OP-ED– From August 11-14, the 120 conference sessions will feature Wikimedia volunteers, partners, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Wikimedia Foundation Chief Executive Officer Maryana Iskander 11 August, 2022 – Every year, hundreds of Wikimedians – the volunteers who make Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects possible – come together to celebrate free knowledge at the annual Wikimania global conference.
Now in its 17th edition, the conference looks different this year than it has in the past. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape global convenings, Wikimania 2022 is, for the first time, a hybrid event with opportunities for participants to come together virtually and in person through more than 40 events around the world. Taking place from 11-14 August, this year’s conference is co-organized by Wikimedia volunteers and the Wikimedia Foundation, the global nonprofit that supports Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects.
The conference program includes over 120 sessions on a wide range of global topics, including the annual Wikimedian of the Year awards, presented by Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales. The awards highlight volunteers who have gone above and beyond in their contributions to Wikimedia projects and the wider free knowledge movement.
The conference was designed with global inclusion at the forefront, including a time-zone friendly program, simultaneous live translation of sessions into 13 languages, and thousands of attendees expected to join from around the world, with a majority expected to be newcomers to Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects.
“This year’s Wikimania will be a celebration of the depth and diversity of our global communities,” said Maryana Iskander, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation. “Wikimedia projects offer access to reliable information across more languages than any other platform or movement in the world. Wikimania is an opportunity to recognize this work and to continue building – not only imagining – a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”The theme of this year’s conference is the “festival edition.”
After more than two years of isolation and uncertainty amidst the global pandemic, this year’s Wikimania is meant to spark levity, fun, and joy. The theme encourages Wikimedians to foster closer connections with one another and celebrate what the free knowledge movement can achieve next. Saturday, 13 August, is the day of the conference which will highlight programming from across the African continent at a time zone suitable for those in the region.
Key highlights of the programming include a South African traditional dance festival, a celebration of Africa through the cultural heritage of the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, a session highlighting youth participation, including African youth, in the Wikimedia movement, a discussion on the strides Nigerian volunteers have taken to address climate issues through Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects, and a look back at African Libraries’ Week.
Alongside the virtual program, there will be over 40 in-person events taking place all over the world, organized by local Wikimedia affiliate groups. These events include watch parties of the virtual conference, meetups, a Wiki World’s Fair, hackathons, edit-a-thons, and cultural celebrations.
Venus Lui, Wikipedia volunteer and a member of the 2022 Wikimania Core Organizing Team said, “I look forward to four days that strengthen and celebrate our growing scope of content and community of volunteer editors. It will also be an opportunity to dig into the many projects the community is working on to make free knowledge more accessible and available than ever before – including the latest ways that we are evolving our technology and our programs to bridge knowledge gaps.”
Wikimania 2022 highlights: The Wikimedian of the Year awards, led by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The award recognizes exceptional volunteers in the movement across seven categories. A panel session discussing examples of knowledge as a service and knowledge equity, the two pillars of the strategic direction to guide the future of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects.
Panelists include: Maryana Iskander, CEO, Wikimedia Foundation (moderator)Guillaume Paumier, Principal Program Manager, Wikimedia Foundation (moderator) Dr. Nkem E. Osuigwe, Director of Human Capacity Development and Training for the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA)Olga Paredes, a Wikimedian in Bolivia working toward knowledge equity Lydia Pintscher, Product Manager, Wikidata Sessions evaluating the impact of Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects on the wider world, including in relation to human rights, climate issues, and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Discussions centered on knowledge gaps in Wikimedia projects, led by volunteer groups like Wiki Vibrance, Women in Red, and Arabic Wikimedia communities. Sneak-peeks and new technology improvements like the forthcoming changes to the desktop version of Wikipedia, improvements to Wikipedia’s mobile interfaces, and Wikifunctions, the newest Wikimedia project.
Evaluations and lessons learned from collaborations between Wikimedians and cultural institutions like the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative and the African Libraries Week, produced with the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA)Cultural and entertainment activities, including a session with Annie Rauwerda who runs the Depths of Wikipedia social media accounts, musical and dance performances, cultural festivals, and more.
Interested participants are welcome to review the full conference program and register for Wikimania.