Monday, August 06, 2007

This will probably be one of the last posts on this blog

...depending on how long it takes me to get my new Mediawiki one up and running - thanks to Enric for the inspiration and guidance.

Mediawiki is the new Emacs. It's got everything but the kitchen sink (which is nonetheless mentioned in [[Talk:Cooking appliances]], or something). Then my entire web-presence can run on the same software, and I'll have an excuse to actually become a MediaWiki hacker. Sweet.

For those of you whom I've just rendered horribly confused, Mediawiki is a very common piece of wiki software (if you've never heard of wikis before, watch this). Notably, it's what Wikipedia runs. And since I'm currently sitting in Taipei recovering from Wikimania, my head's still swimming around with thoughts of it.

Wait. You're in Taiwan?

Yep. With Herbert. Last week I found out I was going to the Wikimania conference with Sj and a posse of XO laptops from OLPC; life then became a jumbled mass of packing, prepping, wrapping-up, and hoping my parents would mail my passport in time (it arrived in the mail 12 hours before I had to leave for the airport).

Following a heroic early-morning drive by my aunt, I hit the gate with an hour to spare. Sj did not. In between exchanging "where are you?" "I'm coming." "where you?" "there's a line!" text messages as he attempted to shuffle through security before the plane finished boarding, I sat with an elderly Chinese couple learning how to say "RUN FASTER! WE'RE LATE!" in badly accented Mandarin, intending to yell it down the hallway as he came charging towards the gate, but I'd started boarding by the time he finally did make it. I discovered later that Sj actually speaks much better Mandarin than I do, having spent a month in China learning the language some years back.

Across the ocean!

We found Phoebe, Austin, and James in the San Fransisco airport, ate chocolate, and hopped the ocean to Taipei; the wonderful Taiwanese mother next to me watched out for me throughout the flight; it turns out that we share our Chinese last name and are probably thus vaguely related umpteen generations back... and that her company manufactures the wireless chips for OLPC. Small world.

We found Henna, our bus, and our hostel, in that order. Then everyone else went to sleep while Sj and I hunted on foot through the streets of Taipei for a 24-hour internet cafe so we could talk to the OLPC folks back in Boston. (I've probably mentioned this before, but he is the only person I've ever met who's given me a run for my money with regards to sleep, work, and findability habits... or lack thereof. In fact, he may actually win. However, he has an 8-year head start.)

The past week has been a series of increasingly wonderful "there are people like me in the world!" revelations. I tried to explain this to Sylvain and Heather during the party on Saturday night - that people like them make me feel like my life might actually have a shot at becoming marginally useful - but the music was loud and I was babbling, so that probably didn't come across so coherently. By the way, Sylvain runs Jamendo, a creative commons music site which is rapidly changing the way legal music distribution works. I totally want to call a License Server band reunion to compose and record some tracks using something other than Gallimore's PDA now.

But I'm getting ahead of the story. Anyway, back to Wednesday night, when Sj and I were in an internet cafe in Taipei at 5 in the morning...

By the time I crept back into the tiny Japanese-style room (complete with weightbench and spray-painted wall art) I shared with Henna and Phoebe, it was 6:30am. So I lay down, closed my eyes, opened them, stood up, and headed to the Overseas Youth Center to set up for the Jam with the amazing Bob Chao until TC brought us to a coffeeshop for the pre-Wikimania party, which I mostly spent talking to Chriswaterguy from Appropedia when not racing the impending closing of the print shop several blocks down and the even more impending death of TC's Macbook battery to design and print business cards for myself and Sj for the next few days. We made it and now I have an $800 (Taiwanese dollars) set of business cards that proclaim me as an "OLPC Content Minion."

And the morning and the evening were the first day, and lo, it was good, and I practiced Aikido rolls on the wet grass and talked with Cormac and Ray about copyright issues until everyone else (even Sj) had gone to sleep, and then I watched the sun rise again, lay down, closed my eyes, opened them, and stood up. (Since leaving Boston 8 days ago, I have accrued a total of 27 hours of sleep and boy do I feel great!)

Next: the actual Wikimania conference... (to be continued, with somewhat more coherence than the post above demonstrates)

And yes, I've got quite the email and post backlog now. And I'll tackle them back in Boston. Back to work...


L33tminion said...

Awesome. I wish I could have made Wikimania this year... if it had been a month earlier it would have been really convenient. Oh well...

Mel said...

update: mediawiki is slow as all git-out on my shared server webhosting. It's time for... WORDPRESS! with plugins that make it easy to integrate with my wiki.