Yesterday was the first meet-up in a long while (maybe since 2002?) of Wikipedians in Washington D.C. As far as I can tell, a great time was had by all. It had the same kind of feeling to me as Wikimania 2006, a convention held just about a year ago. It’s quite interesting to finally meet people in person who you’ve been talking with and seeing online for years. Twenty-five people showed up in total. The demographics were quite skewed. Only two females showed up, one of whom was Kat Walsh, current member of the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation; I’ve known her since I met her last year at Wikimania. I was also the youngest (or maybe second youngest) person there, yet I had the oldest Wikipedia user account (I started editing in 2002). The majority of the people there were men in their forties and older; exactly the kind of crowd I had expected to see at a meet-up in DC. A good number of people came from far away, like Richmond, New York City, and Philadelphia.
We started the night with group introductions and dinner at Uno Pizzeria in Union Station. I can’t complain about the food. This was also the first time since I was a single digit age that I’ve even been in Union Station, and it’s quite different than I remember it. I’ve been to Grand Central Station in New York recently, which is what I expected Union Station to be like, but Union’s main open-air space is significantly larger. It has multiple levels of mezzanine and floor exposed to the airy vaulted ceiling. It was quite a nice place to eat dinner in.
By sheer chance, I ended up sitting across from Mike Godwin, General Counsel to the Wikimedia Foundation, at dinner. Yes, that Mike Godwin. I was tempted to wear a shirt with a large swastika on it and announce “Dinner’s over” as soon as Mike showed up, but really, that’d be a stupid thing to do; when would I have another occasion to wear that shirt? Maybe fifty years from now, when World War II reenactment becomes a lot more commonplace?
After dinner the majority of the group ended up leaving, but eleven of us went to Brickskeller, a bar/tavern renowned for its world-record-holding selection of beers (over a thousand). We stayed there until midnight, chatting, discussing, and feverishly planning cabal activities, while several of our number got a good ways toward drunk. The bar was a much more intimate setting; our numbers were reduced and the table was smaller and more cramped. Not that that’s a bad thing. Finally, right before midnight, we all headed out. I didn’t get home until 1am because I seemed to just miss all of the trains on the Metro. Waiting for fifteen minutes each at two separate stops is no fun, though it was a nice opportunity for people-watching.
So that was the meet-up. Hopefully we’ll be doing another one soon enough. I think I heard someone tossing around a date in September. Meeting people once is nice, but meeting people twice is what’s really significant to me — that allows you the opportunity to, having remembered what they said they were up to the first time, ask them what they’ve been up to in the intervening period. This information I typically find more relevant than a general life story.