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Posts Tagged ‘Malayalam’

WikiSangamotsavam-2013 brought Wikimedians from all over India together

Mr. Sashi Kumar‘s speech during the inaugural session of WikiSangamotsavam-2013

WikiSangamotsavam, the annual conference of Malayalam Wikimedians, took place in Alappuzha, Kerala, India from December 21-23, 2013. The conference, supported by the Wikimedia Foundation Grants program, Wikimedia India Chapter and CIS-A2K program brought together around 200 Wikimedians and well-wishers from all over India.

The host town, Alappuzha, is popularly known as the Venice of the East due to its picturesque backwaters and canals. Alappuzha was chosen as the location for the conference in an effort to bring attention to the regions diversity and touristic appeal to Wikimedians, and thereby increasing the towns representation on Wikipedia. The Board meeting of the Wikimedia India Chapter took place in conjunction with the event. A range of pre-conference events, including a bicycle rally, a meetup for young Wikimedians and several edit-a-thons took place prior to the event.

Day 1

The first day of WikiSangamotsavam started with Wiki-Vidyarthi-Sangamam, a meetup of student Wikimedians. The digitization of ‘Sri-Mahabharatham,’ a seven volume Malayalam epic was flagged off during the Wiki-Vidyarthi-Sangamam. Around 100 students from all over Kerala got to interact with each other and learn about Wikimedia projects in Malayalam. There was a Wikipedia workshop for impaired delegates. They were introduced to various means of accessibility by the DAISY Consortium. This session helped them learn about self-educating tools and accessing knowledge platforms like Wikipedia and contributing in Malayalam online.

There was a panel discussion on ‘Malayalam and Wikipedia’ during which language and computing experts discussed the role of Wikipedia in the growth of Malayalam language. Talks and presentations about topics relevant to Wikimedia were held in three parallel sessions.

The first day of the event also marked Malayalam Wikipedia’s 11th birthday. The special occasion was celebrated by cutting a birthday cake. At the end of the day, Wikimedians entertained themselves by singing folk songs of Kerala.

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Malayalam Wikimedia community coordinates WikiSangamotsavam 2013

Logo of WikiSangamotsavam-2013

WikiSangamotsavam is the annual conference of people interested in Malayalam Wikimedia projects. This month, the Malayalam Wikimedia community will be hosting the second Wikisangamotsavam in Alappuzha, Kerala, India from December 21-23, 2013. The conference, which is supported by the Wikimedia Foundation Grants Program, will bring together hundreds of Wikimedians and well wishers from all over India.

The Malayalam Wikimedia community cordially invites all Wikimedia users to participate in this event. Please fill in this form to participate in WikiSangamotsavam-2013. The Malayalam Wikimedia movement at large gives scholarships to individuals from other language Wikimedia communities to participate in this event. The scholarships will cover food, shared accommodation and a round trip train ticket for second class non-air conditioned sleeper from the Indian city of the applicant to Alappuzha. The maximum number of scholarships will be 30 and applications will close on December 5, 2013. Participants requiring a scholarship should mention that in the registration form. The eligibility criteria for applying for the scholarship can be found here.

A panel discussion during WikiSangamotsavam-2012

For WikiSangamotsavam-2013, the Malayalam Wikimedia community has been conducting a range of pre-conference events that anyone can join. Wiki-Yuva-Sangamam (ml), a gathering of young women and men interested in Wikimedia and open knowledge, was conducted in the Town Square, Alappuzha, Kerala. A workshop for digitizing articles for Wikisource, typing in Malayalam and contributing to Wikipedia, was conducted for the participants of Wiki-Yuva-Sangamam. A bicycle rally was conducted in the host city on November 30, 2013, with colorful Wikimedia banners to create awareness among the public about Malayalam Wikimedia projects. A series of workshops will be conducted in different parts of Kerala state to bring in new contributors to Wikipedia and its sister projects in December 2013.

The talks and presentations at WikiSangamotsavam-2013 will be in four tracks: Technology, Community, Outreach and Language. The call for proposals is now open. Please list your talk suggestions on the schedule page here or write to wikisangamolsavam(at)gmail.com. A Wikiquiz and a workshop for differently-abled users of Wikipedia will be conducted on the first day of the conference. The traditional inaugural ceremony and various talks in English and Malayalam languages will be held on Day 2 of the conference.

WikiJalayatra is an exciting event that will take place on Day 3 of the conference. The participants will be given an opportunity to take a boat-ride on the beautiful Vembanadu backwaters in Alappuzha, Kerala. The boat tour will cover many of Alappuzha’s attractions. The pictures taken by volunteers during the boat ride will be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Those interested in participating in WikiJalayatra should indicate so in the registration form.

In 2012, WikiSangamotsavam was held in Kollam, Kerala, India. WikiSangamotsavam-2012 attracted participants from all over the state, which you can read about at the link.

We look forward to welcoming all the participants at this year’s event.

Netha Hussain
Malayalam Wikimedian

Prominent wildlife photographer donates images to Wikimedia Commons

Nilgiri tahr kid photo by N.A. Naseer

For those who love nature and photography, there is exciting news in the Malayalam Wikimedia community. The photographs of one of India’s famous photographers have been published in Wikimedia Commons. N.A. Naseer was approached as part of the Malayalam Loves Wikimedia-3 program in an effort to encourage photographers to contribute photos and other documents onto the Malayalam Commons page. As a gesture of solidarity to the more than 75 Wikimedians who participated in the event, Naseer and his friend Joseph Lazar added more than 350 original photographs.

N.A. Naseer by NPT

Naseer is a wildlife photographer from South India. He has published his writings and photographs in a variety of magazines, including Sanctuary Asia, Hornbill, Frontline, Outlook, and Traveler. Naseer practices Tai chi-chi kung, karate, yoga, taido, and upasana meditation. For the past 35 years, Naseer has been a frequent explorer of the Kerala forest. An advocate for the preservation of wildlife, Naseer founded the Nature Conservation Society of Photographers. He is also a lifelong member of the Bombay Natural History Society. Naseer’s book, “Woods and Photographer” was the first of its kind written in Malayalam. The book contains photographs of fauna in the regions of Southern India. The book sold out in three months.

More than 14,000 photos have been collected as part of the Malayalam Loves Wikimedia-3 campaign. Naseer’s photo collection provides new high-resolution photographs of a variety of rare species of animals including the white wild buffalo, nilgiri marten, Indian bisons, rufous babbler, and an array of elephants, bears and sloths. For both the casual and experienced photographer, Naseer’s photos are an exciting and useful resource.

You can view Naseer’s photographs in this Category on Commons. (user cat(hidden))

MLW3 collected 14606 (32.54 GB)images and user:Vinayaraj(7869) was the top uploader from this event.

Manojk (Malayalam Wikimedian)

Notes

Manojk (talk) 13:28, 2 October 2013 (UTC) (Malayalam Wikimedian)

Wikipedia & Education – A Model from Malayalam Wikipedia

Government Higher Secondary School, Anchal West

All Indic Wikimedia communities (and indeed all small communities across the world) need to invite, welcome, introduce, support and encourage new editors.  Students – including school children – are wonderful additions to our communities. They have energy and talent and the right attitude. They are the ones to take forward Wikimedia projects.

The Malayalam Wikipedia community has a long tradition of working with school children and with the education system through its partnership with the Kerala Government’s IT@School Project. On 3rd July 2012, this relationship was further strengthened with the inauguration of  the Malayalam Wikipedia Education Programme.   The objective is to promote Wikipedia editing with school children and teachers at the Government Higher Secondary School at Anchal West, Kollam. This has only just started, but there are some pointers even at this early stage which are useful to small communities exploring similar initiatives and partnerships – within and beyond education. (more…)

Kerala hosts WikiSangamolsavam: first Indic Wikiconference!

Logo of the Malayalam conference (English version)

Of the 20 Indic language Wikipedia projects, the Malayalam Wikipedia (ml.wikipedia.org) is one of the most vibrant. With about 35 million Malayalam speakers, it is the biggest Indic language community with over 100 Wikipedians. The latest feather in their cap is the recently concluded WikiSangamolsavam conference on April 28-29, 2012. WikiSangamolsavam, a two day event organized in the city of Kollam, was the first Indic language Wikipedia conference ever and witnessed over 100 participants from different parts of the state and country.

A veteran Malayalam Wikipedian, Viswa Prabha, recalls, “Every year, many editors from Malayalam Wikimedia Community attend Wikimania, the annual conference of Wikimedians. Inspired by the activities at Wikimania a few active Malayalam Wikimedians though of planning a similar conference in Kerala.” Many Malayalam Wikimedians also participated in WikiConference, 2011 Mumbai, after which the idea of organizing a conference was put forward in mailing lists, Facebook group, and other discussion forums. Since Wikimedians from Kollam took up the initiative the venue was chosen as Kollam.

Over 30 Malayalee Wikipedians were involved in different stages of organizing the conference like managing the venue, food, accommodation, financial resources, registration etc. What was proposed as an idea in 2009 took 3 years to materialize, but rightfully so into a wonderful experience! “The event celebrated the achievements of the Malayalam community, planned new projects as a community and welcomed more Malayalees to the community. E-malayalam, free and open knowledge, copyright and cyber-freedom were the highlights of the conference this year”, said Kannan Shanmugam, a teacher based in Kollam.

Takeaways from the conference? As Netha Hussain, a medical student and Wikipedian points out, “The high point for me was the parallel Wiki Vidyarthi Sagaman (Wiki students’ meet) where school students were taught to edit Wikipedia. Among the 100+ participants of the conference, a few new editors got valuable insights about Wikiprojects from the paper presentations and discussions during the conference. The existing editors got to meet their friends/fellow Wikimedians whom they had only known online. The paper presentations and discussions brought up new ideas that could be worked upon in the future to enrich ml-Wikipedia’s content. At a larger level, partnerships were explored with IT@School (a government initiative) and Wiki activities were highlighted in the local as well as national media.”

Barry Newstead, Chief Global development officer at the Wikimedia Foundation who also attended the conference, wrote in his blog post, “What was encouraging about my visit was that I saw that this isn’t some naive dream…The Malayalam community served as a real inspiration. Over the past 4 years, they have built a passionate community that has expanded their Wikipedia from 5,700 to 23,000 articles.”

The journey hardly rests at the conference. In the week immediately after the conference, there were meet-ups in 3 different towns – Thrissur, Palakkad and Thiruvananthapuram.  Also, community members have been working on initiatives around GLAM and education – and have collaboratively developed proposals for both. Preliminary meetings have already started with a number of museums and a proposal has been submitted to the Keralam – Museum of History and Heritage. Discussions have been initiated with the IT@Schools department of the Kerala government and a formal proposal to introduce Wikipedia as a teaching and learning tool in the 7th – 8th standard will be submitted shortly.

As Shiju Alex, Indic language consultant for Wikimedia Foundation articulates, “These are people who contribute to Wikipedia to share free knowledge but also to keep traditions alive and preserve the language they love. This movement requires young and old, teachers, doctors, engineers, linguists, researchers, writers, bloggers, lawyers, photographers and students. I hope what has started with the conference infuses new enthusiasm in the community and takes it to new heights!”

Noopur Raval, Consultant (Communications), India Program, Wikimedia Foundation

Focusing on 90 percent of India

At WikiSangamotsavam 2012

I made a short visit to India last week in order to attend the Malayalam community conference “Wikisangamotsavam 2012” in Kollam, Kerala. The trip was my sixth visit to India since I joined Wikimedia in 2010, and was particularly special because it highlighted the importance and the huge potential of our projects in Indic languages.

While many people around the world experience India as an English-speaking country, close to 90 percent of Indians do not speak English at all. This is easy to miss, since it is quite common for the rest of the world to interact with one of the 125-150 million or so Indians (twice the population of the United Kingdom) who do speak English.

India is home to several hundred languages, 11 of which are the primary language of more than 30 million people worldwide (the approximate population of my home country, Canada). For Wikimedia to realize its vision, we need to have projects that serve the 90 percent in India, or more than a billion people.

What was encouraging about my visit was that I saw that this isn’t some naive dream. We are really seeing some communities emerge and there is no reason why we can’t attract large communities of contributors to build high quality Wikipedias in many Indic languages…and we can get these in the hands of every Indian on their mobile phone (more soon on mobile partnerships in India).

Logo of the Malayalam conference (English version)

The Malayalam community served as a real inspiration. Over the past 4 years, they have built a passionate community that has expanded their Wikipedia from 5,700 to 23,000 articles. The community is a diverse mix of teachers, university students, computer engineers, photographers, business people, doctors and others. They have been highly industrious in working through the myriad technical issues posed by the lack of Malayalam keyboards and the limited localization of software into the language. They developed an input tool that now allows users to enter information in various Indic languages on a latin script keyboard. They have built innovative partnerships with the Kerala government to introduce Wikipedia to students and to conduct Wikipedia Academies across the state. One middle school teacher even had his typing class contribute Malayalam epic poems to Wikisource, a useful way to get their typing practice done. They recently held a photography program called Malayalam loves Wikimedia, adding over 11,000 local images to Wikimedia Commons.

The Malayalam community is only at the end of the first verse of their epic poem. I challenged them to think about ways to grow their community. They have 80 active editors and are doing great work. Imagine if they were 1,500 editors like we have in the Polish community (a similar language by number of speakers): a community of that size would enable massive access to knowledge for any Malayalam speaker.

During the rest of my visit, I had the opportunity to hear about promising steps in Kannada, Gujarati, Assamese, Oriya, Telugu, Sanskrit and Hindi (we also recently blogged about the Tamil Wiki Media contest). Most of these projects are small at this time with fewer than 50 active contributors, some less than 10. What is promising is that there are a few passionate people ready to provide leadership, reach out in their communities and help build Wikimedia projects in their languages. It is also promising that groups are piloting different strategies in partnership with the India Program’s Indic initiative led by Shiju Alex. If we can have 5-10 small pilots operational at any given time, with frequent exchanges of the experiences gained in each, then we can quickly figure out effective strategies and spread them across the many Indic language projects and to other smaller projects around the world.

Imagine a world in which every single Indian with access to a computer or a mobile phone can freely access and contribute to the sum of all knowledge in their own language. Wouldn’t that be something special?

Barry Newstead is Chief Global Development Officer of the Wikimedia Foundation. He does not speak an Indic language, but is committed to supporting these projects.

Wiki women joining Indic languages

Netha Hussain

User:Netha Hussain‘s inspiring story is a wonderful way of celebrating Women’s History Month. Netha is a woman editor of the Malayalam language Wikipedia from the state of Kerala in India.

Netha is both a medical student and a Wikipedian. She mostly edits articles related to medicine/biology, literature and women’s biographies. She used to maintain a portal for biology on the Malayalam Wikipedia and is presently working to create and improve its most important health articles.

Netha recalls how she landed up on Wikipedia searching for a kind of chutney made in Malayali cuisine, ‘Chammandi‘, and after realizing there was no article on it, started it herself. Initially reluctant to edit in Malayalam, it is actually through Wikipedia that she brushed up her language skills well enough to write a Featured Article in Malayalam within a year! On the English Wikpedia, she started by editing the article about her college.

As it is so often the case, until Netha landed up at a WikiAcademy in Kozhikode, not many knew she was a female editor! She has taken up the challenge to bridge this gender gap and now runs mailing list discussions for women Wikimedians in Malayalam to share their experiences and build offline relationships. “Most of my friends online are Wikipedians”, she quips.

About welcoming women editors on Wikipedia, especially its Indic language versions, she says, “The community is very receptive to women editors. I was not privileged or discriminated just because I was a woman. I was encouraged to work on women’s biographies which were mostly stubs. With my help, many good quality articles on famous women were created on Malayalam Wikipedia.”

As in Netha’s case, in most Indic language Wikipedias it is easier to make substantial contributions than in other projects. Netha believes that the role of women is not different from the role from men in their contribution to free knowledge movements.

Netha believes her medical dreams and her Wikipedia editing reflect aligned missions “to empower people with knowledge and fulfill our duties towards the society.” (To reach out to her, the best place is her talk page.)

Noopur Raval, Consultant (Communications), India Program, Wikimedia Foundation