Proposed dates: A weekend between June 21 and August 21, including the last one in June, five in July, and the first three in August. Late June (22-26) and mid-July (13-17) were picked as sample weekends for this bid.
Boston is one of the oldest and largest metropolitan centers in the United States, with over 2 million people in the Greater Boston area. It is known by many names and stories -- the Cradle of Liberty for its role in the American Revolution; the City on the Hill; The Hub, an affectionately humorous local reference to its supposed status as Hub of the Universe; Beantown for its fondness for baked beans (leading, no doubt, to the Great Molasses Flood of 1919).
Berkman is a young addition to the law school focusing on the intersection of law and technology with society; this past spring Jimbo became a non-resident fellow there. Harvard is a venerable institution in the center of Cambridge, Massachusetts (part of Greater Boston), studded with idiosyncracies and wine cellars.
The HLS campus is just north of Harvard Yard, in Harvard Square, and west of the university's science buildings. The campus stretching north from Harvard Yard to the end of the law school, and east to Sanders Theater, containing all of the buildings mentioned below, is connected by footpaths and unbroken by streets.
The Media Lab, founded in 1985, focuses on interdisciplinary research, including the future of publishing, wearable computers, and human-computer interaction. MIT has grown steadily in popularity since moving across the river to its current Cambridge location on the bank of the Charles River.
Rooms: We could have the main event in Berkman's Austin Hall, with Sanders Theater or the nearby Science Center audioria for the opening and plenary sessions. Austin has space for four large parallel sessions, with videoconferencing in each room -- good for involving guests who cannot be there in person.
The Hacking Days could be held at MIT, or in the Computer Science department at Harvard; where there are great wired discussion spaces available.
Large satellite events could be held at various auditoria around MIT and Harvard; there are many independent groups interested in helping run a related event.
There are some great organization rooms both on Harvard campus (in dorms, and in the computer science building) and on MIT campus (if part of the conference is held there). There is active, funded support from both staff and grad students at both universities, if we need it.
Budget: All spaces at the law school would be free, as would basic tech and staff support. Most spaces at MIT would be free as well (including classrooms, the Media Lab atrium, and the campuses most beautiful large auditorium).
Using Sanders Theater as a plenary space
Using Science Center B as a large hall
400+ beds in HLS dorms, 100m from the venue
~$40/person/night (singles, some cheaper doubles. negotiation possible.)
100+ dorm rooms in Lesley College dorms 2 blocks away
~$30/person/night (depends on bldg and dates)
100-400 beds on MIT campus, 2 miles away (15 min via subway & foot)
$20-$60/person/night (cheaper for programs at MacGregor, for instance; probably all doubles)
Fees for overtime tech support/video & videoconf support/union catering
$500 - $2k/day, depending on use.
Parties (speaker/sponsor for 75 people; general party or 300 people)
Venues sponsored; $5k for food and music.
Sponsorship: Staff and faculty support from the Berkman Center. Large party offered by the Media Lab; extensive support (space, equipment, etc) from their Electronic Publishing group. Financial support interest from MIT's Tech Review, IBM Research, Novell. Other support (inviting speakers, sponsoring art and technology exhibits, Spanish language support, &c.) from the W3C, the DeCordova Museum, and many academic projects [MIT's Education Arcade, the Free Biology project, Harvard's [iic.harvard.edu/ Initiative in Innovative Computing], ...].
In-kind support from vendors, such as subsidized pizza (Beauty's) and ice cream (Toscanini's), are both possible.
Global scope: Latin American groups at the Kennedy School of Government and BU's international relations department, international clubs at Harvard, MIT, and BU; and Boston cultural organizations can help develop networks with countries from which we want attendees to come. They can also connect with mass media in the United States in a dozen languages, to make sure the diverse communities within the country know about the event.
contact: egeorge (at) cyber.law.harvard.edu
We have access to and free use of many buildings and rooms on the Law School campus. The two most promising are Austin Hall and Pound Hall. Pound Hall is modern, with more rooms (6 presentation rooms in all) and a function room upstairs, for a 1000-person total capacity; Austin Hall is a stunning building, with 4 large rooms and videoconferencing support in each one, and a capacity of 750. Note that no streets have to be crossed to get to any of the buildings mentioned below.
Unless otherwise noted, capacities below are for auditorium seating. More chairs can almost always be provided. For multipurpose rooms, receptions can generally fit 20% more people than that capacity. Distances given are from Austin Hall on the Law School campus (map), the most likely main hall, 50m from the Berkman Center.
Austin Hall for parallel sessions. A Science Center auditorium or Sanders Theater for plenary and opening/closing sessions (50m or 100m away). Ropes Gray (in Pound Hall) for other large gatherings and receptions.
Meals outside, in Ropes Gray, or in the HLS Harkness cafeteria.
I. Major halls:
Sanders Theater seats 1050 in both tiers, or 700 just on the lower level. Fabulous acoustics; two levels of seating. Not hard to book this far in advance; daytime bookings even easier. $965 a day; less if locally organized by a student-group. Contact : Ruth Polleys, polleys [@] fas.harvard
Distance : 100m. A/V support : great support for elaborate miking, staged events, mixed media. Drop-down stage-length screen.
The Ropes Gray Room on the 3rd floor of Pound Hall is a two-level function room. Space for 450, with unusually-shaped balconied space well-suited to receptions and poster presentations. HLS; Distance: 50m
MIT's Kresge Auditorim - A beautifully architected space; room for 1100+ people. Suitable for a large presentation, display, or performance.
Austin Hall's Ames Courtroom - seats 295, A/V/VC (videoconferencing) built in... as are the shelves of law texts in the background. The main hall during parallel sessions. (Austin hall also has 3 large classrooms seating 200/140/140; see below.)
The Kennedy School of Government has a significant forum, with floor and elevated seating; can manage 500+ people depending on the viewing setup (with video monitors on the upper floors, more), and has extensive attached space for food/drinks to be laid out on the ground floor.
Free for suitable talks; must convince IOP. Distance : 5 blocks. A/V support : excellent sound, videography. Multiple simultaneous-projection screens, good acoustics. Best suited to a parallel evening or lunch event touching on politics, making use of some of the speakers who have come for Wikimania.
II. Presentation and other rooms (all part of HLS)
Austin Hall : Three large classrooms, North, East and West (seating 200, 139, and 137) together seat over 450, all with A/V/VC.
Also in Austin Hall: Morgan Courtroom (30, A/V/VC) and two seminar rooms (20, 14). An excellent room for small international videoconf meetings, such as focused chapter and project discussions.
Langdell Hall : two classrooms, North and South, each seat 160 (A/V)
III. Hacking days
Requirements for a good hacking environment are slightly different; access after normal work hours, tech books and flatscreens rather than legal archives in the background, lounges and whiteboards. A vending machine full of ice cream. MIT has such spaces all over campus. The Harvard CS department at Harvard has such space just abutting the Law School, in the Maxwell-Dworkin building.
@ MIT: The new Stata Center has many cool rooms suitable from anywhere from 10 to 60 people, clusters of rooms for breakout sessions, &c. It is beautiful and quirky, with wireless everywhere.
There are also spaces in the Media Lab for events, but not really for large groups working together.
The large and beautiful Kresge Auditorium is available, if any hacking-days event would draw such a crowd.
@ Harvard: Maxwell-Dworkin has two suitable seminar rooms:
Rm 132: 2nd-floor conference room, seating 30 at around-table. A/V is easy to set up. A lounge (seating 25) with wall-length whiteboard is outside; grad student offices make up the rest of that part of the building.
Rm 219: One floor up, a similar space, also with lounge outside. Slightly less equipment.
IV. Other rooms (organisation, staff, speakers, interviews/press, storage):
Baker House - rooms in Berkman itself will be available, if needed.
Thayer Hall - the Computer Society office in the basement has space for ~10 people and a dozen computers; could be used for organization before/during the Hacking Days.
Maxwell-Dworkin - the conference room here is two buildings away from the venue and dorms, and very quiet.
There are three-room apartments in one of the adjacent law school dorms; a pair of these would make a fine operations center.
There are multiple small rooms directly in Austin (and Pound) Hall; for speakers, for interviews, and for organization/storage right next to the ongoing sessions.
Radio interview room - Harvard's News division oversees a soundproofed interview room that radio stations use to schedule interviews.
Extremely fast wired and wireless internet connectivity will be provided
The Berkman center and the Computer Science department have experience with broadcasting audio and video, with videoconferencing for remote participants, and organizing live transcriptions.
A/V equipment for lectures, including videoconferencing, is a permanent part of Austin Hall.
All residence halls offer free wireless and wired Internet for conference attendees. There are terminals available in an adjacent building (Harkness Commons) for those without their own machines.
There are many special (and sometimes random) facilities available on campus. A technology center with varieties of scanners and readers, particularly focused on instruction for the disabled; a professional radio interview room; a printing center with good rates on posters/flyers [posters from a Spring talk by Jimbo were done by them, at rates better than Kinko's']; a free online uplink to multilingual international TV stations for anyone within the university network; ...
There is a local uplink to the "oh so 2001" Internet2 backbone; if you can think of a high-bandwidth high-reliability application that would make use of it, this may be of interest to all involved.
Fees in general
By coordinating with the local tech support and catering crews, we can provide our own volunteer support for many things. We can also pay for catering and A/V work through the Law School.
There will be some mandatory technical/catering/overtime fees depending on what we need and how late we use various facilities. For instance, union rules state that meals in the Ropes Gray room must be catered by the university; and certain tech facilities (for broadcasting audio over room speakers in certain Pound rooms, for instance) require a campus technician, not just a volunteer trained in using the existing setup.
Distance from mainline railway and intercity bus terminal: 4 miles from South Station.
Subway: The area is served by two subway stations on the same line. It is 300m from the Harvard Square station. Two buses stop directly outside Baker House, travelling along Massachusetts Avenue.
The airport, intercity bus and railway terminals are both accessible by Boston's subway, the MBTA, and the ride between them is fairly easy.
Cost of travel
Below are estimated round-trip travel costs from all continents, searching an american travel site (searching for the dates 6/22 to 6/26 and 7/12 to 7/18).
Comparing airfare rates over the first week of August, which the Toronto bid used as a guide, round-trips to Boston are $100 to $250 cheaper from major US and South American cities; around $100 cheaper from South Africa and Asia; and likewise cheaper from many European cities (exception: London).
Having the conference in June (as the Boston bid suggests), rather than in August, would shave an extra $100+ off of flights from Europe, to both cities.
By subway, one can get from the airport to HLs in 45 minutes for $1.25. The Silver Line bus goes right from the airport terminals to South Station, with a free transfer to the Red Line to Harvard. Intercity trains and buses run to South Station.
There are shuttles from the Airport to Cambridge hotels; and others can be arranged ahead of time for $15 per person.
Accomodations <-> HLS
HLS is less than 1 block from the dorms; less than 10 blocks from nearby hotels and B&Bs (and local couches); and 1 mile / 15 minutes from the YMCA.
Other inexpensive hostels and lodgings are 2-5 miles, or 30-45 minutes, away.
contact: egeorge (at) cyber.law.harvard.edu
Main accommodations: The most convenient accomodation is in dormitories on and near the law school campus, in the middle of the university (within a stone's throw of the venues above); and with other local attendees.
Dorm details: ~$40 per person per night for singles in law school dorms. Doubles available for around 50% more. Price could be negotiated if we wait to see what weekends are low demand. 400+ beds (out of 690 total) will definitely be available, regardless of which weekend it is. We could fill a set of 5 connected dorms (390 beds). Dorms provide free wireless 'net access; and basement function rooms/lounges suitable for all sorts of things.
Local Wikipedians' homes: Many among the large (and multilingual) local crowd have offered accommodation at unbeatable rates. Also a nice way for guests to feel more at home in the local community. So far, 12 couches/beds in 7 homes/dorms have been offered. Considering the recent success of finding housing for attendees at this weekend's Startup Bootcamp and last weekend's GNOME conference, we could find space for 50 visitors this way (and it would be fun ;).
Other dorms : Lesley College has dorms 2 blocks from the Law School, which are slightly cheaper; ~100 rooms would be available in 2 buildings for $30/night. MIT also has a good deal of space, but it is 15 min away from Harvard. Still useful for a developer's event held @ MIT.
Local hotels: There are a few large hotels in Boston. The closest is the Cambridge YMCA (in Central Square), with rooms from $25/night, 15 min from Harvard Square by foot or take the #1 bus direct, down Mass. Ave at a cost of less than $1.
Hotels, B&Bs: Harvard is surrounded by excellent hotels and bed & breakfasts. The Charles Hotel, the Inn @ Harvard, the Harvard Square Hotel, and the Sheraton Commander are all within a few blocks of the venue. Non-group rates in summertime : around ~$120 for a double and $180 for a quad. We could get a group rate for a dozen people, if we have that many speakers to put up.
Nearby B&Bs are quite small, but might be nice to rent for clusters of special guests. (cf. Irving House, et al). $60-$150/night with quiet locations and great service; some are less than a mile away (up Oxford Street, up Garden St).
The Cambridge Tourism board has a list of accomodations that people can match to their price level.
Catering and meals
The nearest campus cafeteria to the venue, Harkness Commons, serves meals during the week. Group catered meals can be arranged for $8-$15 for lunch; we can do better by finding our own vendor. Food packages are available through Harvard kitchens, but are expensive (individual cost: $7/$12/$18 breakfast/lunch/dinner).
Local restaurants and food prices : A meal in Cambridge can cost anywhere from $6 to $25. One can get a perfectly good dinner across the street from the law school for $10 at any of a variety of restaurants. Discounts may be available from a friendly gourmet pizza house (~$4/person) and ice cream store (good friends with User:Mysekurity).
Dinner parties, receptions, and events
MIT Media Lab : space for 300 in the atrium; an event there would be free. We could have a party there one evening, and also smaller group tours on other occasions (when people were in their labs).
The DeCordova Museum : an inspiring space; home to a 35-acre sculpture park, and a beautiful gallery and terrace which together double as a site for functions. Could fit 300 people and a band. Sponsorship interest.
Large function halls >150 people
Casual and fun outdoor events can be held in public, open spaces likes the Hatchshell on the Charles River or at JFK Park, both within walking distance of the HLS (5-15 minutes).
The Children's Museum (250 people, Boston), Good Times (500 people, Somerville [walking distance]) - all regularly rented out.
Walker Memorial (400+ people, MIT)
Annenberg Hall (800+ people, Harvard, has attached kitchen)
Smaller functions <150 people
Dinner events on/near campus are often held at the Faculty Club, 3 blocks away; cost depending on size, bar, and complexity. There is space for 100 people in an event room below ground, for 60-80 on the first floor, and smaller meeting rooms upstairs.
Elegant events can be held in the Fogg Art Museum (warm, cultured, full of art) or in Adolphus Busch Hall (a medieval stone chapel, sobering in its beauty, extremely resonant). The former is considered one of the most elegant places in the area for private functions, charity events, or the occasional wedding reception; suitable perhaps for a charity dinner for the conference.
A short bus or subway ride away, the Museum of Science has a lovely function room that holds about 100, with a beautiful view of the Charles River & Boston. jkb highly recommends it, especially at sunset... a contact at the Museum suggests that sponsorship could be worked out; perhaps jointly with another sponsor. The M of S very friendly to educational projects and interested in ways of using Wikipedia in their youth programs.
The Caspersen Room in Harvard Law School's Langdell Library is a beautiful room, often hosting various art and other exhibits, frequently used for elegant receptions and dinners associated with conferences. It can easily hold 150 for a reception, probably more.
Local collaboration and sponsorship
This section lists definite commitments made. There is active interest from dozens of other groups around Boston; for a full list, see the page for local sponsors.
The Berkman Center has been generous with offers of space and time. We have the use of any rooms we need, and in the past two weeks have already had significant support from the Center's managing director (Colin Maclay) and staff. Contact: Colin Maclay, Erica George
The MIT Media Lab a number of WP fans. General media lab support could help out with hacking days, for instance; a much larger body of wiki hackers can be found around campus there.
The Electronic Publishing lab in particular is keen on supporting a conference 'in any way they can'; WP, a unified translation dictionary, and other projects are diretly tied into their work this year and in the near future. Contact: Benjamin Mako Hill
The $100 laptop project wants to work more closely with WP, for integration of content and possible development of richer interface layers. Contact: Alan Kay
The Church research groups at Harvard Medical School & FreeBiology project : interested in directly promoting MediaWiki development and the conference; can for instance fund a grad student to work on the event if needed. Contact: Sasha Wait
MIT's Education arcade: commitments of time and support. Could find funding for Wikimania speakers via their education/collaboration grantors. 'What can we do to help?' Contact: Ravi Puroshotma
The Harvard Computer Society: Office space all week; basic tech gear & expertise.
The World Wide Web Consortium: Moral support; speaker support, with a particular interest in internationalization.
The Free Software Foundation: 'How can we help?'
IBM Research: details pending a discussion with one of the decision-makers next week.
Widener Library, with the world's largest single-building collection; and fantastic multilingual manuscript archives. Widener Library has one of nine known copies of the Gutenberg Bible in North America. Other excellent specialized libraries on campus.
3 museums directly on campus next to the site. The Harvard Museum of Natural History (with its amazing glass flowers exhibit), the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology are less than a block from the venue; suitable for a lunchtime visit. There is also a nearby botanical center.
Landmarks/sights : Cambridge has many historical attractions, most or all very close to MIT and Harvard. Harvard itself is a historical landmark, as are the many statues nearby.
MIT museum, sites, and sights 2 miles away.
Wonderful architecture throughout MIT, Harvard, and BU campuses; many sights to see even within their walls.
Exciting laboratories; the robotics labs at Harvard and MIT, the Media Lab (a proper tour can take all afternoon); BU's magnificent biology labs & collections.
Innumerable bars and clubs in Harvard and Central Sq. (15-20 minutes on foot, 5-10 minutes by subway), many with live music (from pop to jazz to R&B), with lively weekend crowds (young and old, students/visitors and locals); many more downtown (20-30 minutes by subway).
Exhibits: the Mercator Globes and related ancient maps; ...
The Boston Museum of Science, which does events with local organizations to allow people entrance to a special exhibit and getting into the museum.
Shopping: Visit Newbury Street for the latest in fashion, and to just grab a bite at a bistro/cafe. Boston has many amazing stores and shopping centers, all within very short walking distance of the conference center.
Outdoor fun: hiking, the Emerald necklace, beaches, waterfront, sailing (very inexpensive on the Charles through Community Boating Inc., see http://www.community-boating.org ), July 4th fireworks (among the biggest in the US, with over a million gathered along the river last year), free concerts at the Hatch Shell, free Shakespeare plays on the Boston common , etc.
Immigrant communities: Chinatown, North End, a large Brazilian/Portugese community in Cambridge (Inman Sq. area), and many others.
The Old City downtown. Fanueil Hall & Quincy Market.
Parallel conferences & events
The American Bar Association's summer Intellectual Property Law conference [June 21-25, Marriott Copley]
Boston Harborfest [June 28-July 4, the waterfront] : 200+ events over a long week, including the annual Chowderfest (Mm-mmmm!). Relive the revolution-era escape of Loyalist families, and enjoy one of a dozen walking tours of different historic parts of the city. Over 300,000 people turn out along the banks of the Charles River for the July 4 fireworks; enjoy the crowds and the car-free roads, and listen to Boston's Mayor read the Declaration of Independence from the Old State House balcony, where it was first read on July 18, 1776.
Bastille Day celebration [July 15, Boston Harbor Hotel]: Papa Wemba, Emeline Michel and Daby Toure headline the annual party in downtown Boston, put on by the French Library/Boston French Center.
August in Chinatown : the annual Chinatown festival and August Moon festival
One hurdle for a cheap conference with limited space to overcome, is the preponderance of locals who see it as a nice way to enrich a weekend, taking spaces that others would gladly travel thousands of miles for.
Large community of librarians/information professionals interested in the technology/Wikimedia (we can publicize this to thousands of local l/ips; many of these will show up.)
Large community of university students (~150,000), many fans of wikis and the projects. A no-fee conference could probably saturate all available space with students in town.
A hub of Web activity for over a decade; full of post-bust dot-com geeks and the next generation of same. Pros who want to know about wikis, perhaps at length, and would come to a practical track.
There may be >1000 in town over the summer with interest in attending. Taking advantage of this, a handful of public lectures aside from the conference itself will help alleviate this attendee-pressure, and generate extra publicity and funds for the project.