This weekend, we entered into an official partnership which turns WikiStage into a real-world stage for Wikipedia. We are often asked: what is our link with Wikipedia and why did we chose the name “WikiStage” in the first place? Sharing knowledge openly is in our DNA and with Wikipedia, we share the ambition to create a vast pool of knowledge, to democratise, to decentralise and to encourage as many people as possible to collaboratively share so that we all can benefit from our collective wisdom. This is why we called our stage “Wiki”. Wikipedia is mostly text and our format at WikiStage are videos. At WikiStage Conferences, independent organisers record videos of the WikiTalks of the speakers. We publish these videos on YouTube, embed them into the WikiStage.org platform and share them on Twitter Facebook. This way, we can offer a broad and global reach to the videos filmed by local WikiStage Event organisers. As videos increasingly gain in importance, Wikipedia is encouraging efforts to bring more and more videos to its encyclopedia and other Wiki-Projects. This is where WikiStage is the perfect match: we produce videos of experts sharing ideas and knowledge at every WikiStage event - and now we will make our videos available to the media database behind Wikipedia: the Wikimedia Commons. This is the essence of our partnership agreement with Wikimedia France. For our speakers this is fantastic news: with a bit of luck, your talk could be on Wikipedia! Wikipedia requires videos which are uploaded to have an open license: Creative Commons CC BY SA. This license allows users to use the videos freely as long as the source is credited and the newly created video is shared under the same open license. We encourage all WikiStage speakers to log in to www.wikistage.org and grant us permission to use their video with this “Wikipedia-ready” license. For Event Organisers: this is one more reason to chose WikiStage as format for your event! Equally, for speakers, this is an extra encouragement to give your best in your WikiTalk! WikiStage becomes a stage for Wikipedia.
WikiStage is a non-profit Wiki Project of event organisers who create a free library of educational videos. How is this different from Wikipedia, YouTube, TED and open university lectures? At the heart of WikiStage are WikiTalks, where experts address one specific question in 3, 6 or 9 minutes. These WikiTalks are recorded at WikiStage events and uploaded as short educational clips to the free video library of WikiStage online.  Wiki Spirit and Wiki Project We love the spirit in which Wikipedia editors engage and contribute to what has become the largest encyclopaedia on the planet. This “Wiki Spirit”, which causes people to collaborate to create this vast text-based library, inspired our choice to associate our project with the Wiki brand. With WikiStage, we want to build a “Wiki Project” where people work together in a similar spirit. How is a WikiTalk different from a Wikipedia article? Besides the obvious difference of text vs. video, the content of a WikiTalk can be very different from a Wikipedia article. While Wikipedia lets its articles be edited by a great number of people, a WikiTalk is given by one expert who is responsible for his content.  Diversity is created at WikiStage when one particular question is addressed by different experts in several WikiTalks. For this reason, we do not expect our speakers to simply cite factual information but to bring otherwise dry knowledge to life and to make it relevant and accessible. At times, what counts is not just the content of a message, but also who delivers it, and how. A common format for educational videos At WikiStage, we love the freedom that video platforms, such as YouTube, provide to the user. Unlike traditional TV, people are now empowered to create their own content and to watch what they are interested in whenever they need it. However, we do not consider a commercial video platform to be a Wiki Project. For this, the content is too diverse and the users do not work together towards a common objective. What we propose to establish with WikiStage is a library of educational videos where users can expect a consistent format and quality content. How is it different to TED? While TED has one main event and all TEDx events are only small satellites, we at WikiStage understand that each new organiser makes our community stronger and a stronger community can give greater visibility to each organiser. WikiStage is shaped by a creative community of idealists who can create better events by adapting to their local situation and by allowing their teams to be creative. Ideas for Change We are a non-profit association created by students in Paris. Our bottom-up organisation is supported by grassroot-style volunteers who believe in our potential impact for free education.  Our objective is not to spread ideas from a few to many, but to share them from many to many. WikiStage is not about selecting only the top 1% of the talks that may change the world, but our aim is to create a searchable video library of intriguing questions through a Wiki Project that invites you to contribute. This is why we offer not just the format of big events; we propose the additional format: WikiStage Café. We strive to make it easy for you to become an event organiser and instead of imposing a large catalogue of rules, we trust and support you when you decide to enrich our collective puzzle with your piece of knowledge. Curiosity vs teaching Universities are a great place to host WikiStage events. This raises the question of how WikiStage is different from traditional conferences or open online courses. We know that at times, professors and conference speakers tend to get into a speaking or teaching routine that focuses more on giving you the information or the answers rather than to arouse your interest for the question. At WikiStage events, we work to create an environment that encourages the expert to use the short time of a WikiTalk to help the audience understand why he is passionate about his subject and why his question should matter to us. “Ideas for Change” expresses our ambition that new generation of innovators share new and bold ideas to change our societies and improve the status quo.  The objective of a WikiTalk is to create an open and global community to share Ideas for Change.
Our team at WikiStage has identified 3 core values for this project. Here they are: Ideas for Change The purpose of WikiStage is to “Ideas for Change”. We think that is important to share new and bold ideas to change our societies and improve the status quo. WikiStage is an open and global community to share Ideas for Change. Community We believe that a great way to ignite the spark of curiosity is to bring people together to discover fascinating questions. This can happen with a community online, yet, we know that nothing can ever replace people meeting each other in real life. WikiStage events are there to connect you with those people around you who ask those questions that matter to you. Openness We are proud to carry the word “Wiki” in our name because it represents more than just a technical term. Wiki stands for openness and the democratisation of knowledge. The WikiStage is your stage. What counts for us is not the notoriety of the speaker, but the quality of the answer. A WikiStage event can be organised by everybody who respects our quality standards and the public has free access to the videos online.
You like the idea of organising your own WikiStage event? We love that and we would like to help you to get started. Here’s how you get the license to organise your own event and some tips on what is important to make your event fly. 1) Know why you want to organise it Get informed; read the information on this website and decide if you share our vision and values. There are many reasons why you may want to organise your own event. Here are some examples: You: … experienced the magic of a WikiStage event yourself and want to create this experience for your friends and colleagues … share our believe that learning can and should be fun and curiosity deserves to be celebrated … are passionate about something and would like to bring like-minded people together … can think of a number of remarkable people whose knowledge deserves a greater audience … would like to add your piece to the puzzle and help share the knowledge of the world …want to join a growing international community of event organisers …like the entrepreneurial experience you gain by organising your own high-quality event. Or maybe you just do it to let the people you know have a great time and see a smile on their face. In contrast, if you want to do it to pursue your own agenda, such as promoting your company, product, political party, religion or world-view, then WikiStage is not for you. At WikiStage, we celebrate a diversity of perspectives with an open-minded, fact-based approach. The dogmatic and unquestioned postulation of one truth is not compatible with our understanding of “curiosity”. We equally discourage you from becoming a WikiStage organiser if you only do it to earn money from sponsors and the ticket sales or if your only motivation is to put WikiStage on your CV. 2) How to organise it WikiStage events are different from traditional conferences, talks or lectures and before you apply for a license, it is useful to get an idea of what organising a WikiStage entails. The WikiStage formula There is no complicated rule book for WikiStage organisers, yet, some core features of WikiStage events are essential and constitute the unique WikiStage experience. Among them are that each WikiTalk answers one specific question only and lasts either 3, 6 or 9 minutes. The Stage is designed and all talks and performances are filmed by the organiser, who edits and uploads them to the WikiStage YouTube channel. All speakers are asked to prepare and rehearse their talk and to sign an agreement for the right to their images. WikiTalks communicate knowledge and insights and no advertising or promotion is allowed on a WikiStage. A WikiTalk is not a panel discussion or a debate and much of the magic of WikiStage events comes from the alternation of expert talks with music performances or other artists. Think of creative ways to let the audience and speakers experience an unforgettable atmosphere at your event. In short, don’t just organise another conference, but celebrate curiosity! Theme and speakers All WikiStage events do have a theme. Which theme you chose mainly depends on whether your event will be interdisciplinary or focus on one particular field. For interdisciplinary events, a theme, such as “Make the Difference” might be the right choice. If you focus on one subject area, your theme might me: “Energy for the future”. One of the core values of WikiStage is openness. In this spirit, organisers are encouraged to invite speakers from various backgrounds who can offer different perspectives. Speakers are never paid to speak. Feel free to organise your event in your language. Location, design and sponsors Great locations are universities, theatres, libraries or museums. WikiStage events can also happen in a café, open air or in traditional conference locations. What is important is to create a special atmosphere: design a WikiStage and pay attention to details. Your creativity is the only limit when it comes to designing badges, an event brochure or serving snacks and drinks. We encourage you to win the support of partners and to raise money for your event from sponsors. Yet, no sponsor can have his logo on stage during a WikiTalk and no sponsor can deliver a WikiTalk at your event. As organiser, you are in charge and always stay independent. Attendees and marketing Communicate about your event and invite your community to participate. Create a website or blog as well as social media accounts with your particular event name. If you are the organiser of “WikiStage Stanford”, make sure people understand which WikiStage event you are representing by always using that specific name. You can publish your event in newsletters and event agendas. Find media partners to gain visibility and invite bloggers and journalists. Keep the ticket price affordable but make sure you cover the costs of your event. 3) Apply for a license To ensure quality, each WikiStage event organiser needs to have a license which grants you the right to use the WikiStage brand for your event. Do not start organising your event before you obtained a license for it To apply for the license, go to this link and write what you want to do. Tell us why, where, and when you would like to organise your WikiStage event. Help us understand who you are and how you want to go about organising it. Let us know if you already have a potential location, theme, speakers or sponsors in mind. Also, think about which name you want to give to your event. If you are organising an event in Venice, you might want to apply for the “WikiStage Venice” license. If you organise your event in the Oslo Library, then apply for “WikiStage Library of Oslo”.
There are hundreds of volunteers world-wide in over 10 countries organsising WikiStage conferences. As I type this, there are 20 event teams currently preparing their next WikiStage event and 4 of them are happening in the next 4 weeks. How did we get here? As students, we were inspired by the TED Talks that we watched online. Together with some friends we decided that we want to organise a TEDx Conference at our university. That's when we realised that we, students with no money, are not really supposed to do this: the requirement to be eligible to apply for organising such an event was to pay 6.000$ plus travel expenses for a 4,5 day conference (exceptions are small events with less than 100 people). Today these conferences cost 10.000$ or even 25.000$. Who can afford this? Students certainly not. Who is the target group when you ask for such outrageous amounts of money? We quickly realised that we need a format not just for the rich but for the young generation! As German exchange student, I studied at one of these Grande Ecoles in Paris and together with some of my friends, we decided to create an event platform to empower students and young people to organise great conferences with short talks that would be filmed so that that the videos can be shared online. Our ideal was Wikipedia - a free library of knowledge, a collaborative platform for everybody. So, we called our conference: "WikiStage" and the speaker's talks "WikiTalks". The idea quickly caught on. Friends who saw what we were doing at my university, ESCP Europe, liked it and brought the idea to other universities in Paris: The Sorbonne, SciencesPo, HEC Paris, ESSEC and Centrale Paris. Then others abroad started it as well and soon we saw WikiStage events in Stanford as well as in Africa. One day, even the World Bank decided to use our format for their conference. That's when we realised: we are on to something here. I sometimes ask myself: why have so many people chosen to organise a WikiStage Conference or to use the WikiStage and WikiTalk brands for their event? The obvious reason would be: because it's free and you benefit from the reputation of a positive upcoming brand and a network that supports you. When one WikiStage organiser needs help, others are happy to give advice to new organisers and when videos of one event are published, the others often watch and share them. This is how we attained more than 100.000 combined followers on our Social Media Channels and hundreds of thousands of views on our videos. However, I believe the main reason is a different one. This young generation is intrinsically motivated to share new ideas, to support bold visions for the future and to give a stage to those who can best articulate them. WikiStage and our mission to share "Ideas for Change" embodies this spirit and I can only speak for myself when I say that I'm grateful to be a part of this!
Whose ideas are we discussing in our public discourse? Yours? To find out, simply look at the topics that are being discussed: Switch on the TV and you'll see that our public debates are dominated with talks about government institutions, controversies about political leaders, debates about taxes, military spending and immigration. Who gets excited about this? Of course, these are very important topics in a democracy but are they the only ones? Where are the visions for the future? Where are new ideas? Of course we need to talk about how to administrate our society, but it's a very limited debate if we only talk about administration - we need to talk more about innovation! The dominance of administration topics over innovation in our media landscape reveals who is in charge: the previous generation, not the next one. Look at Talk Shows and conferences: The same old faces are invited over and over. Everybody knows exactly what they will say already and you can easily watch for hours without learning anything new - without taking away any stimulating idea or vision. All that happens is the same old patterns of the same old arguments reapeating themselves endlessly. In countries that rely on brains and innovation rather than natural ressources, we need to give more space to a new generation with bold and unheard of ideas. This young generation of the world grew up with a sense of the possibilites of the digital age. In contrast to their parents, they grew up with the internet and social media and they are determined to be the ones who will use these technologies to shape a more desirable next century. This young generation might not be in power and might not have the ressources but they are the startup entrepreneurs and the innovators of tomorrow. Our aging societies are well advised to gives us more space and a stronger voice! When I graduated from university in Paris, I could feel this change of the Zeitgeist when I saw where my classmates wanted to go for their first job. While the majority of graduates in the past was looking to work for the big institutions and prestigious employers, my friends oriented themselves towards innovation hubs, digital companies, and some ventured entrepreneurship themselves. It was in this spirit that WikiStage evolved as an event format and a platform created and curated by young people to give a stage to bold new ideas and to meet the innovators of tomorrow. WikiStage is our way to empower this next generation to share their "Ideas for Change" and to enrich our public debates with this badly needed fresh perspective. Since then, students and organisations in over 10 countries have used the WikiStage platform for their events and we can't wait to see where the journey will take us next!
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