And if you are a girl, you can put on your Big Girl pants too and join us.
I don't know what constitutes "an expert". I've read different bios and introductions to discover that so and so is an expert in this and that.
So this "expert" thing.....
Is there a test you take? Is it published peer review? Some certification process maybe? I'm not sure how anyone gets the badge of "expert" in their title.
I'm not an expert at what I do. No one has told me that I am. I don't feel like an expert. Nothing has come in the mail, proclaiming me an expert, so I guess I'm not. And to be honest, I don't particularly want the responsibility of that moniker anyway.
But I do have extensive experience in one area, albeit a narrow area.
In 7 years, I have placed over 1500 Linux-powered computers in the homes of financially-disadvantaged kids. I created an organization 7 years ago, The HeliOS Project; in order to see to it that kids who cannot afford a computer in their home can have one. Reorganized in the summer of 2012 as Reglue, we are picking up where HeliOS left off.
I've gained quite an education doing this.
Without supervision or prompt, they explore the menus, experiment with the different applications and settings, and go about the business of making that computer their own. See, kids don't care. They haven't yet been maimed or influenced by fanboys or anyone else who has a professional or personal reason to choose one system or another.
Fact is, the uneven male presence in tech doesn't exist at that age. From what I have observed, the girls may have a better handle on how a computer works than boys do. And let there be no mistake. Adults are the ones that make computer use hard on themselves. Watching an average adult explore new things on a computer is challenging. They gingerly move the mouse with their fingertips as if one wrong move will cause the entire machine to explode.
But not the kids....they are brave, fearless and hungry to learn.
So what does all of this have to do with us putting on our Big Boy pants?
Chances are, the people that read this are not simply Linux users. They are learned, proficient professionals in their field. Some of you contribute to the kernel, some of you write apps or large parts of a distro itself. A lot of you contribute artwork or documentation. Many of you are the architects of your own distro. You command what does and does not happen in your project. Everyone who has a hand in creating the Linux experience should take the following into consideration.
Some of us still think that beyond the blinding stage lights that illuminate our work, there is only a smattering of people watching a dress rehearsal. We are going about our business thinking that we are playing to a closed-door cluster of people in the back row.
Some of us have not figured out that the curtain has indeed been raised and it's opening night for our show of shows. Potentially, there are millions of people watching what you do.
I won't say which, but we recently made a major change in the distro we use on our Reglue machines because the forums I bookmarked for these kids were rife with profanity and rude and childish behavior. Many of us fail to see that an entire generation is taking their first seat at a computer, a Linux computer on our watch. School systems all over the world are making the change to Linux-powered computers in their labs and classrooms. These same kids are being advised to have a Linux computer at home if possible.
We're no longer a niche, regardless of what the various statistics tell us. There are millions of Linux users world-wide and more are making that switch every day.
Look...I know that the fragmentation of distros can be a daunting challenge. I also realize that the Internet is still considered a Wild West show complete with shootouts in the street and bar room brawls are the norm. I'm not saying that we can have a profound change on this entirely.
What I am saying is that individually, we should begin to understand the impact our work is having on a global scale. Kids are growing up, counting on our software to not only do the job, but to offer a full-featured, professional experience. Much of what we offer does this already, but some of us haven't squinted hard enough to see who is seated beyond the lights.
I think once all of us have taken that glance into the audience, we will realize just how important our work is. --Ken Starks