[Foundation-l] Board statement regarding biographies of living people

Michael Bimmler mbimmler at gmail.com
Fri May 1 17:15:59 UTC 2009

On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 10:06 AM, Gregory Kohs <thekohser at gmail.com> wrote:
> The purpose of my question was to examine the carbon impact on our global
> environment by holding this meeting in Berlin, which (by my estimation) is
> quite a ways off from the point of "least cumulative distance" that could
> have been achieved for at least the mandatory attendees.  All of that
> additional jet fuel and hotel consumption (laundered sheets, poor recycling
> standards, etc.) is something to consider if the polar ice melts and floods
> San Francisco one day, thanks to CO2-accelerated warming.  A shorter-haul
> Boeing 737 flight burns about 200 pounds of fuel per passenger.  I can only
> imagine that a trans-continental flight, plus a trans-Atlantic leg to
> Berlin, is likely burning at least 400 pounds of fuel per passenger.  Return
> trip makes that 800 pounds of fuel.  I hope each of the San Francisco-based
> attendees feel comfortable that their burning of 800 pounds of jet fuel
> (about 114 gallons) in order to attend the conference in Berlin (a
> conference that, as far as I can tell, had zero "dial-in" conferencing
> options offered) was justified?
> I get the impression that there is a corporate culture afoot at the
> Wikimedia Foundation that stifles any attempts to optimize meetings and
> conferences in ways that might be more economical and environmentally
> friendly, with innovations such as Skype and video-teleconferencing.  My
> sense is that "interesting" and "exotic" places are chosen instead... San
> Francisco, the Netherlands, Berlin, Taipei, Alexandria (Egypt, not
> Virginia), Buenos Aires, etc.  I suspect it's part of the corporate culture
> to get the "backwater" taste of St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia) out of
> everyone's mouth, to select all of these far-flung, non-English-speaking
> locales for a Board that consists mostly of North Americans who speak
> English, and who are funded mostly by U.S. dollars.

You are missing one essential point here: This meeting was designed as
to allow joint meetings between the chapters, the board and the WMF
staff, something you cannot simply imitate by using videoconferencing.
Everyone from a corporate environment will be able to tell you that
physical meetings are still more productive than the best
videoconferencing or dial-in conference there is. Furthermore, I do
not assume that any of the chapters has expensive video-conferencing
technology (does the WMF have?). If you take the distribution of
chapters into account, then Berlin suddenly becomes much more
reasonable, both in terms of length of travel (and thus CO2 emissions)
as well as cost for the individual participants, who mostly will not
have funds available compared to the WMF, so it is not that surprising
either that the WMF probably had higher travel expenses than this than
most of the (non-Asian) chapters.


Michael Bimmler
mbimmler at gmail.com

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