When we lived in Helsinki, my dear partner had this group of friends in the gym. One of them was Rami, a Syrian-Finnish good man. Yesterday I learned that Rami had left his relatively comfortable and quiet middle-class life in middle-class Helsinki to fight for his cause in the Syrian civil war. Nobody recruited him, he started his own commando. In the past years and still today, Rami is risking his life to smuggle toys for children. Toys donated in Finland, transported to Turkey, and then carried through one of the most dangerous borders that humans stupidly keep nowadays.
As a father of two children who have got all the toys they wanted and more in the past holiday, I feel deeply humbled by Rami’s example and the reality he shows to us. The least I can say is Thank You.
This morning I listened The Scientific Tale of Author Beatrix Potter (Science Friday, 17:11 minutes). According to English Wikipedia, “Helen Beatrix Potter (28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her children’s books featuring animals, such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.” Interested in Potter’s scientific illustrations, I tried to find them in Commons, to no aval. Allegedly, at the time this impressive woman contributed her works to science without asking for any retribution. I guess those works are in the public domain since 2013?
After four years working at the Wikimedia Foundation, the most frequent question I still get is how Wikipedia funding works, and whether it is true that the entire budget is covered with donations. Yes, this is true, and this graph shows the different sources. For the most part, these are unrestricted donations. Only a small percentage consists of restricted grants, given by other foundations for specific purposes of Wikimedia research and development. Knowing that my salary comes from donations of many individuals makes me very conscious about where to put my time and attention (and where not)!
The saddest paradox is that community discussions about a Code of Conduct end up in tough dynamics that work against the main beneficiaries of a CoC: newcomers, minority groups, and other people with weaker defenses against harassment and disrespect. (part of my post at wikimedia-l)
Some time ago, people willing to share thoughts online would open a blog. Then the so-called social media came, and the simple act of sharing online became complex for those not married to any platform. A communication mess ensued, especially messy for those willing to publish about multiple topics in multiple languages. It’s 2016 and the mess is still there, so vigorous. Why am I opening a new blog on a Sunday evening, I’m not sure.