where one learns that celebrity is a relative thing
Chemin and I went to spend the week-end in Brussels for the FOSDEM, where we were supposed to hold a booth for Wikipédia (yes, Wikipédia takes an accent in French :P ), which he did, while I ran around drinking iced tea and meeting celebrities. Yes, you read this well, celebrities.
The good thing about not being a geek is that there are many things that you just *don't* know when it comes to Open Source Software and the likes. GNU-Linux was for me, until very recently, more of a cabalistic phrase than anything else, Wikipédia, of course, was a little better known to me, and web standards I have come to appreciate in the last few months. However, Richard Stallman was a name I had never heard, Tristan Nitot was a name I came across reading his blog on web standards and because I have of course downloaded Firefox, Jimbo Wales was a pal I sometimes chat with on IRC. But when you're in the right community, and surrounded by the right people, names you "come across" in an everyday kind of life suddenly take a whole different meaning.
It started to strike me when some guy after Jimbo's conference asked him for an autograph. An autograph??? Wow, now, that gave me a whole new perspective on who Jimbo really was. Till then, he was the guy that actually stayed up until odd hours in the night to wait for Chemin and I to make our way into Brussels (quite a story in itself) drinking coffee to stay up and keep his hair straight (Jimbo has a thing with rebellious hair). Then, when I found myself at the same dinner table as Richard Stallman, and heard him point out that there was no such thing as "Linux", but a thing such as GNU/Linux, I must say that it suddenly struck me that in certain circles, many people might have been jealous of me. It all became clear when I ended up chatting away with Tristan (who was eating his jambon-beurre sandwich) about life, photography, unemployment and web standards all in one conversation ; there's one thing about this whole geek community I must admit, it is indeed, very *open*.
I also learned that celebrity is a relative thing. It did not impress my mother when I told her I was at the same table with Richard Stallman, as it would had I been sitting with Alain Souchon, her favorite singer, but I did get a few eyebrows raised when I mentionned my restaurant dinner on IRC.
Bottom line is, choose your celebrities according to the community you bask in, it helps get, if not admiration, at least a certain interest when you mention certain names. And you can look smug and say... "I was there".