Orbiting between conferences – how MediaWiki connects continents

Conferences are a great place to learn, share knowledge and gain insight into communities. Not least, they also offer opportunities to get to know people with similar interest, connect with business partners and make friends.

We wouldn’t have dared to plan a meeting in the mountains, but then it happened by coincidence that some MediaWiki users from Austria, Switzerland and the USA met in the Swiss Alps. Well, it wasn’t entirely coincidental, since there exists this open invitation to drop in on somebody’s place when you are hitting the city – which is what a wiki colleague from NASA did while visiting Europe when at the same time WikiAhoi from Vienna was visiting its partner in Switzerland. Thank you, Dataspects, for having us.

Hiking the steep Swiss Alps with a Swiss person in summer? It’s only a good idea, if you don’t mind viewing the gorgeous panorama through blood, sweat and tears (let me exaggerate here a little for the sake of the image), have brought good hiking shoes for walking the ridges and can still sleep with stiff calf muscles.

A conference up in the Alps

By now you know that the story behind MediaWiki is difficult to grasp at first (Wikipedia, Wikimedia, MediaWiki…?), and the conference structure around Semantic MediaWiki doesn’t make it much easier: Semantic MediaWiki’s community, which mainly consists of third-party users of MediaWiki in the business and government sectors, organises two wiki conferences a year on a voluntary basis, in spring in North America and in the fall in Europe. This year’s conference will be held in Regensburg, Germany in December and next year’s conference will take us to the Swiss Alps in September, which is the best time for hiking. So save the week around 24–27 September 2019 for the SMWCon 2019 and your family hiking holiday!

For WikiAhoi’s Sabine Melnicki being part of the pre-organisation team for the 2019 conference in the Swiss Alps, meant carrying out a test hike and a close on-site inspection.

Can you hike in trainers? (You shouldn’t, it tires the feet.)
When does your blood sugar start to drop? (Right before the tavern after the first 2.5 hours of hiking.)
Is the place as pretty as the local connoisseur was raving about? (Yes, even prettier.)
Are there enough sockets and is the wifi quick enough? (What is right for a hackathon, is just perfect for us.)

So, what did we find out during those days of hiking up hills, working in front of a breathtaking panorama and chatting informally about satellites in orbit over dinner?

  • Country borders can’t be seen from space and can’t be felt within the Semantic MediaWiki community.
  • Having a wonderful host you can trust is important in terms of servers and wonderful in terms of holidays.
  • Clouds are pretty in nature but difficult in the context of internal wikis.
  • You can’t have a hike nor a meeting with wiki workers without going home with new ideas.
  • The Swiss Alps are steeper than the ones in Austria and the grass is painted green by the Swiss. It must be, it’s too green.

We will follow up with more information about the conference by the beginning of next year, so save the date and stay tuned!

Calendar Save The Date (.ics)

 

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