Wikimedia South Africa workshop

This weekend a number of us held a workshop at Wits University to discuss forming a South African chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation – the non-profit foundation supporting projects such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary. For those interested in the details, the Wikimedia South Africa meta page has more, and you can also join the mailing list.

It was a good start. Many of us active on the various Wikimedia projects met each other for the first time, and a number of new people attended as well.

We finished with a concrete timeline – approximately 7 months to registration, as well as two core teams – one working on the administrative aspects of registration, and the other on activity planning.

There was also much discussion towards a draft vision, draft purposes, draft challenges and possible initiatives. I had hoped to make further progess on these, but time was very limited. Another half-day might have seen these tightened up and agreed by everyone at the workshop, while I suspect doing this on the mailing list is going to drag on a lot longer. But, it’s a good start, and many good ideas have been thrown into the mix. It’s everyone responsibility to keep the momentum going while we’re not in the room together.

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to attend the conference, and contribute in some way, taking photos, updating the wiki, and in particular Delphine Ménard and Bence Damakos from the Wikimedia Foundation Chapter Committee, who flew in for all of two days just for the workshop, the African Commons Project, for whom Kerryn McKay and Daniela Faris White attended, for hosting and co-ordinating the wokshop, Achal Prabhala for sparking it into action and Nhlanhla Mabaso for helping to network and reach many of the people who hadn’t been active on Wikimedia projects before.

There was another concrete outcome, perhaps more in line with the anarchic way things tend to happen. After the workshop, I went to the Jozi book fair with Mbulu. We met an old friend of his, who happened to have translated into English the very first Venda novel, written by his father. He showed interest in the chapter, and gave me a copy of the book. I read it at the airport and on the way home, and now there’s one more Wikipedia article towards filling the gap in African literature!

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