Wikimania 2012 has now concluded. Following a week of pure exhilaration that drew to a close on the afternoon of July 15, the 1,400 attendees from 87 countries turned off their laptops and exited the George Washington University Marvin Center one last time.
The theme for Wikimania 2012 was “Explore. Engage. Empower.” It was borne out of the organizers’ hope that those coming to Wikimania, whether from close or far away, used this great opportunity to explore new and exciting possibilities, engaged in active discussions and dialogue, and took what was learned here back with them in order to continue to empower people around the world through free access to global knowledge.
With support from sponsors and partners, over 700 people attended the Google Opening Reception at the Library of Congress, where the newest Wikipedian in Residence position was announced; more than 1,200 participated in the opening ceremony, which featured keynote speeches from the Ada Initiative co-founder Mary Gardiner and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales; and our community heard over 275 speakers, many of whom are already active contributors to Wikimedia projects, including the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, Sue Gardner, and the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. In addition, we met and talked with the more than 200 participants at Tech@State: Wiki.Gov, and Richard Boly of the State Department’s Office of eDiplomacy shared a letter from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulating attendees on the opening of Wikimania 2012 and Tech@State.
Over the course of 5 days, our 1,400 attendees consumed 3,791 lunches, enjoyed 5,424 cups of coffee, and visited nearly every museum and monument in the Washington metropolitan area (although a citation might be needed). On these explorations, our local Washington, DC, highlights were photographed and many are newly included in Wikimedia Commons, a database of freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.
One person in our community who is a great supporter of Wikipedia, to the surprise of some of our guests, is David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States. In his remarks at the closing ceremony on Saturday, Ferriero discussed the important role that Wikipedia and Wikimedia Projects have for preserving history and documenting cultural heritage. After reminding the audience that the National Archives has contributed more than 120,000 digital files and pictures to Wikimedia Commons, he told the crowd, “if Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, then it’s good enough for you.”
“David Ferriero’s closing plenary illustrated just how inspiring the Wikipedia community can be for institutions and governments looking to become more open and transparent,” said Lori Byrd Phillips, US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation. “What was the most inspirational for me was the respect and appreciation shown by the Wikipedia community during the standing ovation for Mr. Ferriero. I’ve known that the Archivist of the United States loves Wikipedia, but last week I was reminded that the Wikipedia community returns that love to those who advocate for the movement.”