Centre for Internet & Society

On Sunday, July 28, 2013, a day-long Kannada Wikipedia workshop was conducted at Sagara, Shimoga Dist, Karnataka by the Centre for Internet and Society's Access to Knowledge (CIS-A2K) team. In this post, I share with you the happenings from the workshop.



Some months ago, I got a phone call from Chinmaya M Rao from Sagara, Shimoga District requesting me to conduct a Kannada Wikipedia workshop at Sagara. He informed me that there are quite a good number of writers in that area who are interested in adding content to Kannada Wikipedia but don't know how to. Many telephonic discussions followed, many dates were considered, changed, iterated and finally the workshop was organised on Sunday, July 28, 2013. The programme was inaugurated by Shri Kagodu Thimmappa, Speaker of the current Legislative Assembly of Karnataka. Famous Kannada writer Naa D'Souza was the chief guest. Shri G.T. Shridhar Sharma, President of Kannada Times Media World, presided over the function. The programme was jointly organised  by CIS and Kannada Times Media World, Sagara.

Shri Kagodu Thimmappa inaugurating the workshop

Speaking after inaugurating the workshop, Shri Kagodu Thimmappa said "the basic knowledge of technology has become important as one could get ample, accurate information on various topics, and current affairs of the world in a minute all languages, including Kannada. It is the onus of the people of the sate to preserve and promote the use of Kannada language." (Deccan Herald, Shimaga edition, July 30, 2013). Naa D'Souza mentioned how earlier knowledge was the monopoly of some particular sections of the society and how technology has transformed knowledge into an asset of all the people irrespective of caste, race, religion, region and financial status.
Seen above is a picture of Shri Kagodu Thimmappa inagurating the workshop

I then gave a brief introduction to Wikipedia and Kannada Wikipedia. There are many encylopaedias in Kannada but very few are regularly updated. They are seldom digitised. People who add content to Kannada Wikipedia are in search of authentic information. These are available in many encylopaedias brought in by various academies, associations and universities funded by the Government of Karnataka. People of the state have a right on these content. I requested Shri Kagodu Thimmappa to bring them under the Creative Commons License so that the active Kannada Wikipedians can make use of them to add content into Kannada Wikipedia. Shri Kagodu Thimmappa promised to look into this.

After the inauguration, the actual presentation by me started at a cybercafe run by Istam Computers. It was raining heavily. Participants walked for 5 minutes in heavy rain to reach the venue. The presentation went on till lunch time. The place was very congested. One participant, B. V. Ravindranath, who is a practicing Chartered Accountant at Sagara, offered his place to conduct the hands-on workshop. Hence, all participants went to the new venue which was quite comfortable. Participants did the hands-on editing of Wikipedia till 7.30 p.m. Eleven persons participated in the workshop and edited actively. Some were seen editing Kannada Wikipedia regularly after the workshop.

Kannada Wikipedia workshop at Sagara

Dr. U.B. Pavanaja is seen sharing a light moment with participants from the workshop in the above picture.

An active Kannada Wikipedian, B S Chandrashekhar from Sagara, who has more than 4500 edits on Kannada Wikipedia to his credit was felicitated during the inauguration function. He is 79 years old. Despite his old age, he actively paticipated in the workshop till the end and learnt many intricacies which he was otherwise unaware of.

In the end, I would like to personally thank Chinmay Rao and G. T. Shridhar Sharma of Kannada Times who toiled a lot in organising the wokrshop. Also thanks to B. V. Ravindranath, CA, who provided the venue for the hands-on workshop.

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