January 2011 Archives

conference curation

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I got an email this week from Russell Davies, one of the participants in this year's Microsoft Research Social Computing Symposium, thanking me for my "conference organizing/curating." And I realized that he'd perfectly summed up the process of putting on an event like SCS. Yes, there's some organization...but more importantly, there's a lot of curation--choosing themes, picking the right people to speak about those themes, putting the content in an order that reveals a narrative.

For next year's event, I fully intend to have Moo cards printed up with the title "conference curator" on them. :)



This morning at breakfast, after listening to me bubble over with happiness about the just-ended social computing symposium, a friend told me that she thought I was the most grateful person she knew.

I've been turning that over in my head all day, and have come to the conclusion that (a) she was right about me being a fundamentally grateful person, and (b) I'm very grateful to have gratitude be one of my defining characteristics.

When people start in 12-step programs, one thing their sponsor often asks them to do is to make a gratitude list. Even if the world seems to be crashing down around you, it's usually possible to find something to be grateful for--the hot cup of coffee you're sipping, a hug from a child, the song that made you want to get up and dance, the way the light and shadow looks in the last moments of a sunset. The act of writing those things down--or speaking them aloud to another person--shifts your focus in a profound way. If you do it on a regular basis, it can fundamentally change the way you see your life (and yourself).

One of yesterday's speakers quoted Sheryl Crow's song Soak Up The Sun in his talk: "It's not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got." That really resonated with me, and this morning's conversation helped me to realize why.

Every year running this event takes everything out of me. I go into it a giant bundle of stress and worry. But every year I leave feeling ridiculously happy and energized. I've had my mind stretched by brilliant people who said things that informed and inspired me. I've connected people who I know will go on to do great things together. And I've had a chance to work and play with some of the people I love and respect most in the world. That's what I want, it's what I've got, and it's a pretty damn good reason to be grateful.


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I'm starting this new year with a lot of of accomplishments to feel good about. I've lost 30 pounds since I began my eating/activity changes in August. And I've done a lot of grant-writing, course development, and thinking about intellectual endeavors over the past few months, as well.

But I feel as though there are three juggling balls that I'm always trying to keep in the air...my physical well-being, my intellectual well-being, and my spiritual well-being. And no matter how much I try, I seem only able to to keep two of them moving at the same time--the third invevitably ends up on the floor.

For the past seven years, it's been the physical well-being that's suffered as the other two have flourished. This year, it's been the spiritual that keeps escaping my grasp, while the physical and intellectual have soared.

I'm not much of a fan of new year's resolutions, but I do hope that this year I can begin bringing the three into balance.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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