WikiSangamotsavam 2013 brings Indian Wikimedians together

Posted by Netha Hussain and Subhashish Panigrahi at Jan 14, 2014 10:00 PM |
WikiSangamotsavam, the annual conference of Malayalam Wikimedians, took place in Alappuzha, Kerala from December 21 to 23, 2013. The conference brought together around 200 Wikimedians and well-wishers from all over India.
WikiSangamotsavam 2013 brings Indian Wikimedians together

Mr. Sashi Kumar‘s speech during the inaugural session of WikiSangamotsavam-2013 (by Subhashish Panigrahi, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

The blog post originally published on Wikimedia Foundation's website was copy edited by Rohini Lakshane and published as an article in DNA on January 14, 2014.

The host town, Alappuzha is popularly known as the Venice of the East owing to its picturesque backwaters and canals. Alappuzha was chosen as the location for the conference in an attempt to draw attention to the region's diversity and touristic appeal, thereby increasing the town's representation on Wikipedia. A few pre-conference events including a bicycle rally, a meetup for young Wikimedians and several edit-a-thons were held.

Day 1
The first day of WikiSangamotsavam started with Wiki-Vidyarthi-Sangamam, a meetup of student Wikimedians. The digitisation of "Sri-Mahabharatham", a seven volume Malayalam epic was flagged off during the Wiki-Vidyarthi-Sangamam. Around 100 students from all over Kerala interacted with each other and learnt about Wikimedia projects in Malayalam. A Wikipedia workshop was conducted for physically impaired delegates. They were introduced to various means of accessibility by the DAISY Consortium. This session helped them learn about self-education tools, accessing knowledge platforms such as Wikipedia, and contributing in Malayalam online.

During a panel discussion on "Malayalam and Wikipedia" language and computing experts discussed the role of Wikipedia in the growth of the Malayalam language. Talks and presentations about topics relevant to Wikimedia were held in three parallel sessions.

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

Day 2
The second day started with the inaugural session. The event was inaugurated by Sashi Kumar, a media analyst and founder of India’s first regional satellite television channel.

Dr. Thomas Isaac, a former minister in Kerala, was the chief guest at the function. Mementos were given away to active Wikimedians who organised various Wikimedia events throughout 2013.

The QRpedia project was launched by Dr. Thomas Isaac at the Alappuzha lighthouse. QRpedia aims to make QR codes for tourist locations, which link to Wikipedia articles pertaining to the locations and monuments. By the start of the next year, all historical monuments and tourist destinations are set to be marked with QR codes. If successfully completed, Alappuzha would be the first town in India to be fully digitised with QR codes.

A Non-Malayalam Indic Wikimedia meetup was held for Wikimedians who contribute to Wikimedia projects in other Indic languages and English. There was a track to discuss how various collaborative projects could be built to have content creation drives for enriching Wikipedia.

Day 3
The third and final day of WikiSangamotsavam was devoted to taking Wikimedians on a boat trip amidst the flora of the Vembanad lake to experience its unique biodiversity. Experienced Wikimedians who have done extensive research on the region's biodiversity provided a guided tour onboard the boat.

The 126 acres of reclaimed wetland around the lake and its rare plant species serves as the location for a rich discussion and collaboration among bio-enthusiasts on Wikipedia. Wikimedians also discussed how to go about protecting the biodiversity of the R. Block of Vembanad lake.

The three-day long WikiSangamotsavam brought together many of the Malayalam Wikimedians under one roof and enabled them to share their best practices, ideas and visions for the future.