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Monday, July 18, 2005

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 lot.

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 sample.

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.
  • Being a product manager at Jot. This description by Ken Norton fits me eerily well.
  • Consulting for Headshift, or helping them out in some way. This description fits me well, too!
  • 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. Doing outreach.
  • Running webinar series under the Corante banner.
  • 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?
  • Working with Eugene Eric Kim. On anything. I just love the guy.
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 back issues 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.

Enough said, back to my moving boxes now!
What do you think? []  links to this post    8:39:53 PM  

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