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Submissions/My life as an autistic Wikipedian

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2015.

Submission no.
Title of the submission
My life as an autistic Wikipedian
Type of submission
Presentation + discussion
Author of the submission
Guillaume Paumier
E-mail address
Country of origin
France (residing in the US)
Personal homepage or blog
This year marks the tenth anniversary of my first edit on Wikipedia. During that time, I've become involved in many different areas of the Wikimedia movement as a volunteer editor, a functionary, and an employee.
In the radically-collaborative environment that is Wikipedia, interacting with other users is unavoidable. Like many editors, I've interacted with many Wikimedians over the years. Some have become friends, some have drifted away, and some have been at the other end of frustrating arguments. And while most of this communication has been online, some has taken place in the physical world as well.
Two years ago, I discovered that I was on the autism spectrum. I started to research this topic to get a better understanding of how I functioned. I also began to look at past experiences through the lens of this newly-found aspect.
As I learned more about myself and the way my brain worked, I started to better understand my successes, my failures, and many things that had confused me in the past, notably in my experiences in the Wikimedia movement.
It's easy to imagine that Wikipedia is the perfect environment for autistic people: if offers a platform where one can meticulously compile facts about their favorite obsession, or methodically fix the same grammatical error over and over, all of that with limited human interaction. While there is some truth to this stereotype, the reality is much more complex, and I'm hoping that this session can help foster better understanding of the diversity of the Wikimedia community.
During this candid talk, I'll use stories from my personal experience to illustrate what I've learned about autism, and how it has shaped my experience as a Wikipedian. I will broach the subjects of computer-mediated communication, empathy, prejudice, neurodiversity, social norms, privilege and Star Trek.
  • WikiCulture & Community
Length of session
30 minutes
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Slides or further information
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