • The number of active editors has fallen by 4000 since 2011, to 85k
  • During the conference, the number of articles in English Wikipedia passed 4 million
  • Developers are working hard to make Wikipedia easier to edit, and big changes are coming
  • Wikipedia Zero is an important effort to make the site available to everyone
  • Developers are working on making Wikipedia available via SMS and other channels
  • Wikis—both private and public—are everywhere: schools, museums, libraries, galleries, academia, government, societies, and corporations

Next time, I'll list a few ways you can get more involved.

The photo is from Wikimedia Commons, licensed CC-BY-SA by User:Awersowy