First rule of first principle thinking, do not use first principle thinking when a mental model is available

Category: chennai

Wikicamp was great

I attended wikicamp last sunday and it was nice to catch up with many folks with whom I had been interacting only over email. It was also great to hear from Jimmy who spoke with such great humility about history of wikipedia , the current work and future course of action for wikipedia and wikia.

The crowd at the wikicamp was a very diverse and a different set and it was good to see it that way otherwise in many of these conferences you bump into the same folks again and again.

I am a big fan of wikipedia and use it a lot like so many others but until I attended wikicamp I did not really appreciate the work that is put in by so thousands of volunteers to make wikipedia happen. Also I never knew that there are so many contributors from India. Thanks to Arun’s  session on how and what of Indian wikipedia story I am able to much appreciate the work of the prolific wikipedians from India like Ganesh Krishnamurthy, BalaSundaraRaman, Bhadani.

The number of attendees was less compared to blogcamp but the energy was even much greater.  One thing I like about events at chennai is the energy of the people at the event is just infectious, you are charged with that energy when you return home.

As is the case with unconference there is a lot of coverage on the blogosphere about the event.

Making of wikicamp

Wikicamp ’07: Organisation through chaos
Wikicamp round up

Wikicamp 2007 coverage

At WikiCamp

Podcast of kiruba with Wales

Another feather in the cap for The Knowledge Foundation !

The filmmakers at Wikicamp

Wikicamp concludes

and many many more , just search on technorati for the tag ‘wikicamp’

Here are few photos from the event from my N70.

Takeaway from the event for me was the realization I don’t do any contribution to wikipedia and I should start doing so. Hmm ! Now what are the topics on which I can start contributing to wikipedia.

Wikicamp on

The conference kick starts with Kiruba speaking about the basic rules of unconference.

  • This is not a conference, it is not hallways but the main floors that are the most interesting place in an unconference.
  • No speakers but a discussion leader. If you are the so called audience feel free to be rude , interrupt the discussion if you want to.
  • Two feet rule, if you are uncomfortable use your feet to be more comfortable


Nick from Underdog pictures doing a documentary on Jimmy Wales and wikipedia, gave a quick introduction. Another quick introduction from Ganesh K , an admin in wikipedia who posts a lot of content related to India.

Presenetation from Jimmy Wales on wikipedia


First had looked at Open source

  • Improvements in fundamental way.
  • Exposes bugs.
  • Anyone can contribute.

So why not open content.

So in 1999 – the idea of a freely licensed encyclopedia called nupedia

  • it had thousand of volunteers
  • in many languages

But that idea was a failure, Some of the reasons of how/why we falied –

  • because of the tight academeic nupedia process.

It included the following steps

    • assignment
    • lead reviewer
    • a lead review
    • open review
    • lead copyediting
    • open copyediting
    • final approval and markup

    What I learend

    • A priori thinking is bad
    • community is good
    • people are basically good
    • guided chaos is unstoppable
    • a simple vision is good


    pretty cool, for a small encyleopedia


    • Primary lessons from my work so far
    • Trust people
    • Avoid a priori thnking
    • Guide the chaos to a simple vision.

    Example of other kinds of wikia

      • topic encyclopedia
      • magazines (ArmchairGM)
      • social community ( fannon, furry)
      • hybrid ( campaign, and all to some extent)

      Search is a fundamental part of the infrastructure of the internet and therefore of human society as a whole. Thus open source search is very important, transparent, all algorithms published, testable, researchable.

      Dozens of questions of great questions fielded with great clarity & humility, I just could not keep up with the pace of the questions.

      Attending Wikicamp

         Had to miss proto last month due to illness but would be attending wikicamp in chennai on 25th .Hope to catch up with the regular gang and met some new interesting folks. Don’t think I can speak about anything here but hope to add value by fiddling with my N70 like I did at blogcamp.

      Rajesh Jain

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