join the internet, see the world

When I was hired by Chevron, it was to work in a brand new gas station they were building. Since they had a shiny new station, they wanted a shiny new staff to go with it, meaning that instead of just showing up and being told where the three-ring binders were kept, we spent a couple days attending paid training on their contents. The training was held in the small pastel conference room of the local Best Western. Every day at noon, we were given lunch. Free lunch. And we weren’t even really working! At 19, I was completely amazed by this.

I’m honored to be speaking at two conferences – Lisbon JS and JSConf EU – in the next month-and-some-change. I mention the Chevron thing because, in addition to the honor of speaking at any conference, it’s a big deal for me personally. I’ve left the continent I was born on exactly once. I’ve been on work-related trips, for conferences and general business stuff, but going overseas is a work-related perk I couldn’t even have fathomed 15 years ago, or even five. And I get to do it because I do this.

Working on the web is unlike any other sphere of development I’ve worked in in that we all have the chance to participate. People who speak at JavaScript conferences aren’t employees of the company that makes JavaScript; we’re all expected to make JavaScript. The distributed nature of this responsibility, and the context it pertains to, means that we don’t just share ideas with people in our region, or on the same continent. Ideas can come from anywhere, and they can travel anywhere, and if someone likes our ideas, maybe we get the chance to go with them.

I know a handful of developers who travel outside the borders of their home countries a bunch, but (as much as I hate flying) I wish more of us did that more often. Especially right at this moment, since I very recently saw one of the most inspiring videos I’ve seen in researching one of my talks: Trygve Reenskaug’s presentation “Object Orientation Revisited”. This is one of those things I wish like crazy I’d been lucky enough to see in person. This gentleman (the inventor of MVC) speaks with humility and humor about the fundamental philosophies that have informed the way a lot of development gets done these days, and it’s awesome. It made me remember what I loved about Computer Science way back when I was a student, and the sense that we are all contributors, not rockstars but scientists who can do no better than find a simpler explanation or a more elegant architecture. Seeing someone who does not fit the normal startup-y archetype speaking about things that affect all of us really drove it home for me: there’s a chance for anyone to make this field better, from anywhere, and for as long as they want to keep doing it.

So yeah. I’ll be in Europe in two weeks. I’ll travel to Paris, Marseille, Barcelona, Madrid, Munich, and of course Lisbon and Berlin. If you read this blog, I hope we’ll get a chance to say hello at one of the conferences. If you live in or have visited any of those cities, like I said, I’ve never been to any of them and would love some suggestions as to things to do and see (not the tourist stuff, everyday stuff that gives you a real picture of a place). And if you’ve never been to Europe, either, maybe you should start working on a talk, cause the world is full of good ideas.

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3 Responses to “join the internet, see the world”

  1. Jen Says:

    The first time I left the country was earlier this year when I spoke in Scotland. :) Babe, I’m so excited for you and I hope you have a glorious time. Next year, we should speak at a conference abroad together.

  2. garann Says:

    Thanks, Jen! I absolutely agree – I would be very honored to speak on the same stage as you. :)

  3. Rachel Nabors Says:

    That’s great to hear!

    This year I wanted to start working the conference circuit seriously because I like to visit new places and meet new people. So far I’ve only seen American cities, but this winter I’ll be going to Hawaii–a place I have never been to before. I know nothing about tropical islands, though, so I’m nervous. What do I pack? Should I stay a few days even though I’ll be traveling alone (sans husband)?

    (I highly doubt I’ll get in to any European conferences, given my focus on CSS and UX, which makes for kinda vague notoriety as opposed to the kind pinpoint awesomeness that goes with JS development. But I’m happy to have seen and done this much!)

    I’m so happy for you! Go, see the world, kick some ass, and eat food you’ve never tasted before while looking and being TOTES PROFESH!