Maniacs

Much going on in the Wikimedia universe. I just returned this week from Wikimania 2013, the amazing gathering that serves each year as a celebration, reflection point, meeting of old and new friends, and place to report on the many corners of our work. (“Conference” does not really do Wikimania justice, but neither does any other single term I can think of). This year’s edition was in Hong Kong, a mysterious city that I really enjoyed exploring with new friends. This year I rented a flat and shared it with a few of the researchers who were also attending WikiSym, a separate research conference on wikis and open systems that this year was held just before Wikimania. That was, if I may say so, a brilliant decision and one that I intend to repeat in future years. Wikimania is physically and emotionally intense for me: little sleep, lots of talking, and usually a good deal to do. Having a flat where you can lounge around on a sofa and make your own coffee is fantastic. And it was great fun getting to be better friends with the people who stayed there, as well.

There were a few high points, and especially emotional points, this year. One was Sue’s closing address, where she sums up the work of the WMF; this year was special, as it is likely to be her last one — she’s announced her resignation pending finding a new executive director. It was masterfully done, as professional and sharp and true as all of her work, and reflecting on the changes in the WMF from 2007 when she arrived to the present is a real testament to her incredible work and dedication. We’ll miss her greatly, but one of my great pleasures over the years has been to see Sue turn into a Wikimedian; and you never lose that.

I was re-elected to the board, and so Wikimania was also my first returning board meeting. (I was also elected as vice-chair of the Board;  Jan-Bart, who has been vice-chair for a very long time, was elected chair. I have big shoes, both literally and figuratively, to fill!) The meeting went well; the Board is working through how to tackle more substantial issues and strategy in the coming year — hard for anyone, and hard for such a complex organization. Of course hiring the new ED will be job #1, and will occupy us throughout the fall.

Returning to the Board — and remembering how to make appropriate time for it without having it overwhelm everything else, as it could do — has been occupying a lot of my energy lately. But I’ve also been starting some new projects at work, doing some cool other-Wikimedia projects, and just generally enjoying the summer. More on that later 🙂

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