Thursday, October 04, 2007


Seeing Heroes

George Lucas at Dreamforce

Within the last two months I had the chance to see -- in the flesh -- two of the people that had a huge influence in making me who I am today. They were, in both cases, people that are a little eccentric and odd. And it was interesting to rate my reaction to both.

At the recent conference, one of the speakers was Star Wars creator George Lucas. You don't get to be a geeky person of my generation and not have been hugely influenced by the original Star Wars. But George was very odd -- it might have been that it was a strange environment for him; I don't think he talks to thousands of people on a regular basis. And for the conference the topics of discussion were limited to his work with Edutopia, a very worthy program relating to helping and inspiring educators. And as a technologist, it is nice to see a discussion about how technology makes the world better, and not just the work environment better.

Sadly, I've been less impressed with George over the last decade than when I was a kid -- perhaps because he was foolish enough to do something new that was close enough to what he did when I was growing up. And that colored my experience, I'm afraid to say. He's odd and eccentric -- but it wasn't something that meant as much to me as I thought it would. [As opposed to another -- more technical -- keynote speech by Cisco's CEO John Chambers, which was very inspirational and impressive.]

We meet Tom Baker

On the other hand, when I was in London recently on vacation, I stopped by a convention in Earl's Court where Tom Baker, my first Doctor Who, was making an appearance. Tom Baker was the only living classic series Doctor Who I hadn't met, and my life would be different without Doctor Who in the same way that it would be different without Star Wars.

As you would expect, Tom Baker is as eccentric as you would expect. But he was, in person, a delight at this point in time. He acted as if he had known you forever, in a way. I've met my share of actors before -- and it has pretty much always been pleasant. But meeting Tom Baker literally put a smile on my face for hours -- and even now, makes me smile when I think about it. Perhaps because Tom Baker hasn't gone back to addition Doctor Who, and his work on Little Britain is hysterical on its own -- that there's something different about the experience of meeting Tom Baker that was different than seeing George Lucas.

Amazingly, I think this means that I've met a good percentage of the major influences in my life -- as I had a chance to see Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Douglas Adams a decade or so ago. And at San Diego Comic Con I was able to see Stan Lee and Mark Hamill.

It's interesting to think about how all of these influences tie together to make me who I am today.

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