Like you, I've been an accidental user of Wikipedia when searching for a topic to learn more about. Over time I have started actively searching on Wikipedia for things, linking to Wikipedia articles (in email and HTML), and even saying thank you with a small donation. I've only attended one of the local DC chapter events before, but am definitely planning on attending the DC event to meet other people who value Wikipedia as a resource.
Perhaps also like you (since you are reading this blog) I also work in a cultural heritage organization, well a library to be precise. I wasn't able to attend the recent Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums & Wikimedia conference at the British Museum last November. But I have been listening to the audio that they kindly provided recently with great interest. If you are interested in the role that cultural heritage organizations can play on Wikipedia, and the Web in general definitely check it out if you've got a long commute (or time to kill) and a audio device of some kind. There are lots of museums, galleries, archives and libraries in the DC area, so I'm hoping that this event on the 22nd will be an opportunity for folks to get together across institutional lines to talk about how they are engaging with the Wikipedia community. Who knows maybe it could be a precursor to a similar to GLAM-WIKI here in DC?
I'm planning on doing a lightning talk about this side/experimental project I've been working on called linkypedia. The basic idea is to give web publishers (and specifically cultural heritage organizations like libraries, museums, archives, etc) an idea of how their content is being used as primary resource material on Wikipedia. The goal is to validate the work that these institutions have done to make this content available, and for them to do more...and also to engage with the Wikipedia community. Version 1 of the (opensource) software is running at here on my minimal Linode VPS. But I'm also working on version 2, which will hopefully scale a bit better, and provide a more global (not just English Wikipedia) and real time picture of how your stuff is being used on Wikipedia. Part of the challenge is figuring out how to pay for it, given the volume of external links in the major language Wikipedias. I'm hoping a tip-jar and thoughtful use of Amazon EC2 will be enough.
If you are interested in learning more about the event on the 22nd check out Katie Filbert's recent post to the Sunlight Labs Discussion List, and the (ahem) wiki page to sign up! Thanks Mark for letting me know about the birthday celebration last week in IRC. Sometimes with all the discussion lists, tweets, and blogs things like this slip by without me noticing them. So a direct prod in IRC helps :-)