Heiko and I just returned from Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria, Egypt. This has been our first Wikimania and it was really a great experience! The talks were interesting and the schedule was so crammed, that we couldn't see as many talks as we'd liked to.
Socializing and Fraternization
Even though the talks were excellent, the main reason to go to a conference like Wikimania are rather the inspiring chats and discussions with other attendees between the talks, at dinner somewhere in Alexandria or while sipping Sakara or Stella in the hotel lobby.
We solely met really nice people, and everyone wanted to talk about Wikipedia, MediaWiki, its uses in education or print-on-demand. It was difficult to find someone who had not something interesting to share.
Even one of our “rivals” turned out to be in fact an ally: During the three days in Alexandria we met several times with Jani Patokallio from Wikitravel Press, and we are now planning to collaborate by exchanging knowledge, ideas and technology.
In addition to the many Wikipedians from all over the world, we were able to meet and talk to SJ Klein (OLPC project), Jure Čuhalev and Tomaž Šolc (Zemanta), Angela Beesley (Wikia), Merrick Schaefer (UNICEF) and Erik Möller (Wikimedia Foundation). I was especially happy to finally meet Brion Vibber, (CTO of Wikimedia) in real life with whom we previously only had lots of email conversations and phone calls.
Our Lightning Talks
On day 3 of the conference we had registered to do a Lightning Talk. Each of us had five minutes for his presentation and a short question and answer session.
I presented mwlib and its current (OpenOffice.org Wiki, OLPC) and future applications (deployment in Wikipedias and other Commons wikis, the XML Bridge project). I uploaded the slides, for anyone who is interested.
Praise and Thanks
Kudos to all of the organizers of the Wikimania 2008! Special thanks go to Delphine Ménard who managed to solve the issues we had with the registration and our hotel, although these problems were totally our own fault.
The crowning finale of the conference was a great Wikimania open air party with music, dancing, Egyptian folklore shows, a huge buffet and “Wiki Shisha”.
Even on the airport we got to know new Wikipedians who were crazy enough to take that same flight at 3 o'clock in the morning from Borg El Arab to Frankfurt.
And now we are looking forward to Buenos Aires!