Last saturday Netha Hussain and I had an interesting experience conducting
a Wikipedia workshop at Startup Village <http://www.startupvillage.in/>.
Startup Village is a private-public not-for-profit business incubator at
Ernakulam, Kerala. They wanted to help us in spreading the word about
Wikipedia and editing it. The event page can be viewed

The workshop was an eye opener of sorts for us. It started half an hour
later than planned, as most of the participants took longer to make it to
the venue. We had the usual hiccups like microphones not being available
and the internet connectivity being too slow. The connectivity affected the
pace of the workshop. We found it difficult to demonstrate the examples we
had. The biggest challenge was not technical but connecting with the
audience. We had tailored our content for a crowd with a programming
background. We had even conducted a mock session over phone in order to be
sure of the roles the two of us should assume. However, the audience turned
out to be diverse and largely not technical. Most of the participants did
not have a mobile device, so the hands-on session was not as fruitful as we
had anticipated it to be. We ended up lecturing more and demonstrating less.

The workshop was structured into two halves. The first half was an
introduction to wikipedia and the wiki markup. The second half was a gentle
introduction to the mediawiki API or how to write programs using javascript
to access content from wikipedia. When we broke up for lunch after the
first half of the session, around half of the audience left. The second
half had too few takers, there were people who had come back but we doubt
if it had any tangible impact. Our biggest learning from the exercise was
that it is very important to know the audience well in advance and
structure the content accordingly.

On the brighter side, we had interesting queries from a few participants
who were already acquainted with editing Wikipedia. Startup Village has
invited us to conduct similar workshops in future. A couple of participants
and the organizers wrote to us, thanking us for volunteering.

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