Wikipedia: Towards closing the gender gap

This blog post was first published on Huffington Post U.K. For my Wikimania proposal with a similar title, click here.

Most of us know Wikipedia as the free online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by millions of volunteers from around the world. I am one of those writers for the last 3 years. It was by writing articles about medical sciences that I started contributing to Wikipedia. Later, I was intrigued by the enormous volume of information available on Wikipedia, and was curious to find out who actually write them – which made me delve into the editor demographics. It really made me upset when I figured out that only around 9% of the contributors to Wikipedia are women. In fact, I knew that so few women write on Wikipedia, but I hadn’t expected the figure to be as low as 9 percent.

Diversity of opinion is the essence of any encyclopedia. Having equal representation from women will bring in wider perspectives, and increase the neutrality of the articles on Wikipedia. With men creating most of the content for Wikipedia, certain subjects might be covered more than a subject that may be of interest to women. Women not writing on Wikipedia mean that certain subjects may not be receiving the attention they rightfully deserve.

CC-BY-SA. User: Jaluj. Wikimedia Commons

The Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia, had recognized this problem sooner than I did. The Wikimedia Foundation has launched various programs to bridge the gender gap, and the latest addition to the list is the WikiWomen’s Collaborative.

The WikiWomen’s Collaborative was created in September 2012 by women around the world who edit Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, and want to encourage others to do the same. The project was aimed at helping women and transwomen to support one another and engage in programs that help the Wikimedian community to bring in new women editors. A variety of events, like edit-a-thons, interviews and wikiwomen parties were conducted as a part of the collaborative.

In May 2012, a WikiWomenCamp was organized for women in the Wikimedia movement to get together and discuss about the various issues related to being women involved in the Wikimedia community with like-minded women. Over 20 women from different countries participated in the camp to brainstorm solutions for existing problems that concern women, and suggest future plans to collaborate with one another. It is customary to conduct a WikiWomen’s luncheon at Wikimania, the global gathering of Wikimedians, exclusively for the women participants.

Organizations like the Ada Initiative, named for the world’s first programmer Countess Ada Lovelace, support women working with open knowledge projects like Wikipedia by creating resources for women in open stuff, conducting conferences and advising organizations on supporting women.

Many outreach programs were conducted in women’s universities all over the world to encourage students to participate in the Wikimedia movement. The Women’s History month edit-a-thons conducted every year, attracts both male and female editors to write biographies of notable women on Wikipedia.

The Wikimedia Foundation has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25% by 2015. Given the good response from the community to various events conducted for women, it is likely that the foundation will achieve its goal within the set time limit.

If you would like to get engaged in various activities for women in Wikipedia, write to me or join us here.

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Women, we can do it: A conversation with Anastasia Lvova

This is the report of my interview with the Russian Wikimedian, Anastasia Lvova.

Anastasia Lvova’s story should be an inspiration to women editing Wikipedia. She started editing Russian Wikipedia in 2007, because she found volunteering very interesting and useful to society. She has been one of the most active editors of Russian Wikipedia since. After writing her first article (certification) and improving her first good article (RFID), she became dedicated to Wikipedia.

 

lvova_i_edit_wikipedia
Lvova. CC-BY-SA. Self.
Lvova’s contributions to Wikipedia and the Wikimedia community are impressive. She runs a bot, which does automated tasks on Wikipedia. It is now active on multiple language Wikipedias. She is also a Toolserver user — where she works on the Connectivity project — and an agent for Wikipedia’s volunteer customer service group, OTRS. She has created more than 2,200 new articles and authored some good and featured articles about Ireland and the arts. She has made as many as 404 edits in a day, 23,777 actions with flagged revision in a month and more than 60,000 edits in all! She was at the lead in organizing Wiki Loves Monuments Russia in 2011. She is an advocate for free knowledge and took part in organizing protests against internet censorship in Russia. A large part of her collection of images on Wikimedia Commons are photos from her foreign trips, because according to Russian law, photos of still-in-copyright buildings are not free.Outside the Wikimedia network, she is a photographer and writer. She graduated with a degree in management and is currently pursuing her graduate degree in psychology. She maintains a blog where she posts about her activities within and outside Wikipedia. She is also involved in charity and volunteering, and likes spending time writing letters to the elderly and children in orphanages. For her, these hobbies contribute to her activities within Wikipedia, as her hobbies help her create ideas for writing Wikipedia articles.For Lvova, being a woman editor is a positive. She says that the Russian community is receptive to woman editors, and fellow editors have helped her from time to time. She has met like-minded individuals from the community, and has done collaborative projects with them. She has noticed that the Russian wiki-community sometimes expects feminine behavior from women editors, but she says it’s not really a problem for her. She also noted that in the past, when it was hard for women to teach in universities, they became teachers, fighting against the odds, even disguising themselves as men to be able to teach. Women should be inspired by the past and feel empowered to contribute now, she argued. “Dear women, we can do it, and sharing information has always been our competence,” she said with a smile.Lvova enjoyed meeting other women editors in Argentina during the WikiWomenCamp, a meeting of women Wikimedians from around the world that took place in May 2012.“WikiWomenCamp was helpful for me not only because I got new contacts and a new perspective of things, but also because it gave me some courage to work for women’s issues,” Lvova said. She was grateful to receive a grant from Wikimedia Germany to participate in WikipWomenCamp and she has been supported by Wikimedia Poland to attend two Wikimanias and several wikiconferences.After WikiWomenCamp, Lvova started a project for new woman editors to write articles about notable women on Russian Wikipedia (they have written about 50 articles so far). She said she wishes to be helped by both men and women in her community to bridge the gender gap in Wikipedia. She thinks that this is an issue which has to be dealt with urgently. “Statistics show that around 6 to 23 percent editors are women, but we can’t be sure yet as many women prefer to disguise themselves as men because they think that a man’s opinion would be preferred over a womans,” said Lvova. She, therefore, likes to research about women’s participation in her home wiki.Her activities on Wikimedia have helped her visit interesting places, but the most rewarding experience for her has been meeting fellow Wikimedians. Through these events she has met new people who have helped her learn fresh ideas for problems, many of which were not raised in local discussions. If you want to say a ‘hi’ to Anastasia, the best place to drop by would be her talk page, where she says she would welcome the discussion.
This post was first published on Wikimedia blog on 16th October, 2012. The interview was conducted as a part of the activities of WikiWomenCollaborative. 

Touring Washington D.C in a day!

 Visiting places is fun, more so when you are at the capital city of U.S.A. I was invited by Google Inc. to attend the prestigious Ada Camp D.C held in Washington in July 2012. My three day trip was tightly packed, with two days spent at the conference venue and just one day left for sightseeing. There is so much to see at Washington D.C that it is near impossible to see them all in just one day. However, I managed to make the maximum out of my visit, and here are some tips for those who are planning to go to the U.S for sightseeing.
An airplane flying over the Potomac River, Washington D.C

 

Getting prepared: 

  •          If you have running shoes, pack them up! The city is seriously obsessed with running! So, join the insanity and do the sightseeing while jogging past your favourite tourist spots! If you are not a big fan of jogging, you could consider taking a bike tour or a bus tour.
  •             Camera is a must. Stop at the 19 foot long Lincoln Memorial, the sparkling Hope Diamond at Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the spiky Washington Monument to click a few snaps. I bet those pictures would be your most prized possessions once you reach back home!
  •             Get a map of the city. Maps are available for free at tourist spots and most restaurants.
In front of the Washington monument

 

Good morning!

Step back in time at one of the old fashioned restaurants in Dupont circle to have a scrumptious breakfast. Get a taxi and head to the Lincoln memorial by sunrise. It feels great to watch the Washington monument bathed in gold just after sunrise. Then move to the Potomac River and have a paddle boat ride to view the capital’s best monuments on the banks of the river.

At the Lincoln Memorial

 

Good afternoon!

The latest food trend in D.C is to follow the city’s food trucks. The trucks offer everything from muffins to sandwiches, so make sure that you enjoy some of the America’s indigenous delicacies. Then march ahead to the Smithsonian group of museums which showcase a wide variety of artifacts, exhibits and videos. The Air and Space museum and the Natural History museum are especially child friendly, so do not forget to take your kids there!

The specimen of the stuffed African Elephant at Smithsonian Natural History Museum
Exhibits at the Smithsonian Museum

 

Good evening!
It is evening and you haven’t yet finished strolling through the museums! Now it is time to go to the White House. Though getting an entry pass is hard, one could always get near the gates and pose for a picture near one of its gates. There are plenty of gift shops around, so do not forget to buy stuff for your relatives back home from here!
Good night!
The best place to hang out at night is one of the disco clubs or outdoor movie houses. Pamper your taste buds by eating a caramelized black cod or steamed fish with picklebacks for dinner!
Wikimania evening party in the Library of Congress, D.C

 

If time permits:
Go to the U.S botanical and zoological gardens. I missed this part, and I can’t yet forgive myself for missing it. This is the best place for kids to appreciate various ecosystems and diversity of the earth.
The locals are extremely friendly. The city has signboards and maps at every nook and corner, so there are no chances for you getting lost. If you are planning to do some heavy shopping, stroll over to Georgetown, where you’ll get plenty of souvenirs.
 
I couldn’t believe that the day ended so quickly! I had a very memorable time at D.C that I felt like not going back home!

PS: Thanks to Dr. Jayakrishnan for correcting one of the obvious errors in this article. 🙂

WikiWomenCamp 2012

Participating in an international conference for women is a wonderful experience. It is more rewarding when the conference is for Wikimedians to discuss issues primarily concerning women.  The WikiWomenCamp, held at Buenos Aires, Argentina from 23-25 June and WikiGenero held on the next day was an enlightening experience not only for me, but also for the other 16 attendees from 15 countries of the world.

On the first day, we began by introducing each other. The discussion was held in open space format and all of us proposed sessions that are of importance to women working with Wikiprojects.  There were sessions on chapters and women, Wikipedia and education, dealing with abuse on Wikipedia, attracting femalewriters through social networks and many other topics which dealt with women participation and outreach in Wikiprojects.

The traditionally assigned gender role of women in India is to look after the household and rear children. With the passage of time, educated women started to get employed and started having finances of their own, but most of them still continue to fulfill the gender roles in addition to their career, leaving very little time for volunteering. The gender gap that exists in the global Wikimedia community has its reflections in India also. Although the number of women volunteers from India working with Wikimedia is rising overtime, their number is far less than that of male volunteers. With the IndiaEducation Program, many new women have ventured into Wikiprojects as CampusAmbassadors, but their number is far lesser than men.

 Participants of the WikiWomenCamp, Buenos Aires, Argentina

 By Jaluj (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

The insights I provided were on the diversity of languages and cultures in India, and how one language Wikiproject differs from the other in terms of culture, and how it is reflected in the article writing styles. I also mentioned about the outreach programs that are being successfully conducted in India through social media and universities mainly aiming students enthusiastic about working with free knowledge projects.
At the WikiWomenCamp, every session was a new learning experience. There was always some idea I could propose, and a new piece of information I could make a note of. The insights and opinions of the elderly participants and that of the educators were valuable. The facilitation in open space format was comfortable and highly productive – it gave opportunities for women to lead and facilitate sessions who would otherwise have remained silent. Notes were taken on Wiki to ensure that the ideas shaped out of the discussions are recorded for future reference.  
The important decisions taken by the members at the conference were the creation of an emergency mailing list for dealing with abuse, relaunching of WikiChix – the Women’s wiki, WikiWomen Translate program and launching OTRS queue for harassment. The feasibility of launching new global projects for women with participation from the home countries of the members was also discussed.
The camp made me more sensitive towards gender issues and helped me learn wonderful ideas for increasing women participation in the Wikiprojects of my home country. Besides, I could discuss with representatives from other countries about providing them assistance in launching gender specific projects in their home country. The camp was directly relevant to my experiences and qualifications, and meeting many WikiWomen boosted my confidence in working with outreach programs.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Austria for granting me scholarship to attend the first WikiWomenCamp. The excellent work done by Wikimedia Argentina, Wikimedia Germany, Wikimedia Australia and Wikimedia Austria in supporting women’s events is very much appreciated.

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

The GraceHopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference will be held on December 13 and 14, 2012 at the Lalit Ashok Hotel, Bangalore. It is presented by Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology and ACM India. The conference aims at increasing the participation of women in careers and research in computing. This year, the theme of the conference is ‘Beyond Boundaries’ –helping women to tackle challenges and explore new avenues in computing. 

Women in technology all over the world are facing similar challenges, says Shruti, one of the coordinators of the conference. Women are stereotyped throughout the career that they are not good enough to pursue a career in computing, which seriously decreases their self confidence. There is a scarcity of women role-models and mentors which women can emulate, mostly leaving them to carve a niche on their own. Women, being so little in number, are alienated at workplace and college by their peers, which significantly demoralize them. Women also lack access to influential social networks which limit their career growth.  Shruti adds that, in India, the gender roles defined for women are more exacting than in other parts of the world, leaving them with a poor work-life balance.

Grace Hopper operating the UNIVAC. By Unknown (Smithsonian Institution) (Flickr: Grace Hopper and UNIVAC) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)
The GHC will look into the causes of lack of women participation, highlight the contributions of women in computing, give personal and professional support to starting a career in computing and provide a platform for like-minded women to interact with each other and take up joint initiatives. The two-day conference will have posters, presentations, workshops and panel discussions. The presenters are chosen from a variety of backgrounds, including industrial, academic and governmental communities. 
The Grace Hopper Conference is an annual event held in India and the US in memory of Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who was a computer scientist and navy officer. People of all nationalities are welcome to attend the conference. However, the conference will deal mainly with issues relating to women and computing in India. “To this end, each conference has a track that is specific to the needs and challenges of students and new grads. These sessions offer a mix of advice, personal stories, experiences and knowledge to give students a headstart in planning their career paths, building networks and gaining life skills”, claims Shruti, who is also a leading blogger. 
The conference is expected to create a huge impact among women in Bangalore and the rest of the country. The call for participation is now open, the details can be found here.

Insights from Ada Camp, Washington D.C

 Flying 19 hours with 7 hour transit just for a three day stay at the US is worth it only if you are planning to do something big. My three day trip to the US, with two of the days spent at the Ada Camp was worth it as every moment spent with the Ada campers was highly stimulating.

On the first day, we began by introducing ourselves, which was fun because we had to do it in three words! It was hard to find the right three words to describe myself! (medico, blogger, Wikimedian?) Then, I went about meeting people who had come from different parts of the world. It was hard to decide which session to attend, because there were eight wonderful parallel sessions at a time, and given a chance, I would want to attend all of them! There were, in total, 32 sessions, spanned out in two days, which were attended by a mix of audience – students, professionals and jobseekers.

I attended four sessions on the first day of the Camp, which were very useful :

1.     Can the women’s movement save Wikipedia?– The discussion was about the gender gap issues in Wikipedia and the role of existing women editors in increasing the participation of women in Wikimedia projects. The suggestions that came up where very interesting, and the Wikimedians who participated in this discussions planned to launch projects to improve women’s participation in Wikiprojects.

2.    How to convince people about the importance of gendergap in Wikimedia projects?- It is often difficult to make people understand the seriousness of the problems related to gender imbalance in the editor community, and this session proved to be useful in knowing the attitudes of people who are against gender-sensitive projects. There was a productive discussion on what is to be done in order to provide more attention to gendergap in Wikiprojects.

3.    How non-techie people can contribute to technology projects?- This session featured a discussion on the role of non-techie people in projects that deal with technology. Many women who had no prior experience with technology said that they were comfortable with tech-related projects. After all, anything could be easy for you if you are willing to learn!

4.    How to choose a mentor?- A session with heavy attendance on the qualities of a right mentor, the reasons why you should have a mentor especially if you are a newbie, issues with women having male mentors and what to do if the mentor behaves badly with you!

a380d-nethandconnie
                                                                 With a fellow Ada Camper

The second day was interesting too! It was on this day that I got acquainted with Python and webapps! The sessions in which I participated in the second day are:

 

1.    Ada Camp in other continents?- On reaching out to more people through the Ada initiative, conducting Ada camps in different countries and challenges involved in doing the same. Wish we could conduct the next Ada camp in India!

 

2.    How to program in Python?– Not having programmed in Python anytime in the past, it was interesting to find out the basics of programming with a bunch of women with similar interests. And yippee! I created my own programs in Python to perform simple tasks!

 

3.    10 moves that could save your life – The code for the moves, I still remember, is HACKERPUB. It was interesting to see the moves being demonstrated, and we split up into couples and practiced a few of the moves on each other. It built my confidence to know a few awesome moves that could be of help when in the face of danger.

 

4.    My first webapp – The session helped every attendee in creating her own webapp. Creating a webapp on one’s own might sound too complicated, but it proved to be easy when the facilitator guided us through the whole process.

 

The participants  were served Ethiopian and Lebanese food, and it was awesomely delicious! The notes on the sessions were documented on piratepad for future reference. The closing session on both days featured some awesome games, and all of us seemed to enjoy participating in them.

 

A few things I decided to do after deriving encouragement at the Ada camp:

1.      To move completely to ubuntu.

2.      To learn more of Python-programming and complement my knowledge in Python in making useful edits in Wikipedia.

3.      To involve in projects that welcome newbies to Wikiprojects, making Wiki-editing a pleasurable and rewarding experience for them.
My participation at the Ada camp gave me insights about the issues that I might face at the workplace and University as a woman, ideas to deal with them, and to excel in the chosen field of work by encouraging others to participate by mentoring, learning and by managing time to create an effective work-leisure balance.

Sincere thanks to Mary Gardiner and Valerie Aurorafor inviting me to attend the Ada Camp. Many thanks to Google Inc. for sponsoring my travel and accommodation.       

Dermatologically yours!

At the dermatologist’s, you do not know what to expect. 
 
A pinhead sized beauty spot could be a malignant melanoma and a normal looking wart would be a sqamous cell carcinoma. A really painful blister would turn out to be a pimple and itchy skin would just be allergy.
Before you visit a dermatologist, you should be ready to get surprised. Even as a medical student, I got terribly surprised when my dermatologist announced that a small pimple on the neck (infected sebaceous cyst, to be precise) would require a surgical removal under general anesthesia. 

Bah.
I was back home after a long flight journey from Argentina. My skin was never very good to adapt to the extremes of the climate, be it hot or cold. I hadn’t packed a moisturizer for my Argentine trip, and efforts to buy a good quality moisturizer from Argentine shops turned out to be futile.
By the time I reached home, my skin had shriveled up and had even started peeling off. My lips were dry and cracked. It was in a terrible shape that I landed at the dermatologist.
I was ready to get surprised. I would deal it head-on with it if  I am diagnosed of a malignant melanoma. I would tell my friends and relatives that there is a possibility of distant metastasis to the liver and lungs and that I would go in for the best treatment known to the medical community. I was badly in need to fall in a terrible illness so that I would be able to show that I am brave enough to fight the disease. 
The dermatologist’s cubicle was a bit crowded when I arrived. Medical students do not have the habit of waiting for their turn when they are in the hospital. I just broke the queue and went inside.
I was welcomed by the sweet smile of a woman doctor. She had thin eyebrows and long eyes. Her eyelashes were long and nose was pointed. Her pink lips reminded me of rose petals. She was wheatish in complexion and had braided her hair into a bun.

Her smile was attractive, not seductive. The nameboard pinned to her chudidar read ‘Dr.Kyra Keyman, Consultant Dermatologist’.

I sat in front of her. She examined my skin and advised me to use cold cream.

Aargh. You do not get a malignant melanoma when you need it.
She advised me against using cheap cold cream and told that I should be careful enough to choose a cream that will suit my skin.
I met Kyra again at the hostel. She was a new faculty at the college. She was native to Chickmagalur, a hill station in Karnataka. Later, we discovered that we lived in the same floor of the hostel and eventually we became good friends. She once suggested that we go to the Kozhikode beach on a holiday.
And we went. Together.
It was fun walking on the sand, chasing the waves, collecting seashells and making castles. Occasionally, a big wave would hit us and we would run away. We made sand castles and watched them being washed away by the waves. We sat at on the rocks and took photographs of each other. We followed the crabs to their burrows. We threw starfishes back to the sea. We ate icecreams and lay down in the sun.
We left the beach with hands full of seashells, and spot-free skin! Thanks to Kyra, I had a great day at the beach!

A Parkinson’s L(W)ife

Your unblinking told me that I was curtains.
Your fingers moved across your blue wool jacket
like fingers following the strings of a musical instrument.
Evenings, you wriggled your calloused fingers
into the cracks in the walls, scrutinizing their insides.
Veterans’ club, your friends clicked their tongues
in sympathy, when they learnt about your disease
and wondered out loud if they had tremors
while holding the wineglass or if they had holes
in their understanding of the sheet of time.
Last week, while slicing boiled bananas
with the edge of a spoon, you whispered at me
that you wanted to return to life and freedom.
I wish you could.

WikiConf 2011 – A Malayalam Wikimedian’s perspective

When Shiju ettan* (Shiju Alex) suggested that I apply for a scholarship to attend WikiConf 2011, I dismissed it as joke. The very next day, Santosh ettan (Santosh Thottingal) urged me to do the same and gave me the link to the scholarship form, I blankly told him that I am not the right person for attending a program that involves technology.

If either of you are reading this, I’m terribly sorry for not listening to your suggestions right then – for, I did apply for the scholarship weeks later, and surprisingly, I qualified (!)– to be among the 100 scholars out of the 7000+ applicants!

Later, the organizers asked me if I could speak at the conference. A third year medico talking about Wikipedia to techie geeks was the last thing I could imagine of. But as it was Shjiu ettan who pressed me to do it, and because I admired him so much, I thought I’d give a try on a talk on “Gendergap in Indic Wikipedias – A statistical analysis ”. regarding female participation in Indic Wikipedias, but I couldn’t find enough of relevant data, so I eventually dropped the plan.

Finally, the big day arrived. On 17th November, I flew to Mumbai to attend the first ever WikiConference of Wikimedians from all over India. During the flight, I was busy working on the presentation “The state of Malayalam Wikiprojects of Wikimedia foundation”- which, luckily, was later replaced by a better one created by the ml-wikipedia team led by Viswam ettan. My accommodation was at Hotel Sea Green, with Noopur and Dipali (both from Gujrat). Dipali, if you are reading this, I miss the morning walks with you along Marine Lines.

At the conference, I met many Wikimedians from various parts of the country and abroad. Most of them had heard about ml-wikipedia, and some of them even congratulated me for the good progress ml-wikipedia is making overtime! The news about me that appeared in DNA newspaper had made me famous, and many people recognized me as the medico girl who edits Wikipedia (:))! Being an Online Ambassador for the India Education Program, I had contacts with many Campus Ambassadors, and I could meet a few of them. I had been aware of only the virtual existence of Junaid ikka, Rajesh ettan, Vijaykumar ettan, Ramesh ettan, Ditty chechi*, Vaisakh ettan, Sivahari ettan, Jagadeesh ettan and many other ml-Wikimedians till then, WikiConf helped me to meet them all for real.LinkThough I hung around with Malayali Wikimedians most of the time, I didn’t fail to meet Wikimedians from other languages. I met a few Kannada Wikimedians, and discussed with them the present state of Kannada Wikipedia. They were so lovely, and meeting them made me want to work with Kannada Wikipedia too. Talking with a few people from Marathi Wikipedia helped me know about the challenges they are facing, and we discussed the solutions for the same. Tinu ettan and Naveen ettan were the two Malayali Wikimedians whom I had the privilege to meet.

WikiConference India 2011 Jimmy Wales 4
Jimmy Wales speaking at WikiConf 2011
Attribution : Victorgrigas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I had feared that only geekish stuff would be discussed at the conference, but I was wrong. Jimmy Wales, in his highly inspiring speech, urged the Wikimedians to change everything they could for the welfare of Wikipedia. He described the strategies to be adopted while working in small communities like Indic language Wikipedias. He was patient enough to answer to many questions from the audience, though he had other appointments to attend to. I see of him as a humble man who has inspired (and continues to inspire) many people across the globe to de-commercialise knowledge.

WikiConference India 2011 Snap 9546
Netha Hussain speaking at WikiConf2011
Attribution : Rameshng (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Other talks that really got me think over were :
1. WikiBhasha : A powerful translation tool that helps in translation from one Indic language to another.
2. GeoWiki : About the creation of a tool that could add geographical data to Wikipedia articles. The existing technique is laborious and time consuming. Geowiki would make the process simpler and also updates the information in the pages of other language Wikipedias.
3. Wikipedia and Environment : How Wikipedia plays a role in conserving wildlife by providing accurate details about existing flora and fauna was discussed among other issues. The participants were asked to upload photos of rare plants and animals they see even if they do not know their scientific names.
4. Project Indian roads : How editors from different parts of India helped to make Wikipedia a complete reference guide for data related to National Highways.
5. WikiWomenWeb : About bridging the gendergap by increasing female participation in Indic Wikipedias. A ‘7 day challenge’ to identify 7 women from different social and educational backgrounds and help them become Wikipedia editors.
6. Digitising a book using Dejavu : An informative training session where the speaker explained how a book could be digitised using Dejavu. This session was very useful for those working with Wikisource in Indic languages.
7. WikiQuiz : This was the funniest of all sessions. Questions about Wikimedia projects were asked (most of them were trivia) and audience were let to answer. I didn’t fail to shout the few answers I knew!
The session on ‘State of Indian language Wikiprojects’ helped me know the present status of other Indic Wikipedias. As sessions were held in parallel at three halls, I could watch only a few talks.

On the final day, we took a group photo. I spoke during the ‘Noteworthy Wikimedian Award’ session when a Lady Wikimedian was called to speak. After the talk, I was interviewed by a reporter from Hindustan times!
WikiConference India 2011 - Malayalam wikipedians 9640
Malayali Wikimedians on stage
Attibution: Rameshng (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Considering my liking to Kerala food and intolerance to sandwiches, the food wasn’t very delicious. My dancing skills are below average sort of, and therefore the only program I failed to enjoy was the disco at Panache bar.
One person I wanted to meet (but couldn’t meet) was Bishakha Dutta. She is a dynamic person and an awesome speaker, and seemed to engage in work all the time. I didn’t feel like disturbing her, and so I missed the opportunity to meet her in person.
It was hard for me to say goodbye to Mumbai, which was my home for three days by then. It was the first non-medical conference I had attended. I really loved being around with so many Wikimedians whose interests and ideologies were similar to mine.

Looking forward to participating in the next WikiConference!

* Among Keralites, it is indecent to call a person older than you by their first name. So their names are usually suffixed with ettan/chechi to give them due respect.
For those of you who don’t know me as a Wikipedia editor, I am User: Netha Hussain on Wikiprojects.

Added after going through the comments I received on this post on facebook :

Abhi was at his creative best during the conference and clicked many beautiful snaps. Many thanks to Manoj for seeing me off at Churchgate station. 🙂 Link

noitulovE

Imagine Him pressing
32X on his system.
The heat-dead molecules-
virulently mobilized, realign
into suns and planets.
Tiny space capsules emerge from them
and move earthward.
We leap up from our graves.
Lizards creep into seas.
The primordial soup unchurns
to split proteins into amino acids.
Galaxies condense to a
single point mass, waiting
for an impulse to explode
and create life
again.