The relationship between the real and the virtual is a fluid terrain about which many people ask themselves: some live in the virtual world as a way to threaten the real one; others see it as a great opportunity.
In this second group, without doubt, is Lettera27, a non-profit institution started in 2006 with the mission of furthering the right to teach literacy skills, to instruction, and, in general, promote access to knowledge and information.
On the occasion of the eleventh Festival of Literature in Mantua (Festivaletteratura di Mantova), the Lettera27 foundation has collaborated with Wikimedia Italia on a series of workshops known as WAW, which stands for WikiAfrica Workshop. This is part of the larger WikiAfrica project, which promotes the "Africanization" of Wikipedia by means of networks, research, publications, and events.Wikipedia is the most well-known online encyclopedia and to "Africanize" it means to activate a network of human, African, and worldwide resouces consisting of intellectuals, artists, writers, musicians, anthropologists, historians, researchers, students, local officials, and enthusiasts who are able to contribute to an increase in the number of voices speaking about the culture, history, languages, and traditions of Africa.
The workshops have produced new content through a process of collaborative writing that takes place both online and offline and is structured as follows: a speaker or lecturer introduces a topic or a particular line of argument, the various participants contribute to a better understanding of it, and a Wikipedia administrator provides information on formatting and the rules for Wiki projects. During the workshop, the editors of Lettera27 put the content online, while a cameraman films the event.
In an interview that appears in "Colibri" (a newsletter issued by the Filofestival of Mantua), Iolanda Pensa, who is the scientific director of the WikiAfrica project, was asked if the project didn't run the risk of imposing a Western viewpoint. This was her answer: "It is difficult to imagine anything more historically 'Western' than an encyclopedia. But the 'modify' key on the keyboard is critical. If Wikipedia is not able to accept a 'non-Western' viewpoint (if that is what we want to call it), perhaps it can at least reveal a shining truth, which is that changing history, encyclopedias, and knowledge itself is indeed possible, but that at the very least it requires a click."
In any milieu of exchange and wide "virtual" horizons, Moleskine notebooks must be present, as a kind of analog root. All the participants in the workshop were able to write down their thoughts in a personalized cahier-style journal with the WikiAfrica logo.
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