Notes on the Wikimedia 2023 Athens Hackathon
Photograph by Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net)., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Earlier this month I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the Wikimedia 2023 Hackathon in Athens, Greece 🇬🇷.
Since I’m on a deadline here’s a mostly unpolished, and not-so-reflective assortment of notes about the event.
- After 5 years, you know more people. The previous (and first) Hackathon I attended was in Prague, in 2019. At that time I had been at Wikimedia Foundation for less than a year. The Prague event was cool, but a bit overwhelming, because I didn’t know too many people, and had never been to an event like that before. This time around I knew way more people, still mostly WMF staff but also some volunteer developers who I previously knew only through IRC chats or Phabricator tasks.
- There’s not enough time to talk to everyone. The big value of this event, for me, is in the serendipitous conversations. But there’s a tension between spending more time to know a few people or looking around to meet new people or say hi to people you know but haven’t had a moment to chat with. I think out of ~150 attendees, I spoke with… 50 or so? There’s large number of people I’m sad I didn’t have the opportunity to connect with more. If I didn’t say hello… I’m sorry, and the next freddo cappucino is on me.
- There are many cool projects in Wikimedia-land. Working at WMF it can be easy to narrow one’s view to your team’s work and goals. At the Hackathon, it was neat to have direct exposure to such a wide diversity of projects and ideas, and widen my horizons.
- I made forward progress on my project!. Together with @jgleeson we hacked on the MediaWiki Metal project, a PHP-based framework for managing a local development environment for MediaWiki on “bare metal” using Homebrew (macOS) or apt (Debian). Unlike last Hackathon, this time I set some groundwork a week or two before the event, so I would be able to move a bit faster and have a clearer framework for people to contribute.
- We talked about technical writing. See the task for notes and slides. I was nervous to present this as I’m far from an expert on this topic, but I think it went well and was happy to hear lots of ideas and comments from people who came to the workshop.
- We also talked (productively) about LLMs and AI tools. Together with @MGerlach, we facilitated a discussion about “opportunities and threats” around LLMs/ ChatGPT, and Wikimedia projects.
Many thanks to the hard work by all of the organizers and volunteers who made this event a success!