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Sydneysider Mary Gardiner, a well-known figure in Australian FOSS circles, has been chosen to give the opening keynote at Wikimania, the international conference for Wikipedia-related projects, in Washington DC in July.

Gardiner is a long-time member of the Sydney Linux User Group, an office-bearer of Linux Australia, and a regular member of the technical panel that chooses talks for the annual Australian national Linux conference.

Last year Gardiner, along with Linux kernel developer Valerie Aurora, set up The Ada Initiative, a project to help increase the participation of women in technology. The project was born after several incidents of sexist behaviour towards women at FOSS events.

Gardiner (below) is currently working towards a doctorate at the Department of Computing at Macquarie University in Sydney with her major field of interest being computational linguistics.

Mary Gardiner

The audience at Wikimania will consist of the Wikimedia community and Tech@State participants who represent the convergence of diplomacy and development with technology, according to a media release from The Ada Initiative.

"We're very excited to have Mary Gardiner open the conference this year," says James Hare, co-ordinator of Wikimania 2012. "Mary has been a strong advocate for open source and has worked extensively to elevate the role of women and increase their participation in open source and open culture. Her work fits perfectly within our vision of empowering individuals around the world through free and open access to the sum of human knowledge. We look forward to welcoming her to Washington, DC."

Asked for her reaction, Gardiner told iTWire: "I'm extremely pleased to be the keynote speaker at Wikimania 2012. I've been involved in making small contributions to Wikipedia and similar projects (Wikitravel especially, which, I should note, is not a Wikimedia site) for many years, and I've always been thrilled by their success as a breakthrough open knowledge project. I'm very excited to (be able to) share the Ada Initiative's insights with the Wikimedia community."

Since 2005, Wikimania has been the premier annual international gathering of  experts, academics, and enthusiasts whose vision is to empower people around the world through free access to global knowledge. It previous years it has been held in Frankfurt, Boston, Taipei, Alexandria, Buenos Aires, Gdansk, and Haifa, according to a media release from Wikimedia DC.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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