Wikinews interviews the Wikimania 2010 Poland bid promoter

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.
One of the Gdańsk candidature banner projects.
Image: Airwolf.

Wikimania is an annual conference for users, developers and other people involved in the wiki projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. It is held yearly since 2005. The first conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 4-8, 2005. The second one was held in Boston, USA (on August 4-6, 2006), the third one was held in Taipei, Taiwan (on August 3-5, 2007), the fourth Wikimania was held in Alexandria, Egypt (on July 17-19, 2008) and Wikimania 2009 will be held in Buenos Aires.

Melbourne, Daytona Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Gdańsk, Montpellier and Oxford are among current unofficial Wikimania 2010 bids. Below is Wikinews' conversation with the Gdańsk bid promoter and initiator, Wojciech Pędzich.


Wikinews

Wikipedians from Tricity are involved in the process of making an offer, which will give Poland a chance of organizing a world-wide conference of Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimania 2010. Among the competing cities are Washington, D.C., Rio de Janeiro, and Oxford. This year the conference was held in Alexandria, Egypt, where the famous Library of Alexandria is located. Does Gdańsk stand a chance among such known cities?

Cquote1.svg Poland is still an interesting, unknown, and a cheap-to-visit country Cquote2.svg
  • Wojciech Pędzich: Because of Wikimania continental rotation, Australian and European bids have the biggest chances in 2010. Australian, because they have not hosted Wikimania yet, and Europe, because the first Wikimania was held in Frankfurt back in 2005. Do we have a chance among other European cities' proposals? Poland is still an interesting, unknown, and a cheap-to-visit country with a comprehensive list of countries from which their members can visit Poland without requirement of having a visa. We propose the conference to be held inside two adjacent buildings – Polish Baltic Philharmonic and the Polish Maritime Museum buildings, located just few steps from Long Market at the city's centre. Yes, I do think that our offer will be attractive and will give us a real chance of organizing the Wikimania 2010 in grad upon Motława.
Democrative changes in Gdańsk were initiated before the Berlin Wall's Fall.
Image: Yann Forget.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The tagline of your proposal is Gdańsk - the city of freedom. Could you tell us, why do you promote yourself with this line?

  • Gdańsk is associated by many with freedom, with its political impact. On the other hand, we have the Wikimedia Foundation and its values of sharing knowledge created freely by volunteers. A conjunction of a cosmopolitan city with strong revolutionary and liberal inclinations and a world-wide free culture is in this case, kind of, natural.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How many are involved into creating a proposal? Poland is relatively small country. Are you sure you will be able to guarantee the efficiency of conference, if your proposal wins?

Cquote1.svg We can say we have a great community potential here. Cquote2.svg
  • Poland is not exactly small - of course we cannot be compared to the USA, India, or China, but we are not a small country either. Let's remember that according to the old way of presenting the Wikipedia language editions' ranking, we were the fourth edition. Even after committing a change to this ranking system, we are still in the first ten. Therefore, we can say we have a great community potential here. Moreover, other Polish Wikimedia projects also place themselves within first tens of respective projects.
Speaking about people involved – so far we have only few, and sometimes I lament about that. Every next person is a possibility of sending few mails, talking with other people, additional pair of eyes looking at the offer, some ideas, contacts, knowledge. That's why Patrol110 has spammed Pomeranian Wikipedians, so they could get involved, and so am I giving a weight to this: we need more people. Especially if our offer will win, but then I believe in another famous Polish "national spurt".

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Were there, in Gdańsk, already some world-wide conferences? Did the city manage to organize them?

Cquote1.svg I do have a hope that we will get a world-wide coverage thanks to the Wikimania Cquote2.svg
  • On December 5 and 6, 2008, the 25th anniversary of awarding president Lech Wałęsa with Nobel Peace Prize was held. Furthermore, it was held inter alia inside the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, which we propose as a place of the Wikimania 2010 conference. It was an event with over one thousand attendants from all over the world, and the city, in my humble opinion, did manage to organize this very well. The mayor of the city, Paweł Adamowicz, has confirmed it, by saying After successful celebrations of 25th anniversary of awarding Lech Wałęsa with the Nobel Peace Prize we see that we can organize big events. [...] Ołowianka does its job as a big congressional place perfectly. [...] Gdańsk will, once again, get a world-wide coverage in Dziennik Bałtycki interview. I do have a hope that we will get a world-wide coverage thanks to the Wikimania.
The City organizes a lot of cultural and trade events. There are Gdańsk International Fair, St. Dominik Fair, Shakespeare Festival, Good Humor Festival. We should also not forget other parts of the Tricity: Sopot and Gdynia which are also rich in cultural events.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Lately Poland tried to get a bid for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology and Euro 2012. Both actions have brought a large government support. How is it this time?

  • We've contacted the city's authorities. After a meeting with representatives of the Mayor's Promotion and Chancellery Department we have got assurance about supporting our actions, what was confirmed by Mayor's letter sent to us. The representatives assure us about their support all the time. They even have made an initial reservation of both buildings for July 9-11, 2010. They also offer an organizational support, which will be extremely important in case or city is chosen.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Poland is a part of the European Union. What about Wikimedians, who are inhabitants of countries requiring a visa?

  • As I stated before, the list of countries, which citizens are not required to have a visa when entering Poland for 90 days is pretty long[1], and it does not restrict to Schengen Agreement participants. Long list of Polish missions abroad[2] and freely available Visa application form [3] should allow easy access to Poland for other countries citizens.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Information about Gdańsk application to host Wikimania started to appear in local media. What is local community reaction to this idea?

  • One can see it in the comments to the articles. Those that do not like Gdańsk in general are slightly against but most is for the idea. There are also people and organisations declaring help - I've got already some mails from potential supporters.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png As you said before some people are objecting, probably not knowing possible benefits. How will Gdańsk and it's inhabitants benefit?

  • In addition of prestige, as we are talking about international event run by the organisation managing a flagship of Free Culture movement, world's focus, city presence in world's media, the conference will cause a money influx, new guests who can decide whether to come back to the city or suggest visiting it to their friends. We try not to make any troubles to city inhabitants, hoping that a conference held in one place will not paralyse the whole city.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Many possible visitors are not able to cover the cost of travel to Wikimania. What about organizers sponsorship?

  • It will depend on talks with companies willing to be sponsors. But I do not imagine leaving such requests unanswered.
Gdańsk by night
Image: Rafał Konkolewski.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Wikimania is not only lectures, but also a possibility for long night talks with participants from other countries. How does Gdańsk's night-life looks like?

  • There are plenty of places where you can meet and talk with each other. You can see it in a draft offer where one can see hundreds of places where you can talk while eating and drinking. Proximity of Old Town invites for a walk through streets with a wonderful and unmatched atmosphere, you can only feel by yourself.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png English is the language of Wikimania. Will the attendants be able to communicate with employees of restaurants, clubs, shops, etc.?

  • Personally, I encountered the shop assistant, who couldn't sell the product to foreign people only once; also just once I saw a rough translation of "polska kuchnia" as "Polish kitchen" instead of "Polish cuisine". The Poles are able to communicate in English, I saw their communicativeness by teaching adults English for seven years. Most of menus and other informations in Old City's venues are translated into English and German, and the waiters know English at a level, which allows the customers to get a trouble-free service.

File:Wpedzich z synkiem.jpg
Wojciech Pędzich with his son

Wojciech Pędzich (b. 1979) - comes from Szczytno, graduate of English linguistics in 2001, inhabitant of Gdańsk since 2001. Except of husband and father's roles, an employee of the Purchase Department in a power hydraulics company. Involved in Wikimedia projects since December 2006, in the beginning as a translator of articles and guidelines for Polish Wikipedia, then the administrator of the project, a member of the first Arbitration Committee Board in Polish Wikipedia. Wikimedia projects' steward since December 2007, member of the Wikimedia Polska Association. One of the initiators of Gdańsk Wikimania 2010 bid proposal.

Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

References

  1. Countries, which citizens are not required to have a visa when entering Poland
  2. List of polish missions abroad
  3. Visa application form


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