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February 19th, 2015

Where Ari Was and How She Got There

You should probably read this before going any further.

I am the someone who read the Parable of the Gronkulated Fleebwanger. I want to say it was palecur who sent it my way but it might have just been Facebook or something. I believe we were at my girlfriend in the Bay Area's place last summer when I found it, and I handed it to thequux, who remembers binging on Ari's entire blog hardcore while we were there, a decision which I had independently made I think an hour or two before sending the post to thequux. So there's where the initial connexion came from.

I am sort of bad at starting conversations with people whose writing I admire, but if there is somebody who is really really good at starting conversations, it is my friend Willow Brugh, who came up with the idea behind this event uh, a few months ago I think?, and who talked about it with me fairly early on. I wasn't physically there — thequux had a business meeting in Berlin and I went with him because fuck yeah working remotely anyway — but I was ready and willing to remote in if that could be arranged. About three days before the workshop, in the middle of talking about how it could be (the notion of borrowing a telepresence robot from the MIT Media Lab was floated, but we ended up using Google Hangouts and that worked out well enough), I facepalmed mid-chat conversation and brought up the fleebwanger post.

"She's in Boston," I said. "Boston's not that far from NYC, a train would be easy, I could ask Pilo if she could stay at the Pilopad," the Pilopad being where thequux and I lived in downtown Manhattan when we were there for like six months in 2012 (aka the end of my tenure at Red Lambda and the start of my current gig at Nuance), by quirk of the universe's sense of humour also the time when we were housemates with weev.

I went and talked to Pilo, and showed him the workshop announcement and the fleebwanger post and explained the situation, and he said "of course" because he's also friends with Willow, so this was basically just the social graph doing its thing, announcing itself in apparently kinda strange enough of a way (i.e., last-minute) as to be eyebrow-raising (for, I mean, perfectly understandable reasons) but turning out to be yes actually a genuine workshop being done on the cheap. This is sort of how hackers roll.

I would probably not have had the "ask Pilo for crash space" intuition had I not read Ari's blog back to front last summer; I'd have to hunt to find them, but the indexing algorithm that my brain apparently has for things I read brings up a couple of hits on observations of hacker culture that registered as accurate to me, and I mean she is a sociologist and everything and it was fucking amazing to finally get to talk with her some about how brains tell us things about other people, which is apparently a subject of great interest to us both.

I am kind of a machine for solving logistics problems sometimes, and apparently I have some decent intuitions about what kinds of trust are transitive, I'm just kind of bad at doing the social parts of executing on them myself on occasion. This can be awkward except when you can delegate, which happened because Willow is awesome, and yeah, it was actually pretty great to be in a hotel room all day for two of the days I was in Berlin, being "The Internet" (along with thequux and another fellow — pics eventually) in a workshop about social dynamics and game theory and other stuff that is Highly Relevant To My Interests. Delegation can work. Whoda thunk.

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