OK, I'd like to start off this post with a plea for forgiveness. If I
haven't replied to the email you sent me months ago, or returned your
phone call from way back, or posted to our group blog in ages, or been
especially active on your advisory board mailing list lately, please
accept my sincere apologies.
I've spent the past couple of months in a kind of personal and
professional whirlwind, which I *hope* will come to rest soon. :) I
won't go now into all the reasons why I've been so busy. Let me just
sum it up by saying that lots happened and some difficult decisions
were made. Among the most significant outcomes: my family and I made a
decision to move back to Montreal, and I'm leaving the National
Research Council of Canada.
Personally, it feels great to be back in my hometown. While Moncton is
nice, easy to navigate (by car), close to the ocean, and culturally
active, it just can't compete with Montreal in terms of the variety of
opportunities to see and experience. Also, for the kids it's great to
be close again to the grandpas, grandmas and cousins. We missed those a
Professionally, it's time to try out something new. Research does
provide a good amount of freedom, but it can feel lonely and sometimes
a bit detached from the action. For sure, there is lots more action in
this space than there was when I first got professionally
serious about weblogs, wikis and Web-based collaboration, back in the
days when social software didn't even sport a sexy name.
I feel like getting closer to the ground, where the actual traction
happens and users are won over. I'd like to experience being part of a
closely-knit team with shared goals and common spirit. You know, being
in the trenches, getting excited, debating and making decisions on
where to steer the boat.
I've thought a bit about what I'd most enjoy doing at this stage, but I
suspect this is actually going to be more about finding the right
people than about the job description (assuming there is one!). I most
desire to work with people who are deeply clueful while humble,
passionate, and visionary. I'm quite adaptable and like a good
challenge. I brainstormed a little and came up with the following
I could see myself...
Working for Socialtext (As I said to Ross
a while ago, they keep hiring the people I'd like to work with!)
Helping think about strategy, improving the experience, understanding
and anticipating user needs, writing about the uses that are made of
Socialtext workspaces. Maybe gardening some public wikis.
Running the flagship blog for a consulting shop, like Montreal's Mancomm, that wishes to display expertise and attract visibility.
Writing white papers for folks like Technorati, Broadband Mechanics, Pubsub, Feedster
or others who have a vested interest in seeing the infrastructure grow
and get more densely interconnected. Facilitating developer relations.
Advising and doing some digging for venture capitalists like Fred Wilson, Jeff Nolan, or Paul Kedrosky,
or others who haven't been around for as long as them but are looking
to invest. Helping figure out who's who and where the most promising
investment opportunities are.
Acting as a "French connection". Helping build bridges and
connections between the English and the French mindspaces, the latter
having become quite active in the last year. Helping spot and hire able
French recruits. Technorati France, perhaps? Socialtext.fr?
I'm in the process of de-academicizing my CV and will post the new
version when it's done. Meanwhile, here's a quick vita, in which I hope
you will forgive me for temporarily relaxing my long-standing habit of
not emphasizing my abilities and achievements.
I've spent most of my working time in the past four years studying,
experimenting first-hand, and writing about social software. In 2002 -
early 2003 I wrote the first Ph.D. thesis on weblogs and wikis. While
these two technologies are now becoming mainstream, I was making a long
bet back then, and it made me one of the pioneers of social software in
academia. I've been a blogger for three years, and a wikizen for four.
I've seen lots of wikis and blogs emerge and thrive, and lots of others
fossilize or spamify. I have participated in many and have seeded or
helped seed a few. I'm part of the committee for the first
International Wiki Symposium.
I witnessed the early days of Wikipedia (with CamelCase links!), the
Blogging Ecosystem, Technorati. I anticipated a number of innovations
that were later realized, such as feed splicing, structured blogging, and ridiculously easy group-forming.
I wrote early on about topic sharing, the Cro-Magnon precursor of
social metadata/tagging/folksonomy if you like, and came up with the
basic scheme for building the Internet Topic Exchange, which was the first practical experiment with that idea. I helped deploy weblogs and wikis in schools and universities.
I love explaining, and I like to think that I'm a good explainer, both in
speech and in writing, stressing clarity and making things as simple as
possible, but no simpler. I've delivered about 20 refereed or invited
public talks (to academic and non-academic audiences) in the past two
years, and prior to that I have taught a number of Computer Science
courses at the university level. I'm a good observer and listener, too.
Finally, I have actively participated in many conversations that helped
drive and shape social software. As a result, my expertise is
recognized by many people who have been out in the trenches, hence the
inbound links to my weblog and invited talks. For more on that look up
Google (1, 2) or Bloglines, and you could of course browse the backissues
from my blog.
I'm more of a "forest guy" than a "trees guy". I think holistically
about the design of social software applications, and about the myriad
ways in which they can (and increasingly will) interconnect and
interact. I'm an ardent advocate for users and for powerful simplicity.
So, that's me.
Because I don't feel like relocating again for a good while, I'm
looking for either local work or Net-based work from my home office.
I'm fine with occasional travel; I like having met coworkers
face-to-face at least once. In the near future, I expect to be
available part-time, but that may change.
If you think my mix of streed cred, institutional pedigree, thorough
understanding, experience and ability might help you out (rather than a
competitor :), just drop me a line at sebpaquet -at- gmail -dot- com,
let's have a conversation, and think about ways of working together.