Friday, August 28, 2009

Day Five in Buenos Aires

Today is the last day of Wikimania 2009.

I spent a lot of time to talk with other people. For example with Heiko Hees who is one of the developers for the "Create a book" feature that is implemented on the english Wikibooks. They had made an educational video for this feature which is actually in German and are searching for someone native english speaker who can read the text for the english version.

I had also talked quite long with Jerry, the president of Wikimedia Hongkong, about the community there, the work of Wikimedia Hongkong, the planned Wikimedia Macao and the possibility of creating a Wikimedia China, about the preparation of the chinese Wikipedia conference end december.

At lunch time there was a very long talk with the strategic planning team about all kind of things arround the strategic planning. I am really happy that we have this strong team who had worked out the process so good (although they themselves always say it is not perfect). Half a year back on our January board meeting when we first talked about initiating such a process I found it difficult to imaging how we can really get the community and the chapters involved. And now it is there, the impossible that becomes reality.

The keynote of Sue is a hymn for the community. It was really charming.

The Board Q&A session was in my opinion too short. I am sure there are more people who want to ask questions and didn't got the chance.

The closing ceremeny is moving. The Buenos Aires team had made miracles. It is really great.

And yes, I am looking forward for Wikimania 2010!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day Four in Buenos Aires

Second Wikimania day.

The keynote by Jimmy Wales today morning was simply great. The best call for participation for the strategic planning process I had ever anticipated.

I missed the panel led by Andrew Lih because I had at the same time a talk by myself.

The sessions after the lunch break got really really good.

I visited the talks from Chitu Okoli and Mako about researches on Wikipedia. We need such researches, I am surprised that there are indeed some of them out there. Their results are very fascinating and helpful.

After that two tech talks about usability from Naoko and Angela. Really great. There was after the talk a very lively discussion about all aspects of usability. The developers made life sneak previews about features they are working on. There are inputs from other projects that use MediaWiki, comparisons with different solutions. What I found really good is the improvement on talk pages that should be released soon on the trial version. Really cool. A very very huge thank you very much to all developers that are involved and the whole usability team.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day Three in Buenos Aires

It is always the same by Wikimania: You have four tracks running paralell and you would at least devide yourself into three so that you won't miss anything really interesting.

The opening keynote by Richard Stallman was very entertaining. That show with how he entered the stage, how he auctioned the gnu was really funny. The first part of his keynote was about free software and was quite identical with the talk he made five year ago in Frankfurt. In the second part he took the chance to express his opinion about some of the articles on Wikipedia. I don't think that he is right, but I am ok in he distribute this, after all we invited him.

I had heard three very interesting talks today and I surely missed two or three equally interesting talks because of conflict of time. Two of the talks was technical talks, one made by Rob Halsell about the infrastructure of the Wikimedia servers, the other was given by Daniel Kinzler about the Toolserver. Both were very good visited and both were very interesting, with a lot of details that I didn't know earlier. I can scarcely wait them put the presentation on the TechBlog.

The third talk was given by two teachers from the Old Dominion University. They started three years ago a project by teaching the students in let the students to write their textbooks on WikiBooks. It is a really fascinating project. The two presenters are both teachers at the Darden College of Education. They teach people who would become teachers. They said when they ask their students if they would use this methode for their students, most of the students said yes. I think this is really one of the best measure for success.

Day Two in Buenos Aires

At first I want to appology that in contrary to my normal custom I didn't write my blog in three languages at the moment. As usual Wikimania and Board Meeting are tough and a lot of things are happening so that the time is sorrowfully limited to work on the computer. I hope that later I can add the translations.

Day two was fully for board meeting. Today the topic is strategic planning process. The team introduced procedures, measurements of success and plans. There were a lot of discussions. Because of the scheduled press conference we must break up at 15:00, so the session was really too short. There are a lot of ideas that were discussed but the discussion must be break off at some point simply because of the schedule. In total the workshop was very concentrated. I asked Arne later how was his impression of the board meeting and it was very positive.

The venue of this year's conference is in the middle of down town, in one of the most crowded place. It is at the basement and the lower floors of an office tower, quite different to the venues we had in the last years. The tech folks who are attending Hacking Days are already productive.

As every Wikimania it is a meeting between friends that one had only had online-contact for a year. A lot of hugs, hand shakings, greetings, how are yous, a lot of discussions about the past year and the year before us. Talking about ideas, projects, works, experiences.

For example I met Achal Prabhala at dinner. Achal was the one who had moderated my first Wikimania talk back in Frankfurt. We talked about the forming indian chapter and about all the difficulties, about culture and language, about the differences between the different language versions. That was really a nice evening.

So, I am now really looking forward of the coming days. It would be good, as every year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First day in Buenos Aires

I arrived Buenos Aires at 19:00 local time at Saturnday evening. While the plane is landing, the city is already emerged into darkness. From the air the city doesn't look so bright as many other cities, especially the outskirt are quite dark.

Yesterday morning I had the chance to go arround a little near the hotel and take a first impression of the city. The buildings here in the downtown are all very tall, mostly over ten floors. They are either in a style of neo-classic or are totally undecorated and looks like buildings out of the 1950s or 1960s in Germany, but far more taller. Most of the streets are very narrow. At least in the part of the city where I was there are very very few modern architects. No business towers with steel and glass. There are one or two that are really broad.

I made the classic failure of a northerner and went in the direction of sun in the assumption that this is south. Naturally, in the southern hemisphere this is north.

We had our first board meeting day today. New board members are introduced. New members also mean new ideas and frish wind. Lively discussions about diverse topics, mostly organizational (protocal would be published on the Foundation-wiki, so I don't want to be too detailed here).

In the evening we went for dinner, and met other Wikimedians in the Restaurante. A lot of handshakes and discussions and hugs.

I am disappointed that from the downtown the city light is so strong that one cannot see any stars, one can only see the moon and one or two of the most bright stars.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Election is over

Because of job it took me a few days to write down my thoughts about the election and its result. A few days that are needed to sort my thoughts.

At first I want to thank all the voters and volunteers and other participants who had took part in the election process. I want to thank those who had put their trust in me, as in the last year I would work hard to prove myself trustworthy. To be a community elected trustee is a tremendous honor for me.

The number of participants are almost at the same level as last year. This is far more lower than the license update vote. For me this indicates that the majority of our editor community is not very interested in what the board in special and the Foundation in wide sense is doing. The nice interpretation of this is that the board and the Foundation is just doing that what the community expects it doing, nothing spectacular and nothing utterly wrong. The WMF is traditionally a very quiet organization. Despite its power it doesn't make a lot of public recommendations or comments. Actually I am comfortable with this, because the Foundation and the board is not the star or the center of our community. The Foundation and the board is supporting the community. On the other side, the Foundation is also doing more than just support the community. It is making meaningful things with the knowledge that is accumulated by the community. This is expressed in our mission. An encyclopedia or a text book or a research project are only meaningful if they are indeed used. The Foundation had put it on its agenda to promote this. And the Foundation and the board are the place where it would be decided on how and where to promote. This is the reason why I hope we will have a broader participation of the community by the strategic planning.

I am sad that Domas dropped out of the board, on the other side I am also very happy that Samuel joined us now. The first time I met both of them on Wikimania 2005 in Frankfurt. I joined a presentation made by Domas and Tim about MediaWiki programming there and Samuel recorded a session about four different wikipedia language versions on which I presented the chinese Wikipedia. Both of them are very witful and resourceful. I am really happy in looking forward to work with Samual. And I know that Domas is simple not to be overlooked, in or outside of the board.

Wegen Arbeit hatte es einige Tage gedauert, bis ich Zeit finde, um meine Gedanken über den Wahl aufzuschreiben. Ich brauchte auch tatsächlich diese Zeit, um meine Gedanken zu sortieren.

Zuerst möchte ich mich bei allen Teilnehmer und Helfer bedanken, die ihre Stimmen abgegeben haben, die dabei geholfen haben, den Wahl zu organisieren. Ich möchte mich auch bei jenen Wähler bedanken, die ihr Vertrauen in mich gesetzt haben. Wie im letzten Jahr werde ich hart daran arbeiten, um dieses Vertrauen gerecht zu werden. Für mich ist ein von der Community gewählten Sitz am Board eine unglaubliche Ehre.

Die Zahl der Teilnehmer entspricht in etwa die vom letzten Jahr, also viel weniger als bei der Abstimmung zur Lizenzänderung. Für mich bedeutet dies, dass ein Großteil unserer Authorencommunity nicht besonders daran interessiert sind, was das Board im Speziell und die Foundation im Allgemein macht. Die nette Interpretation ist dass das Board und die Foundation genau das macht, was die Community erwartet, nichts spektakuläres und nichts besonders falsch. WMF ist traditionell eine sehr leise Organization, die trotz ihrer Macht selten Kommentare oder Empfehlungen abgibt. In der Tat bin ich zufrieden damit. Der Star ist nicht das Board oder die Foundation, sondern die Community. Das Board und die Foundation soll nur die Community unterstützen. Auf der anderen Seite macht die Foundation natürlich mehr als das. Sie tut sinnvolle Sachen mit dem Wissen, das von den Freiwilligen zusammengetragen werden. Das drückt unsere Mission aus. Eine Enzyklopedie, ein Schulbuch oder ein Forschungsprojekt hat keinen Sinn, wenn sie nicht benutzt werden. Die Foundation hat sich als Ziel gesetzt, genau das Nutzen zu fördern. Das Board, und die Foundation entscheidet, wo und wie diese Förderung passiert. Deswegen hoffe ich, dass bei der Strategischen Planung die Community viel breiter sich beteiligt.

Ich bin traurig dass Domas aus dem Board sich verabschiedet, bin aber auch sehr froh, dass Samuel dazugekommen ist. Ich lernten beiden bei Wikimania 2005 in Frankfurt am Main kennen. Damals nahm ich teil an eine Presentation von Domas und Tim über Programmierung von MediaWiki, und Samuel hatte eine Session aufgezeichnet, wo mehreren Wikipediasprachversionen vorgestellt wurden, dabei habe ich die Chinesische Wikipedia presentiert. Beide sind sehr kluge und einfallsreichen Menschen. Ich freue mich schon auf die Zusammenarbeit mit Samuel und ich weiß, dass Domas einfach nicht zu übersehen ist, innerhalb oder außerhalb des Boards.