A Few Notes on Barcelona and SMWCon

My trip to Barcelona was an adventure that I’ll never forget. The city was beautiful and the people I met and made friends with even more so. The conference was rewarding and invigorating.

I don’t know if I have the language to put into words what I experienced. I’ve been trying to write this post for a while and continue to be fruitless. I can say, that for a person who hasn’t traveled internationally much (until this past year) it remains one of my favorite things to do. You can travel alone, but if you do it right you’ll never be alone.

So maybe I’ll just try to be as succinct as possible.

Travel. Do it often. Take photos, but not too many. Make opportunities. If invited to go out – Go.

I’ve put together some perfunctory notes on the professional aspects of the conference on the MediaWiki Stakeholders’ Blog. Again, it doesn’t do the trip justice.

Unsolicited Travel Tips

While waiting for my return flight from Barcelona (via Zürich) I jumped on Twitter to dump a few things I’ve learned in the last year of travel. Instead of leaving my thoughts there to disappear into the ether I thought I’d collect them here. 1 While by no means a travel expert these are a few things I picked up that serve as both a reminder to future me and might be helpful for you as well. YMMV and all that.

  1. If you bring something to entertain you while hanging out in your hotel room (like a tablet) leave it behind. You’ll never have time to play with it.
  2. If asked to go out into the city by instead of staying in the hotel – even if you’re tired – do it. Regret makes for a terrible story.
  3. Don’t use your local phone service overseas. If possible, unlock your phone & get local SIM. On this last trip I paid $15 (Euro) for 2gb from Orange. AT&T, my home provider, wanted to charge me $120 (US) for 800mb.
  4. Pack extra socks. Lots of socks. Change them midday. Your feet will thank you (and your nose too).
  5. Travel light. Roll clothes. Don’t check bag. Don’t take lots of toiletries. Unless traveling to the Sahara, just find a store. Being able to just get on and get off a plane without checking/picking up a bag is amazing.
  6. Go away from the city center. Use public transit. Ask locals for dining suggestions. None of this is that scary. It will make your trip even more unique and interesting.
  7. iPhone users: Turn on Low Power Mode and keep it on. You don’t need push email/notifications when you’re on a trip! This means longer times between charges (more time to look up at the place you’re in and less time looking down at your screen) and no need to scramble for a charger.

  1. Montreal, Panama City, Rapid City, Lyon, Mexico City, and Barcelona in the last 1.5 years is a crazy amount of travel for me.

The Not So Narrow Slice

Also, as it turns out, the genre is often, maybe even always, political. Even when it’s not expressly so, fiction isn’t about some rote operational telling of stories. Science-fiction and fantasy, when operating well, serve as a bellwether for the world in which we live. It’s always been that way. Through history, we examine both the small books and films and comics and also the really popular ones to see what ideas and fears and yes even politics have seeped out of the public consciousness and conscience and into the stories that the public loves and shares.

Chuck Wendig on the stupidity surrounding the Hugo awards this year. See also Scalzi.