Some of my readers might remember that in 2015 I, for reasons that I couldn’t comprehend, got invited to the mega, invitation only, elite, unconference in the Googleplex in Mountain View, SciFoo. Being the poverty stricken bum that I am, I realised that there was no way that I could afford the airfare from Bavaria to California so I politely declined this amazing invitation. Somewhat later I received the astounding news that the organisers were, under the circumstances, prepared to pay my airfare. So borrowing the money I needed to live on against my testament (I have a very large music collection, which is one of the reasons that I have no money that and books) I jetted off to California and had the time of my life, almost literally.
Imagine my surprise some weeks ago when I got invited back for SciFoo 2018. Either I had done something right last time I was there or they need a clown for some light entertainment between the sessions. If anything my general financial situation is now worse than it was in 2015, so I decided that I would again have to decline the invitation and with little hope that they would stump up for my airfare a second time.
However due to some copyediting that I have been doing on the English version of our Simon Marius book, I do have some money that I had intended to put on the high shelf for times of trouble. Naturally I was very tempted to take that money and say hell to it and go to SciFoo but I was determined to do what I saw as the sensible thing. Strangely enough the people whose wise advice I trust, and who knowing my profligate habits usually advise me to financial caution, all said don’t be silly take the money and go! You are not getting any younger and who knows if you will ever get such an invitation again. I didn’t need to be told twice I accepted the invitation and am now going to attend SciFoo 2018 as your friendly neighbourhood Renaissance Mathematicus.
Having taken the plunge, by the time I have paid my airfare and the money I need to live on in California I shall once again be pretty much broke. This being the case I have decided after much hesitation and serious struggle with my conscience decided to hold out the virtual begging bowl. My initial thoughts were why should anybody give me money to attend an unconference in California, what have I ever done to deserve that?
Well, I have been writing this blog for the general entertainment of my readers, without charge for almost nine years now. I also managed the monthly #histSTM blog carnival On Giants’ Shoulders for about five years and single-handedly produced the weekly #histSTM Internet journal Whewell’s Gazette for three years both again without charge. I have also, for several years now, been the #histSTM megaphone on Twitter collecting and distributing all things #histSTM for several thousand followers. When I look at all these things I feel less guilty about asking the #histSTM community and in particular my readers for a small contribution to my SciFoo travel costs.
It is normal in such circumstances for those asking for contributions to offer something in exchange. If collecting towards the publication of a book, for example, the donors name on the book or for those who donate more a free copy of the book. I have nothing tangible to offer but I will post a list here on the blog of all those who donate and who don’t wish to remain anonymous. I intend this time to hold a session at SciFoo on the use of #histSTM in STEM education and I will open that session with a slide of that list stating quite clearly that I owe my presence in Mountain View to the generosity of the people on that list. If anybody is mad enough to contribute €30 or more then they will earn themselves the right to negotiate the topic of a future blog post here at RM. I say negotiate and not choose, because there are many topics that I do not consider myself qualified to write about but should the donor choose a topic about which I can write then I will gladly do so.
I have set up a GoFundMe where you can make your donations; please don’t feel obliged to contribute if you don’t wish to do so. I shall continue to blog for everybody for free in the future without any reservations. If you do decide to contribute something no matter how little I will be eternally grateful. Each according to their means and desires, remember the widow’s mite is as important as the rich man’s…