Cristian Baldi

I am going to CERN!

In less than a week I will be at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Genève (Switzerland) to attend a Sprint: for a whole week I will work with great people on WikiToLearn an even greater project!

You may ask: «What does all of this mean?»
Let me try to explain everything to you!


WikiToLearn Logo

WikiToLearn as a content creator

WikiToLearn is an open platform where everyone, from students to teachers, can collaborate together to create free and open learning resources, on various academic topics. To keep it simple: think something like Wikipedia for text books.

Let me start by saying that I love the idea at the base of WikiToLearn. For a few years already I have dedicated some of my free time at crafting learning material for my classmates (and of course for me): this is because many of the books that we had in school were (IMHO) bad and most of the time not clear at all.

WikiToLearn lets me keep doing what I love at an even greater scale, reaching an even bigger audience (potentially every student in the world), while at the same time letting everyone chip in and edit and improve what I created. I make mistakes, a lot of them.

Right now I have not yet added much to WikiToLearn (I probably have something like 2 edits) because I have not produced anything worthy since the start of University, but I am planning to add some material from the start of the next semester when the interesting stuff begins (Algorithms and Computer Architecture).

WikiToLearn as a developer

WikiToLearn is also a great and beautiful idea on the technical side, an open source project spanning on multiple topics (web development, virtualization, document parsing, content generation, sysadmining and much much more): we use many modern technologies, together with some magic and the hope that everything does not break, to bring the final user the best experience.

On these few months that I worked on WikiToLearn I have not done many big changes, and I tried to work where there was need, as a sort of factotum. I fixed some CSS, changed a few Dockerfiles, and created PDFCheck, a script to automatically verify if recently edited pages can or can't be converted to PDF, informing the user if the latter happens.

Right now I am in the process of migrating the discussion engine of the Wiki from one extension (LiquidThreads, old, abandoned, incomplete) to another (Flow, much better), trying not to break everything and without losing any precious data.

I can definitely say that WikiToLearn is the project that every developer would want to (and should) work on.

We go by the motto "Release early, release often!", but sometimes it really is "Release early, release often, release broken!"

WikiToLearn as a human

Yes, after all, I am an human ...

Another great thing about WikiToLearn is its community.

The people behind WikiToLearn are passionate, helpful, amazing: they love what they are doing.

I am very proud to be part of this community, and I would like to see you too in it.


KDE Logo

KDE is one of the biggest open source community in the world. Home of many great open projects (Plasma, for example, the most beautiful DE for Linux at the moment), KDE is also collaborating with other worldwide open source communities: the most famous it probably Wikimedia.

As many others, WikiToLearn is one of the projects that lives within the KDE community. Because of this, KDE is sponsoring a part of this Sprint: I have to thank them for this!

The Sprint @ CERN

Wow, that's big!

What is a Sprint

A sprint is very much like a long-lasting gathering for the members of a community.

This year we (~50 developers, editors, visual designers from all over the world) assemble from the 7th to the 13th of March: we get to know each other, spending time and working together on the projects we like: it really is a next level experience to work "in real life" and not from remote.

This is my first Sprint, but I already know I will love it: I can't wait to meet everyone and make some big steps with WikiToLearn and KDE.

Why at the CERN?

WikiToLearn is deeply connected with the CERN, from what I understand they really like our project and decided to offer us the space to host the Sprint: another big "Thank You" from me to them!

It will be a great experience to work in such an amazing environment, in a place where many great minds lived and did marvellous things for the world of science.

We will even get to visit the LHC and the CMS. I know nothing about them, but they look cool, so I am excited!!

What I will be doing

While at this Sprint I will probably work on two things:

  • WikiToLearn Infrastructure: we have to reorganize the WikiToLearn backend environment, because there are new needs to satisfy and because we just got some new powerful servers. I will try to help Luca Toma, our sysadmin: I say "try" because he knows very much about everything and I know mostly nothing about this sysadmin stuff.
  • WikiToLearn Skin: we want to create a new skin for the WikiToLearn Website. We like the one we are currently using, but we think we can make something better, suited just for our needs, using modern web technologies.

Also, I will try to keep this blog updated: the idea is to make a post every day but it could be very hard to keep this promise. An easier task is probably to post some pictures on my Instagram profile.

Thank you for reading!