Girl With Computer (Ashley McClelland) has a post titled “One year ago today â€” Learning to Embrace the Tech Community”.
One year ago today, I also had a very pivotal experience. I attended my first technical conferenceâ€” an unconference, a barcamp â€” at the Rochester Institute of Technology… up until that point, I had only ever seen HTML and CSS (sparingly.) I was familiar with HTML and in-line styles. And I knew how to use things like myspace and facebook. My background was exclusively education and English (literature and writing.) I was interested in programming, but I felt a severe barrier to entry: I thought it was too technical for me…
That day, despite my intimidation, I was inspired by the things I saw. I attended an excellent talk on Haskell during which the presenter admitted he had very little experience with the language… I saw another talk on the OLPC/XO by an awesome woman, Karlie Robinson, who detailed the effort and reached out to the tech community to engage their skills towards a cause for education. I could relate. I even brought myself to go up to her after the talk and give her my e-mail address, given my experience in education, thinking maybe I could help. For the first time, I thought, maybe there is something worthwhile that I can contribute to the tech community.
I started programming one year ago today, because I was inspired by the technical talks I saw that day, and because I realized I am not any different than any other extraordinary geek…
I gave a talk on learning programming today at BarcampRoc 2010… I no longer feel limited by what I donâ€™t know. Because I know I can learn. I didnâ€™t know this small, and seemingly obvious bit of knowledge, one year ago today.
Today, I know.
What formative geek experiences have you had during the past year? Post your stories in the comments.