– General Antilles
It’s all about the tech, isn’t it?
No. It’s about the people. That’s really important for me. Back before I even had a computer, I used to refuse to get one on the grounds that I couldn’t see how a piece of tech would help me in my very people-based work. It wouldn’t help me meet people would it? It was just a piece of tech.
How wrong I was… with my online life I discovered chat, IM, Bulletin boards, IRC, blogging, more bulletin boards, scrapbooking and most recently twitter (no, I don’t have a facebook). I learned about meet-ups, conventions, offering free B&B to people I’d grown to trust who wanted to see Cornwall – and visiting them back. The internet has provided me with friends all over the world. It’s all about the people. Linux, Maemo, n900 – are just more, new, easier ways to meet the people.
But these people are, like, linux geeks, right?
No. Well, and just a bit yes too. The people I met in Barcelona have that geeky ‘obsessive’ streak about what they were doing. Which is fine, as I do too. And they are a bit eccentric - not in the “don’t want to sit by him on the bus” way, but in the sense that they are people who’re happy and secure enough in themselves and what they want that they don't need to run with the crowd. They’re comfortable with their non-conformity. Maybe that’s why I felt I belonged. On the other hand, the 'real' geeks are not defensive about what they like either. I heard none of the unpleasantness about other devices and platforms that you find on the talk forums. Indeed, several people had second phones running android or symbian, and valued them for their different functionality from Maemo. They were subject to a little gentle ribbing, but there was no fanaticism. People were secure and confident - no need to bang drums. Though I don’t remember seeing anyone with an iphone. ;-)
I think this pic most captures the whole event, actually. My photo, uploaded by David himself. Even over dinner, with good food and good wine there’s that slightly obsessive thing about wanting to share what Maemo can do and being excited about it together. David was demo-ing his shopping list programme, which needs to polishing, but is/will be a brilliant app. I look forward it being available for average bears like me (Is it stable enough for me to run the devel version yet??)
None of them looked like they’d just emerged from their parent’s basement, and most appeared to have perfectly normal home, family and social lives. So you can knock that stereo-type on the head. ;)
Linux is esoteric knowledge: surely you were excluded?
Absolutely not. I have a tongue in my head and am unafraid to ask questions (I’d never have got from Cornwall to Barcelona without asking directions!) And people were more than happy to answer. In fact, I got the impression they were quite amused to be initiating a linux-virgin. Nothing felt like it was a huge amount of trouble and nuisance, and they were happy to pitch their ‘training’ at my level. I was never made to feel I was stupid: just that there’s stuff I don’t know yet. And would I like to learn it?
So you went as ‘representative Newbie’ – were you listened to?
Gary asked me that on the bus to the airport and I answered ‘Yes’ unhesitatingly. I was listened to. I wasn’t always agreed with, and I didn’t always get my way in debate. But I was listened to and taken seriously. I got no sense of being ignored as an ignorant, non-dev n00b.
As an example of a change I asked for, have you noticed that the ‘followed’ links in maemo.org are now a nice shade of burnt orange? That’s because this n00b complained that having followed a link once I could no longer find it when it turned to a shade of grey just a tad too close to the background text colour. I was listened to!
Do you think you’ll stay with the community?
For as long as they’ll put up with me, yes. I met wonderful wonderful people. They were kind, welcoming and generous with their time and their ability. I owe huge thanks to the people who nominated me to attend, to Nokia for sponsoring me, to all the people who made space in their conference for a n00b, and especially to the documents team who were nothing short of brilliant. Thank you to all of you!
I'll stay with maemo.org for as long as they'll let me. Because in the end, it’s all about the people. ;)