WikiCamp : A Photologue
Missed WikiCamp but want to know what took place at the event? Well, you are in good hands. Thanks to copious WiFi, trigger happy bloggers, and professional video bloggers, you catch the action that took place at India’s first wiki unconference.
The IndiaInteracts.com team has been extremely professional and helpful. They volunteered to help out record the important happenings at the event. Even though its an unconference, I’ve learnt why its important to have professsionals take care of the video arrangement atleast. Check out some of the videos uploaded so far.
Video 1 : My introductory speech kick starting the event and later handing it over to Jimbo.
Video 2 : Jimbo’s keynote talk about Wikipedia, Wikia and the new search engine.
Video 3 : Participants play the role of reporters. Short interviews with Syed and me. Even Jimmy Wales join in and plays the role of a press reporter and interviews the participants. (Earlier in the day, he must have given atleast two dozen interviews)
Hosting Jimbo ‘Wikipedia‘ Wales !
Jimmy’s flight into Chennai was to land at 12:50 AM on Sunday morning. At 12:30 am, I was still with the team getting things organized at the Tidel Park auditorium. We had been there since 6:00, previous evening. Work was going at a very strong pace. In a few hours, India’s first Wiki Unconference would start.
At a little past 12:30, I plugged myself out and rushed over to the airport. I had to also drop two of my co-organizers at their homes which took me a bit longer.
After reaching the airport, I came in for a mild surprise. There were no flights coming in from the USA, leave alone Florida. The only flights that were scheduled to land was from Paris, London and Dubai. It was then I realized, I didn’t have any information about Jimmy’s flight. I didn’t know where he was flying in from. I didn’t know what flight he was taking. The only information that I had was that he would be landing at 12:50 a.m. And the only flight scheduled at that time was a British Airways flight from London.
I didn’t have his contact number. I wasn’t sure if he had my number either. No choice but to patiently wait. After watching hundreds of folks walk through the arrival gate, the man finally walked out. My sigh of relief was evident in the wave I waved my hands out. Jimbo instantly recognized me.
The first thing that struck me was how light he was travelling. After having gotten used to seeing us Indians lug massive luggage by, it was strange to see him come with just two small bags. And one obviously filled with his Mac and his SLR camera.
We boarded my car and headed home. I stopped mid way, called my wife to let her know we were on our way. We reached home at 2:00 AM and was pleasantly surprised to see my little daughter wide awake and even more surprised to see the welcome message. I was half expecting my wife to take the traditional ‘Aarathi‘ but she surprised us with this kolam..
Jimbo was quite impressed. The kolam above says ‘Welcome Jimmy’.
Jimbo wasn’t feeling well. The 20 hour flight from Florida, via London, to Chennai took a toll. He was suffering from a nagging cold and an ever worse cough. I knew it was best for him to hit the sack early. After all, there was only about 4 more hours to wake up again. I showed him the room where he would be staying. I was impressed as well. The room was tidied up well. The Air-conditioner was already switched on half hour ago. For Jimbo, it was a relief. A few customary snaps with my daughters later, he crashed.
I set my alarm at 5:30 am, knowing that we need to get ready and leave for Tidel Park early. When I woke up in the morning, I was shocked to see that not only was Jimbo awake, he had taken his bath, dressed up and hard at work. He is a true workaholic.
I had earlier planned to do a podcast with Jimbo for The Kiruba Show. I knew that once he reaches the venue, he would get mobbed. Even more important was the need for a quiet place. I wasn’t letting go of this opportunity. Jimbo, of course, enthusiastically agreed. The conversation was free flowing and I had lots to ask Jimbo and he had lots to say too. … which explains why we overshot the podcast duration by twice the time. I usually restrict all my podcasts to around 10 minutes but this podcast clocked at 22 minutes. It would have easily gone for an hour if I didn’t consciously pull the plug.
The front page article by Karthik Subramaniam gave WikiCamp a lot of exposure. It made my day too. It’s not too often that you get to see your name on the front page of a national newspaper. And that too, right besides Jimmy Wales. Karthik is one of the journalists that I hold in high esteem. We had a conversation a day earlier and he had come to know about WikiCamp only that day. He strongly felt that Wikipedia founder’s visit deserved better exposure. Well, one can’t do better than the front page.
After having breakfast (omlette and orange juice), we headed out to Tidel Park to attend India’s first unconference on wikis.
Wikicamp is just two days away.
I can already get the feelers that its going to be a great event. As expected, the event is already sold out. We’ve got participants from 15 different cities and towns. It’s awesome to see the diversity in the crowd and I’m personally looking forward to meeting up with some really cool people. WikiCamp takes place this Sunday, Feb 25th.
We’ve got very interesting topics and more will come out on the day of the event. Actually, this is a sad part for me. The downside of being active on the organizing means that I miss out on some cool sessions and not spending quality time meeting up with people I want to meet with. Guess, that’s a small compromise one will have to do.
This event is an unconference and will thrive on chaos. I prefer calling it organized chaos. It’s almost magical how things fall into place.
It’s also very heartening to note that many Chennai folks have opened up their homes for outstation participants to come crash at their place. It really goes well with the spirit of the unconference.
Jimmy Wales will be crashing at my place for two nights. My parents and wife, ofcourse, are thrilled. No, not because he is a celebrity. Heck, they didn’t even know he is the founder of Wikipedia. They are thrilled because they know I will clean up the bedrooms. The last time NDTV came home to do a coverage, I cleaned up the hall. Now, they know the rooms will get taken care of.
The Diversity at WikiCamp
As I type this, we have over a hundred participants registered for WikiCamp. I’m not surprised. All, yes, ALL the events that we have organized earlier (BarCampChennai, BlogCamp, Proto.in) have had excellent participation. And in all the events, we had to close the registration because we hit maximum capacity. With 12 days to go, WikiCamp looks headed the same way too.
What really surprised me is the diversity fo the participants. I had expected a very geeky crowd but take a look at the type of people we have.. Cardiac Surgeon, Student, Marketing Head, CEO, Advertising Executive, Software engineer, Entrepreneur, Writer, Wikipedian, Public Relations Executive, Sales Head, Motivational Trainer, Academic Researcher…
It’s this diversity that adds richness to the event.
How Does Wikipedia Survive Financially?
Now, that’s the question that I’m definitely going to ask Jimmy Wales when he comes down to Chennai to attend WikiCamp. Especially after Robert Scoble pointed to this rather shocking speech by Florence, Chairwoman of the Wikimedia foundation. I quote Florence..
“At this point, Wikipedia has the financial ressources to run its servers for about 3 to 4 months. If we do not find additional funding, it is not impossible that Wikipedia might disappear”
And I thought Wikipedia just raised a million dollars in donation for its 6th birthday. I recently saw a video of Jimmy Wales talking at TED conference where he says the cost of running servers is about $5000 a month.
Now, the mathematics does not add up.
Jimmy Wales is the best person to answer.