Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wikimania Comes to Haifa

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales will mingle among hundreds of people from 52 countries in Haifa from August 4-7, at the annual Wikimania conference, held for the first time in Israel.

Started in 2005 and growing each year, the conference attracts people interested in free and open content/software, global development/education and new trends in the field of knowledge sharing in the Internet age. But mostly, it is a gathering place for those involved in Wikimedia Foundation projects -- primarily the world’s most popular source of information, the Internet-based encyclopedia, Wikipedia available in 279 languages.

A coup for Haifa

The multicultural Mediterranean seaside city – Israel’s third largest, after Jerusalem and Tel Aviv -- won out as the conference venue over Barcelona, Montreal, New York, Tokyo and Toronto. That’s a major feather in the cap of Deror Lin, an Israeli lawyer who is one of about 20 members of the three-year-old Wikimedia Israel group. Lin spearheaded the drive to bring Wikimania to Haifa, along with several other Wikimedia Israel volunteers eager to host Wikipedians from countries including India, China, Macao, Nepal, Uzbekistan, Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile.

“I was born in Haifa, and I think it’s a great city to show what the Middle East should be like, with all religions living and working together,” says Lin.

“This is the first time there will be a beach party at a Wikimania conference, and we have organized free tours for participants to Jerusalem, the Galilee and around Acco [Acre] and Haifa as well.”

The event at the Haifa Auditorium will include 125 sessions as well as workshops dealing with free content, open source, Internet-age copyrights, web communities and networks, education and knowledge acquisition.

Wales will deliver his annual "State of the Wiki" address. Deans from the University of Haifa and Bar-Ilan University are planned speakers along with Prof. Yochai Benkler, professor of law at Harvard University, and Joseph Reagle, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and author of Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia.

For more information on this fantastic event see

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