Category Archives: WikiSym 2009

Five Years of Open Space at WikiSym

WikiSym, as you may know, is about collaboration — open collaboration, in which people come together on equal footing (egalitarian), where they are valued for their contributions (meritocratic) and where they come not only to listen but to contribute and help form the conference (self-organizing). A wiki specifically is a technology that enables such collaboration, but of course there are other technologies like micro-blogging, traditional blogs, and forums. WikiSym is home to the research and practice of all of these technologies, their applications, and social implications.

One such “technology” is open space, a meeting facilitation technique. It is officially called open space technology to distinguish it from open space preserves, which are about wildland. Open space helps people like event organizers and participants to run an egalitarian, meritocratic, and self-organizing process. Participants are pulled into creating the event, bringing their problems and their expertise to the table. Open space itself then is about the techniques that help participants form a joint agenda, negotiate and allocate time-slots, and then meet and discuss their issues until it is time to move on to the next topic and/or group.

At WikiSym, we have been using open space since 2006, after we had first learned about it (and its wiki-ness) in 2005 (the first WikiSym). Open Space is strong at WikiSym and with WikiSym 2010 we just passed the 5-year anniversary of open space at WikiSym. The symposium organizers, in the run-up to the event, create the traditional program of invited talks and peer-reviewed research and practice talks, as well as a host of other events. They are placed on to the agenda (schedule) and distributed evenly. When WikiSym starts, however, after Open Space’s opening circle participants enhance and extend the agenda with their own topics. Academics may view Open Space as a well-organized form of BoF (birds-of-a-feather) sessions, but it is much more than that.

The beauty of Open Space is that it gives everyone a voice and the appropriate time and space to have it heard in a conversation. It is supported by well-defined best practices that have been developed in Open Space’s more than 25 years of history. Below, you can find some visual impressions from open space at WikiSym.

Panel at WikiSym 2005 with Ward Cunningham (creator of wikis), Jimmy (co-founder of Wikipedia), Ross Mayfield (co-founder of Socialtext), Sunir Shah, and more — no open space yet! (photo courtesy of Raymond King, taken from Flickr)

The Cybernetic Roadmap at WikiSym 2005 — participants struggeling to create open space where we hadn’t yet planned for it (photo courtesy of Raymond King, taken from Flickr)

Open Space Panorama at WikiSym 2006
(photo courtesy of Peter Thoeny)

Open Space at WikiSym 2006
(photo courtesy of Peter Thoeny)

Open Space session at WikiSym 2010
(photo courtesy of Eugene E. Kim, taken from Flickr)

The three Open Space facilitators who have worked with us in the past are Gerard Muller, Ted Ernst, and Karolina Iwa. We have been very happy with them and the only reason why we are switching facilitators is to accommodate schedules and locations as WikiSym is moving around the world.

The First Five Years of WikiSym, the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration

In the run-up to WikiSym 2010, our sixth WikiSym, we shortly wanted to look back at our five years of successful prior WikiSym history, 2005-2009. To this end, here are links to papers, proceedings, and the event wikis. All proceedings have been archived in the ACM digital library for permanent availability to scholars and practitioners alike. Every year, we deliberately showcased a different wiki engine to celebrate the diversity and energy of the wiki community!

Please consider subscribing to this blog’s RSS feed, or follow WikiSym on Twitter, or join the low-traffic wikisym-announce mailing list.

And see you at WikiSym 2010, the international symposium on wikis and open collaboration!

WikiSym 2009 Concluded Successfully

WikiSym 2009 concluded successfully today after three days full of research and experience reports, workshops and tutorials, invited talks and keynotes, and, of course, open space.

The proceedings as one record of the conference are available on the event wiki as well as the ACM Digital Library. To that official record, the WikiSym 2009 event wiki adds much more information. There you can find workshop results, open space notes, general commentary, and more. In addition, Martin Cleaver has been streaming on

A WikiSym first was the best research paper award. It went to paper 104, “rv you’re dumb: Identifying Discarded Work in Wiki Article History” by Michael D. Ekstrand, and John T. Riedl (University of Minnesota) (USA).

The organizing committee would like to thank everyone who helped, which includes the participants. That’s because in the wiki world it is all of us who make an event successful, and not any particular person. If you think this is a funny statement, please come and join us at WikiSym 2010, which we will provide more information about shortly.

WikiSym Monday Morning Announcements

A couple of announcements for Monday and Tuesday of WikiSym 2009!

  • Open space starts 10:15am for 15min to open the day
  • Open space continues through Tuesday all day!
  • Please come Tuesday evening to open space to close the conference!
  • If you haven’t picked up your T-shirt, please do so today over lunch in open space
  • Please consider meeting a Disney social software expert on Wednesday after WikiSym!

For meeting Disney, please talk to Felipe Ortega for more information. Thanks to Camille Rose for making this happen!

WikiSym Sunday Evening Meeting Point

Here is one option to meet for dinner and hang out with other WikiSym folks: We will meet at the entrance steps to Cirque du Soleil in Downtown Disney tonight, Sunday, at 7pm. Buses from the hotel leave about every 20min so at the bus stop, make some WikiSym noises! Once we meet at the meeting point, we’ll be waiting for about 10-15min while figuring out where to go. The final destination, e.g. a restaurant, will be tweeted using the #wikisym hashtag so watch that channel! (And stay near someone with a working U.S. cell phone to catch the information if you didn’t make it to the meeting place in time.)

Some video content available!

I’m live streaming some content from WikiSym 2009 – see

Skype Backchannel / Social for WikiSym 2009

Arriving into Orlando for WikiSym? Hook up with others for socials such as Cirque du Soleil, Epcot & Accommodation.

Wikis4SE: Workshop on “Wikis for Software Engineering”

Wikis provide a very effective environment for collaborative authoring of web-based documents, and are thus intensively used to support the edition, organization and storage of software documentation.

But wikis can do more.

They may be used to support other software engineering activities and even to inspire new ways of developing software.

This workshop focuses precisely on the usage of wikis to support software engineering activities, to improve team collaboration and communication in software projects, and on identifying the open issues requiring research and development to yield an even wider usage and better integration of wikis with other software engineering tools and infrastructures.

In last edition of the workshop, at ICSE’2009, Ward Cunningham challenged the participants (by video) to think/discover/idealize how wikis and tools should be like to enable software development to follow the wiki’s philosophy.

Following the insightful discussion then started, we plan to continue it at WikiSym 2009, in a very open and informal way, so that everybody interested in this topic may attend, contribute and benefit from it.

More details in the Wikis4SE wiki (external link).

If you have interest on contributing to this challenge, join us!

Ademar Aguiar, Nuno Flores, and Paulo Merson

Monday, October 26th, 13h30-17h00, Room Fantasia A

WikiSym2009: Why a newcomer came to WikiSym

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WikiSym 2009 Talk: Ed Chi and Bongwan Suh from Palo Alto Research Centre

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