Aug 04 2010
Contrary to popular and malicious rumors, I am not dead. I was just very tired after Wikimania
The conferences (plural) went well. I feel relieved and happy that the first conference I have ever chaired (WikiSym) came off without major hitches. It was a rush, checking on every session, solving every registration problem, ending up on stage half a dozen times for announcements and such — no time to be shy — and I am letting myself not worry too much about all the smaller things that could have been done better. I was thrilled at our group, which had great sessions and discussions and was active in making WikiSym productive and full of enthusiasm. Thank you, participants!
Wikimania was a blur, as usual, accentuated this time by the craziness of getting seated on the board. I talked to many people, though I don’t feel like it was enough; I stayed awake til dawn most nights (easy to do when the sun rises at 4); I never did find out where the PA system booth was, though I looked. (Wait, what? It is these kinds of questions that plague one as a quasi-organizer, which I was; though I did almost nothing on site, unlike the real organizers, who as usual deserve more thanks than they’ve gotten). A concert, a few meetings, a long and happy afternoon on the terrace with good friends, a few sessions unexpectedly moderated. A final world cup game outside on the big screen with dear friends and most of Gdansk: I celebrated with Spain because I could, joyously. It was great.
Three days then it’s done. Then a slower day, meetings with 2011′s team, communicating everything I think I might know about conferences, which is to say very little at this point. An early flight; saying goodbye to the lovely hotel where I lived and worked for two weeks; my turret room with the flight of stairs I climbed a million times, thankful for all my time at the gym this spring. To the staff. To the beautiful early mornings over the canals at Gdansk.
Then I went to Paris for two days to hang out lazily with my good friend Ellen at her apartment and it was wonderful. I stayed offline and we walked around the city and drank coffee and champagne for Bastille Day and I watched the fireworks go on and on and on.
Then home, a weekend, two weeks of work and here we are. I’ve been dazed. I was absolutely in shock about being on the Board; I still am, really, but I’m starting to calm down. I feel like I need to know everything at once. (Note to colleagues: please feel free to ignore me). I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on. I am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I don’t know, despite following Wikimedia about as closely as possible for the last few years. (These things range from straightforward nonprofit governance stuff to the big questions that don’t have good answers: what should we do about strategy? etc. etc.) I have the initial rush and enthusiasm of a newbie, though everyone else is pretty lackadaisical about the whole thing — there was no welcoming committee; I couldn’t get anyone to buy me a beer at the party — hell, I don’t even think I got any talk page messages. It’s just time to get on with work, as far as I can tell, which is hard when your head is spinning. I’m sorry I’ve neglected my email. I’m here, and back to work at work, too; working on a student guide, buying books, planning another fall conference (what? yes, it’s true I’m afraid).
I have lots to write about, regarding the Board and Wikimedia; I’d like to write about what it’s like, mechanically speaking, from the perspective of someone who was pretty involved in the community. You’ll have to tell me if you’d find that interesting. I have to write things down, and not just notes, so it might be a while. But I’d like to help make the Board less mysterious to the community if I can, less isolated. I feel like I’m suddenly starting to think about things with a different perspective, and that it in itself is worth making note of.
The next couple of days I’ll be in the library, then a wikipedia meetup in san francisco on Saturday, then I fly off to Columbus on the redeye for family vacation. I’ll see my uncle, and cousins, and it should be great; I plan to spend a lot of time in their pool and reading novels.
Then back, to think about how to do my bit supporting others to change the world, which if you think about it is what I’ve been trying to do all along. Well, that and making time for bad summer television — priorities, people, priorities.
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