Wikimania confab comes to Israel


NEW YORK (JTA) — Israel is hosting the seventh annual Wikimania conference, a three-day event for Wikipedia enthusiasts and contributors.

At the heart of this year’s conference, which begins Thursday, is an effort to bring the resources of Wikipedia to places without dependable Internet access. 

Hamakor, an Israeli-based nongovernmental organization, and Wikimedia Israel are working together on a pioneering program to install 50 refurbished computers with an offline French version of Wikipedia. The computers were distributed to two education centers in West Africa with no libraries or informational resources. 

The effort was made possible by a new Wikimedia initiative called OpenZim, which works to bring Wikipedia to areas of the world without Internet access.

Participants from 56 countries — some of which do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, according to Tomer Ashur, director of the Wikimedia Foundation in Israel — are attending the conference. They gather to discuss their vision of a world in which everyone has access to information.

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