Saturday, September 30, 2006

Retrospective: "Wikimania," 4-6 August 2006

Just a quick note as September fades into October, and referring first of all to August...

At the beginng of last month there was a meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts called "Wikimania", which brought together various experts and enthusiasts working on Wikipedia and related Wikimedia projects. Although I did not attend, I participated virtually, or as close to that as one could, in two sessions related to Africa, one by Martin Benjamin entitled "Huru na Bure: Swahili Collaboration and the Future of African Languages on the Web", and the other by Kasper Souren called "The Bambara Wikipedia, One Year Later" (see the discussion sections). In the runup to Wikimania I had corresponded with Martin and Ndesanjo Macha, cc'ing Kasper (at the time I did not know he was going to attend) about finding a way to support development of African language editions of Wikipedia. Some ideas found their way into a document called Facilitating African Language Wikipedias.

Following the conference, Martin and I set up a Yahoogroup called AfrophoneWikis for discussion of and collaboration on some of the points in that document. A list of African language editions of Wikipedia is available on the site for that group.

The BBC redio show, "Africa, Have Your Say", of Wed. 6 Sept. was devoted to African languages and Wikipedia, and featured among many others, Martin, Ndesanjo, and myself. (The recording of the show was apparently available for only a short period.

Anyway this is old news, except to say that the effort is ongoing and there is some noticeable expansion of some of the Wikipedias in African languages, notably Swahili, thanks largely to Ndesanjo.

Also, I think that the overall goals of localization are advanced by such specific / specialized projects to the extent that we communicate about them and share lessons.

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