[Foundation-l] Reply to Mark

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Fri Feb 29 11:56:04 UTC 2008

Mark Williamson wrote:

> It has come as a shock to us that such a decision as the one 
> about the location of this Wikimania could be passed down with 
> such little consideration of our safety.
> As I have said, this seems unlikely to change now, and as we say 
> in my family there is no use crying over spilt milk.

Your concerns are valid.  But hey, your problem is not the only 
problem in this world.  People are oppressed by states, by their 
fellow citizens, by poverty, and by their own lack of skills, 
abilities and knowledge.  If more people knew how to advance 
agriculture, or how to pool their resources in ventures such as 
the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, they wouldn't have to work so hard 
to support themselves. Oppression from states is made harder by 
the dissemination of knowledge to individuals.  Wikipedia is here 
to disseminate knowledge to individuals.  How can we improve this?

Perhaps you feel you need to stay at home from this Wikimania. 
That's bad, but it doesn't mean the whole Wikimania is wasted.
Wikimania should be kept open to the people who, for various 
reasons, can't be there in person.  You can submit a paper and a 
video presentation, and join the live chat session, but everybody 
doesn't need to buy the air ticket.  We're not here to sell air 
tickets.  We're here to disseminate knowledge.

Hosting Wikimania in Europe or the U.S. might be a problem for a 
lot of people who can't get a visa or who just can't afford to go. 
And for some people who feel that this is just another scheme that 
"the west" is trying to push down their throats.

As an outreach it is really important to host some major 
Wikipedia-related event on the African continent and it is 
important to host a major Wikipedia-related event in the Arab 
world.  It doesn't have to be Wikimania, last year there was a 
"Wikipedia Academy" in South Africa, but now it happens to be 
Wikimania.  And as such, Egypt is an excellent combination.  Many 
other countries would be far worse.  Wikipedians in Syria, Algeria 
and Malawi should certainly try to organize local or national 
meetups, and we need to encourage this, but I doubt they will be 
able to host Wikimania in the near future.

Rather than the U.S. gay community, our first question should be: 
Can wikipedians from Iran, Syria, Algeria, Kenya and Uganda travel 
to Wikimania in Egypt?  Are there any wikipedians at all in Libya? 
What about guest workers from the P.R.C. on duty in Africa?  Or 
Filipinos who work in Qatar?  Are there affordable flights from 
Qatar or Nairobi to Cairo, and what about visa regulations?

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

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