Great Wikimeetup in Minsk

Disclaimer: this report seems to be incomplete. These words are what I’ve managed to remember.

Hey, guys! We’ve got a great, fantastic Wikimedians meeting in Minsk, Belarus on June 26. Its preparation lasted for about a month – that’s quite long for Belarus. 🙂 Let’s go step-by-step as it’s a long story to tell.

I received an e-mail from Liam Wyatt (User:Wittylama) in the middle of May where he was asking to arrange a wikimeetup. I was shocked, then surprised, and then an idea came into my mind: “Why not?” Liam was suspiciously interested in Belarusian wiki community. It’s rather small, so it was not a real problem to gather people concerned with Wikimedia BY project in one place. So, Liam was going to attend EIFL GA 2011 and give a lecture and a workshop about Wikipedia.

Wikipedians during conference break

Thanks to Liam, guys from our community were allowed to visit the conference and enter into cooperation with the director of National Library of Belarus, deputy directors, etc. Viačasłaŭ Bryčkoŭski (Вячаслаў Брычкоўскі) from NLB staff even proposed us some ideas for collaboration! It was a surprise for me and other Wikimedians as well.

Now let’s get straight to the meeting. We have planned it to be held at Naliboki café in Minsk (not to be confused with a Belarusian village), but then conference staff allowed it to be held at Planeta Hotel, where Liam himself and all conference attendees stayed.

The first part of the meeting was introducing Viačasłaŭ Bryčkoŭski’s ideas to people and further discussion. It was very productive and now we have the first vector in our collaboration with National Library of Belarus. I hope it’s a first brick out of the wall, which GLAM project is to destroy 🙂

Discussion of collaboration project btw. Wikimedia Belarus to-be and Mr. Bryčkoŭski (on the right side), NLB representative, Liam's foot in the right bottom corner 😉

Just for the record, National Library of Belarus has digitized an archive of newspapers issued since 1920s and published it as a CD. They could find not even a person, who could process it and make it usable. They have, for instance, partisan newspapers published during the WWII in forests (sic) and having just two copies printed at all (sic again). Now you can see what an incredible source of data for future articles in Wikipedia it is!

Then we moved to the restaurant. I think a good thought requires some nice background. Food is seems to be nice at least for me. Here Wiki Loves Monuments in Belarus was presented to Belarusian Wikimedians (the project started in Belarusian Wikipedia, and we have contributors of two Wikipedias more: Belarusian (official ortho) and Russian).

User:Pessimist2006 (on the left) revealing his outreach plan to the gathering

User:Pessimist2006 announced that he is starting a school outreach program. It’s a great start. We can show grown-ups Wikipedia and its backstage. They may forget about it, but one day they remind a certain workshop they visited and say “A-ha, let’s go get some vandals reverted” 🙂 That would be a success story.

User:Fractaler (on the left side) and Mr. Bryčkoŭski (on the right) discuss Fractaler's idea

As far as I remember, the next discussion was a brand new pseudo-semantic category based search mechanism presented by a Russian Wikipedia contributor. It was a bit crazy, but such an idea makes sense at some point. Perhaps, you should contact User:Fractaler if you want to learn a bit more about the idea. 🙂

Seems like they are listening to me speaking something interesting. Can't believe that!

To be honest, I suppose that presentation by Fractaler was the last point of our meeting and then unofficial part started. We talked about the English language and its peculiarities (it was interesting for me, I wouldn’t write this blog in English otherwise), other funny things which were a bit irrelevant during the meeting itself.

To sum up, I’d like to emphasize some main points of the meeting (significant for me and in common).

Things to remember for me:

  • some spoken English experience (thanks to Liam for patience :))
  • getting acquainted with major people in Belarusian library world
  • tons of positive impressions

Things to remember for the whole Belarusian community:

  • Outreach (it’s number one goal)
  • first projects to be done as a Wikimedia chapter
  • required relations established and the directions to go by found
  • yeah, international relations (the full list: the Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Australia ;))

Now we, Wikimedia BY, need to resolve some important issues (they all concern local law) and then we’ll rock all Wikimedia movement!

User:Belamp on his own

PS: did you know that Belarus is a very active contributor to OSM is, perhaps, Wikipedia of maps as for me 🙂 I invited User:Belamp, an active OSMer who used to be a Wikipedian as well (for real, I think Wikipedia is for life, you can’t be a former Wikipedian) through Facebook to talk about OSM + Wikipedia a little bit (that was my personal intention), but I can’t remember if we talked about OSM at all. I hope we’ll have a lot of meetings in future to discuss all the stuff.

This post is published under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. All photos by User:Renessaince. Photos are in Public Domain.


About wizardist

An overrated person.
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