Who had the best time at Wikimania? Maybe my roommate

Me and my roommate, Professor Samia Ahmed El-Sheikh.

At the start of Wikimania I checked into my hotel room and wondered who my roommate would be. Within a couple of hours I found out – it was Samia from Cairo, who is a Professor of Weaving in the Artifacts and Oriental Traditions in Helwan University. She had a poster in the Wikimania poster sessions (which were sadly few and far away, from the main people area at least). She gave me a flier of her poster and started telling me enthusiastically about her idea: that Wikimedia could somehow form a database of information on historical textiles and weaving.

She told me about how she had visited museums around the world with blatantly incorrectly-labelled items (e.g. confusing embroidery and tapestry), many errors in identification and naming of various aspects of weaving. She had tried to get the museums to correct their displays but so far without luck. She had taken dozens of photographs of their works to correctly identify them herself.

She had been browsing Wikipedia and seen a notice about Wikimania registration, and decided to submit a talk to try and gather support for her idea. The program organisers advised her to submit her idea as a poster, so she did. On the Wednesday before Wikimania started her family drove with her from Cairo to Alexandria (when I met her she was saying goodbye to them in the hotel lobby).

She’s never edited Wikipedia. She just saw the notice and thought it would be an audience where she could gather some support for her idea, her dream. Now how cool is that?

Over the three days of Wikimania she went around to lots of sessions, talking to people, being introduced to others. I thought her idea might be best implemented as an en/ar WikiProject. She spoke to Cormac who thought her idea might be best suited to Wikiversity. Florence thought maybe Wikibooks + Commons for the images. Raoul Weiler sought her out to discuss — well, I’m not sure. Probably museumy stuff.

I hope that something will come from this. I hope that Samia will take up editing Wikipedia and that Wikimedia will embrace her ideas, in one form or another. I’m so pleased I was lucky enough to have Samia as a roommate. I look forward to meeting her again, one day, for a personal tour of Cairo at least. :)

23 July, 2008 •



Thanks Berianna. I was lucky to be your roommate too.I’m willing to do the best I can to keep up with wikimedia and try to make weaving and textile information avaliable for all.I had the full attention of the wikimania group,and that gave me a big support.It was a great opportunity to be part of wikimania.I loved it and I look forward for the next one. soma

Samia El-Shaikh · 24. July 2008, 08:50


go go girl
i think it well work out
congratulation and wishing a biger support next time

ahmed hatem · 24. July 2008, 22:38


manual trackback (French)

pfctdayelise · 28. July 2008, 15:59


Never had a doubt that you would enjoy and please your self and fascinate the people around you. Wish you the best of luck on your next conference.

Proud of you MOM

Ahmed Maklad · 1. August 2008, 23:51

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