OpenStack Summit and why Geeky Things Matter

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I might be the youngest attendee of the OpenStack summit this year. I am probably the only one who never used Linux. I actually didn’t pay attention to technologies until August of 2014. That’s when I did an internship atScalr, in San Francisco.

While I had been studying law, political science and business, it had never occurred to me that software was important. I now realize that I was missing something. For the past 8 months, I have been discovering a whole new world, which now passionates me.

Software Land

You never know what is going to happen in software land. Companies start and fail every five minutes, people get hired then fired and you will probably get outdated by a 16 years old boy who invented something totally new.

People love it because it is a land of unlimited challenges and opportunities. A good idea executed by a good team can lead to extreme success. I love it too. It doesn’t seem to know where it’s going, kind of like me.

Software is exciting, it carries the future in it. It is NASA, space missions powered by cloud infrastructures. It contrasts with the industries that have always scared me, the old and prestigious ones. Software makes me enthusiastic because it is going forward, and fast.

Software feels like pure opportunity, with high risks and high rewards. It carries all the promises of an interesting life, the possibility to finally do something fun. If work is fun, aren’t you already on the right track?

An Interesting Species

The people from Silicon Valley are different from what I am used to in Europe. The tech community has its own culture. These guys are total geeks, and most of them don’t care about the day-to-day money, they would do what they do for free.

It is hard to spot the millionaires, even though a fair amount of them are. A lot of them wear absurd clothes that really don’t fit at all. It doesn’t interest them, it seems. They are frugal people.

Technology is the only thing that matters. These men and women pay ridiculous premiums to live close to people like them, as in the Bay Area. This is a very homogenous environment, but not a hermetic one, I believe. Anybody with a laptop can get in.

Of course, this is not a place for everybody. It is easy for regular people to feel out of place. I often do. Indeed, I’m interested in software and technology, but these people are obsessed.

They will talk all night long about the capacities of a computer, or the way cloud allows you to scale your web infrastructure. Such a level of interest can look a little weird to people like me, that also enjoy talking about sports, about cinema, about « futile » things of the day-to-day life.

It is however this level of obsession that makes these guys capable of everything, because it makes them the best at what they do, and they will never stop.

Something is Happening

Although each new project is described as a world-changing breakthrough, it’s easy to forget that their world is much different from the normal one. Software hasn’t eaten the small village in which I grew up, not yet. People there won’t see self-driving cars until long.

In fact, everything doesn’t lead to software and normal people are still the fuel of the day-to-day life. Try to explain to your Grandma how BitTorrent works and you’ll know what I am talking about.

Still, something is happening here. It has been happening for a long time but I wasn’t paying attention. Now, it’s hard not to think about how many of these weird geniuses it took to build the laptop that I’m using to write this. It’s crazy to see executives from huge companies talking with the first intern that wants to learn something (me in this case), to see this will of transmitting knowledge and experience to the younger generation and to help people when they ask for it.

I still don’t understand 50% of the discussions here, but I would spend a whole month at the OpenStack summit if I could. These guys are onto something, something that matters. I feel stupid for waking up so late. Guys from the tech industry, you now have my whole attention.