Summer report

For some reason I never quite understood, I always tend to be extremely busy in the summer when I would much rather enjoy the fresh air and take it slow, and be less busy during the winter when heading out is less attractive. This summer was no exception. After the traveling, I started a new mandate with a new client, and that brought my busyness to a whole new level.

In my last post, I mentioned a lot of wiki-related events happening over the summer and that I would attend them all. It turns out it was an exhausting stretch. Too many interesting people to meet, not enough time — even in days that never seem to end in Poland. As always, I was in a constant dilemma between attending sessions, the open space or just creating spontaneous hallway discussions. There was plenty of space for discussion. The city of Gdansk being not so large, at least not the touristic area in which everyone stayed, entering just about any bar or restaurant, at any time of the day, would lead to sitting with an other group of conference attendees. WikiMania did not end before the plane landed in Munich, which apparently was the connection city everyone used, at which point I had to run to catch my slightly tight connection to Barcelona.

I know, there are worst ways to spend par of the summer than having to go work in Barcelona.

I came to a few conclusions during WikiSym/WikiMania:

  • Sociotechnical is the chosen word by academics to discuss what the rest of us call the social web or web 2.0.
  • Adding a graph does not make a presentation look any more researched. It most likely exposes the flaws.
  • Wikipedia is much larger than I knew, and they still have a lot of ambitions.
  • Some people behind the scenes really enjoy office politics, which most likely creates a barrier with the rest of us.
  • One would think open source and academic research have close objectives, but collaboration remains hard.
  • The analysis performed leads to fascinating results.
  • The community is very diverse, and Truth in Numbers is a very good demonstration of it for those who could not be there.

As I came back home, I had a few days to wrap up projects before getting to work for a new client. All of which had to happen while fighting jet lag. I still did not get time to catch-up with the people I met, but I still plan on it.

One of the very nice surprises I had a few days ago is the recent formation of MontrĂ©al Ouvert (the site is also partially available in English), which held it’s first meeting last week. The meeting appeared like a success to me. I’m very bad at counting crowds, but it seemed to be somewhere between 40 and 50 people attending. Participants were from various professions and included some city representatives, which is very promising. However, the next steps are still a little fuzzy and how one may get involved is unclear. The organizers seemed to have matters well in hand. There will likely be some sort of hack fest in the coming weeks or months to build prototypes and show the case for open data. I don’t know how related this was to Make Web Not War a few months prior. It may just be one of those idea whose time has come.

I also got to spend a little time in Ottawa to meet with the BigBlueButton team and discuss further integration with Tiki. At this time, the integration is minimal because very few features are fully exposed. Discussions were fruitful and a lot more should be possible with the now in development version 0.8. Discussing the various use cases indicated that we did not approach the integration using the same metaphor, partially because it is not quite explicit in the API. The integration in Tiki is based on the concept of rooms as a permanent entity that you can reserve through alternate mechanisms, which maps quite closely to how meeting rooms work in physical spaces. The intended integration was mostly built around the concept of meetings happening at a specific moment in time. Detailed documentation cannot always explain the larger picture.

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