WikiMania 2005 Redux

[I originally wrote this two days after the conference, but because of limited Internet access the past few days, I couldn’t post it until today. -EEK]    (JME)

Wikimania is over. What a whirlwind three days. I’m so glad I came early for Hacking Days, because it gave me a chance to meet key members of the community in a relaxed environment, the calm before the storm as it were. That I was able to blog my impressions each day is proof of that.    (JMF)

Blogging during the conference itself turned out to be impossible. I had no time to get away and gather my thoughts, at least on my computer. Ross Mayfield mentioned a Peter Kaminski maxim during my talk: Face-to-face time is too precious to waste working. Well, I embodied that philosophy this past weekend. I met people from roughly twenty different countries and managed to spend quality time with most of them. (According to Florence Devouard, there were 52 countries represented among the 300 participants and speakers.)    (JMG)

Right now, my body is complaining about the cumulative effects of repeated late night sessions over too much beer and apfelwein, but my mind and spirit are refreshed. Each day, a different group of us shared stories, laughed, and argued about international politics, Wikis, Fleischbutter, and our compatriots, families, friends, and selves.    (JMH)

Now, I find myself both moved and troubled. This is not the first time I’ve walked away from a great event like this and felt this way. In many ways, this gathering embodied what communities and collaboration should be about. The danger is that we might view it as the way things are. They’re not. Many of us will return to our banal lives, bracing ourselves for the inevitable stack of work that accumulated in our absence. Some of us will return to homes that practice rampant censorship, to populations with miniscule literacy rates and significant poverty. All of us return to a world that is dangerously volatile, where tensions between our respective countries are taut and frayed.    (JMI)

Did our little gathering make the world a better place? Sure. It will take years for our new and strengthened ties and our newly broadened perspectives to noticeably change the world, but the effects are real and will reverberate and grow over time. However, these changes are also barely apparent now, and the work that we must continue to do is daunting.    (JMJ)

In the end, I walk away from this conference a little wiser and a little scared, with a lot of hope and a renewed sense of purpose. More importantly, I look forward to the new partnerships that will inevitably emerge, and I wait excitedly to see my new friends once again.    (JMK)

I’ll have more to say about the conference itself, but not this week. This week, I’m in Berlin, exploring a great city that has changed so much in only fifteen years and spending time with old friends and new.    (JML)

[Berlin was fantastic! I’ll blog extensively about it next week after I post the rest of my Wikimania thoughts. -EEK]    (JMM)

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