Openness Rocks

I took the above picture at Wikimania 2009 in Buenos Aires. It’s of Micah Alpern giving a talk entitled, “Designing a large scale community moderation system for Yahoo! Answers.” Micah, now at LinkedIn, was the design lead for Yahoo! Answers, and at the time, he was still at Yahoo!.

As you can see from my annotations, Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikia) and Jack Herrick (founder of wikiHow) were also in the audience. I thought nothing of this at the time. We’re all friends and are part of the same community, which is why we were all there in the first place. But afterward, I realized that folks from other industries might find this picture exceedingly strange. You could argue, for example, that wikiHow competes with Yahoo! Answers. (A bit of a stretch, but valid.) And at the time, Wikia was developing its own Q&A system.

In other words, here was Micah, freely giving away all of his lessons learned to two people who were arguably competitors, not to mention the rest of the audience and whoever else ended up watching the freely available, openly licensed video of the talk.

I was reminded of this picture and this moment by Kellan Elliott-McCrea’s short and sweet post, “Openness rocks.” He cites a few examples, and he concludes, “This is how we get better as an industry.”

That quote right there embodies the mindset that makes innovation happen, that makes certain industries a joy to be in, and that makes the world a better place. Openness indeed does rock.

Web 1.0 VC Pitch Champions

The highlight of my Wikimania experience came at the party on Saturday night, when Ross Mayfield and I won the Web 1.0 VC Pitch competition, judged by Mitch Kapor, Brewster Kahle, and Jack Herrick. The pitch? Ross’s first startup, which at one point had a market cap of $1 billion and a fat $60,000 in total revenue. Gotta love the bubble, baby! As Jack said when announcing the results, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.    (L02)

I did my part by doing my best Steve Ballmer impression, only ignorant and more obnoxious. We may have been the only pitch that the judges actually heard, thanks to our shouting and gesticulations. Here we are proudly showing off our spoils — Wikimania staff T-shirts and Wikipedia lanyards:    (L03)

https://i2.wp.com/static.flickr.com/84/207953953_4c447c8f34_m.jpg?w=700    (L04)

Ah, sweet, sweet victory. If only it really were 1998 again….    (L05)