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In years past, I've moderated and helped organize lots of sessions at both Wikimanias.
Here are some initial thoughts on what went well in past Wikimania conferences:
- Serendipity and mixing - one of the best aspects of Frankfurt 2005 was the courtyard. The conference happened at the Youth Hostel, and pretty much from everywhere folks could see who was in the courtyard, and being small, people could meet lots of folks, pull out their laptops, use the Wifi and demonstrate and share with each other. Certainly one of the most memorable things about Wikimania was the personal contact and the "buzz" of all being in one location. The same dynamic did not happen in Boston. Things were spread out, there was no 24 hour place to hang out, and the places to eat/drink were quite far downtown. So it would be ideal to always try to capture this communal spaces as the heart and soul of Wikimania -- for folks to meet another and share. (For 2007, we are attempting the same kind of thing with the Wikimania Lounge.)
- Lightning talks - started in Boston 2006, this is a set of rapid-fire impromptu talks that are strictly limited to 5 minutes each. Anyone can talk about anything they want, and there is a signup sheet/board. It can be a demo of what you think is cool, an idea you want to present, a problem you want advice on, etc. Very good way to get lots of different content in 90 minutes. By popular demand we did another set unplanned the last day. I moderated 2 of the 3 sessions, and it worked well.
- Unconference (new!) - May be nice to have a session that is unstructured, but based around a single idea/problem, like last in 2006 when there was a roundtable on "Does community scale?" Usually an unconference session will be a short brainstorming by folks where they put issues they want to discuss on the board, and then the session takes on a life of its own. Need a good moderator.
For things did not go well, that we could improve on:
- We need a person at each session to make sure all things are going smoothly. Make sure there is water for the speakers, that the room is clean, that the speakers show up, and that the A/V works fine. We had some problems in Boston and Frankfurt in this department. Need walkie talkies and personnel to make this happen.
- Better advertisement of the audio/video feed. This did not work well the first year, and even the second year there was no one in charge of making sure the Wikischedule of events had pointers to the streaming A/V content for each one. I had Raul654 doing this on the fly from the audience over Wifi. That's not good. So we need a real person dedicated to this.