Wiki Conference India 2011: more than 700 people gathered at Mumbai University campus
More than seven hundreds people are gathering in Mumbai University campus for India’s first Wikipedia conference.
Wikipedia Conference 2011 is a three-day event, from November 18 to Nvember 20, and is part of the online encyclopedia’s plans to expand in the sub-continent.
Wikipedia wants to tap into India’s growing internet population, by creating more pages in local languages, such as Hindi, Marathi and Gujerati.
The online encyclopedia representatives say the conference is the one of the largest gatherings it has ever held.
The campus of Mumbai University has, for the weekend, been overtaken by more than 700 “Wikimedians”.
For those who have not read the relevant explanatory entry online, they are avid readers and editors of Wikipedia.
Abishek Suryawanshi, 21, from Pune is one such Wikimedian.
He believes more Indians should get online and write entries – because there is so much to share.
“India has a vast knowledge from Rig Veda and Bhagavad Gita [sacred texts], to the current nanotechnology and bio-technology, so I think that a platform like Wikipedia will be perfect for Indians to showcase their knowledge.”
Wikipedia started out ten years ago, but is targeting India to take advantage of the country’s growing number of internet users – currently around 100 million.
“It’s an extremely important place for Wikipedia,” says Hisham Mundol from the Wikimedia Foundation.
“For starters there are a billion people out here and hundreds of millions of users are more comfortable thinking, dreaming, talking and counting in their mother tongues, so we need to really build the Indic language Wikipedia projects.”
The site has its supporters but detractors too.
Outside the campus a small group of protesters demonstrated against the depiction of the map of India on Wikipedia, which they say is an inaccurate and illegal representation of the country’s borders.
Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, who flew in for the event, seemed unconcerned by the protests.
“I want Wikipedia to be neutral on such topics. It’s not up to us to decide what’s the correct map of India, but it is up to us to explain to people that there is this controversy.”