First, covering dreamlike stuff, I hope that tonight my subconscious gives me a "twisted world" version of Boston. I still remember what I have of Columbus (North Campus plus Downtown), Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill area), Brecksville (a strange set of pseudomexican architecture with huge walls and stairs), and Portland. Hoping for a certain style of dream sometimes works...
Today was an awesome day. I started out going to grab breakfast with some folks (Linuxbeak, Kim Bruning, Jkbaum and I seem to form a pretty good local posse), and missed the opening stuff. When we got back, I went to Parry's "Tale of Two Wikis", where he described his experience starting open Wiki communities. This was composed of a lot of information that should be obvious, but trying to think it all up beforehand would be a very lossy behaviour. The presentation was good, at least partly because Parry's a good speaker. Angela Beesley next led a brief discussion on cross-wiki issues (that unfortunately got pulled a bit off-topic by some discussion members, but was still interesting). After this, I went to Brewster Kahle's "Universal Access to all Knowledge", discussing challenges and issues involved in archive.org's mission. This was rather interesting -- I didn't know as much about their projects as I should've, and I appreciated the position and goals he came from. One of the issues that seems to be an inner struggle at the conference is understanding our motivation for participating in these things -- the actual reason, I am convinced, is partly that we care for the good of humanity, and partly that we build habits around this that keep us moving from day to day when we might not be thinking on a larger scale. Attempts to understand things as being about community respect are doomed to feel incomplete because they exclude idealistic ways of looking at the world. Wikipedia works at least partly because of a functional idealism -- the story of the stone in the soup. Some communal rewards are present, it is certain, but that is not the entire story -- if we did not care for the idealistic cause, the lauding for people helping it be done would not make sense.
Afterwards, Jkbaum and I went to a wonderful BOF session by librarians where the open discussion gently revolved between what the future role of librarians and libraries will be in the future, challenges for their community, and some more concrete/immediate concerns. Apart from the plenaries, this is the most interesting thing I've attended so far.
Jkbaum and I then skipped the conference to attend a biyearly fair, which was rather unique but doesn't need much more detail. After we got back, I met RMS as he had a discussion on software liberty outside the main building, and then eventually we gathered a group to get Ethiopean food. Afterwards, we went to a party in the MIT museum, which was intensely cool, and where I had conversations about Dutch politics, democratic systems, and several wiki things. I also met some more wikipedians and saw Steven Wolfram. There were conversations about image licensing, changes on the commons, and many other things. After the museum closed, we all went back to campus, talking in an office area (where we droppped off a box) and outside my dorm building for quite awhile, where we were joined by some Dutch and Brits for long conversations about some other projects, governance issues on Wikipedia (joined by Kelly Martin for a bit), and countless other topics.
I wish this could last forever -- I seem to have a good amount of social energy, having little reclusive urges, and I like most of the people I've met here. It's a great vacation, with a good amount of sightseeing, mental exercise, and .. to be honest, some cute gals. The town seems really cool too, although if it's possible to travel further from southern culture, Boston does it. It's funny how thatworks -- things seem to be more British, less luxurious in some ways, and more fast-paced than PA in the same way that PA is the same way to actual southern states.
I may revisit all of this when I wake up tommorrow.