Eric Laffoon Meets Wil Wheaton
One of the more fun moments for me in open source was the day I got an email from someone telling me that Quanta Plus had been mentioned on Wil Wheaton's website. If you're not a dedicated a Star Trek fan who knows all the TNG cast member names Wil played Wesley Crusher. So it's kind of cool having someone famous, or at least "famous for having been famous", promoting Quanta+. I read some of Wil's writing and after a short time I decided that Wil Wheaton was a much more interesting character than Wesley Crusher. ;-)
When I hear that Wil would be at a local book store signing his new book, Dancing Barefoot, I thought it would be fun to go down and meet him, and pick up a copy of his new book. Hey, who wouldn't want a copy? (If you're reading this Wil, you've been plugged). ;) I was actually a little nervous standing in the long line to meet him. I could have sworn I saw Eric Raymond and I must have looked like I was staring at him as he walked by. I heard somebody mention his name, so it was him, but I don't like lines so I wasn't about to get out of this one. Unfortunately he'd left before I got to chat with him.
When I finally got to Wil and he was ready to sign my book it was after 8 PM. My wife asked to take a picture, but I said we should wait just a second because he didn't know who I was. He was sitting at the table looking up at me and from the look on his face he was either somewhat tired from everyone asking if he remembered their email from a year ago or he thought I was a stalker. So I just spit out who I was. Suddenly his face lit up! He told me "You're the reason I recommend Linux to people!" He was rather excited telling me what he liked about Quanta and then stopped and said "What am I telling you for? You know how great your software is." Of course who doesn't like to hear good things about what they've done? He was obviously surprised and said something to the effect of not expected to meet someone like me at a book signing and that it made his day.
Now I know some people aren't going to understand this. I've even seen anonymous posts tired of reading Quanta+ promotions lately. Some people probably think things about me that aren't true. After talking with Wil it really hit me how strange it all is being me. Wil has written about how he learned to adjust and develop a perspective after having been famous. I can only imagine how someone in his position might wrestle with what to do next and I can imagine what it might be like just dealing with the social aspects of fame. But Wil has developed a very good perspective on it. What struck me odd was that it looked like he was even more excited to meet me than I was to meet him! Put yourself in my position. I might maybe be sort of famous... in certain circles. While it's exciting it's not without it's drawbacks. If fame does pursue me I will have to get in touch with Wil and ask him to help me through it. ;-)
So what else did Wil have to say? Well I told him what we had going on in our 3.2 development in CVS, and especially when I mentioned WYSIWYG his response was "bye bye DreamWeaver!" I told him we were looking to see a lot of people say that and he said to me "you're going to be responsible for a lot of people leaving Microsoft!" That's what I've thought too. It's really great that he gets it because there are a lot of people who do web work out there and influence their friends. So I've always thought Quanta could play a pivotal role in turning the tide on the desktop. I told him how few developers we had and my vision of extending traditional development to web developers illustrating by explaining that new languages and dialects were added with XML. That seemed to get him excited too! I mentioned Kommander and the power of text associated widgets and dialogs without programming and his eyes got bigger. I told him I was working on templates and a full set of tools for Movable Type blogging that I hope to have ready next week. That seemed to really delight him. As a celebrity geek Wil is genuinely more geek than celebrity. Wil is very quick at seeing many factors at once in context. I wish I could have chatted with him more but there was a line.
I have a few pictures here as well as a scan of what he signed in the book. I just want to say I'm glad I went in to town to meet Wil in person. He's good people and he likes what I like. It really brings a lot about our strange journey called life into perspective. Wil started out as a child star and is now a writer with a great web site. I started making web sites in the mid 90's and and fell into helping with Quanta's UI and design goals before version 1 and now I'm running the project. What we both agree on is that Quanta is good software that helps you be productive, and it's good to pass out Knoppix CDs. ;-)
Open source has had an interesting impact on both our lives, and now I feel that Wil Wheaton is just another of my open source friends. What could be cooler than that?