Friday, July 12, 2013

Bitter Sweet Nevyn

I've got the blues. The post-NetHui blues. The problems is that at NetHui, I'm someone. People seek me out and I have all sorts of really interesting conversations with people. This year I think there's going to be an online group formed around the idea of digital literacy as a way of enfranchising people.  So something really positive is coming out of it (hopefully). At one point someone actually pointed to me in a session and said "This is the guy to watch. This is the guy that's trying new things". Coming away from a conference where I'm celebrated to this extent always leaves me with a bit of a bump. Back to life and I'm surrounded by some brilliant people who do brilliant things. My views on pedagogy are infantile compared to those who I work with but I think are important concepts for geeks to engage with if working within an educational context.

This year though, it's hit me quite hard. This morning I slipped in the shower and found myself wet and naked on the bathroom floor of the hotel. Nothing bruised but a little damage to the hotel shower (they were appreciative that I sorted it out before I left i.e. told them what had happened and paid to have the part that had been damaged replaced). I mention this because it lead to something. While I'm telling the amazing staff member about what happened, she asks "Are you alright?". This hadn't really occurred to me. It was a really hard fall. I don't think I've looked after myself a quite a long time. Generally speaking, it's not a question I should ever ask myself because if I look too deeply..... well.... this happens.

I realise that I've been depressed for awhile now. This NetHui brought with it some real challenges. For example, I have to clear up the New Zealand Open Source Awards.

I was a little embarrassed accepting it given that it wasn't an award for my efforts. It was for Manaiakalani's use of Open Source Software in solving a problem. This is a problem because Manaiakalani doesn't use Open Source Software except for the netbooks - and that is about cost, not the freedom of the users (in the way that FLOSS people talk about freedom. There's something to be said here about contexts. When Manaiakalani talks about freedom, they're talking about enfranchising people so that they have a voice. FLOSS people are talking about the ability to do what you want to do) and were moving to Chromebooks (technically but not spiritually FLOSS). Teachers are forever trying to whittle down that freedom (and this has been accomplished with the Chromeboks). The only way I could reconcile that is to say to myself that the award was for my efforts. While I was embarrassed to receive the award at the time, I didn't find out until later that the award had been awarded for 2 things - the project and my efforts to the project. I don't believe we would have won the award if either of those elements (assumptions?) were missing - which of course made my heart sink just a little more. This came to light today when someone realised that Manaiakalani doesn't meet the spirit and ideals of the NZOSA's (NZ Open Source Awards). Questions were asked and there was no (I don't think) any judgement on me.

I need a new project.

At the moment, every time I attend a meeting within the cluster, it costs me $12 in bus fares. I know... it's only $12 right? Someone asked me how I've managed to survive this long doing mostly volunteer stuff. The truth is, I don't really know. I've had to live with my parents and they're incredibly supportive. It's hard. It's really hard. It's soul destroying and frustrating. I'm starting to resent the expectations placed on me with no or little financial award. A meeting has a cost but you have to meet often to get stuff done ... but there's a cost... and while the cost is next to nothing given the right context, my rather "humble" looking bank balance makes the context all wrong.

There's a certain taking things for granted here. When I said to someone that a contract was over, she'd said "Good. Then you'll have more time for this". So I've had more time for the geek cafe... only... I'm broke and trying to make bits work and so am throwing a little of what little money I have into the project AND paying to attend the meetings and the like.

I think I've got a lot to offer but I can only really offer it in an Open Source environment. The reason?
  1. It breaks my heart that kids may be held back due to teacher's insecurities around their own knowledge. What do I mean by this? Teachers are quite happy for things to be locked down. It means that they have control. The problem with this is that you lose a lot of that ability to cater to fringe groups. Those kids who've used their netbooks not only for their school work (reading, writing and math) but have also started to explore computer sciences are done a great disservice by having a locked down environment.
  2. I have no ability to make things better in a closed system. Think Amy Adams vs. Clare Curren. Amy Adams came up on stage at NetHui managing to single-handedly depress a room full of people trying to make a change. Meanwhile, Clare Curren got up and said "We want you to communicate with us". In one system you can make a real change. In another, you can't.
I don't really talk about my personal life all that much. I'm a mid-thirties guy living with his parents. My love life should have been taken to back of the shed and shot to put it out of it's misery. I'm feeling pretty good in my own skin. My body shapes improving. I'm feeling quite a bit more confident. But then... something happened.

A very long time ago I went out on a date with a girl who I'd met over the Internet. We'd gone out to play pool. She talked about my best friend the entire time. A little while later I had met someone who has become one of the best friends a guy can have. I went to ask her out... and she told me she was into my best friend in a big way.

This week... I'm in Wellington, and this friend is talking to someone. She's quite funny. Intelligent. That's important. I'm flirting my butt off and she's only got eyes for the married guy with 2 kids and the coolest wife in the world.

While my parents are fantastic and supportive an' stuff, one of them has long term health concerns - so I'm going to have to be around for them too. Which isn't a bad thing. It does change the context of things a bit. It also means that I must become self sufficient. Something I haven't really accomplished doing the sort of work that I want to be doing.

So... the title... bitter sweet.

I'm doing some really exciting cool stuff. I'm am broke and taken for granted.

I won an award! I'm not sure I should have won it.

I'm feeling really comfortable with myself. But there's some quality about me that isn't at all desirable (I assume it's not looks because I'm much better looking than that guy). There was something a little over a year ago except that I'm terrible with geography <sigh  />.

All of those really great things just seem to be overwhelmed by that bitter note at the moment and I need to give myself a little time to just.... wallow in my self pity and actually think of myself and what I need.

For now though.... paint on a smile. Everything's okay! You've now entered
"The Depressed Zone".
We hope you resent your stay.

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