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Hackathon Wikimania 2017

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Revision as of 19:37, 19 July 2017 by Unleashkids (talk | contribs) (Facilities & Accommodations)
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http://OFF.NETWORK Content Hackathon

What is it? Four full days of hacking Aug 14, 15, 16, 17 in Potsdam, NY, right after Wikipedia's annual conference in nearby Montreal (Wikimania 2017) towards the "offlining" aims outlined below! We are graciously being hosted by the State University of New York at Potsdam (SUNY Potsdam). This will be similar to Kiwix's Wikimania 2016 Hackathon in Esino Lario, Italy and the Spring 2017 Hackathon in Lyon, France but with more "meducational" packagers/implementers represented (Internet-in-a-Box, diverse medical/health publishers, in addition to Wikipedia technical architects etc!)

KEYWORDS: alternative publishing, offline cloud, developing world education, medical health informatics, web scraping, Sneakernet, mesh networking, peer-to-peer file sharing, peer production, mass collaboration, Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, ZIM files, zines, Samizdat, community publishing, library rights, creative commons, copyright, copyleft, open access, free press, freedom of speech, FOIA, CDN, CMS, DRM, OER, open educational resources, intellectual property, fair use, hacktivism, underground press, citizen journalism, civic resilience, grassroots democracy.

We welcome backend engineers as well as UX designers, content matter experts as well as experienced open access publishers. We just ask that everyone spend all 5 nights in Potsdam, NY, immediately following Wikimania 2017 in Montreal (the prior week, with DebConf17 also in Montreal then!) so that each and all of our 4 hack days and evening hospitality plans are relaxed & productive! In short: arrive in Potsdam, NY late Sunday Aug 13, and leave Potsdam, NY Friday Aug 18 (2+ hour drive to Montreal's airport).

Your departing flight should leave Friday afternoon or evening (Aug 18) from Montreal's airport (YUL). Flights departing morning will generally NOT be possible, given vans/vehicles take 2+ hours to drive from Potsdam to Montreal's airport, with delays being common while entering Canada by road!

Please contact holt @ immediately if you are considering contributing & partaking, joining the Kiwix and Internet-in-a-Box team during these 4 intense and productive days/nights!


Cars and van(s) (and train if nec) will depart Montreal by/around 6PM Sunday Aug 13, 2017 — as Wikimania ends — for the ~2.5 hour drive to Potsdam, NY.

In addition to our downtown Montreal pick-up location (TBA!) it might also be possible to board a car or van early evening Sunday Aug 13th at Montreal's airport (YUL), as that's along the route to Potsdam, NY.

ARRIVAL: If van(s) reach capacity, SOME MAY NEED TO TAKE THE VIARAIL.CA TRAIN FROM MONTREAL TO CORNWALL, ONTARIO ON SUNDAY AUG 13. The 3:45PM train (arriving Cornwall 4:57PM) costs C$29 if booked well in advance. The 6:40PM train (arriving Cornwall 7:53PM) costs C$24 if booked well in advance. Personal cars will be arranged to drive people the final hour from Cornwall, ON into the USA, and onto Potsdam, NY.


ARRIVAL ALTERNATIVES: Fly to Ottawa, Canada (YOW) and rent a car for the 1h40m drive to Potsdam, NY (verify that the car's legal/insured in the US!) Or if the border is too much hassle, fly to Syracuse, NY (SYR) and rent a car for the 2h30m drive to Potsdam, NY.

DEPARTURE: Vehicle(s) will arrive Montreal's airport (YUL) mid/late-morning Friday Aug 18, 2017. Airport's full name is "Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport".

DEPARTURE ALTERNATIVE: Some folks will take the 1:25PM Amtrak train from Plattsburgh, NY, which arrives ~8:50pm in New York City ($65-77) that evening of Friday Aug 18, 2017. Contact us immediately if you're considering this, as there are NO viable public transit options over the 1h45m rural route from Potsdam to Plattsburgh, but some kind of joint taxi ($140-to-160 + 15% for Potsdam->Plattsburgh) may be possible among those who contribute to our very generous hosts! Pricier Alternatives: Saranac Lake, Ogdensburg and Massena each small airports within about an hour of Potsdam, each with a few commercial flights on very small planes.

WARNING: There is NO public transportation between Montreal and Potsdam, so you will likely need to rent a car at great expense over 5 days if you do not register early! Hence direct transportation has been arranged to and from Montreal (YUL) for those who register early. So far we have vehicles and drivers arranged for about 27 people, making this ~2.5 hour road trip and border crossing between Montreal and Potsdam very easy, but beware these vehicles WILL fill up :) Vans: 7-seater [Walker family], 10-seater [friend's family] and 12-seater [university] vans MIGHT be available, if attendees register several months in advance!

Please remember that a passport and US visa and Canadian visa are likely all required at the Canada/USA land crossing, particularly those ineligible for the US Visa Waiver Program. To be safe, we will arrange formal letters of invitation to all non-US citizens, from SUNY Potsdam (University) to avoid possible border crossing nightmares. Well in advance: Martin Walker may need your passport number, its expiry date and your date-of-birth here — so please have these handy, given that border protocols have changed dramatically in 2017.

Facilities & Accommodations

SUNY Potsdam (State University of New York) conference facility, nearby riverside pub/restaurant, and backyard BBQ/food!

Wi-Fi and hopefully also wireline Ethernet will be provided, so don't let our http://OFF.NETWORK Content Hackathon name scare you too much (though offline dogfooding of all our community products IS encouraged!)

Contact Adam (holt @ or Martin Walker (walkerma @ to arrange hotel options or university dorms. There is excellent & affordable university dorm possible in Sisson Hall (in limited numbers, over most nights!) for those who RSVP'd early in June. The prices will be $25/person/night if you share a 2-person room, or $40/night for a 1-person room. These have the advantage of being a five minute walk from the hackathon location in Raymond Hall.

Contact us *immediately* if you want us to reserve you a room!

Martin recommends the following options for hotels, which should be booked through Martin if you wish to receive the college's reduced room rate. He will arrange a car ride to campus for you if necessary, but obviously the further hotels would work better if you have your own car. There are occasional buses, also, but these may entail walking 1 km from downtown.

  • Clarkson Inn - a Victorian-style hotel near the river and downtown, only 1 km from the campus, this is the best hotel option if you plan to walk in each day.
  • Northern Family Motel - this is the most affordable and convenient for all (contact holt @ to ASAP to lock in their discount rate we've arranged for evening of Thur Aug 17th especially!)
  • Potsdam Inn - a great affordable option, but 4 km from campus.
  • Scottish Inns - another decent option, about 4 km from campus.
  • Hampton Inn - more expensive than the above, but approaches $40/person/night if 3-4 people share a room; it's close to shops and my house, and it's about 3 km from campus.
  • 1844 House - a fine restaurant with a small hotel attached, about 9 km from campus.

There are a few other small motels, etc. - by all means check with Martin if you find an alternative place you'd like to book.

Also feel free to post to the Talk Page.


Wikipedia & Wikimedia Foundation
  • Professor Martin Walker, leader of the original Wikipedia 1.0 offlining. We produced selections of Wikipedia content in the past such as Version 0.8, but this required expert manual work to prepare it for Kiwix use - and we can no longer do this. I'd like us to have tools to generate easily Kiwix releases of article selections, ideally including landing page, manual changes, revID control, indexes, etc.
  • Subramanya Sastry (Subbu) who manages the Parsing team; C. Scott Ananian who is also on the parsing team might participate remotely for some of the days.
  • Anne Gomez, leads the New Readers team
  • Stephen Niedzielski or anyone he recommends from Wikimedia's Mobile App Team?
  • SJ Klein, former Community Trustee, who works with http://DP.LA (Digital Public Library of America)
  • <WMF tools guy / Wiki Data person from India?>
  • Samuel Alce? (Haiti)
  • Joel Steres? pioneer in offlining of OSM subsetting & searching (USA)
Education / Internet-in-a-Box (formerly One Laptop Per Child's School Server Community Edition)
  • Adam Holt, Community Catalyst (Haiti)
  • Tim Moody, Content Engineering (Lebanon)
  • George Hunt, Hardware/OS Integration (USA)
  • Jerry Vonau, Network/OS Integration (Canada)
  • Anish Mangal? Field implementation engineering (India)
  • Mark Roden? Wikipedia subsetting (CA & CA)
  • Reno McKenzie, UX engineering (USA)
  • Josh Dennis, Raspberry Pi packaging (Myanmar)
  • César Octavio López Natarén, UX engineering (Chiapas, Mexico)
  • Nick Doiron? Front-end engineer (Mongolia)
  • David Dutkovsky? (Czech Republic)
  • Kiky Wang? (Taiwan)
  • Carolina Brum? Field engineer (Brazil)
  • Avni Khatri? Kids on Computers, President (Mexico)
  • Douglas Scott? strongly recommends these 3, working on offline education/Wikipedia:
    • Michael Graaf (South Africa) - deploys WikiFundi in South African schools, attending Wikimania too. Is part of a student team launching iNethi ("Net" in IsiXhosa) - a TV whitespace mesh cloudlet including the relevant schools, which does have a gateway but wants to host as much as possible (including social media - Diaspora, RocketChat) locally, to reduce data costs and latency, as well as to preserve a sense of ownership.
    • Andy Rabagliati? (South Africa)
    • Ian Gilfillan? (South Africa)
  • Paul LaGrange? (global PC refurbishing)
  • Denny Baumann? (Haiti)
  • Florence Devouard, (talk page) coordinates WikiFundi for Africa especially (France)
  • Gabriel Thullen (GastelEtzwane), Documentation! (CH)
KA Lite / Kolibri / Learning Equality

<email holt @ if you'd like to join, Thanks!>

"Secrets of Open Source" Brown Bag Lunches

Lunch+Learn lightning talks from premier Offlining Experts (that might be you!) offer immediate skillsharing among the wider group, and will occur every day at 12 Noon including a brown-bag lunch.

Implementation/UX themes are as important as infratech/tooling to achieve our impact in offline communities in the end, so we've made a point to include very diverse "fieldback" (implementer) perspectives as well as software (engineering) perspectives every day.

All should be live-streamed (if all goes well!) and will undergo professional post-production, published to YouTube and/or etc — within days if not hours after they occur.

 12:00-12:15 Doc James Heilman & Sam Zidovetzki - Medical Results in DR & Guatemala
 12:15-12:30 Anne Gomez - Existential Challenges & Strategic Opportunities
 12:30-12:45 Emmanuel Engelhart - wp1 selection tools + mwoffliner = make your own selection
 12:00-12:15 Josh Dennis, Cesar Nataren & Rick Castorani - Why do we care...about schools in Myanmar, Mexico & Nicaragua?
 12:15-12:30 Reno McKenzie & Mark Roden - Docker vs Vagrant (and how communities can use them together!)
 12:30-12:45 Guillaume Thiolliere - pibox-installer
 12:00-12:15 Ivan Savov - KA Lite to Kolibri: new infrastructure for offline learning
 12:15-12:30 SJ Klein & Martin Walker - MOOC/OER Globalization + Curation Nation
 12:30-12:45 Tim Moody - Internet-in-a-Box of Alexandria: iiab-factory tools to build your own!
 12:00-12:15 Samuel Alce - Offline OpenStreetMap in Haiti
 12:15-12:30 Mark Hershberger - Offline MediaWiki on the Intl Space Station
 12:30-12:45 Adam Holt & Don Watkins - From $100 Laptops to $10 Libraries of Congress

Q&A can continue after 12:45PM (or whatever chosen time) if necessary, but please note the live stream and video cameras will be cut then. So that all who want, are 100% free to enjoy their late summer in Upstate New York — e.g. walking along (or even swimming in) the etc — prior to Diving Back In for another afternoon of productive hacking!


Offliners R Us, bringing digital sanity (quality content, open infrastructure) to offline populations everywherever we can!

Please join our 11AM NYC Time voice calls on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month (contact: holt @ if you can help refine this arc of achievable opportunities in 2017, possibly including:

  • kiwix-serve on ARM?  
  • mwoffliner: specific enhancements? Include CScott's node-libzim for speed etc?
  • searching across ZIMs? ("imminent: approx April 2017")   (in zimlib, still ne UI integration in multiple ports)
  • Unified Catalog ("imminent: incl OPDS integration approx May 2017") for IdeasCube catalog of content (even if their catalog also indexes other things)
    • basis for Internet-in-a-Box rating/commenting of {Content Packs, ZIMs}. While ensuring is offered long-term for both kinds of ZIMs (legacy ZIMs, and ZIMs that include the index within the file)
    • Internet-in-a-Box integration of ZIMs that include index (also support legacy ZIMs?)
    • Common standard / alignment with Kolibri channels, w/ LE team (see Kiwix-Kolibri integration)
  • WikiMed app (very high priority, many of us polishing w/ Doc James Heilman)
  • Mark Roden (with Reno McKenzie) ask about:
    • Monthly publication of Wikipedia data aggregation to generate stats, to generate offline connections/collections (stale since June 2016)  
    • FTP server ( not working: e.g. you can log in but can't do anything else  
  • ZimIT improvements? (very challenging, might require more Python expertise)
  • and similar Home Server peer community curation action, driven by Internet-in-a-Box regional global leaders
  • Rapid-Deploy Containerization norms & best practices, among our broadening global community
  • Offline Editing using git, WikiFundi & similar with Mark Hershberger, C. Scott Ananian & Michael Graaf
  • Documentation, oral history, and journalism - please be ready to concisely state your contribution to this project. Blue Rasberry (talk)
  • Cue cards or maximum 1 page sheets on how to use or install Kiwix. Also produce a step-by-step "how to" for building Kiwix wifi servers. GastelEtzwane (talk)
  • How can we reach end users who have no internet access ? GastelEtzwane (talk) 17:07, 15 July 2017 (CEST)
  • Kiwix-Kolibri integration - see: KiwixKolibri


  • Emmanuel
    • zimfarm 1.0 out
    • Wikimed on iOS planning
    • Wikimed extension tech planning
    • First TOP Wikipedia article selections
    • Relaunch of
    • Implement a few more metada (see Catalog) in ZIM files
  • Chris
    • zimfarm 1.0
    • libkiwix for iOS
    • Kiwix for iOS on iOS 11
    • Wikimed app for iOS
  • Isaac
    • Kiwix for Android 3.0
  • Matthieu
  • Guillaume

Achievements / Impact

Costs & Sponsorship

This event is being organized entirely by volunteers, who began investing heavily in Potsdam, NY starting February 2017.

However there will be some small costs for transportation, food and accommodations.

SUNY Potsdam's facilities are fundamentally making this all possible!

We are very hopeful that certain costs will be defrayed by the Wikimedia Foundation and Learning Equality, but more later once that's hopefully confirmed.

Please contact holt @ for more details!