June 3, 2009

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Maker Faire 2009 Wrap Up

Maker Faire 2009 CC-BY-SA-3.0 Jon Davis

So this last weekend was Maker Faire and damn was it busy. I read reports that said there were going to be 80,000 people at the Faire this year, compared to 65,000 from last year. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were — from what I heard parking was even worse this year than last, which I’m glad I wasn’t involved in. I’ll just give a quick summary of each day.


While Maker Faire isn’t open to you, the public, on Friday — I was a “Maker” this year. More correctly I somehow was put in charge (With Phoebe) of the Wikimedia Foundation Booth. I left home just after 12 to stop by the Foundation offices in San Francisco to pick up supplies, then off to the convention center. I don’t think we really needed all that much time to setup. I ended up staying till 6 or 7 simply because leaving at 4 or 5 would have ended me with rush hour traffic. The most difficult part of setup was getting network and power all dealt with. We had our booth right next to wikiHow (By our request) so we were sharing network and power setup. Of course once we were done setting up, we had to break down all the expensive equipment (Computers) and take them home.


Adam Savage talking at Maker Faire 2009 CC-BY-SA-3.0 Jon Davis

Started at the Faire at 0900, which meant I had to get up way too damn early. Since everything was effectively setup already, we didn’t have that much work to do. Getting the computers & projector up was basically all we had to do. Of course I had thought that projecting some nice pictures from Commons would make for a good display, but Jay overrode me saying that the recent changes feed from last year was talked about for months afterwards. While I like the pretty pictures better, he did have a point. So after some help from Ariel, we got the feed setup and everyone was happy. Basically the rest of the day was spent yelling over the noise of the hall we were in. It is really hard on the throat the best of days, not to mention the fact that I had (and still have as of Wednesday Morning) a cold-like-thing which was making my throat unhappy before the yelling. The coolest part of the day was Adam Savage showing up to talk (Pictured). His talk PACKED the expo hall we were in. There was barely any room for anyone to walk — which was OK because we had a booth at the back and a clear* shot to the front (*for certain values of “Clear” that involved standing on our booth tables and using 450mm lens).


This day started, again, at 0900 at the Faire. By this point I was extremely low on the sleep and basically running on nothing but caffeine. After getting everything setup for the day (Which again, didn’t take that long), I wandered around the two largest indoor halls taking pictures of the booths. This proved to be a great move as it gave me a real chance to take pictures without the public constantly getting in my way. Also I was wearing a Wikimedia/Wikipedia vest on my wander and at least once had “HEY WIKIPEDIA” yelled at me to get my attention, which was hilarious. I spent less time actually at the booth Sunday, as compared to Saturday, which was good. Exhaustion and makes the day pass so much slower. Later in the day when the fog had burned off, I wandered around the rest of the Faire trying to take pictures. Basically the public being inattentive automatons drove me up a wall (Tired = less patience too) and returned to our booth to hide. Though while I was out wandering, twice I had people approach me for directions. As I was wearing my Wikipedia vest still, this leads me to assume that everyone believes Wikipedia knows everything. Good thing I knew where the items were that people wanted, otherwise that would have looked bad.

Wikimedians unite! CC-BY-SA-3.0 Jon Davis

Break down on Sunday went fairly quickly, fortunately. We had a handful of volunteers there still, so everyone made quick work of the booth. Plus we had slowly started to shut things down before the official close at 1800. I was deliriously tired at this point, so packing up made me quite happy. The most important thing was figuring out how the Foundation equipment was going to make it back to their offices. We also had a bunch of our own tables & chairs, most of which got carried out by hand because there was a “wait list” for the transport carts — which was really lame. Everything got taken care of and everyone got home (I hope). Overall the weekend went over great. We got some donations (For the Foundation!). We got some contributors. We managed to convince some people to edit. I just wanted to thank all the Wikimedians and Foundation staff that showed up. Most of the time we had far too many people working than was needed but I’m much happier it wasn’t the opposite. If it was just Myself, Phoebe & Austin for the weekend…. I would have got bat shit crazy and started shanking random passersby.

Until next year! And fear not, I’ve learned my lesson about volunteering to be in charge of these things… NEVER AGAIN! WMAHHAHA.