Author Archives: Fabrice Florin

About Fabrice Florin

I am product manager at Wikimedia Foundation, where I help build new tools to help users contribute productively on Wikipedia. My previous ventures include: NewsTrust.net, a nonprofit social news network devoted to good journalism; Handtap, a wireless content service for mobile phones; shockwave.com, a web entertainment site at Macromedia; Apple Computer's Multimedia Lab, a new media R&D group; and Videowest, a producer of rock journalism for ABC, MTV and public TV. I am an Ashoka Fellow for my work as social entrepreneur -- and earned four patents for my interactive TV work at Apple. I am married to Phyllis Florin, my sweetheart of 35 years, and we're the proud parents of our son Adam Florin, 32.

Adam and Dani’s Wedding

Our son Adam and his sweetheart Dani were married on September 20, 2014 at Olympia’s Valley, a rustic farm in the rolling hills of Petaluma, California.

Here are selected photos from this happy occasion, which gathered a hundred and fifty family and friends from around the world.

Adam and Dani's Wedding Ceremony

The wedding started with a ceremony under the chuppah by the pond …

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… followed by a reception and hora dance with ritual chair rising …

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… and even wider circle dances across the lawn. More >>

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We were all blessed by a thousand cranes lovingly prepared by Phyllis: they swayed in the wind under a willow tree, as a graceful tribute to our two love birds. More >>

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Throughout the day, I asked family and friends to write down their wishes for the newlyweds. We’re grateful to all for sharing their hopes, dreams and words of advice. More >>

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The celebrations continued through the evening, with a lovely dinner, toasts and dancing in the barn.  More >>

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The night before, we hosted a welcome dinner at the Petaluma Library, where many friends and family members joined us to toast Adam and Dani. More >>

One of the highlights was this video of Adam and Dani growing up and joining with each other: it brought back many fond memories for us — and a few tears of joy. 🙂

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We are lucky to be part of such a creative and diverse community, bringing together jewish, christian and many other cultures and perspectives. We all seemed to share an appreciation for social change — and for the cosmic dance of life.

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See our photo album for more pictures. Many of these photos were taken by other family members, such as Benedicte and Claude Florin, as well as Tony and Margie Bartovich, to name but a few. I’m very grateful to them for capturing these memories.

Thanks to all who joined us for this important rite of passage!

See also:
* Wedding Day
* Wedding Wishes
* Petaluma Welcome
* Adam + Dani – Wedding photos by Page Green

Greetings from Bali

I had a wonderful trip to Bali with my yoga studio in March 2014. We spent a week near Ubud, in the heart of island — and found a healthy balance between cultural and spiritual explorations.

Here is a short slideshow with highlights from this trip, set to the hypnotic gamelan music we heard everywhere.

To see more, check out this full slideshow. The individual photos can be viewed and shared here on Flickr (browse the full photo archive here).

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The trip was led by my longtime teacher Erika Trice, and organized by International Yoga, in partnership with the Bali Institute.  We stayed at Furama Villas, a lovely resort in the rice terraces near Ubud, where a friendly staff provided a great service with gamelan, incense and sweet fruits.

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We usually started and ended each day with an energizing yoga session — and ventured off in the island during the afternoons and evenings.

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On day 1, I met with the master mask maker I.B Anom, who introduced me to some of the special powers of his art. With the help of my driver Pinda, we found a nice miniature Garuda for our art project — and went off on a chase for Ooga-Oogas, giant demon figures which each village is building to fend off evil spirits for the upcoming New Year.

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On day 2, we went into nearby Ubud to visit the inspiring Neka art museum and watch a mesmerizing Legong dance performance.

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On day 3, we joined a cleansing ceremony to purify holy objects with ocean water — thousands of villages across the island made the same trip to the beach and we were honored to be part of this ritual.

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We then visited a master puppet maker, who brought a few of his characters to life for us and showed us around his family compound.

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And we ended the day with a hypnotic performance of Kecak — a ‘choir’ of men sat in a circle to re-enact the Hindu Ramanya epic with a spellbinding chant.

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On day 4, I met the talented young mask maker I.B. Anom Suryawan. We connected on many levels, and he is excited to collaborate on our Balinese Cuckoo Clock project: I now feel like I have a new friend in Bali.

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We then joined celebrations for the Balinese New Year, when every village in the island parades ‘ogoh-ogoh’, large demonic statues symbolizing malevolent spirits that need to be exorcised. It was really fun to meet our neighbors in the small village of Bindu, who made us feel part of their community.

On day 5, the entire island shut down to observe Nyepi, the Day of Silence, to reflect and meditate: no flights in or out of Bali, nobody in the streets, no electricity; we stayed in our hotel and I did my part by not taking any photos. 🙂

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On day 6, we went to Tirta Empul, where Balinese purify in the holy spring waters, then visited the Prince of Paliatan to discuss the future of Bali.

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On day 7, we went to the amazing Royal Pitahama for an afternoon by the river and a divine yoga session in this enchanted spot.

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Overall, this was an amazing experience for me, at all levels: physical, cultural and spiritual. I will miss this special place — but I now have some new friends I hope to meet again on my next visit.

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Throughout this trip, I’ve been moved by the kindness of our hosts, who are incredibly friendly with strangers like us: I hope we can bring some of that goodwill home with us, our western world could use more of that communal spirit and generosity, which seems especially strong here at the local level.

We have much to learn from the Balinese, to whom I say: Suksuma — thank you!

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Try out Media Viewer

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We invite you to try Media Viewer, a new tool for browsing multimedia content, which is now in beta on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites.

Today, viewing images on our sites can be a frustrating experience for casual users: when you click on a thumbnail in an article, you are taken to a separate page where the image is shown in medium size and surrounded with a lot of text information that can be confusing.

Media Viewer aims to improve this viewing experience by showing images in larger size, overlaid on your current page. To reduce visual clutter, all information is shown below the image, and can be expanded at a click of a button.

To see how it works, check out this video demo:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DL02Ry7u-w&t=11m15s; w=640&h=480&rel=0]

Fabrice Florin and Mark Traceur present ‘Media Viewer’ at the Wikimedia Foundation

This new tool is being developed by the Wikimedia Foundation’s multimedia team and we now invite you to try out in beta version. We plan to gradually release this tool in coming months, starting with first pilot tests in April, followed by wider deployments in May.

You can check out Media Viewer on this test page. Click on any thumbnail image to enlarge it. (If you haven’t already,  be sure to sign up or log in, then click on the small ‘Beta’ link in your personal menu to enable ‘Media Viewer’. For more info, read these testing tips.)

Once you’ve tried Media Viewer, please let us know what you think here in the comments, or on this discussion page.

We’re very grateful to all the community members who helped create this feature, through a series of roundtable discussions held in person, on Google Hangouts, as well as on IRC. If you would like to participate in future discussions, we invite you to join our multimedia mailing list.

To learn more, visit our Media Viewer page. Also check out this Multimedia Vision for 2016, to see how this all fits in together with other features in development. We’re building a whole new multimedia layer to help people learn through images, sounds and videos, not just text.

I look forward to more collaborations in coming months. It’s an honor to help improve Wikipedia with our community — and to create a better experience together!

Enjoy …

A Multimedia Vision for Wikipedia

How will we use multimedia on our sites in three years?

Our Wikimedia Foundation’s Multimedia team was formed to provide a richer experience and support more media contributions on Wikipedia, Commons, and MediaWiki sites. We believe that audio-visual media offer a unique opportunity to engage a wide range of users to participate productively in our collective work.

To inform our plans, we’ve created a simple vision of how we might collaborate through multimedia by 2016.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2RKZnrOXmw&w=640&h=480&rel=0]

This hypothetical scenario was prepared with guidance from community members and is intended for discussion purposes, to help us visualize possible improvements to our user experience over the next three years.

This presentation is intended for discussion purposes, to get community feedback on goals we are considering. To that end, we would love to hear what you think of this vision. Please join our discussion − or add your comments below − and help guide our development plans.

Read more on the Wikimedia blog.

Maman Requiem

My mother passed away in her sleep a day before Christmas.

She was a smart woman and a devoted mother — and taught us a sense of responsibility, determination, idealism and individualism. She had a difficult life, but made the best of it over the years. I learned a lot from her and will remember her fondly.

Sanda Florin, née Bossy (1926-2013) was romanian (from the respected Cantacuzino family), so a friend suggested we play this romanian folk song (Joc de Leagane) at her memorial. It’s called the ‘dance of the cradle’ and is meant to depict a tender relationship between a mother and her daughter. This is the kind of love that was often missing from her life, and I wish we could go back in time and share more of it all around.

Like my father before her, she asked that her ashes be spread over Lake Geneva, by the shores where they first met and spent much of their lives.

Rest in peace, Maman.

The photos from this video are posted here. You can learn more about Maman in this family archive.

Introducing Beta Features

Screenshot of the new Beta Features preferences page. Media Viewer is one of the first Beta Features we're testing on Wikipedia.

Screenshot of the new Beta Features preferences page. Media Viewer is one of the first Beta Features we’re testing on Wikipedia.

I’m happy to announce the launch of Beta Features, a new program that lets you test new features on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites before they are released for everyone.

The Beta Features program lets developers roll out new software in an environment where lots of users can use these features, then give feedback to help make them better.

Think of it as a digital laboratory where community members can preview upcoming changes and help designers and engineers make improvements based on their suggestions.

I am product manager for this first version of Beta Features, working with my colleagues James ForresterMark HolmquistJared Zimmerman and many other Wikimedia Foundation team members to bring it to our community.

Learn more on this project hub.

Mahalo, Hawai’i

Wild horses cross the creek in Waimea Valley on Hawaii's Big Island

Wild horses cross the creek in Waimea Valley on Hawaii’s Big Island

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We had a wonderful vacation in Hawaii’s Big Island, to celebrate our ‘coral anniversary’, after 35 wonderful years together.Our weeklong trip started near the lovely Kealakekua Bay (where I got to swim with spinner dolphins!) and the inspiring Place of Refuge in Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park (where ancient islanders could get forgiven for breaking taboos).We then visited the Volcanoes National Park, where we hiked the amazing Kilauea Iki Trail (from lush green rainforest to the eerie crater floor spewing steam from its many vents).From there, we drove north through Hilo to Kukuihaele and the wonderful Waipio Valley (where we crossed the stream with a herd of wild horses), meeting up with our friends Jeffery and Toby.We then completed our tour of the island through the towns of Waimea and Hawi on the Kohala coast, ending up with a couple days of R&R at the fabulous Fairmont Orchid resort.

Overall, it was a truly wonderful journey with many special moments, which we will not soon forget. Mahalo, Hawaii!

For more photos from that trip, check out our photo set on Flickr.