Invited Speaker – Wikimania 2008 Conference: “Recent Developments in Search Technology: Web, Mobile, and Implications for Social Networks,” Alexandria, Egypt, July 17-19, 2008.

WIKIMANIA 2008 – Change the Shape of Wisdom

Alexandria, Egypt, July 20,2008-  With over 600 participants, Wikimania Alexandria 2008 has finally come to a close with an audience that has exceeded that of the past three Wikimania conferences. While the majority of registered participants have come from Egypt (453, including media), the remaining participants have joined the conference from over 40 different countries. By the end of the 19th of July, the final day of the conference, over 70 lectures have taken place within the BA premises, covering a variety of topics of interest to avid internet and IT users.

During the first day of the conference, Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, gave a talk on “Freedom of speech, Human Rights, and Free Culture,” a topic that is very relevant to the future and power of web 2.0 sites such as Wikipedia. Directly afterwards, Rhonda Shearer gave a talk entitled “Keeping the Media Accountable”, in which she discussed how the new age of the internet has made it possible for users around the world to uncover media corruption and how it has also allowed them to ensure that the information concerning a media hoax can reach parties worldwide.

The second day of the conference also featured a great number of notable speakers. Usama Fayyad, Chief Data Officer and Executive Vice President, Research & Strategic Data Solutions,  gave a lecture entitled “Recent Developments in Search Technology: Web, Mobile, and Implications for Social Networks”, in which he covered how many disciplines other than computer science play a large part in how search engines are developed to provide the users with what they need.

Tim Spalding, Founder of LibraryThing, gave a talk entitled “LibraryThing and Social Cataloging”, to show the manner in which the site has allowed for user interaction and has paved the way for connecting users by interest rather than prior social relationships.

One of the most important events of the second day was a panel on “Wikimedia and Libraries”, which was one of the most strongly attended sessions, and which featured a panel of well-reputed speakers from the Wikimedia Foundation, the BA staff, and other key parties.

The third day had a promising start with the session by Elaine Metni, Director of the International Education Association, who gave a talk on “The Global Educators’ Open Course”, in which she talked about how “future teachers” from Argentina, Canada, Holland, Lebanon, Slovenia, and the United States learned together with enthusiasm and contributed to the peer production of the pilot Global Educators course which will be offered in six universities internationally this September.

The conference was brought to a close with a session at the end of the final day’s activities, with Dr. Ismail Serageldin, BA director; Noha Adly, head of the ICT department; Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation; Jimmy Wales; Florence Devourad, ex- Chair of the Board of Trustees; Michael Snow, the new Chair of the Board, and Mohamed Ibrahim, the local team’s head volunteer taking the floor. Each took turns at thanking the Library, its staff, and the local volunteers in putting together the successful event.

For accessing archived sessions of the conference, please visit


Media contacts

For the Wikimedia Foundation
Jay Walsh
Head of Communications
+1 415 839 6885

For the Bibliotheca Alexandrina
+2 03 4839999

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