Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

11 Sep 2011, 17:05 p.m.

You Can't Miss The Point When There's No Point To Be Missed

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2011 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I went to San Francisco last week to work with my colleagues at the Wikimedia Foundation. Some highlights from the past week: looking at the Red Umbrellas art gallery displayed in Union Square while tango music played, and talking with artists about their processes and histories; watching my competitor Tim Lee do nerdy standup; performing standup for my colleagues at the Friday afternoon drinks; talking with my boss about what we're looking for in a testing lead. And I got to see Gus, Susan, Riana, Jed, Joe, and Elizabeth.

But I also fell ill, and my laptop's hard drive died irrecoverably. (At least I was at headquarters, so office IT could set me up with this new ThinkPad.) And when one works remotely, from one's comfortable couch and with plenty of time to concentrate on text and screen, it can be disorienting and distracting to be in cubicles under fluorescent light, facing an overwhelming abundance of face time. It's like a conference, in some ways; Fear Of Missing Out, the urge to have just one more drink with a colleague, to hear just one more entertaining and educational story, to forget self-care. And in substituting face-to-face time for face-to-screen time, I feel the panic of the rising inbox tide.

It was such a tiring week that both yesterday & today I found myself taking four-hour naps. Dear Lord, hacking the self is tricky; I so dearly wish for checkboxes and preferences and system settings I could tweak. And of course that brings me back to Neal Stephenson, "In the Beginning Was the Command Line," and the decade since I read it, the decade that's brought me here today, to sitting next to my hacker husband, deciding whether to go to an EFF event tonight, thinking about geographic locations and books and learning and children and banks and calendars and the dripping faucet and mail, deciding how to pursue my career and my life, knowing that I am the one who will make these decisions and live in their consequences, feeling liberty less and existential nausea more.

I will feel better tomorrow. Or, if not then, the day after.