Wikimania jury chooses Buenos Aires for 2009 location

Sunday, March 30, 2008

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The General San Martín Cultural Centre.
Image: Beatrice Murch.

On March 28, the jury in charge of selecting the location of Wikimania 2009 announced that the annual conference will be held in the city of Buenos Aires, the capital of the Argentine Republic.

According to a an official mailing list post from Wikimedia Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass, Phoebe Ayers, and James Forrester made on behalf of the jury, Buenos Aires was chosen because of the "strong, organized team" behind the bid, the "detailed budget proposal and planning schedule," the "significant number of sponsors already lined up," "relaxed visa rules," because it has a "solid venue, situated within a well-maintained cultural center in a major international city," and because of its "good Spanish-language media contacts."

Buenos Aires was selected out of 4 official bids, including Toronto, Brisbane, and Karlsruhe.

The conference venue will be the General San Martín Cultural Centre, located in the heart of the city. The conference will also be sponsored by entities like the Buenos Aires Tourism Authority and the National University of La Plata.

The bid was mainly organized by the members of Wikimedia Argentina, a local chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation.

This will be the first Wikimania celebrated in the South American continent and the first in a Spanish-speaking country.

Wikimania is an annual international conference for the editors of Wikimedia projects. The first conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, on August 4-8, 2005; the second conference was held in Boston, USA, on August 4-6, 2006; the third one was held in Taipei, Taiwan, on August 3-5, 2007; this year's conference will be held on July 17-19 in Alexandria, Egypt.

Wikimedia Argentina reacts to the selection

The members of Wikimedia Argentina.
Image: Beatrice Murch.

Wikinews interviewed Patricio Lorente, the President of Wikimedia Argentina, on his reaction to the selection of Buenos Aires for Wikimania 2009.

 ((Wikinews )) How do you feel about the selection?

Patricio: The whole group feels great satisfaction and an enormous responsibility. We've been working on this candidacy for over a year and the expectancy of getting the jury's support was very big.

 ((Wikinews )) How will Wikimania 2009 be different from other years?

Patricio: The location is part of the newness: it'll be the first Wikimania celebrated in the southern hemisphere and in a Latin country. The Spanish-speaking community has had, up until now, a weak participation in the global Wikimedia community, and we think this event will help integrate us.

Secondly, it'll be a Wikimania more integrated to the host city than previous ones: we based our bid on that, making sure that the venues are in the very heart of Buenos Aires. In addition to having a comfortable ambiance for carrying out the discussions, we want the wiki community to live the city.

Thirdly, it'll be a bilingual Wikimania. Up until now, the official language of Wikimania has been English. As part of this effort to integrate the Spanish-speaking community to the Wikimedia world we will make sure that there is simultaneous translation between Spanish and English, so that conferences are available in both languages.

 ((Wikinews )) How do you think Wikimania will affect Latin America?

Patricio: We hope it gives new impulse to the organization of existing communities in countries in the region, developing new local chapters. We also expect important press coverage, stimulating the appearance of new Wikimedians.


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