Archive:Press releases/Wikimedians Prepare for Wikimania 2008

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Wikimedians Around the World Prepare for Wikimania 2008

The fourth annual Wikimania conference takes place July 17 to July 19, 2008 at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – July 9 – Next week hundreds of Wikimedia volunteers and enthusiasts will converge at the historic center of global knowledge and wisdom, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, for the annual Wikimania conference. Wikimania is the official conference of Wikimedia's free knowledge projects, which include Wikipedia, the largest free knowledge encyclopedia in human history. Presentations and discussions at this year's conference will address topics related to public collaboration, open source initiatives, free knowledge, wiki technology, and open education, with the theme of this year's conference 'changing the shape of wisdom.'

Since the first official gathering in 2005 in Frankfurt, Germany, Wikimania has served as the main opportunity for project volunteers, staff, and enthusiasts to meet and discuss the technology, impact, and future of wiki-based, free knowledge projects. Organized by a local team of Wikimedia volunteers, Wikimania also acts as the primary opportunity for local populations to explore free knowledge and public collaboration, and the growth of Wikimedia projects in local languages.

"Wikimania is the one time each year when Wikimedia volunteers from all over the world gather together in a single location," said Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner from the Foundation's headquarters in San Francisco, California. "This year is particularly special, because we will be in Alexandria, at what was once the site of the largest library of the ancient world. It's an exceptional opportunity for us to explore topics around reach, participation, and quality of the Wikimedia projects in one of the world's most important centers for wisdom and knowledge."

Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the entire planning team from the library have been actively involved in development of Wikimania 2008 alongside the volunteer team. "Free-content projects such as Wikipedia are an essential tool for the collection and dissemination of knowledge, especially in the developing world," offered Dr. Serageldin. "We hope that Wikimania 2008 will raise local awareness of new possibilities and indeed take us towards changing the shape of wisdom. In hosting this event, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina upholds the values of its ancient namesake."

Alexandria volunteer organizing committee head Mohamed Ibrahim has been leading efforts on the ground with the Wikimedia Foundation and the volunteers to ensure conference attendees have an excellent experience. "We're hoping that our main goal of increasing awareness of free knowledge and the free software movement among Arabic speakers is going to be a success. The Arabic Wikipedia is getting a lot of attention, Wikimania is an ideal opportunity for all attendees to start thinking about how to improve both quality and quantity of our projects," said Ibrahim.

Highlighted speakers at this year's conference include:

  • Florence Devouard - Chair of the Wikimedia Board of Trustees
  • Schuyler Erle and Mikel Maron from Open Street Map - The free editablemap of the whole world, created by volunteers
  • Eliane Metni - director of the International Education Association on The Global Educators’ Open Course
  • Jimmy Wales - Founder of Wikipedia
  • Ismail Serageldin - Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • Tim Spalding - Creator of LibraryThing
  • Usama Fayyad – Yahoo!’s Executive Vice President of Research and Strategic Data Solutions

As well as multiple sessions from Wikimedia Foundation staff, Board of Trustees, and advisory board members including: Sue Gardner and Erik Möller - Executive Director and Deputy Director, with a forecast for the Wikimedia Foundation's upcoming year; Brooke Vibber - Chief Technology Officer - discussing the current state of the MediaWiki software; and advisory board member Benjamin Mako Hill speaking on the topic of Free Network Services.

For the complete Wikimania 2008 program, visit:

This year conference participants, as well as volunteers not able to attend the conference, will be encouraged to upload and share related video content on Kaltura's Wikimania video site. Kaltura's collaborative video-editing process allows users to create new videos, or edit, improve, re-organize other videos.

Principal sessions such as those of the keynote speakers and the invited speakers will be webcast live through the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Webcast website:

Wikimedia Blog, the Foundation's official blog, will be updated frequently during the conference with ongoing podcasting information, participant activities, and media coverage:

The Wikimania 2008 official wiki will be updated regularly with pictures, information, and logistical details:


Wikimania 2008 is possible thanks to the generous financial support of this year's sponsors. Our sponsors subsidize a number of Wikimania scholarships to assist participants in covering the cost of attending and participating in the conference. Sponsors are also actively engaged in providing related support to Wikimania through use of their own open-source, collaborative tools.

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About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is a nonprofit, charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of its wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. It operates some of the largest collaboratively-edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, one of the world's 10 most-visited websites.

All projects of the Wikimedia Foundation are collaboratively developed by volunteers using the MediaWiki software. Their content may be freely used, freely edited, freely copied and freely redistributed subject to the restrictions of that license.

Jay Walsh, Head of Communications
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About the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the New Library of Alexandria, was inaugurated in 2002 and is dedicated to recapturing the spirit of the ancient Library of Alexandria, a center of world learning from 300 B.C. to A.D. 400, by serving as a center of excellence in the production and dissemination of knowledge through the use of digital technologies.
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