23rd August 2015 the day was just like any other Sunday, going to the church in the morning then doing the weekly vegetable shopping and the list goes on and on. But something was different this Sunday because today Wikipedia Kolkata Chapter was visiting Oxford Bookstore for the first time for a unique workshop called Wikilearnopedia, which basically means a workshop where the Wikipedia team will train new users to help contribute content for the ever growing knowledge base of Wikipedia.
Honestly I had been waiting for this event since the day it was conceptualised over a month ago. Being an ardent Wikipedia user I had a moral obligation to give back something to the foundation since it has been giving many of us the gift of knowledge for many years now.
Unfortunately everything was not right in the home front, both my parents were unwell with viral fever and that really kept me on the edge. I was worried about the health of my parents and also worried about the event which was scheduled to start at 5 PM since It would have been the first time we would be using WiFi at Oxford Bookstore, which was specially arranged for these series of events and I had the login credentials, which mean that I had to go for this event.
It was already 2 PM and both my parents were still relatively unwell and I was beginning to get worried. Luckily by around 3.30 PM their fevers were down and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief and finally started preparing for the event.
Batteries were loaded into the camera, memory cards inserted and formatted, extra batteries and of course the login credentials for the WiFi were all packed in my backpack. Reached Oxford Bookstore around 4 PM and I could already see few of the participants already occupying their seats. This felt somewhat good that meant that the programme ahead was surely going to be a really good one.
Checked the WiFi and thanks to Airtel 4G we had a brilliant signal strength and speed up to 10.5 MBPS which was way beyond my imagination. By now I could see some of the Wikipedia Kolkata team members arriving at the store. I could see Rangan Dutta, Kalyan Sarkar, Sujay Chandra, Santanu Chandra, Sukanta Pal & Sukhamaya Swain all wearing their Wikipedia t-shirts proudly displaying their allegiance to the movement.
I could definitely feel a sense of expectation in the air even from Oxford Bookstore Kolkata team, everyone seemed to be high on spirt. The ambient music being played on the newly installed sound system created a lovely mood and it seemed to gel perfectly with the day’s event. Most of participants had already arrived and the time was 5 PM which signalled the start of the Wikilearnopedia.
After the welcoming by Nilanjana Dey (PR – Oxford Bookstore Kolkata) Kalyan Sarkar welcomed all the participants and gave a quick preview of the programme up ahead. Rangan Dutta took the audience straight to the point of registering a user and starting with the basic of editing. This was a good idea considering everyone was there to learn how to edit Wikipedia and not to learn about Wikipedia as such.
Even though I was at the event but my mind was back home so there were constant call back to my wife confirming the health condition of my parents. It was somewhat relived when I was informed that they were much better and resting.
Sukanta Pal took turn with different new users in making them understand the detailed of the editing process, along with that Rangan Dutta updated the users about the approach when they write on Wikipedia, things like Neutral Point of View, giving Reference, uploading Images on Wiki Commons etc.
After the first session there was short tea break and the participants enjoyed the Masala Tea from Cha Bar and beautiful crisp Butter Cookies. This was also a great opportunity for the participants to interact with each other. I could see Prabir Bhattacharya smiling, confirming that the event was to his likings. Being an avid photographer and a fiction story writer I had requested him to join the event as I knew he would definitely appreciate the workshop.
All of a sudden I was approached by two gentlemen who I had never met before but they seem to know my name somehow. They were Indrajit Das and Sumit Surai, who knew me from IndiBlogger. It seems both of them follow my blog regularly and that really felt nice, if was for the first time I was meeting other bloggers in Kolkata who never knew me as person and only knew me from my blogs. Really you guys made my day, we had some fantastic ideas that were common to three of us and if everything goes according to the plan then we will surely plan something big here at Oxford Bookstore soon.
The second part of the session was equally interesting which was conducted by Sujay Chandra and Santanu Chandra. The audience got a good idea about Wikitionary and Wikisource along with the projects done by the Kolkata Chapter for digitization of Little Magazines with historical importance. We were also told about the Wikipedia Kolkata Photowalks which I am sure will have high attendance this year considering that most of the audience were very much interested in joining. And this year the Wikipedia Kolkata team has promised to conduct a Park Street Photowalk which I am sure is going to be the talk of the town as Park Street is a living heritage in itself.
Then came the user interaction session where there were enthusiastic participation from every corner of the floor. There were discussions about copyright issues, possibility of reuse of uploaded work, reproduction of creative commons and the possibility of expanding the digitization of work in other neighbouring state. Sukhamaya Swain from the Wikipedia Kolkata chapter joined team in answering and clarifying few of the doubts.
Everyone was so engrossed in the sessions that no one noticed that it was 8 PM already and time to wrap up. Last two questions from the audience were taken and a final word of thanks from Nilanjana Dey concluded the days Wikilearnopedia. There was a huge applause from the audience confirming the success of the event. Everyone was just hoping that this was not the end of the event but a milestone in the beginning of a relationship with Wikipedia, Oxford and the wonderful audience.