Twitter Math Camp was wonderful.
I really appreciated how amazingly easy it was to join up for meals and hang-out sessions. I typically find unstructured social time to be really challenging. I’m likely to opt out. I loved how simple it was to fall in with a group that was going out to dinner or to a bar. I didn’t have to be invited, I didn’t have to have an “in”. Whenever I walked into the hotel lobby and there were people there—and there were definitely going to be people there—I immediately felt welcome. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something quite like that before—being a part of a fluid pack, a ranging throng.
At the same time, I also got to have some really fantastic one-on-one or tiny group conversations. It was really neat how larger and smaller group interactions so naturally and seamlessly flowed into teach other.
There were super silly times, and hilarity, and shenanigans. Dance parties and fro-yo runs and an end-of-camp hug-it-out. We screamed at the tops of our lungs, we bursted out in uncontainable laughter.
But there were also these quiet moments. Intense, heartfelt conversations with people I’m used to having jocular give-and-takes with on the Twitter machine. There were long, meditative walks. There was vulnerability, and openness, and deep trust. We were our whole selves. It was remarkable, but totally explicable, because these were people who I already knew well—even though we were meeting face-to-face for the first or close-to-first time.
The people. What amazing, wonderful people. For illustrative purposes, I’m going to single out two whom I got to spend the most time with, and one with whom I spent almost none. But there are so many, many more—these folks are just indicative of the experiences I had.
I’d interacted with for years with Dan Goldner (@dangoldner), mostly through reading his blog, but we met for the first time at TMC. I already knew that I liked and admired Dan, but suddenly I had the flood of awareness that I knew almost nothing about him, about his life. Suddenly there were so many new layers and nuances and a passion that I had only before seen through the lens of a screen. So many good times— nerding out over a Daily Desmos challenge poolside, problem-wrangling in our morning sessions, being guided in his standout session about problem-based classes, hearing him describe and process his coordinating efforts with his department over dinner. So much. And I know there’s much more in the future. Thanks, Dan.
I had zero knowledge Jasmine Walker (@jaz_math) before TMC. Bizarrely enough, we got to meet in person without a previous digital relationship. (Though we did later figure out that we had had a brief email exchange earlier this year.) Turns out that we two strangers—suddenly connected at some guerilla PD—had seemingly millions of things in common that we could jam on: unschooling and computer programming, navigating Twitter and building culture in schools. From our first problem-wrangling session, to dinner and lunch, to rapid-fire reflections on the car trip (thanks, Wendy!) back to Brooklyn, there was, again, so much. And I know there’s much more in the future. Thanks, Jasmine.
And finally, Dan Anderson (@dandersod). We’ve been blogging and tweeting together for years, and more recently we’ve worked together on Daily Desmos. I shook hands with Dan and said “hi” one of the first days. And that was it. “Life just got in the way.” Did I miss out? On Dan, yup. But this is the way of the world. If you’re attuned to great things, of course you won’t be able to experience everything. (Twitter lesson #4) But that is the joy of abundance. Next time, Dan. In the meanwhile, we’ve got the interwebs. Thanks for all of the awesome you do there.
The internet is good at connecting people, but it’s the connecting to people that matters, not the medium.
This article came out in the Times a bit ago about how your teens and early twenties are when you make your best friends for life, and that in your thirties and beyond friendships arise in more niche-y fashion, or come out of convenience.
For me, #TMC13 was a loud, vibrant tsunami of a rebuttal to that article.
Twitter Math Camp isn’t special because of what happens there. It’s special because of what happens before and after, because of what happens here—on the internet, on blogs, on Twitter. Friendships aren’t made at TMC—they are revealed. So if you attended Twitter Jealousy Camp this year, don’t be too jealous, because you get to ride this incredible wave for the next twelve months and beyond.
But I do hope you get to come next year. And I hope I get to, too. :D
Finally, a couple more thanks yous:
- To Kate and Elizabeth, for coordinating a wonderful PCMI morning session, and to my awesome co-participants.
- To Lisa and the organizing committee. Amazing.
- And to the whole gang of you. I feel so lucky to have gotten swept up into this whole wonderful shebang. (And thanks to you for that, Sam!)