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Group photo of the attendees at the 2014 Wikimedia Hackathon in Zurich (Lila Tretikov can be seen in the middle of the front row, in pink)

After an exciting first encounter with the San Francisco-based WMF staff at the May Metrics Meeting where I was introduced as the incoming ED, I had the opportunity this past weekend to meet even more dedicated staff and community members, and learn a little more about what the WMF life is like for our nearly 30% of WMF product and engineering staff that work remotely. On Saturday and Sunday, the 10th and 11th, I was in Zurich at the annual European Wikimedia hackathon, organized by Wikimedia CH, the Swiss chapter and our very capable hosts.

It was an amazing experience. As I was flying back I kept thinking about how much energy and motivation I took away from meeting everyone: the talent, technical ability, and drive to make this world a better place. The international nature of the community was really on display, too: people came from 30 different countries, meeting face to face after long stretches of only communicating online.

At the same time, I was invigorated by the challenging and unexpected: just a few hours after my arrival, I was peppered by tough, candid questions and feedback about what mattered the most to the more than 150 people in attendance from the WMF and community. I am really glad I had the chance to take that on — it was a direct and unfiltered way to learn about the way people understand the opportunities we face: reimagining our products, improving our community health, innovating in technology.

I was truly impressed by the technical chops I saw on display, and the ability of the gathered developers, engineers, sysadmins, and geeks to jump-start and run with projects. Some of the projects underway were the very embodiment of the Wikimedia movement: expanding the way we capture, structure, and share knowledge, and how we recognize and encourage contributions and participation in all projects. I was particularly excited about some of the innovations that focused on serving a universal audience, regardless of the user’s language or location, to ensure that they benefit every Wikimedia user in the world.

Thank you so much to Wikimedia CH (Manuel Schneider, Muriel Staub, Charles Andres, and Ilario Valdelli), and everyone else who helped put together such a great event! Everything was wonderfully organized, allowing us to really focus on playing with ideas. I can’t wait to come back across the Atlantic in a few months’ time for Wikimania in London, and the chance to meet so many more of you.

Even with such a deep dive this past week, I know that there is so much more to learn, and so much of our global community to hear from. My trip to Zurich was just the first step — so I’m excited to announce that next Wednesday, May 21st, I’ll be holding IRC office hours from 4:30 – 5:30pm Pacific Time (23:30 – 0:30 UTC) in the #wikimedia-office channel on freenode. Please see here for details on how to join! (Of course, you can also always reach me on my talk page on Meta.)

Lila Tretikov

Incoming Executive Director