Wikimania 2006 is over

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And it sure was one of the hottest conferences ever! I don't mean just because of the 40°C/100°F that we had to endure in Boston, but also because of the further speakers there.

Brewster Kahle, the man behind the Internet Archive, and who started Alexa and WAIS Inc., told us about his plans to digitalize every book (just a few Petabytes), every movie (just a few Petabytes), every record (just a... well, you get the drill), and to make a snapshot of the web every few months, and archive this. Wow.

Yochai Benkler spoke about the Wealth of Networks. You can download his book from his site, or go to a bookstore and get it there. The talk was really inviting to read it: why does a network thingy like Wikipedia work and not suck? How does this change basically everything?

Next day, there was Mitch Kapor, president of the Open Source Application Foundation -- and I am really sorry I had to miss his talk, because at the same time we were giving our workshop on how to reuse the knowledge within a Semantic MediaWiki in your own applications and websites. Markus Krötzsch, travel companion and fellow AIFB PhD student, and basically the wizard who programmed most of the Semantic MediaWiki extension, totally surprised me by being surprised about what you can do with this Semantic Web stuff. Yes, indeed, the idea is to be able to ask another website to put stuff up on yours. And to mush data.

There was David Weinberger, whose talk made me laugh more than I had for a while (and I am quite merry, usually!). I still have to rethink what he actually said, contentwise, but it made a lot of sense, and I took some notes, it was on the structure of knowledge, and how it changes in the new world we are living in.

Ben Shneiderman, the pope on visualization and User Interfaces had an interesting talk on visualizing the Wikipedia. The two talks before his, by Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, were really great, because they have visualized real Wikipedia data -- and showed us a lot of interesting data. I hope their tools will become available soon. (Ben's own talk was rather a bit disappointing, as he didn't seem to have the time to take some real data, but only used fake data to show some general possible visualizations. As i had the chance to see him in Darmstadt last year anyway, I didn't see much new stuff).

The party at the MIT Museum was great! Even though I wasn't allow to drink, because I forgot my ID. I'd never think anyone would consider me looking younger than 21. So I take this as the most sincere compliment. Don't bother explaining they had to check my ID even if I looked 110, I really don't want to hear :) I saw Kismet! Pitily, he was switched off.

Trust me. I was kinda tired after this week. It was lots of fun, it was enormously interesting. Thanks to all the Wikipedians, who made Wikipedia and Wikimania possible. Thanks to all these people for organizing this event and helping out! I am looking forward to Wikimania 2007, wherever it will be. The bidding for hosting Wikimania 2007 are open!


Originally published on Semantic Nodix

ACM Review ACM Review II




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