It must have been in 2005 in Pretoria when I first time met Erik Möller, a Wikimedian, who is nowadays working full time for the Wikimedia Foundation. We were both invited to a conference in South Africa to talk about open source tools for teaching and learning. I don’t even remember what did I talk in there, but I remember Erik’s talk about Wikipedia, Mediawiki engine and the Wikimedia Foundation.
Erik’s talk in 2005 was nothing special in content wise, but his passion and love on Wikipedia and his confidence of its importance had a great impact on me. Earlier same year I was in India and got a change to listen and chat a bit with Jimmy Wales – the founder of Wikipedia (and an Internet celebrity). Jimmy is a great speaker. He also loves the Wikipedia project and of course knows how great it is. Probably the most interesting character of these Wikimedian folks is anyway their real commitment to the “community”. In South Africa Erik ran away from the conference to meet the local Wikimedians, whereas in India Jimmy sometimes looked busier to find WLAN and to chat (on IRC) with the online wikimedians than paying attention on the conference taking place around him.
I am just about leaving to Wikimania 2008 – the annual “conference” of the Wikimedians. It’s an interesting event. It’s a conference and gathering of different kind of people with one common interest – “free knowledge”. What makes it really interesting is that people coming there are not really “like-minded”, as it often is in scientific conferences. In Wikimania people really have very different backgrounds and ideas. There will be people from all the continents, most likely believers of all the major religions of the world, with different political ideas and ideologies, high school students and university professors, rich and not that rich. In that sense it is better than the United Nations. But like I said, the people coming to Wikimania share one common interest: “free knowledge”.
After Wikimedia I am traveling to Helsinki. The first half of the year I have been focusing on writing in sunny Northern California, and a bit of jumping between Bogota and Palo Alto. I am really thankful for all the people who made this possible. I am, anway, very happy to return the Eurolandia and Helsinki.
In Helsinki there are two upcoming events related to the idea of “free knowledge”. The Open Research Swarm of Finland is going to have a summer meet up on August 8th. The third Konfabulaari (my favourit confernce in Finland beside the ITK) of the University of Helsinki will take place on October 8th. Konfabulaari is an unconference focusing on social media in Universities. The Konfabulaari wiki is now open for you to build the program of the event. I’ll do my best to make it to both events. They are free and everyone is welcome.
In September – early October (Oct 1—Oct 4) I will make a short trip back to US, to attend the PDC08: Participatory Design Conference. I will present there my paper “Software as Hypothesis: Research-Based Design Methodology”. On November 12-13 I will be in Barcelona giving a talk at the UOC UNESCO Chair in E-Learning’s 5th International Seminar. These are confirmed.
Other interesting conferences for this year, of which I am yet not exactly sure if I will make it, are the EC-TEL 08: 3rd European Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning, 16. – 19. September in Maastricht, The Netherlands; and ICCCE 2008: the 16th International Conference on Computers in Education, 27. – 31. October i nTaipei, Taiwan. This year I have been working in the program committees of these conferences.
Still, in Helsinki we are planning with colleagues from the Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and Nokia Research Centre a seminar series with the theme “mobile Internet”. I am not yet sure about the exact dates, form or web presence of the events. This activity, like almost everything in a coming next two years in my work, is related to Aalto University. Aalto University is a new university uniting my University, the University of Art and Design Helsinki and the previously mentioned Universities under one roof. It’s very interesting to see what will come out when we have the science and engineering, business and management, and art and design, all in one place. A riot? A better world? We will see.