WikiSym 2010: Where great minds collide!

Now in its sixth year, WikiSym, the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration, reliably draws together many of the diverse crowds that comprise the Wiki ecosystem. Its location alternates between North America and Europe; this year’s WikiSym is in the Polish city of Gdańsk, situated on the southern edge of the Baltic Sea.

WikiSym is the only international conference that focuses exclusively on wikis and open collaboration. WikiSym’s core audience has always been academics, but the Symposium’s reach extends to all groups using and interested in wikis, including consulting firms, corporate managers responsible for deployments, and not-for-profits. Presentations at WikiSym include research into community dynamics of wikis and online collaborative projects, demos  of wiki technologies, in-depth workshops, and discussions about the future of wikis. WikiSym is very inclusive and vendor-neutral, and has become an fertile venue for insight and opportunity:

  • Academics share their research and prototypes;
  • Different wiki platforms openly share customer issues, plans, techniques and technologies;
  • Plugin developers share with academics their experiences of taking an idea to market;
  • Practitioners explain real-life challenges of getting adoption in their organizations;
  • Consultants help managers responsible for deployments learn how to seed adoption and frame requests for assistance;
  • Students finishing up their PhDs learn from consultants how to provide consulting services;
  • Friendships, business relationships and alliances form across the ecosystem.

For me, the hallmarks of a good conference are the insights I take away, great networking contacts, and knowing relevant next steps on which I can take immediate action. In WikiSym’s Open Space sessions, participants are systematically encouraged to reflect on and distill their conference hallway conversations, this brings partial ideas to fruition.

The WikiSym community is a major draw in itself. We are a friendly, intelligent crowd who often only sees each other at the annual WikiSyms, even though some of us continuously collaborate online on specific projects. Many open-source projects use WikiSym as a natural venue to bring together their teams.

WikiSym is an ACM-sponsored conference and has frequently co-located with OOPSLA (the Object Oriented Computing Science Research conference). This year, however, we partner with Wikimania, the International Conference of the Wikimedia Foundation, which attracts Wikimedia and Wikipedia contributors and leaders from around the world. So, if you’ve ever thought about going to either conference, here’s your chance to go to both!

WikiSym runs July 7-9, and Wikimania is July 9-11th. Visit http://wikisym.org/ws2010 for more information.

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