Thoughts on the Wikimedia Conference

The image shows a very long, hand drawn mural outlining the conference
A mural storyboard from the Wikimedia Conference

This piece was written by Stevie Benton, Wikimedia UK Head of External Relations, and is one of a series of reflections on the Wikimedia Conference 2014 in Berlin

As I write it’s the final day of the Wikimedia Conference in Berlin. It’s been a very busy but incredibly worthwhile few days. It is my first time attending a Wikimedia Conference and having also never attended Wikimania I wasn’t at all sure what to expect.

The reality of the conference is that it’s hard work. From the outside looking in this may not be obvious but I can promise you this is the case.

The conference featured a very full programme of presentations, workshops and discussions alongside plenty of opportunities to meet with people from across the chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation. I was fortunate enough to be personally involved in the delivery of one of the sessions, a panel about advocacy. This proved to be a very helpful session and there was a strong consensus that achieving favourable reform to copyright should remain a focus of movement advocacy.

It was extremely useful to meet with so many people that I have worked with for the last couple of years that I’ve only encountered online. I was very encouraged by the diversity of the conference and its very international nature. There are so many intelligent and motivated people, both volunteers and staff, working to share the sum of all human knowledge and I was inspired by them all.

Our movement is in great shape. The progress made by chapters and the Wikimedia Foundation would be difficult to overstate. Wikimedia UK is no exception to this. There is admiration for the progress our chapter has made in terms of governance, strategy and measuring our impact and the lessons that we have learned are being widely shared across the movement.

The strongest message I have taken away from the conference is that the future looks very bright indeed, albeit with much work to be done. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the volunteers and staff that made this conference such a success – they did a remarkable job of keeping things organised, helping people get to where they needed to be and welcoming so many people to their office. Without their efforts the conference wouldn’t have been such a productive, useful and enjoyable experience.