Oct 26 2006
My life is about as mundane as it ever gets at the moment. This week is the lull before another short storm of craziness. I am procrastinating and trying not to think about the presentation that I will give to an unknown (large) crowd of people in three weeks; or the poster that (thankfully) seems to be coming together, but still needs to be printed next week. Honestly, I have the confidence that I will get through these things and do them well, which helps tremendously; I’m starting to know just how long I should leave myself to prepare for an hour-long presentation, etc. I have a lot of other things simmering on my plate — work I really should be doing for Wikimedia, for instance, and OLPC — but as I said, I’m procrastinating.
Sometimes I just like to sit for a few days in a row and edit Wikipedia, a lot, working on lots of minor cleanup changes. Nothing earth-shattering, but I like to actually source the occasional article, clean up syntax (instead of just telling other people how to do it). Lately I’ve been working on mergers, a task that uncovers an awful lot of crappy articles, since experienced editors generally know to check for alternate titles. It’s pretty fun. I forget how entertaining it can be, how satisfying to just put one’s shoulder to the grindstone and get to work (and how frustrating to work with an unknown quantity of un-asked-for collaborators; someone went through and deleted all my carefully set-up categories last night). Of course, I am not the sort to be discouraged by impossible projects, either. Awesomely, I can justify all this late night editing by saying I’m doing research.
And I am, of a sort. It’s useful to my presentations and sense of the project to keep myself grounded in the actual goings-on of the site. It’s easy to forget sometimes in all the debates about policy and future direction, committee work and meta-debate and discussion, arguments and counter-arguments, that what most regular editors see is not at all like that, not tainted with knowledge of governance. I constantly wonder what it would be like to come across the site with fresh eyes. We need usability testing in the worst way, and perhaps that would tell us; there was talk of a general survey a year or so ago, either across pages or on username registration, but I’m not sure that would give us what I want either, given the cumbersome mechanics of surveying. I don’t know. I wish I knew more about social science research techniques; a lack of knowledge hinders me in what I want to do on the site. Besides, research is fun
Other news: nothing thrilling. My check-engine-light-coming-on scare turned out to be simply an oil change warning (read the manual, BRG, read the manual). I am likely going to Monterey this weekend to visit my cousin, who at the last minute decided to stay in the country after all (no one *ever* counter-offered for a librarian in an international position; clearly, I picked the wrong career). I get to vote this weekend with my poster-sized absentee ballot for the state of California, which is always entertaining; voting in CA is like nowhere else, with all the initiatives and whatnot, and the exciting Davis decision on whether we should allow a Target to build within the city limits (!!!111). I should really be washing my dishes, doing my laundry, and paying my bills, but I’m not (thhhbbtt! so there, housework). I’ve been reading Will in the World, which is a social commentary about Shakespeare and which is remarkably good, but which I have comments about that I will go into later. Last week, I sat next to a cute Englishman on the plane from Seattle, and I keep wondering if I will see him in Davis (which is where he was going) but it hasn’t happened yet (and besides, he was married). Besides working on multiplying presentations and fighting with the wiki at work, I am sorting CS book donations, which is pretty fun. Like I said, nothing’s really going on.
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