simpleshow foundation @ Wikimania 2016
Jimmy Wales, the founder of the largest free online encyclopedia, opened the 12th Wikimania conference by saying “Wikipedia is about building bridges, not walls!” .
What might seem obvious to the over 1,000 participants from more than 60 different countries should serve to remind outsiders that free knowledge is the basis for living together peacefully.
Under the slogan “Wikipedia as a driver for change”, this year’s Wikimania was not held in one of the world’s great metropolises like London, Hong Kong or Mexico City. Instead, we gathered in a small Italian village. Surrounded by mountains and just a short distance from Lake Como, Esino Lario’s 800 residents made their contribution to free knowledge by opening their doors to Wikipedians from all around the world, including Jens and myself. We were there with the simpleshow foundation to take part in the program of talks, discussions and workshops.
We held a seminar aimed to describe the basics of providing simple explanations. Of course we used this opportunity to present our new tool mysimpleshow and how easy it is for anyone to use it to create their own explanation video clip. What can we say? Our latest product caused quite a stir! Within one hour, 20 participants had created 20 video clips on a range of different subjects – among other topics, they explained tea drinking traditions in East Frisia, freedom of panorama, hackathons and how to find a suitable topic for a Wikipedia article.
Thanks to the huge enthusiasm it received, the news about our mysimpleshow tool had spread to other Wikipedians in no time at all. Woohoo 🙂
Besides our workshop, Jens and I also spoke to many other representatives from the Wikiverse. We discussed how to overcome global barriers regarding access to free knowledge and the role of video clips in this, as well as automated content creation software and improving Wikipedia for mobile use.
Naturally, we also spoke about the influence that videos can have on learning. “Videos won’t replace texts, but enhance them. Films and interactive elements have become an integral part of the learning process today. They supplement the text’s content and take Wikipedia to a whole new level”, Jimmy Wales said in answer to Jens’ question about the future of this medium.
In addition to the many interesting conversations and the huge amount of participant interest, my personal highlight was a birthday serenade sung to me by the Wikipedians and Katherine Maher – the new Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. I just had to mention this wonderful birthday present!
But above all, our lasting impression will be of the village’s 800 residents who turned their hometown into a place for something which was completely new to them – the Wikiverse – and gave us such a warm welcome during this week. They were open to new ideas and once again made it clear that we have to work together, if we are to succeed in making the entirety of human knowledge freely accessible for everyone.
Text & photos: Ilya Kompasov