Celebrate the universe by emitting a few photons with us

This Saturday, Tony and I are getting married. At the beginning of the ceremony, around 3pm CT, we plan to consciously emit photons.

We discovered the idea of thinking of our photons through a video about how big a person can get. The video starts with the physical constraints of the height of a human, but it doesn’t stop there. The beautiful conclusion is that each of us humans emits tiny particles of light, and each of those photons has the potential to travel forever into the universe. And so we are, at least in this way, endless.

As we officially begin to honor our marriage, though we will only be a group of ten humans standing close to one another, know that we’ll be thinking of all our friends and family, including you.

We’d be honored, if you are moved, for you to take a moment on April 16 to think of us, too, and maybe emit some photons.

  1. Why I edit Wikipedia

    I had my Wikipedia account for six years before I made my first edit.

    The thing that inspired me to action was an email. My partner’s aunt forwarded information about an edit-a-thon for Ada Lovelace Day. I was intrigued, and soon found myself eyeballs-deep in tabs of articles about editing Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia grows up

    When I created my account, Wikipedia was a source of information that was nerdy-cool, but definitely not considered reliable. By the time I received that email from our aunt, Wikipedia had become omnipresent.

    Although the folks I know still give verbal disclaimers when repeating something they learned on Wikipedia, if there is a Wikipedia article in their Google search results, they will read it.

    And so do I

    In those six years, my perspective has changed, too. The world isn’t quite how I’d been told it would be. Not only does the world not embrace people like me the way I was told it would, but it it is even more harsh on people who have less than I do.

    You know what, world? That sucks. And I want it to change.

    Quietly improving the world’s awareness of itself

    Wikipedia is a free, open place for information. Anyone with access to the Internet can become an editor.

    Right now, Wikipedia’s coverage is skewed toward the interests of the people who tend to have the free time and energy to improve it. As of January 14, 2016, there are about 30,000 articles in WikiProject Fictional characters, and there are only about 4,800 articles in Wikiproject Human rights.

    Here’s the good news: Each of us has the power to improve the parts of Wikipedia that matter to us. We only need to follow the guidelines of what is notable and verifiable.

    I am a Wikipedian

    A year and a couple months ago, I co-hosted my first edit-a-thon. We had great support from Wikimedia DC, a local chapter of people who work on Wikipedia and related projects. Since then, I have organized two more edit-a-thons, attended a couple others, made hundreds of edits, and even received recognition for my work.

    People in the Wikipedia world can be terrible. And they can be welcoming and wonderful.

    And so are you

    I hope I’ve piqued your interest in editing Wikipedia.

    At this point, though, I imagine you might feel the way I did eight years ago. I didn’t feel like I was an expert in anything, and I didn’t particularly want to be a guardian of grammar. How could I improve Wikipedia?

    The good news is this: I’ve been discovering all kinds of ways to improve Wikipedia, and I expect I’ll write about some of my favorites. All you’ll need is your curiosity and the Internet.

    In the meantime, I invite you to create your Wikipedia account today. With an account, you’re only bytes away from your first edit.

    If you do boldly forge on ahead and happen upon some questions, remember that I’m just a tweet away.

    Happy 15th Birthday, Wikipedia.

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  2. Inspire a speaker today

    A question that I haven’t investigated enough yet is how speakers decide to be speakers. It’s peaked my curiosity in part because I have a theory about what inspires different people to share in this way.

    One thing I do know is how I started speaking. It was a combination of two things:

    1. Having a topic too good to pass up.
    2. Someone telling me that I should do it.

    The topic was doing research in Rwanda. Presenting about that work lead to my job at EightShapes, which lead to my job at NPR.

    The someone, meanwhile, was actually a series of someones.

    The Someones

    First, Jimmy Chandler encouraged me. I had told him about the work I had done in Rwanda, and he pointed out how unique it was. Jimmy told Dan Willis about how he was encouraging me, and then Jimmy told me that Dan said I should do it. At that point, only knowing of Dan, I felt like, well, if the famous Dan Willis says I should do it, I guess I should!

    And then, finally, Tony Pitale helped me work on my presentation and be assertive enough to snag a spot at UXCamp DC. He gave me the advice (“remember that the audience wants you to succeed”) and review (about what made sense and what didn’t) that got me from deciding to present to actually doing it.

    The Presentations

    Of course, the work itself was my own. My input inspired getting the work approved, I did the work, and then I thought about it carefully enough to make what I learned useful to other people. The presentation and what I got from it was my success. But the concept that I could do a presentation—that was very much fueled by Jimmy, Dan, and Tony.

    If it hadn’t been for these three folks directly encouraging me to present on my work in Rwanda, my career would have been very different.

    My Challenge to You

    What kind of voices do you wish were better heard in our community? Who do you know who is doing awesome work?

    Look at how the answers to these questions intersect, then go encourage those people to present their work. The submissions for the 2016 IA Summit in Atlanta, GA close in 10 days, so now is the perfect time.

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  3. A noun is a noun, unless it is a verb

    October is the awareness month for ADHD, dyslexia, and learning disabilities. In honor of it, here is a recent example of how my dyslexic brain sometimes looks at words.

    The troubling sentence

    Two days ago, I received an analytics newsletter with the following headline: “Nielsen documents shift in time toward digital video and game consoles.”

    When I looked at the sentence, I kept reading “shift” as the verb and “Nielsen documents” as the noun.

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  4. Cranky people are invested people

    “People will yell at you.” Yep, that’s one of the things we were told comes with the role of co-chair for IA Summit. We were advised that the best way to handle it was to band together, find the strength in our team, and try not to take it too personally.

    Though we appreciated the warning and the advice, I wasn’t sure that building a defense was the only solution. Avoiding yelling seemed more desirable.

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  5. Old favorites

    Hello! If you’re curious about what I’ve written on the web prior to this blog, here are some posts to get you started:

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