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As teenager, I spent many hours listening to this German rock band called "Die Ärzte” and in one of their songs, the main theme goes something like this:
“It is not your fault that the world is as it is, yet, it would be your fault if it stays that way”.
It is enough to watch the news any given day, or simply to pay attention to the less fortunate around you to realise that there is a lot of suffering, hatred and injustice in the world. Change is desperately needed.
When Obama ran his 2008 campaign on “Change”, he made a very clear case that, obviously, he wasn’t talking about “negative change”. When initiatives, such as Change.org chose their name, it was clear to them that nobody would misunderstand their intentions and think: “They may want to change the world for the worse”. When we say change, we mean positive change.
“Time is neutral"
There is one speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., called “The American Dream”. It is a little less known than his famous “I have a dream” speech but to me it is even more powerful and I admire it. In his plea against racial injustice, he makes the point that time won’t bring about justice by itself. Time is neutral. What is needed to bring about the desired change is that people stand for what they believe in and actively make it happen.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
If change doesn’t occur naturally over time, then individuals have to make it happen. Somebody has to decide: This has to change! Things can’t go on like that. Somebody has to assemble the courage to stand up and say: I will do things differently. I think something else is possible and I’m willing to commit myself. I am willing to take responsibility. This, to me, is the definition of leadership. You don’t need to be a world leader or a celebrity to show leadership. Incredibly important changes happen in the small details of every day life. How much kindness do we show to the people around us? Are we making the groups we come in contact with a little better?
Leaders for Change
No change ever happens without this kind of leadership. Change is an abstract concept and if we want to make it actionable and be serious about it, we have to pay attention to people, because they are the agents of change. Every one of us can and should strive to be a “Leader for Change”.
Why WikiStage as a network for change?
As video platform and network of conference organisers, what we can do is to celebrate Leaders for Change and give their ideas and initiatives a stage. Our hope is that by directing the spotlight on those who decide to publicly speak out about their ideas and convictions, others will get inspired and feel empowered to bring about change themselves.
We connect leaders and ideas in the real world at WikiStage events and online on the WikiStage.org video platform. Visitors of the website can see the best talks of a speaker on his or her profile as well as the other videos that have been recorded at our conferences. We attribute each video to a larger debate with a hashtag, for example #ClimateChange or #HumanRights and allow users to upvote their favourite videos for every cause.
The “Wiki” in WikiStage
When visitors upvote videos for a debate, they collectively decide about the best ideas and contributions on any given topic. Thanks to your vote, the best videos rise to the top of the wall of that debate. It is the community who ultimately decides what inspires them and whose ideas deserve to get the most attention. Thanks to other user’s votes, we all now have a way to quickly learn about the most important contributions on the issues. Simply by watching the top rated videos, we can learn about different perspectives from the brightest minds who spoke in public about the issue.
We can do more than just “vote"
Similar to our democratic process, some will simply vote and some will want to shape the debate more actively. There are many forums and social media websites on the internet where anybody can share anything. At WikiStage, we have chosen our format: we connect people at real life events and share the ideas on our platform with videos. If you want to become an active part in one of our debates, we invite you to become an independent WikiStage Conference organiser and to give a stage to those people who you believe deserve to be heard. After you obtain our license through our website, our non-profit organisation will guide and advise you to help you create a meaningful event with valuable contributions - and the best thing: the license is completely free.
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!
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:
… 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 the link: https://podio.com/webforms/10088863/728698 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”.
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.
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!
The very first WikiStage conference took place at the ESCP-Europe Business school's campus in Paris, and was organized by the founder and president of WikiStage, Johannes Bittel. It was built around the theme that brought WikiStage to life: Celebrate Curiosity. 11 speakers from various professions came and discussed a variety of subjects such as economy, jazz, the Internet, dreams, and much more.
More than 16 experts and artist perform for 6 or 12 minutes to celebrate the theme of Curiosity.
The Anticafé Session was the very first WikIStage Session, coordinated by the president of WikiStage, Johannes Bittel. It gathered 80 people around the theme of "time". Philosophers, physicists, but also comedians and businessmen gave short exposés on the various concepts, questions and insights that arise from the idea of time.