From Wikimania 2011 • Haifa, Israel

My name is Dror Kamir, a.k.a. DrorK. I used to be active on the Hebrew, Arabic and English Wikipedias from late 2005. On 2006 I had the privilege of receiving a generous scholarship from the organizers of Wikimania 2006 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and so I attended the conference. I was overwhelmed by the spirit of enthusiasm, altruism and sincere wish to make the world a better place through the new technology. My fellow Wikipedians in Israel said I was brainwashed in Boston, but I felt enlightened, as you can read in these blog posts [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

In Wikimania 2006, most of the non-American participants were gathered to an informal meeting at the beautiful student dorms of Harvard Law School, to hear the idea of forming local Wikimedia chapters, along the model already set by Wikimedia Deutschland. I was very skeptic about the idea, and yet in June 2007, after long debates and planning, I was registered among the founders of Amutat Wikimedia Israel (amuta is what the Germans call Verein, it is similar to a member charity in the US). I came to Wikimania 2008 in Taipei, Taiwan (Rep. of China) as a board member of Wikimedia Israel. I attended two chapters' meeting in Nijmegen, the Netherlands and Berlin, Germany, attended Wikimania 2009 in Alexandria, Egypt and Wikimania 2010 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

There is no need to list here all the activities and projects I was involved in or initiated; and yet I had growing doubts about the system. Perhaps the 2006 Boston euphoria was too much and made the fall too quick and too painful. Actually, most of the problems I encountered where very expected, almost banal, and yet they were not treated properly and grew to a scary magnitude, at least in my humble opinion.

In January 2010 I was invited to Bangalore, India, to take part in a critical conference about Wikipedia - the CPOV (Critical Point of View). It is important to say that the participants offered criticism rather than censure. I heard a lot of interesting ideas there and even made my contribution to the CPOV reader that has been recently published.

This year Wikimania is "coming home". I don't need to book a flight nor to renew my passport (even though Haifa seems a bit strange for a person coming from Tel Aviv... Not as strange as Jerusalem, though :-) ). I even gave a hand in organizing the event, though my role is quite minor. I have no longer any "official" post in Wikimedia Israel nor in any other Wikimedia-affiliated organization, and I am not sure I would have attended Wikimania had it been located elsewhere in the world.

And yet, when you see an old friend or colleague in your neighborhood on the other side of the street, you are bound to cross the street and talk with him, even if you had strong disagreements with him when you got together for the last time.

So, I am going to be in Wikimania, and even help the organizers where I can bring more benefit than damage... But I am going offer my criticism, and do it decisively. Some people would listen, some wouldn't, but that's the best I can do. After that, I'll bid farewell.