Jimmy Wales in Chennai
Today was pretty interesting. We (me and sis) spent almost the whole day at the Tidel park auditorium. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia was in the city for the WikiCamp co-ordinated by the Free Knowledge Foundation co-sponsored by Zoho, Sify and a few others.
The first hour was wholly him giving a touch of the philosophy behind the wikipedia project. That of making knowledge free and accessible to the common man. The day went on with people discussing on the importance of the sustenance of such a project. Few debated the business model, particularly on why wikipedia is still not open to advertising which could help improve its revenue. Jim clearly expressed his view that the motive behind this project had something to do which was not financially driven and wikipedia had enough money to stay on its own. He talked on the initial failures of the project (owing to a very stringent mechanism of verification of content), then how by shifting gears by laying trust and responsibility on the community the plot worked. He had spent over 2,50,000 $ by the end of 2 yrs and there were only 12 articles in the whole portal. Isn’t that a very discouraging number? Thanks to the all the wikipedians throughout the world, now it has a whooping 1,657,879 articles in english and 7,171 in tamil alone.
India’s most prolific wikipedian Bhadani with over 45,000 edits gave a “wikipedia for dummies” session post lunch. Sundar who posts a lot of tamil articles on wikipedia gave a presentation on posting in regional languages.
There were sessions by other participants too. Yuvraj from Novatium gave an insight into how the company is entering the software-as-a-service market in KK Nagar in Chennai for providing internet access without a computer, but with a device powered by 2 mobile processors. Narain had a session in the evening on semantic web technologies. He talked on simile , ibm open-eyes, the openid project and stuff.. Sowmya Karmali had a presentation of the dynamics of using wikis within a corporate. Was impressed to know that they execute projects for the Grameen Micro Credit Foundation .
There were parallel sessions in the afternoon. I had to miss a presentation by Mohammed Mahir on some tool to browse the tamil wiktionary.
And yeah, I met Gautam from IIT at the camp whom I stumbled upon in a bus almost half a year back. Today was tiring, interesting, full of wiki and editing. I think i’ve had enuf for today.
You can find a few snaps here..