Acknowledge the Green Light

In a stately English-accented voice, the radio announcer continued. “This is WLRN, the time is now 2:45, and speaking of dysfunctional, let’s go to Mike Millard for an update on the roads.”

As I listened to the traffic report, I took a minute to take in the sights. I was waiting at a red light and this time, luckily, I wasn’t behind a smoke factory on wheels. There was a cool (by Florida standards) wind blowing which made it all the more relaxing, especially since my old Chevy Cavalier didn’t (and still doesn’t) have a working A/C unit.

After the traffic report, the radio newscaster continued to talk, this time about Apple and their new iPod and Mac Mini. It was just then that it struck me.

Oh my God. I haven’t been surrounded by technology 24/7 for a week. Wow. So this is what the rest of the world lives like.

I hadn’t been inundated by technology for an entire week. And I liked it. I liked it a lot.  


I’ve been working in the tech industry since 1999, when I first started working for a start up making user interfaces for Linux systems. I was their technical writer and was… well, I sucked harder than a Hoover. Although I could write, and get a message across cleanly, I wasn’t very good at technical writing. My biggest flaw was using three and four words when one would suffice. (That issue’s been mostly resolved by now, six years later.) As for back then, well it didn’t matter very much because the company went under before their first product ever came out. (Truth be told, it was probably the best user interface nobody every used.)

When I first met the owner of the company I started with, he like a nice guy, but like too many small business entrepreneurs I’ve run across — and I’ve run into a lot of them — he didn’t quite get this whole “Free Software” or “Open Source” thing. To him, it was just an easy way to get free labor. Get other people to do it, package something they’ve worked on, and throw it out there. Pretend you’re part of the community, and make people feel good about you.

Of course, he had been sinking his cash into the project, but it was the attitude which he approached the subject with that really bothered me. It was a business investment. Nothing more.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against business investments, especially within the open source community. They’re a great thing. But to take advantage of a community’s honest and passionate efforts for the sole purpose of making money off of them, well that just sounds like a shyster to me. If you’re going to give back to the community, then that’s just fine, make all the money you want. But don’t sit there and wave the flag of open source around if you don’t really believe in the message behind the method. (To quote Eric Raymond, “Our method is our message.”)

Listening to that news man talk, I started to think about life, where I’ve been, and where I want to go. I started to think about past dreams and hopes. Visions of lives that never were, and may never be inundated my thoughts. That’s when I began to formulate a plan, a direction I wanted my life to take.

Slowly it began to fill my mind, and began the process of consuming me entirely. This was the legacy I would leave to those who followed, the legacy by which I would be remembered. I needed only to acknowledge its existence within me and it would do the rest.

I think I got it. I think I know what —

Just then, the diver behind me and honked his horn. Metaphorically, he indicated that I should acknowledge the green light and move forward.

Too bad it made me forget what I was thinking about. Back to square one, I guess.

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