In an alternate, COVID-19-free universe, hundreds of Wikimedians — the community of volunteers who make Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects possible — would have gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, in August 2020 for the sixteenth annual Wikimania conference.
They would have met in person, no social distancing to worry about, exploring sites like the Grand Palace, snacking on fresh mango from Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, and talking about Wikimedia’s future and their passion for free knowledge over drinks in the hotel lobby.
In this universe, though, those same Wikimedians have been working tirelessly during an ongoing global pandemic to provide reliable, neutral, and up-to-date information to people around the world when they needed it most.
Today, we are excited to announce that for the first time since the pandemic began, Wikimedians from around the world will be able to join together once again for Wikimania from 13–17 August — completely virtual for the first time.
Each year, the convening serves as the space where our global and diverse community comes together to connect and celebrate the Wikimedia movement’s achievements and goals.
“ For the first time since the pandemic began, Wikimedians from around the world will be able to join together once again for Wikimania.”
It turns out that going virtual has its upsides. In fact, while past Wikimaniashave brought together upwards of 1,700 attendees, more than 4,000 people registered to attend this year’s online event.
The virtual format also created opportunities to reach more people and be more inclusive than years past. It removed the barriers of travel visa and passport limitations. Most sessions will be available in seven languages, and programming will be accessible to a wide range of time zones.
This year’s event is also special because it is happening during Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary year. Attendees will join sessions to reflect on the movement’s past, celebrate the present, and look ahead to the future.
“Each year, Wikimania is a festival of what our movement can achieve when we come together,” said Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. “Our first ever virtual Wikimania is incredibly timely, as it is both a chance for us to reflect on Wikipedia’s 20th birthday and to recognize our service to free knowledge during a global crisis of misinformation over the past year and a half. During this multi-day celebration of the people who make the Wikimedia projects possible, we can look forward to the possibilities ahead of us and the future of our movement.”
Highlights of Wikimania 2021 include:
★ The presentation of this year’s Wikimedian of the Year Award winners by Jimmy Wales. The tradition of the Wikimedian of the Year goes back to 2011 and is expanding this year to recognize seven exceptional volunteers.
★ A panel discussion moderated by CNN correspondent Dr. Sanjay Guptaexploring how the Wikipedia volunteer community, news media, and global health sector can collaborate to tackle misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers include:
- Dr. Julio Frenk, President of the University of Miami and Mexico’s former Minister of Health
- Dr. Netha Hussain, Neuroscientist and active contributor to Wikipedia’s COVID-19 coverage
- Dr. Elaine O. Nsoesie, Computational Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, Boston University
- Dr. Peter Singer, Special Advisor to the Director-General of the World Health Organization
★ Entertainment and exploration opportunities, including video tours of the town of Toodyay in Western Australia and the Nairobi National Museum in Kenya, as well as cook-alongs with Chefs Hnoi Latthitham in Bangkok, Thailand, and Thando Xiphu in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Registration is closed for the event, but you can still watch live-streams of almost all sessions. Check out the program for details.
Be sure to follow along on social media using #Wikimania21!