Montag, 20. Juli 2015

#Wikimania Mexico City - Day 3

Day 3: A BIG BIG Thank you to all the organizers. Esino Lario has a 6 meter Theremin. And: finally: Tequila!

So, goodbye Mexico! Goodbye Wikimania! You were great. So after too many Tequilas, too little sleep and just enough of dancing I apoloize for even more unrthodox orthgraphy and grammar than normally.

 Lambada in a (former) church building. The Haifa (Wikimania 2011) closing party has finally found a worthy successor.

The last day. Let's start at the end. The Party was awesome. At a former church building, now some kind of government owned cultural place, there finally was Tequila (and they were not shy on it), many happy people and dance. Mood imrpoved after the DJ switched from Electro-whatever to Latin-Sounds, and oh it was fun. Worth every bit of pain I'm feeling right now :-)

 Did I mention the great food already? 

So again, a BIG BIG Thank you by me to all the organizers, volunteers and whoever made this possible. I have to admit: previous of Wikimania I hesitated a bit if this was really worth all the hassle, the taken vacation days and the money (I got a scholarship - thank you Wikimedia Deutschland, but you always still pay a lot of stuff private as well. But in retrospect it was really worth it.

So let's talk about program again.  Sunday was my fanboy day. I started with a talk about the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - of which I'm a fan for several years now - saw a presentation of the Foundation.Video-guy Viktor Grigas (I've been a fan for years) and a talk by Rebecca, of whom I'm a fanboy as well. 

But first lets talk about a talk I didn't see. While yesterday I complained about the lack of unexpected, unusual and just simply unique and great talks - exactly that seems to have happened. So many people were raving about "My life as an autistic Wikipedian" - clearly the conference highlight.

The Stanford Encyclopedia is in my opinion the best source on Philosophy in the internet since the late 1990s, so I was really curious to see how it is made. On the one hand it was interesting, on the other hand it felt like time travelling to 1997. Nothing has changed there much: from the layout of the encyclopedia to the layout of the slides or that they are talking about CD-Roms.

Viktor showed his neat video about "2014 on Wikipedia" and talked about he liked to make "2015 on Wikipedia" more community based and collaborative. But, as already said in another talk, doing video collaboratively still has enormous technical obstacles in its way.

Rebecca did dome neat playing with data about what grants work and what don't and what's the best way to reach grantees. 
 It is more effective to talk to people at they place where they are.

Stanford encyclopedia.  "This doesn't happen"

And I can't really say that I'm a Jimmy Wales fanboy: but by now, his speech at the closing ceremony felt like home: Yes, it was the same as always, yes, the slides were horrible as always and I'm still not sure about the value of choosing somebody more or less randomly as Wikipedian of the year. But, hey, in this rapidly changing Wikimedia world right now, it gives a sense of continuitiy and belonging,

Change: talked to some people about my perception of change at the Foundation. I'm not the only one feeling this it seems. Some guy "The talked to me. And they were interested what I had to say. This has never happened before." Still a long way to go - and of course I could cite several examples of were it doesn't happen. But after three days still convinved: change for good is real.

And then: Mariachis, Barbacoa, and BIG thank you again to all the totally sweet and helpful volunteers. And for 2016. Need I say more: 

Sonntag, 19. Juli 2015

Wikimania Mexico City - Day 2

Day 2: questions, answers, a room with a view and horrible acoustics

Madonna of the Yarnwinder. (Circle of Leonardo, Museo Soumayor)

 So, Wikimania is going on. It is going on well. Subtext seems to me different from other times.

The one is just a general feeling. it feels a lot more streamliked and businesslike than other Wikimedias I've been to. May be because this is just a small Wikimania (I heard something of 800 registered attendees, feels rather like 500) and only the hardest of hardcore is here. But also for me the feeling is more like "getting things done" and less like "let's tell each other just how wonderful we are" - a style that suits better to me in my opinion to the most Wikipedia projects as well. To me it seems far less nonsense, pompous bullshit and self-rightous self-affirmation than in the last years but also less surprises, less fun and less unexpected.Still not sure if just is happening by accident because it's just a small number of people is there and the baseline of knowledge and engagement is high or if that is a trend that will continue.

On the other hand - I still have to talk about Lilas keynote - to me there really seems to be a change of attitude at the foundation. The foundation did and does feel that the community really is difficult and cumbersome. But whereas in earlier times it was more like "so let's look for a new community that is more fun, and likes us better" this time it feels more like "ok, so we have to work with the old one to get some change done." And as much as you can ridicule strange vine metaphors at Lilas speech: there is huge different in meaning between planting a new plant (WMF old style) and grafting something new onto an existing rootstock (Lilas plans according to Keynote). If my feeling proves to be true this would be a huge change.
 It's a trap!

So, talks. Q&A with the boards seems to have been boring as usual. I tried to talk to several people afterwards about what was going on and nobody could tell me. Except "everything is high priority." But I was sitting in another Q&A as well. This time with the community engagement team. And, as I have should known before: 8 people on a panel about a huge subject and a quite diverse audience. It really just stayed on the surface. It's fine that it has been done but I wasn't really the target audience. Although it was nice to see them all in once and have some faces attached to the names. 

 Kind of engaging. The community engagement team. 

Way more interesting for me was Lodewijks dicussion room about citations on Biographies on living people. No abstraction, no buzzwords, a talk on topic and in the real world. Was also nice to see several meta-meta-Wikimedians just nerding on about Wikipedia. And, my secret love, the Uzbek Wikipedia was there as well. But, oh boy, the have problems "We don't want to write about people outside of Uzbekisten because the information is there and the articles can easily be translated and we cannot write articles about people in Uzbekistan because there are no sources.."

And finally: we did have a spontaneous meetup about the Wikimedia Deutschland annual plan. One could and should argue about details, but I'm so so happy that this really seems to be a planning process that seriously wants to engage community. Yeah! The meeting was in Dona Sol - as we discovered the only conference room with windows. So now I know what sessions to attend today: everything that is in Dona Sol.
Far more engaging: a demonstration. 

More exciting: i ran into a demonstration. As I speak no spanish I have not really an idea what it was, but I frequently heard "cultural", "Pancho Villa", "educacion", "reflecion critical", "companeros" etc. It may be that these were the teachers demonstrating against the non-existence of educational resources and standards for them in Mexico. A huge number (even for Mexico City downtown standards) of police right and left of the demonstration, the demonstration itself was totally relaxed, many women and children and a positive mood. Oh, and the same Mexican music and dance(!) as at the Wikimania opening, except the texts of the songs were frequently mentioning Zapata and revolucion.
 People dancing on the streets,
 Mexicans like it colorful. Even when impersonating the Beatles.

And finally: another night at a museum. For somebody used to European public museums the privately owned Museo Soumayo is a different world. It houses the collection of Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, has an impressive collection of European masters, but it also shows that the collection in general was made by one man's likes and not by concept of art. Quite an experience. And in the end: a beatles cover band in a room with the most horrible acoustics on earth, finally rain, more Mexican finger food and tomorrow/today the last day to come. Enojoy!

Samstag, 18. Juli 2015

#Wikimania Mexico City - Day 1

Day 1. Conference!

 Nachts im Museum

So, the conference started - as should any conference - with the opening. A real nice video by the organizing team (soooo sweet), a nice speach by Protoplasmakid aka Ivan, THE guy from Mexico, and very cool Mexican dance presentation, and Lilas opening speech. I really enjoyed it, but I also discovered: all the people who have already seen opening speeches at Wikimania liked it better than those who haven't.

Okay, Lila doesn't have any charisma on stage - but hey, that fits well into the Wikipedia world and I'm not sure if these "you are the vineyard" and "THE BIG WE" were really necessary. But, hey, she was taking about Wikipedia and the projects and not about world hunger, the plight of children in developing countries and whatever other random problem but she was on focus. And most of what she said about Wikipedia and the development of the foundation made sense. I'm still more than happy and maybe I'm becoming a Lila fanboy.

Doing Citations: A pain in the ass since 2005 and ignored by the foundation since 2005. I'm more than happy that now its even such a priority to get mentioned in the opening speech.

Just one graph in Lila's speech: And it actually made some kind of sense.

Opening ceremony dance. Good photos but not too much so see for everybody else.

The Workshop. I don't need to become a Rebecca-fanboy because I already am. The was talking a bit about typical projects and how to measure if they have any success. But mostly she was asking and discussing. The people in the room weren't too many, but the rights ones. We discovered: for most of the stuff the movement does we still don't know how effective they are and if they really make sense because we hardly have numbers. People don't bother to get the data, it's way to complex to aggregate and the Foundation has "tons of resources" - but too me that's part of the problem. You completely get lost. Even in this highly self-selected panel only one third to one fourth of the people knew about the evaluation portal of the Foundation for example. So I guess, there's some work to do next year: find easy ways to measure if yourproject had any success.

Talks: one about the Visual Editor the world didn't need. The first half was going on about the why it is so difficult (templates, pictures etc. - I guess I heard that already at Wikimanias 2013 and 2014) and on the second half I lost track completely and had no idea what he was talking about.

Another one about "bigquery" - a tool from google that allows so do database searches on huge lumps of data in just seconds. The guy who talked was a Wikimedian working at google - but hey, he was sooo happy presenting his great toy that everyone could use and that everyone could share - he was almost jumping out of joy of all the crazy things he can do. 

And then the national anthropolocigal museum. WOW. What a treasure, and how nicely presented. A bit they lost the chance by having guided tours and keeping the Wikipedians close to the guide - otherwise by now they would have digitized their whole collection in high quality. But still: WOW

  "Everyone say Aztec!"

Freitag, 17. Juli 2015

Wikimania Day 0 - Some pictures

So now I'm in the hotel rooms again and have working internet. So here are some of yesterdays pictures:

Could be the Wikimania with the best food ever. Although Wiimania Haifa is still a close contender.

 Badges, badges, badges. There is a speicial sticker for WMF Staff, one for scholarship recipients, one for WMF board, one for speakers and whatnot. Still not sure if they are meant to be singled out in a good sense or not a good sense. 
The reception. And very enthusiastic volunteers. 

Nice architecture around. 

Mexican pedestrian traffic lights are animated. And they are notwalking, they are not running. Considering Mexico traffic they better be.

 The volunteer supporters workshop.

Maybe I'm becoming a lila-fanboy #wikimania

Positively surprised by Lilas opening speech at Wikimania.

* It had substance

* It had content

* Hardly any bullshit

* For most of the things she said I could say yes.

* For some of it I could even say YES

* Having hope. Actually quite a lot.

#Wikimania 2015 Day 0

No pictures right now. I'm sitting in the opening ceremony and the internet is sloooooow..

The first real day of Wikimania. This night was the official opening reception.

The reception was nice. Met a lot of people, had nice talks, the usual stuff. Finally more people have appearred that I don't know already from other Wikimanias - altough a lot of them  have already been to Wikimanias we just haven't met. And still I haven't seen several Wikimania mainstays - wonder if they will appear.

My roommate is Andrei from Romania and he is real cool guy. Very decent, smart, has read a third of the code of the visiual editor and as I have been told a really good photographer as well. I can tell myself being lucky.

As part of the prpconference I went to the Volunteers Support Network (a network of people inside the movement who support volunteers) - which unluckily was kind of slow. Out of maybe 20 attendants around five have ever been to the network before and so most of it was "what is a volunteer?" . "do you have to be paid staff to support volunteers?" - "what is this all about". So no real big steps forward.

For the man program: I'm still not sure if I'm impressed. A lot of talks could have been held 3,4,5 years ago - and nothing has changed. Hardly anything where I read the abstract and say "wow!". Lets see. But really looking forward to Rebeccas workshop on metrics and how to measure of you have any success.

About Mexico: I could just spend hours sitting n front of the hotel watching people and traffic. There's a lot of joggers, bikers, taxis, buses (some rather strange one), police etc. But as the always smart and wise Gereon observed: this police doesn't seem threatenung, but relaxed, friendly and actually helpful. And the park next to the hotel is used as a meeting place, marching area, waiting place for the auxiliary police. So you can see people in big lines semi-proessionally marching. Cool.

Also a lot around: bookshops. Feels like everyv 50 meters is one and there are even small kiosks in the middle of the street selling books. Cool.

Donnerstag, 16. Juli 2015

Community II? #wikimania

Just had a look at the Wikimania programme. And I am really not sure if my understanding of Community is the same as the understanding of the Wikimania organizers. Here's the first day of the track "Community":

I am not sure. But a "community definition" that includes financial reporting and the Wikimedia Foundation as organization seems to be a really really loose understanding to me.

#Wikimania 2015 Day -1

So the first real day in Mexico. A day to sleep, arrive and have a first look.


Had a stroll around the neighbourhood and its beautiful park, didn't get killed in traffic and went to the first Hackathon sessions.

 Mexikanisches Parkhörnchen (kopfüber)

Right opposite the Hotel there's the Alameda Central Park - "the oldest public park in Latin America". It's kind of smallish but beautifully designed and taken care of. Of course it is very representative and it shows in its numbers o statues and monuments everywhere. Still not sure if a police man at every entrance of park and every corner really helps my personal feeling of security.

 What can you do if you want to help?

Went to the first two sessions at the Hackathon. An overview over all the tools, projects and programming where Hackers can engage: from Toolsever over MediaWiki extensions, Bugs and whatnot. Of course in theory I know all of them, but it was inpressive to see all this tools and stuff and wild growth. The infrastructure is very wiki-style and I wonder if anybody on this plant actually has an overview. Best question: “So what’s the difference between a tool and a bot?” The next session – also done neatly by Andrew Klapper – was about Phabricator, the new tool used by Wikimedia to coordinate its software development. And it actually sounded quite cool and neat. Could be used outside of Wikimedia as well.

The beautiful arts

More about Mexico: had a stroll around the neighbourhood which is also the old town and therefor the center of centers of Mexico. Interesting, full, a pedestrian zone and a huge place that was blocked by some kind of digital event (no, not Wikimania). Still at the park there is the Palace Bellas Artes – an opera house but also a museum. Right now as I’ve heard with a Leonard exhibition which means huge, huge queues already at 7AM in the morning. And a beautiful building as well.

High Up in Mexico City but still inside a valley

My mystery roommate has appeared by now. It's either Michail or Andrei (sorry, but I was really sleepy when he arrived..) and on first look he seems to be a really nice and decent guy. Just arrived via Paris and I guess today he will be busy really arriving in Mexico City. About the venue: Could become the Wikimania with the best food ever. Unluckily, the most important item – coffee – is sub par and worse than all the rest.

 Traffic ballet

Still didn’t get killed in traffic. Sometimes there are pedestrian lights, but they seem to have more of an advisory role than are really binding. Then sometimes there are police man guiding the traffic – they seem to become more respect than the traffic lights, unluckily I really don’t understand what they are trying to tell me. So right now I’ve settled with “walk when the Mexikcans walk” – it seems to work fine until now.

As this is the first Wikimania in ages where I don't have any talks or any other resposibilities, I used to reflect to my last Wikimania when I was just an attending community member - Haifa. It has become much bigger, much more professional and business style and a bit "grown up". But somehow it's also less new and less exciting . it seems to me I've seen at least half the attendees at some other Wikimanias and it's bit business as usual. But maybe that will change when the real Wikimania begins - right now we are still at the pre-conference. 

Still haven't use the gourgouse Hotel pool.

Visual Editor? A Good Sign? #wikimania

Today I actually listened to some tech talks at the Hackathon (An overview and "phabricator for beginners") and suddenly I remembered Wikimanias long ago and almost forgotten.

Wikimania 2012 in Washington: the Visual Editor was the new hot cool stuff that was coming and revolutionizing Wikipedia and Mediawiki. T-H-E G-R-E-A-T N-E-W S-T-U-F-F

Than a lot happened between 2012 and 2013. Mostly a premature deployment of a seriously buggy product, a huge community backlash and a lot of bad Karma for the Visual Editor. And I remember Wikimania 2013. Visual Editor was everywhere: on T-Shirts, almost every second talk was aboit Visual Editor (and all of them by WMF staff telling how great the Vsual Editor will be), posters, transparents: no escape at all. Oh, and the same staff occupied the best of the "open rooms" for their 24/7 presentation. So the rooms weren't open anymore and nobody but the Visual Editor team else could use them. It felt like being steamrolled for a product - that still was seriously buggy.

And now: what is Visual Editor doing? Does it even still exist? I've heard there are a few tiny bugs left (but, really only a few - and it's coming from people who are not being paid for liking VE), it has gotten a lot faster and for almost all use cases it actually is usable.

And at Wikimania: I did find two talks - both seem to be matter-of-fact-style and actually being informative. It may be that this is just coincidence and the WMF has simply accepted that they won't win any hearts with Wikimania presentations for Visual Editor. But it also may that the product team has given up on communitymanagement by steamrolling and introduced a new style.

I surely hope so. 
A lot less bruhaha and more delivery? If this is actually the new WMF style I'm more than happy.

Mittwoch, 15. Juli 2015

Wikimania 2015 Tag -2

Erste Impressionen und Eindrücke von der Wikimania 2015 in Mexico City.

 Mexico-Woche bei dem 16. Juli. Auch bei Lidl.

Jetlag nach Westen mag ich irgendwie. Man springt morgens um fünf hellwach aus dem Bett und abends noch ein paar Stunden dranhägen fällt mir nicht so schwer; angekommen in Mexico, voller Spannung was die Tage kommt.

Den Reiseberichten zufolge war KLM über Amsterdam eine bessere Wahl als Lufthansa über Frankfurt. Spannend auf jeden Fall, dass quasi alle deutschen in drei verschiedenen Fliegern (Air France über Paris gab es auch noch) sich zeitgleich an der Passkontrolle in Mexiko City trafen.

Noch nie in einem so großen Flugzeug gesessen. Die Sitze wurden dadurch aber auch nicht größer.

In Amsterdam am Flughafen gibt es dutzendweise Tulpenstände und diverse Käsestände. Gut, dass ich bei den Tulpenzwiebeln widerstand - die hätte ich in Mexiko bei der Einreise gleich deklarieren müssen.
Amsterdam Aiport. Of course.

Mexikaner sind unglaubliche Meister darin, Pässe mit Schmackes abzustempeln. Chapeau. Ob die Koffer im Zoll durchleutet werden, bestimmt hingegen ein lustiger Zufallsgenerator, bei dem man grünes Licht (geh durch) oder rotes Licht (Pech gehabt) ziehen kann.

Der Zollhund in Amsterdam hingegen war anscheinend der Meinung, ich wollte große Mengen Bargeld außer Landes bringen ????? Herrchen leß sich zum Glück überzeugen, dass dem nicht so ist.

11 Stunden Flug sind aber auf jeden Fall auch bei einer guten Fluggesellschaft nichts, das man weiterempfehlen kann.

Immerhin: neben mir saß ein unglaublich netter Schwede auf dem Weg zu seiner zweiten Wikimania, wo es ihm besonders um medizinische Artikel in afrikanischen Sprachen geht. Vor allem aber tatsächlich mal ein echter Wikipedianer - das hat schon mal Laune gemacht.

Von Mexiko selbst bisher wenig mehr gesehen als das Hilton. Die dutzenden Taxigesellschaften am Flughafen - von denen man einige unbedingt nehmen soll und andere gar nicht - waren etwas verwirrend, aber Christian Rickerts höchstpersönlich hat tatkräftig dafür gesorgt, dass wir alle im richten Hotel landeten.

Das Hotel... Hilton Reforma.. ich hatte schon Hotelzimmer, die kleiner waren als das Bad hier. Mit Ausblick über die Stadt. Bin auf die Tageslichtversion gespannt.

Wobei ich ja ein Doppelzimmer mit dem Mystery-Mitbewohner habe. Von dem ist aber bisher noch keine Spur zu entdecken.

Interaktion mit Einheimischen beschränkte sich auf das Bestellen einer Michilada an der Hotelbar. Fazit der neu angekommenen: für Hilton/Hotelbar ist das spektakulär preiswert. Fazit derjenigen, die schon einige Tage da sind: für Mexiko ist das spektakulär teuer. Vermutlich geht es mit der ganzen Konferenz so. Fazit aller: Michilade ist ein tolles Getränk.

Apropos Preise. sehr irritierend, dass Mexikanische Pesos (ein Peso entspricht etwa 6 Pfennig) mit $-Zeichen angegeben werden. Zuerst schluckt man immer erst kurz beim Blick auf Preise und auch dieses "Wollen Sie jetzt 1000$ abheben?" am Geldautomat kostete etwas Überwindung.

Mit Englisch kommt man nicht weit. Selbst in den super-tourfizierten Sachen wie Flughafen und flughafen-Taxi war man schnell beim Ende der Englischkenntnisse des Gegenüber und auch der Geldautomat eines globalen Finanzinstituts im Hilton spricht nur spanisch.

Schade aber, dass die allgemeine Polizei- und Sicherheitslage meine liebste Form der Stadterkundung ("einfach mal wahllos eine Stunde durch die Gegend laufen und schauen wo man rauskommt") nur bedingt ratsam machen. 

Und auch noch zur Wikimania: heute ist erstmal gründlicher Ankomm-Programmsichte-und-ähnliches-Tag. Auf den ersten Blick wirkte das Programm noch uninspririerender als in London. Aber man wird sehen. Auf jeden Fall dehnt die Konferenzt sich zeitlich immer mehr aus: allein die ganzen Veranstaltungen der Pre-Konferenz würden ausreichen um eine eigene Konferenz zu füllen.