Continuing his efforts to promote Wikipedia at professional and academic conferences, Jimmy Wales made an appearance last Wednesday at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference (eTech for short), hosted by O'Reilly Media. The CeBIT expo in Germany that concluded last week, one of the world's largest events in the technology industry, also included a Wikipedia booth.
Wales gave a presentation about Wikipedia at eTech and also participated as a speaker on a panel about tagging methods such as Wikipedia's category system. The panel, moderated by Clay Shirky, also included Stewart Butterfield - President of Ludicorp, the company that developed Flickr - and Joshua Schachter, the creator of del.icio.us.
The panel discussion focused on the collaborative categorization process sometimes known as folksonomy, and had as its title, "Folksonomy, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mess". One particular focus was the different approaches and uses of tags on each site. Schachter described this in terms of whether people were tagging their own contributions or those of others, and whether the tags were meant to benefit themselves or others.
Among the interesting tidbits to come out of the eTech conference were that about 350,000 Wikipedia articles have category tags (David Weinberger's blog post gave the erroneous impression that Wikipedia has 350,000 different categories). Blogger Sean Bonner reported that on a show of hands, about a quarter of the audience had contributed to Wikipedia, compared with around 90% having used Flickr and roughly half using del.icio.us.
Wikipedia volunteers recently staffed a booth at the CeBIT computer expo in Hanover, Germany. The fair stretched for a week, of which Wikipedia had a booth for three days, from 10 March to 12 March, as part of a section dedicated to open source projects. Also having a booth in the same hall was Wikipedia's German competition in the encyclopedia field, Brockhaus.
Elian told a story of one of the booth's first visitors being Jon "maddog" Hall. Hall found that the English Wikipedia article about him misspelled his name as "John", so he corrected the mistake himself (RickK cleaned up afterward by moving the page to its new location). Other highlights included a presentation by Elian and an interview of Elian and Mathias Schindler by North German Radio (NDR).