Chroniques du monde connecté pour Les Quotidiennes [fr]

[en] I'm now writing a column for Les Quotidiennes, a local online publication. The first one is up: E-mail, quand tu nous tiens.

Ça y est! Ma première chronique pour Les Quotidiennes, intitulée “E-mail, quand tu nous tiens“, est en ligne. J’y écrirai désormais chaque semaine les “Chroniques du monde connecté“, un coup d’œil humaniste dans l’univers technophile des gens ultra-connectés (nous!!)

E-mail, quand tu nous tiens | Les Quotidiennes C’est un peu plus “grand public” que ce blog — et j’avoue que j’ai quand même pas mal réfléchi au sens que ça pouvait avoir d’écrire ailleurs qu’ici: eh bien, simplement, toucher un autre public, dans un autre contexte. On verra ce que ça va donner, en tous cas j’ai plein d’idées pour les semaines à venir et je me réjouis beaucoup!

Et une fois que vous avez fini de lire mon article, filez vous délecter de ceux de mes co-chroniqueurs!

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Stephanie's October Conference Tour: <head> [en]

[fr] A la conférence en ligne , je parlerai de mon expérience d'indépendante et d'organisatrice d'événements. Lessons apprises. Je vous encourage vivement à vous inscrire à cette conférence, et à la suivre depuis le hub de Liip à Fribourg si vous en avez l'occasion.

After I gave my [Going Solo speech at LIFT]( earlier this year, I was approached by Aral Balkan, who asked me if I would be willing to speak at the online conference he was organising, then named Singularity. I immediately accepted.

<head> web conference: October 24-26, 2008

<Head>, 24-26 October, everywhere

Since then, the conference was renamed <head> (following some letter from some lawyers), and the speaker roster has filled up nicely.

<head> is an online conference. That means you can attend from anywhere in the world, watch the talks through your web browser and interact with the speakers and other participants. There are offline “hubs” in various cities around the world (including Second Life) — if you live in Switzerland, I recommend you head over the Fribourg where Liip are hosting a hub.

Eight months after my Going Solo speech at LIFT, I’m going to take the opportunity to look back at what I’ve learned. Both Going Solo and SoloCamp are great concepts and were much appreciated by those who attended them. However, they both left a dent (to be polite) in my already suffering bank account, and I’m aware I made a series of mistakes I was actually warned against when I announced my project. On being human and not listening to other people’s advice…

This talk will by my story as a freelancer and an event organiser. Success, failure, and heading forward — sharing my experience, whilst knowing that the best experience is the one you earn directly.

Wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection, you can take part in <head>. No travel or accommodation expenses, and a great conference! Plus, as it’s an online conference, the price is very reasonable. Head (!) over to the conference site to register.

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Twitter Stops Sending SMS in Europe [en]

[fr] Twitter n'envoie dès à présent plus de SMS aux utilisateurs basés hors des Etats-Unis, du Canada, et de l'Inde: trop cher. Oui, ça veut dire que même vos DM ne vous parviennent plus sur votre téléphone. Très déçue et embêtée par ce changement assez important dans l'intégration de mes communications online et offline.

This is a sad day. Twitter has just lost some of its value for me. One very precious feature of Twitter is direct messages. They allow a user to send a private message to another user.

I used to get these messages on my phone, directly by SMS. So, basically, this is giving the nearly 1’500 people following me the possibility to send me a text message without having to know my phone number of have it handy. All they need to know is my username, which is easy: [stephtara](

Oh well, we had it coming. Sending out all these text messages was costing Twitter a lot of money, we know that. It couldn’t go on like that. They’ve just stopped sending out text messages from the UK number we non-US people use (via [The Next Web blog]( You can still send messages by SMS, though.

However, this means that as of today, DM is not an immediate and secure way to reach me anymore.

This is a big crack in my online/offline integration. Twitter allowed my online world to reel me back in or contact me if necessary by reaching me on my phone. This is pretty disruptive and saddening for me.

Twitter tell us they’ll be working on partnerships with phone companies in various countries. You bet Switzerland won’t be high on their list, given the small market here.

And using data? Well, for one, it isn’t “push”, and for two, it’s still mighty expensive here. We don’t all have the data penetration the US has.

Losing “track” was already sad for me, as it allowed me to receive my @replies on my phone, ensuring I didn’t miss any. Now I won’t even be getting my DMs anymore.

And Twitter didn’t even send me a text to let me know — I could be offline in the mountains waiting for a DM that’d never come.

There is a conversation over on Get Satisfaction if you want to join in.

This is the first time a Twitter problem could make me consider switching to another service. The SMS integration was a huge selling point.

Update: I’m not complaining about the fact we can’t get/send SMS for free anymore. I think we were lucky to get all we did, and for so long (I’m amazed this didn’t happen sooner). What I’m really unhappy about though is that this announcement comes without any alternative. I’d pay. See this blog post for an example I would go with. I’m not saying either that I’m going to switch to another service. But the thought crossed my mind, for the first time.

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Back Online [en]

[fr] Journal. Retour en ligne.

Maybe I’ll get back in the groove of writing at the end of each day. For years, actually, I wrote journals (paper and pen when I was a teenager, then on the computer when I was older). Not these last years, though.

So, since my last message (blog post, actually — funny for me to find myself suddenly having a spurt of journal-like blogging) I checked my e-mail, blog comments, twitter, friendfeed, etc. E-mail contained a few sources of stress (ie, “bad news”) which I’m still not sure what to do about. I noticed that as I was going down to the see the movie (X-Files première!) I was preoccupied. My mind was back on the “worry, solve problems” track.

Back from the movie, I went online again, and chatted a bit with an old friend who happened to be online and want my advice.

Writing offline is different from writing online. Online, I’m in the network, I have access to everything. Offline, I’m alone. Just like when I was a teacher, every now and again I would go and prepare classes or grade tests in my empty classroom rather than the staff room. I like talking, and honestly, given the choice between just about anything and having a chat, I’ll have a chat. So, I guess it’s normal that every now and again I need to isolate myself to do certain things. Nothing bad about that.

Time to sleep now. And try to wake up in my “holiday” mood, even though I have a day of work ahead of me.

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Back Home [en]

[fr] Retour en plaine.

So, I’m back home. I haven’t turned on the router yet. Arriving in my flat a bit less than two hours ago, I saw myself preparing to leave, frantic, packing late, rushing to do things before my week offline (most of which I did not manage to do). I didn’t want to go on my holiday. If I hadn’t set the dates in advance with a friend, I certainly would have cancelled.

Back here after five days in the mountains, I feel different. I feel slowed down. I realize that I’m taking the time to do things. Unpack my toiletries. Empty my backpack. Take a bath. And I want to sit down and write a bit before I go back online, because I’m not sure what will happen when I will. It’s silly, isn’t it? I’m in charge, so I should decide — but there are different me’s, and it’s not always the one I want which wins.

Online — my office — is a fast-paced world. Spending five days away from my world of too many choices did me a lot of good. Nothing but walk, eat, sleep, read, and sort photos. In discreet but present company.

I can slowly feel it starting — this feeling that I need to quickly do this, quickly do that. But I don’t want to live my life quickly. I want to take the time to enjoy it. Slowly, more slowly.

As I was soaking in my bath a little earlier, I realized that I could enjoy this slowness whenever I wanted. I mean, there is nothing material to prevent me from doing so. Thing is… how do I switch into the mood? That’s the big question.

I’m a bit apprehensive right now. I want to go and check on my office, see what happened while I was away. It’s exciting, in a way. But I’m afraid of getting caught up completely. Where will I start? Do I just jump in? Do I take advantage of my “rested” state of mind (physically exhausted, mind you) to try and do things differently? Plan ahead? Tomorrow is catching up day. Go through e-mail (oh yes) and decide what I need to do next. Deal with emergencies. That’ll be enough for a day.

Online is fast-paced, but it’s also noisy, busy, full of people (and very quiet of course). It’s a busy city. As I’m “always on”, I think my life has become a bit of a “busy city”. So has my flat. Part of why I get sucked up in it has to do with how I deal (badly) with alone-ness. But maybe now that I’ve had a few silent days of walking in the mountains with myself, things will be different.

It’s quiet outside.

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First day offline [en]

[fr] Premier jour de vacances hors-ligne.

It’s not exactly a first day, because I was online this morning until 10am while I got ready. It was hard leaving and getting ready, because I was behind on a lot of things I wanted to get going before I left. But, oh well, the world will just have to continue without that.

I sent a couple of photographs through TwitPic. Been tempted to tweet another thing or two: for example, the idea that in the future, one will marvel not so much at what is possible — application-wise — online, in a web-based environment for example, but at what is possible with a computer disconnected from the network; a computer will be primarily defined by its connection to the network. This is a follow-up on my ongoing thought these days that the important invention/revolution is less the home computer than the internet. Yes, the home computer is important because it allowed the internet we know today — but the real revolution is the internet.

I’ve been tempted to check my e-mail tonight a couple of times, but thankfully my friend came back to the table fast enough to stop me short. I’ve decided not to check it tonight, so that I sleep without the excitement of good or bad news that my mail might contain. I haven’t decided yet if I would abstain completely from e-mail, chat and Twitter (which all work on my phone). I guess I will, mostly. It’s kind of fun.

This entry was back-posted upon my return online.

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Reading the Ofcon Report on Social Networking: Stats, Stranger Danger, Perceived Risk [en]

[fr] Le Daily Mail remet ça aujourd'hui, abasourdi de découvrir que les adolescents rencontrent "offline" des étrangers d'internet. Il va donc falloir que j'écrive le fameux billet auquel j'ai fait allusion dernièrement, mais avant cela, je suis en train de lire le rapport sur lequel se basent ces articles alarmés et bien-pensants.

Ce billet contient quelques commentaires sur la situation en général, ainsi que mes notes de lecture -- citations et commentaires -- du début de ce rapport de l'Ofcon.

I don’t know if I’ll get around to writing about the [teen cleavage scare]( before the story goes completely cold, but in my endeavour to offer a balanced criticism of what’s going on here, I’m currently reading the [Ofcon Social Networking Report which was released on April 2]( and prompted this new wave of [“think of the children” media coverage]( The Daily Mail is at it today again, with the stunning and alarming news that [teenagers are meeting “strangers” from the internet offline]( (big surprise). I find it heartening, though, that the five reader comments to this article as of writing are completely sensible in playing down the “dangers” regularly touted by the press and the authorities.

Here are the running notes of my reading of this report. I might as well publish them as I’m reading. Clearly, the report seems way more balanced than the Daily Mail coverage (are we surprised?) which contains lots of figures taken out of context. However, there is still stuff that bothers me — less the actual results of the research (which are facts, so they’re good) than the way some of them are presented and the interpretations a superficial look at them might lead one to make (like, sorry to say, much of the mainstream press).

Here we go.

> Social networking sites also have
some potential pitfalls to negotiate, such as the unintended consequences of publicly posting
sensitive personal information, confusion over privacy settings, and contact with people one
doesn’t know.

Ofcon SN Report, page 1

Good start, I think that the issues raise here make sense. However, I would put “contact with people one doesn’t know” in “potential pitfalls”. (More about this lower down.)

> Ofcom research shows that just over one fifth (22%) of adult internet users aged 16+ and
almost half (49%) of children aged 8-17 who use the internet have set up their own profile on
a social networking site. For adults, the likelihood of setting up a profile is highest among
16-24 year olds (54%) and decreases with age.

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

This is to show that SNs are more popular amongst younger age groups. It makes sense to say that half of 8-17 year olds have a profile on SN site to compare it with the 22% of 16+ internet users or the 54% of 16-24 year olds. Bear in mind that these are *percentages of internet users* — they do not include those who do not go online.

However, saying “OMG one out of two 8-17 year olds has a profile on a SN site” in the context of “being at risk from paedophiles” is really not very interesting. Behaviour of 8 year olds and 17 year olds online cannot be compared at all in that respect. You can imagine a 16 year old voluntarily meeting up to have sex with an older love interest met on the internet. Not an 8 year old. In most statistics, however, both fall into the category of “paedophilia” when the law gets involved.

> 27% of 8-11 year olds who are aware of social networking sites say that they have a profile on a site

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

I’d like to draw you attention on the fact that this is 27% of 8-11 year olds **who are aware of social networking sites**.

> Unless otherwise stated, this report uses the term ‘children’ to include all young people aged 8-17.

Ofcon SN Report, page 5

I don’t like this at all, because as stated above, particularly when it comes to concerns about safety one *cannot* simply lump that agegroup into a practical “children”, which plays well with “child abuse”. In the US, cases of “statutory rape” which might very well have been consensual end up inflating the statistics on “children falling victim to sexual predators online”.

> Although contact lists on sites talk about ’friends’, social networking sites stretch the
traditional meaning of ‘friends’ to mean anyone with whom a user has an online connection.
Therefore the term can include people who the user has never actually met or spoken to.
Unlike offline (or ‘real world’) friendship, online friendships and connections are also
displayed in a public and visible way via friend lists.
> The public display of friend lists means that users often share their personal details online
with people they may not know at all well. These details include religion, political views,
sexuality and date of birth that in the offline world a person might only share only with close
> While communication with known contacts was the most popular social
networking activity, 17 % of adults used their profile to communicate with
people they do not know. This increases among younger adults.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

Right. This is problematic too. And it’s not just the report’s fault. The use of “friend” to signify contact contributes to making the whole issue of “online friendship” totally inpenetrable to those who are not immersed in online culture. The use of “know” is also very problematic, as it tends to be understood that you can only “know” somebody offline. Let’s try to clarify.

First, it’s possible to build relationships and friendships (even loves!) online. Just like in pre-internet days you could develop a friendship with a pen-pal, or kindle a nascent romance through letters, you can get to know somebody through text messages, IM, blog postings, presence streams, Skype chats and calls, or even mailing-list and newsgroup postings. I hope that it will soon be obvious to everybody that it is possible to “know” somebody without actually having met them offline.

So, there is a difference between “friends” that “you know” and “SN friends aka contacts” which you might in truth not really know. But you can see how the vocabulary can be misleading here.

I’d like to take the occasion to point out one other thing that bothers me here: the idea that contact with “strangers” or “people one does not know” is a thing worth pointing out. So, OK, 17% of adults in the survey, communicated with people they “didn’t know”. I imagine that this is “didn’t know” in the “offline person”‘s worldview, meaning somebody that had never been met physically (maybe the study gives more details about that). But even if it is “didn’t know” as in “complete stranger” — still, why does it have to be pointed out? Do we have statistics on how many “strangers” we communicate with offline each week?

It seems to me that *because this is on the internet*, strangers are perceived as a potential threat, in comparison to people we already know. As far as abuse goes, in the huge, overwhelming, undisputed majority of cases, the abuser was known (and even well known) to the victim. Most child sexual abuse is commited by people in the family or very close social circle.

I had hoped that in support of what I’m writing just now, I would be able to state that “stranger danger” was behind us. Sadly, a quick [search on Google]( shows that I’m wrong — it’s still very much present. I did, however, find [this column which offers a very critical view of how much danger strangers actually do represent for kids]( and the harmful effects of “stranger danger”. Another nice find was this [Families for Freedom Child Safety Bulletin](, by a group who seems to share the same concerns I do over the general scaremongering around children.

> Among those who reported talking to people they didn’t know, there were significant
variations in age, but those who talked to people they didn’t know were significantly more
likely to be aged 16-24 (22% of those with a social networking page or profile) than 25-34
(7% of those with a profile). In our qualitative sample, several people reported using sites in
this way to look for romantic interests.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

Meeting “online people” offline is more common amongst the younger age group, which is honestly not a surprise. At 34, I sometimes feel kind of like a dinosaur when it comes to internet use, in the sense that many of my offline friends (younger than me) would never dream of meeting somebody from “The Internets”. 16-24s are clearly digital natives, and as such, I would expect them to be living in a world where “online” and “offline” are distinctions which do not mean much anymore (as they do not mean much to me and many of the other “online people” of my generation or older).

> The majority of comments in our qualitative sample were positive about social networking. A
few users did mention negative aspects to social networking, and these included annoyance
at others using sites for self-promotion, parties organised online getting out of hand, and
online bullying.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7

This is interesting! Real life experience from real people with social networks. Spam, party-crashing and bullying (I’ll have much more to say about this last point later on, but in summary, address the bullying problem at the source and offline, and don’t blame the tool) are mentioned as problems. Unwanted sexual sollicitations or roaming sexual predators do not seem to be part of the online experience of the people interviewed in this study. Strangely, this fits with my experience of the internet, and that of almost everybody I know. (Just like major annoyances in life for most people, thankfully, are not sexual harrassment — though it might be for some, and that really sucks.)

> The people who use social networking sites see them as a fun and easy leisure activity.
Although the subject of much discussion in the media, in Ofcom’s qualitative research
privacy and safety issues on social networking sites did not emerge as ‘top of mind’ for most
users. In discussion, and after prompting, some users in the qualitative study did think of
some privacy and safety issues, although on the whole they were unconcerned about them.
> In addition, our qualitative study found that all users, even those who were confident with
ICT found the settings on most of the major social networking sites difficult to understand
and manipulate.

Ofcon SN Report, page 7-8

This is really interesting too. But how do you understand it? I read: “It’s not that dangerous, actually, if those people use SN sites regularly without being too concerned, and the media are making a lot of fuss for nothing.” (Ask people about what comes to mind about driving a car — one of our regular dangerous activities — and I bet you more people than in that study will come up with safety issues; chances are we’ve all been involved in a car crash at some point, or know somebody who has.) Another way of reading it could be “OMG, even with all the effort the media are putting into raising awareness about these problems, people are still as naive and ignorant! They are in danger!”. What will the media choose to understand?

The study points out the fact that privacy settings are hard to understand and manipulate, and I find this very true. In doubt or ignorance, most people will “not touch” the defaults, which are generally too open. I say “too open” with respect to privacy in the wide sense, not in the “keep us safe from creeps” sense.

This brings me to a comment I left earlier on [an article on ComMetrics about what makes campaigns against online pedophiles fail]( It’s an interesting article, but as I explain in the comment, I think it misses an important point:

>There is a bigger issue here — which I try to explain each time I get a chance, to the point I’m starting to feel hoarse.

>Maybe the message is not the right one? The campaign, as well as your article, takes as a starting point that “adults posing as kids” are the threat that chatrooms pose to our children.

>Research shows that this is not a widespread risk. It also shows that there is no correlation between handing out personal information online and the risk of falling victim to a sexual predator. Yet our campaigns continue to be built on the false assumptions that not handing out personal information will keep a kid “safe”, and that there is danger in the shape of people lying about their identity, in the first place.

>There is a disconnect between the language the campaigns speak and what they advocate (you point that out well in your article, I think), and the experience kids and teenagers have of life online (“they talk to strangers all the time, and nothing bad happens; they meet people from online, and they are exactly who they said they were; hence, all this “safety” information is BS”). But there is also a larger disconnect, which is that the danger these campaigns claim to address is not well understood. Check out the 5th quote in the long article I wrote on the subject at the time of the MySpace PR stunt about deleting “sex offenders'” profiles.

>I will blog more about this, but wanted to point this out here first.

Yes, I will blog more about this. I think this post of notes and thoughts is long enough, and it’s time for me to think about sleeping or putting a new bandage on my scraped knee. Before I see you in a few days for the next bout of Ofcon Report reading and commentating, however, I’ll leave you with the quote I reference in the comment above (it can’t hurt to publish it again):

Now, on the case of internet sex crimes against kids, I’m concerned
that we’re already off to a bad start here. The public and the
professional impression about what’s going on in these kinds of
crimes is not in sync with the reality, at least so far as we can
ascertain it on the basis of research that we’ve done. And this
research has really been based on some large national studies of
cases coming to the attention of law enforcement as well as to large
national surveys of youth.

If you think about what the public impression is about this crime,
it’s really that we have these internet pedophiles who’ve moved
from the playground into your living room through the internet
connection, who are targeting young children by pretending to be
other children who are lying about their ages and their identities and
their motives, who are tricking kids into disclosing personal
information about themselves or harvesting that information from
blogs or websites or social networking sites. Then armed with this
information, these criminals stalk children. They abduct them.
They rape them, or even worse.

But actually, the research in the cases that we’ve gleaned from
actual law enforcement files, for example, suggests a different
reality for these crimes. So first fact is that the predominant online
sex crime victims are not young children. They are teenagers.
There’s almost no victims in the sample that we collected from – a
representative sample of law enforcement cases that involved the
child under the age of 13.

In the predominant sex crime scenario, doesn’t involve violence,
stranger molesters posing online as other children in order to set up
an abduction or assault. Only five percent of these cases actually
involved violence. Only three percent involved an abduction. It’s
also interesting that deception does not seem to be a major factor.
Only five percent of the offenders concealed the fact that they were
adults from their victims. Eighty percent were quite explicit about
their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating

So these are not mostly violence sex crimes, but they are criminal
seductions that take advantage of teenage, common teenage
vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of
conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance,
adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to
encounters that the teams know are sexual in nature with people who
are considerably older than themselves.

So for example, Jenna – this is a pretty typical case – 13-year-old
girl from a divorced family, frequented sex-oriented chat rooms, had
the screen name “Evil Girl.” There she met a guy who, after a
number of conversations, admitted he was 45. He flattered her, gave
– sent her gifts, jewelry. They talked about intimate things. And
eventually, he drove across several states to meet her for sex on
several occasions in motel rooms. When he was arrested in her
company, she was reluctant to cooperate with the law enforcement

David Finkelhor, in panel Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization: Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths, May 2007

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End-Of-Travel Musings [en]

[fr] Peu de photos, d'articles, ou encore de vidéos de mon mois de voyage en Irlande, au Texas, et à San Francisco. Thierry trouve dommage, mais pas moi. J'apprends à prendre la vie un peu plus à la légère, à ne pas me mettre sous pression plus que nécessaire pour tirer toujours le maximum de profit de tout ce que je fais, tout ce que je vois, tout ce que je visite, chaque personne que je rencontre. A force de documenter sa vie, on court le risque d'oublier de la vivre.

Retour de San Francisco le coeur un peu lourd, car j'aime cet endroit et il abrite des gens qui me sont chers, mais heureuse de rentrer à Lausanne, que j'adore, et de revoir mon chat, bêtement. J'ai appris à "lâcher prise" concernant mon réseau social éclaté, à moitié en ligne, et dispersé aux quatre coins de la planète. On se recroisera, je le sais. Dans une conférence, lors de mes voyages ou des vôtres. On est à quelques clics de souris en ligne, jamais très loin. On est partout, au fond.

These two weeks here in San Francisco have been really nice. I got to relax and catch up with some friends (not all of them, unfortunately, and some less than I wanted to), make a few new ones, and also make good progress in the work department. I caught up with most of the stuff I’d fallen behind with during the previous month (stress and travel), and amongst other things, this means that [Going Solo is now ready to accept sponsorships]( It’s also time for us to strike up some media partnerships — get in touch if you’re interested. For media partnerships: [email protected] — that’s me! — and for sponsorships, [email protected] — Lily Yacobi is managing sponsor relations (she’s great!).

My travels started in a rather intense manner, with BlogTalk in Cork and SXSW in Austin. Two conferences back-to-back, one presentation on a new topic to speak about for me, two panel moderations (I’d never moderated a panel before), and a conversation to co-host (great format, by the way). Lots of people, new and known, two 2-hour nights before even landing in the US — I can tell you I reached Austin in a sorry state. Thank goodness I had a little halt in Dallas (thanks again, Adam!) to help me land.

[As I mentioned](, the solution I found to survive SXSW without burning out was to keep a low profile and go with the flow. I kept that up somewhat in San Francisco: not too many plans, low expectations on what I wanted to accomplish, no frantic blogging/photographing/visiting/videoing. Some people [think it’s a shame](, but I don’t.

Sometimes documenting your life can get in the way of living it, and I know that the pressure I put upon myself to “make the most” out of every occasion, every trip, every conference, every visit, every relationship, and simply every moment of life is wearing me down. I’ve been learning, over the past six months, that I need to cut myself some slack. Miss out on things.

So this trip, I hardly took any photos. I didn’t do any tourism. I stuck with what and who I knew, mainly. There is a whole bunch of people and businesses I regret not seeing/visiting (have I said it enough), but I don’t regret pacing my life so that I can leave here more rested than I arrived, and less stressed.

[Going Solo]( is a lot of work, but though I have a great [team of advisors and helpers](, I remain the only one in charge, and I’m slowly learning how to delegate. Delegating is not something I’m familiar with or ever really had to do in my life, so I’m learning the skill — and it’s not easy for me. In the end, I end up with the feeling that I’m carrying too much weight on my shoulders, and that giving some of it to others creates even more. (See the idea?) Not to be dramatic, it’s a great experience and I think I’m doing well with it — it’s just not a trip to the beach (who would have thought that!?)

So, here I am, terminal A of San Francisco airport, at the Firewood Grill, where they make pretty decent cheeseburgers. I’ve eaten here before, I remember, a bit over a year ago after [my first trip to San Francisco]( “in this life”. I like the music they’re playing on the radio, and I’m trying to sort through the mixed feelings in me.

I’m looking forward to going home, of course. I’m very attached to my hometown, as many of you have noticed, and whenever I’m away, I miss my cat a lot. It’s silly, but oh well. My brother will be home too, after a year spent in South America. It will be good to see him again.

But I’m leaving San Francisco with a heavy heart, too. I’m leaving behind the sunshine and people who are dear to me, as well as a community (however you want to understand that word) which means I get to bump into people I know when I go to parties. This happens in Lausanne, too, of course — bumping into people I know. Lausanne is a small village. But strangely, the San Francisco geekworld seems even smaller. And I like it. To state the obvious, “things are happening” here and it’s nice to be around. I like the city, too — even if I sometimes struggle a bit with the differences in culture between here and where I grew up and live.

I think I’ve become more relaxed about when I’ll see people again. I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I will be. I’ll bump into you at a conference, or at a geek dinner somewhere when we’re both travelling. Maybe we didn’t get to say goodbye, but we’re just a few keystrokes away online anyway — so is it really that important? I don’t know what my life will be like in a year, and neither do you, probably. We live and work in this fast-changing world, somewhere on the edge, and we eat [Black Swans]( for breakfast.

We’re everywhere.

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Two Events For Your Calendar [en]

[fr] Deux conférences à ne pas manquer. SHiFT, les 15-17 Octobre à Lisbonne, et Singularity, la première conférence en ligne de grande envergure, les 24-26 du même mois.

I’d like to draw to your attention two events which are being organized by friends of mine, and which will both take place in October.

The first is SHiFT, which will take place in Lisbon, October 15-17. It’s organized by Pedro Custodio and the other members of the SHiFT association. I attended the first edition in 2006 and really liked it — a human-sized conference as I prefer them.

SHiFT 2008 - Lisbon, Portugal - October 15-17 2008

The second is Singularity, which will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s the first large-scale online conference and it will take place everywhere (!), October 24-26th. It’s organized by Aral Balkan, whom I met at LIFT08 (and then again at BlogTalk and SXSW — seems we’re on the same conference circuit). I’ll be speaking at Singularity.

*Cross-posted from the Going Solo blog.*

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