WikiSym 2010

I spent a few days in October at WikiSym (short for “the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration“) — an academic symposium that focuses on all aspects of wikis and how they work. Topics include research into how large wikis such as Wikipedia work, the technical aspects of wiki software, how wikis could be classroom tools, the wiki and collaborative software industry — and more generally, the social and cultural implications of online collaboration, both inside companies and organizations and in open, public initiatives. The conference generally features a simultaneous research paper track and open space track, which means that peer-reviewed papers are formally presented while there is also an open forum for brainstorming and sharing ideas.

The conference is small, but it is an intense few days of discussion and idea sharing. I’ve always found WikiSym to be an enjoyable and rare meeting of smart researchers who are excited by the possibilities of wikis both from the production and technology side, and as an area of applied scholarly research.

This year’s conference was held in Orlando, co-located with OOPSLA, the big object-oriented programming conference. (The program this year was great, and I took extensive notes, some of which made it into a Signpost story). WikiSym is also an international conference, and so far has been held in the United States, Canada, and Portugal.

And there is a location picked out for this year, as well: I am pleased to announce that I agreed to be symposium chair for next year’s WikiSym, which will be held in GdaÅ„sk, Poland, in early July of 2010. The conference will be co-located with Wikimania 2010, which has been scheduled for GdaÅ„sk for several months.

Wikimania is the annual international conference of the Wikimania Foundation, which runs Wikipedia and its sister projects. Anyone who knows me knows that I think Wikimania is an amazing event. It brings together hundreds of people from around the world who work on and care about the projects. It has also always featured research presentations, from people interested in formally studying and understanding the projects and their open collaboration models. This synergy is part of why I am very excited to bring these two events together; not only is there overlap in many of the people who attend these two wiki-focused conferences, but I think opportunities to share knowledge between the larger wiki and collaboration research community and the Wikimedia community will be improved.

Both conferences are also going into their sixth year, and it also makes sense to finally try bringing the only two regularly-occurring international events about wikis together. Fourteen years after Ward Cunningham came up with the idea, wikis continue to be an exciting and productive technology, and as we discussed this year at WikiSym it’s possible that we’ve only scratched the surface of what their technology and social innovations and processes can accomplish. What’s next after Wikipedia?

The current plan is to have WikiSym immediately before Wikimania:
July 7, 8, 9, 2010 in Gdańsk

We will plan a welcoming event on the evening of the 6th, and overlap with Wikimania on the 9th. The Call for Papers will be released soon.

On a logistical note, both conferences will maintain their independence, including registration, programs and general ‘identity’: we will hopefully be able to share things like venue planning, however, which make up the heavy infrastructure work of such a conference.

This idea has been some years in the making, and I am pleased and excited — and a bit scared — to take it on. I really welcome ideas and feedback and suggestions and, of course, offers of help — and Polish tutoring!

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