Monday, November 29, 2010

Google Code-in and Why I Care

After some bumps in the road, we got Google Code-in launched last week. It was a long time coming, let me tell you. We started pushing around the idea of doing the contest in March or April of this year and I've been working in some capacity on getting it up and running since June.

I put a lot of work into Google Code-in and I'm happy for that. I even got sick at the Grace Hopper conference earlier this year after spending all my time and energy trying to announce the program. It just seemed like it was one thing after another fighting against me. But after it all, I am so glad I did.

This contest, to me, is maybe more important than Google Summer of Code™ (insert standard disclaimer about these are not the words of my employer here). I think young developers - the kids we are specifically targeting with this contest - are the future. We need to get them interested and involved in open source software, in technology, and in working and thinking with a global community now. We need to give these kids their first "ah hah" moments while they're still wondering what they want from life, the universe and everything.

My "ah hah" moment came when I was 16. I had been futzing around on my web browser at home and realized I could view the source of the webpage. Not only that, but I could replicate said webpage and modify it to be my own. I could create a presence on the internet just like that. And so I did. I spent hours writing, modifying, editing, and publishing HTML webpages. I became a Geocities community leader and spent some time in web rings. I found an entire online community and an entire world I hadn't known existed. That experience was the first step in a train of events that put me in the job I have today.

I'm hoping there's a Google Code-in student out there somewhere right now having a similar experience. Maybe we'll hear from him or her in 10 years when he or she is creating the world's next Google or the world's next Linux.