Do we really want to change the world?

Wikipedia and other Wikimedian projects started to change the world. It is an obvious fact when you try to compare what did you know before you met Wikipedia and what do you know now, after you met her.

The problem which raises is very usual for every social groups. Wikipedia was very radical at the beginning, but as time passes, community is becoming more and more conservative (if you are a conservative, it is not about your views; Wikimedian community is much more liberal then any liberal political party, but I am not talking about opposition conservative-liberal) .

While some behaviors which may be treated as “conservative” are just a way to make more reliable knowledge, Wikimedian community is showing signs of driving on something which may be called inertial radicalism and when inertia disappears, community will end at stagnation.

But, the situation is not so dark. There are a lot of people who are driving community forward and I hope that I wouldn’t be ashamed in the eyes of my grandchildren when I would have to admit my guilt for building just one more bureaucratic and regressive academia.

Wikimedian community took responsibility to change the world and it should continue with that job. And here are my two cents of ideas.

Who should be the host of Wikimania

Wikimedian community is broadly Western. And I realized that people from Western countries don’t understand that I am not able to travel free. And I am living in the Second world country, not in the Third world country. If I want to travel to European Union, I have to spend a month or two for getting visa. Sorry, but I don’t want to waste my time if I don’t have to. And I don’t have to go to Wikimania.

Today I went to the site of Ministry of foreign affairs of Serbia. I am preparing to make one seminar work and I wanted to write about Nicaraguan sign language. So, I wanted to know is there an embassy of Nicaragua in Serbia. There is no Nicaraguan embassy in Serbia, but I found one interesting page there (page is in Serbian, version in English is here): visa policies between Serbia and the rest of the world.

There is a popular myth that people from Serbia may travel without visa only to Cuba (and some of the neighboring countries). However, I realized that this is far from truth. There are a number of countries (of course, except European Union, USA, Australia, Japan, Brazil, India…) where people from Serbia may travel without visa (22 of them) and there are much more countries (including some EU countries) where it is possible to travel with wasting much more time then, for example, for USA, Germany, UK or Japan (like Italy, Greece, Slovakia, Russia, China etc.).

Of course, Serbia is not the best example for country which allows to other people to travel free. Except for Western countries and some countries with bilateral agreements, Serbia has is not allowing anyone else to travel to Serbia without visa. There are even some countries which allow Serbian citizens to travel without visa and Serbia is requiring visa for citizens of those countries (Trinidad and Tobago, Zambia, Western Samoa, Armenia etc.).

But, I think that some of the countries which allow Serbian citizens to travel without visa — don’t require visa for the rest of the world. For example, I don’t think that Serbia has some special relations with Singapore.

And until now you may guess my idea for the step where Wikimedian community should at least try to change the world: We have to choose places for Wikimania according to possibility that people all over the world come into those countries without visa (or, at least, countries which require visa for the smallest number of other countries’ citizens).

I will list here 22 countries which don’t require visa for Serbia. Please, list somewhere where you may travel without visa (do it here, in the comments or leave a link here). We may make some simple program which would generate the list of the countries by not requiring visas. After the list there are some of my suggestions for places to held Wikimanias in the future.

List of the countries where Serbian citizens may travel without visa

  1. Albania
  2. Andorra
  3. Argentina
  4. Belarus
  5. Botswana
  6. Bolivia
  7. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  8. Chile
  9. Costa Rica
  10. Croatia
  11. Ecuador
  12. Fiji
  13. Korea, Reupbilc of
  14. Macedonia
  15. Montenegro
  16. Peru
  17. Samoa
  18. Seychelles
  19. Singapore
  20. Trinidad and Tobago
  21. Tunisia
  22. Zambia

Where to held Wikimanias

If we are looking for the place for the next Wikimania, then I suppose that the next countries may be the places (in the sense that I suppose that those countries doesn’t require visa to Serbian citizens because of their general policy):

This means that if Australians want to have Wikimania, it would be good if they would consider to organize Wikimania at Fiji or Samoa.

I have to say sorry to Europeans and North Americans, but they were hardly work for a long time on building xenophobic societies. Europeans may organize Wikimania in Andorra and North Americans may choose between some Pacific or some South American country.

However, I would like to hear, for example, where people from Africa may travel without visa.

And at the end: I know that I wrote here a piece of science fiction. Even a soft nationalism (“I want Wikimania in my country”) will prevent any kind of such move. While I would be partially surprised if Europeans really organize next Wikimania in Andorra, I would be very surprised if North Americans organize next Wikimania in Samoa or Chile.


~ by millosh on October 2, 2007.

5 Responses to “Do we really want to change the world?”

  1. So what about the reverse.
    What about having Wikimania in Serbia? What countries need visas to visit there?

  2. I think the point you want to make in your radical versus conservative dicotomy is that at the begining the Wikimedia projects were radical because they embraced or promoted change; now that they’ve matured some, they are conservative because they resist change. Conservative in this sense comes from the word “conserve”, which is synomonous with “preserve” & is often used in reference to preserving undeveloped land from change.

    Talking about radical vs. conservative in terms of politics only leads us into the swamp of political labels — & confuses everyone.


  3. Geoff, we are talking about social changes and all of them are political. Being conservative or not means different things different things in different circumstances. For example, conservative politician in Serbia is socialist. (Yes, if a politician wants to be conservative in all other Western means, (s)he has to be socialist much more then Tony Blair. OK, it is not so hard to be much more socialist then Tony Blair, but you know what do I mean 😉 )

    In our, Wikimedian sense, “conservative” means that Wikimedian community is showing not only some mature signs, but also some unwillingness to go further.

    Community became sluggish. For some projects (including Wikimedian) it is good to be sluggish because it guarantees stability. For example, Wikipedia should be conservative when it comes into the phase of equilibrium between encyclopedic principles, openness and contemporary technology.

    But, when community decided to have not only Wikipedia, but other projects; when community decided to go out of virtual world and to come into social activism by making Wikimedia chapters — community decided to participate in real social changes as a real progressive and radical social factor. In general, like French encyclopedists did it a couple of centuries ago.

    So, maybe I was confusing, but my point is not about technical-like questions like “why people are not able to make new article on English Wikipedia?” is. The point is related to the community.

    And community became sluggish with much less willingness for change. Wikimedian community is now at the important position of free content movement and it seems that it goes toward behavior of sluggish academia instead of keeping the key role in moving world forward.

    Actually, community started to be conservative before it did any relevant input into the moving world forward as a community (of course, members of the community gave a lot as participants of Wikipedia and other projects; I hope that I described difference clear enough). And conservative community is not able push society forward.

  4. Filceolaire, some Wikimedians from Serbia are thinking that they are able to organize Wikimania in 2011. However, there are a lot of problems about I was talking in the article with Serbia, too:

    – At least people from India, China, the most of Africa and the most of Asia are not able to come to Serbia without visa. My very raw calculation says that only 1,5 billions of 6 billions of humans are able to go to Serbia without visa. While Serbia may be a very good option for some kind of European headquarters and European meetings, it is not a good option for world wide events (while it is, of course, somewhat better then, for example, USA or Germany).

    – Even if Serbia is a very good option, there is a sense to make Wikimania in Serbia only once in at least 50 years. And what would we do with the rest 49?

    – Also, the whole point was not about me. My situation is just an example for maybe thousands of Wikimedians. And we should try to solve the problem systematically, not partially because some particular person.

  5. […] couple of days ago I wrote the article about the place where to hold Wikimania. I still think that there are 10-15 countries (excluding […]

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