When I was a kid, all I wanted to be was a rock star. I wanted to play guitar, get up on stage and have everyone scream while I cranked out some hard rockin’ tune. I wanted to see lighters held up in the crowd as I finished my last set - dripping with sweat, completely tired and no energy left. Leave it all on the stage - that’s what I wanted! My friends all felt the same - we talked about it all the time!
Well, that never happened. Instead I went to college and spent more time in the computer center than I did at parties. The only thing I cranked out was code. Later, I got a job writing software and that’s what I still do today.
But I still think about it - once in a while.
But more than that, I think now about Open Source. So do a bunch of my friends - we talk about it all the time!
I met a guy at the Softpro computer book store off Route 128 in Burlington, MA last week. (I hang out there now instead of the record shop.) He writes financial applications for a mutual fund company in Boston. But all he wanted to talk about was JBoss. He’d spent some time working on the JMS implementation but had gotten too busy to continue. He wanted to get back involved as soon as he could. All those people who were building the latest JBoss - he wanted to be one of them!
In his eyes I saw the same stars I used to have. I used to think that way about Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. I wanted to be one of them! When I was younger, I ran out to buy the latest Led Zeppelin album - now I run out to get the latest release of JDOM!
(Now, this is a bit of a different view from the one Bruce Sterling presented in his talk, “A Contrarian View of Open Source“. He presented this entertaining talk at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention. It’s worth reading if only for the priceless pearls of truth in it - such as, “The older Bill gets, the uglier he gets.” It’s a wonderful read.)
Back to our story -
A good friend of mine called me today and went on for 30 minutes about how he was submitting a patch to the Jakarta Struts project (a JSP framework from the Apache Software Foundation) - his patch was going to allow you to define validations for one input field based on the value of some other field (e.g., if you fill in a last name, make sure you fill out a first name…). He was totally excited about it.
After he got done telling me about it, he was almost out of breath. I reached in my pocket, pulled out a lighter and stood there holding it in the air.
Leave it all on the stage.
Did you used to play guitar and give it all up for hacking? What did you think of Bruce Sterling’s talk/article?