Commander Hadfield) and the political world - all the way up the President of the United States.
That said, there are things that make me quite sad. First, there's the reminder that we still have a long way to go in terms of diversity in the tech sector; when I attend industry events, I see an awful lot of white men. This kind of anti-encouragement isn't going to help. For every Ahmed whose story resonates across the world, I'm sure there are scores of hidden Ahmed's we don't see: the ones whose passions are quietly discouraged or quietly ignored until they stop caring and stop loving the things they love. That's the element of this about which I want to talk today: about passion and about the element of the all-too-predictable backlash against Ahmed about which I'm the most disappointed.
Fred Shen (the Shen of Shen, Milsom and Wilke) has said that one thing he's learned in his decades of business is that a positive attitude is more important than knowledge, experience, or most anything else. I'll add passion as one of those elements of attitude; people will do their best, learn the most, and accomplish the most in endeavours about which they care. This is why I adore my friends in the #AVTweeps community; someone who goes to work, does his job, and then logs onto twitter to talk about his industry is someone really interested who really cares. It's someone who will go the extra kilometer because they feel the joy in a thing well done, because they want to learn, perhaps even to show off a bit for their peers. It's the spirit of a kid who wants to learn more about electronics so he assembles a clock from spare parts to bring to his teachers, to show them "look what I'm doing. I want to do more of this." This is the call that nerd-twitter was answering - that we have our passions as well and do not wish to stand by and see the joy in learning, in doing snuffed out. Who doesn't understand this? The police. They've been soundly mocked (justifiably so) for not knowing what a clock is. What bothered me most was the statement from police spokesperson James McLennan that Ahmed maintained that it was a clock but was unable to give a "broader explanation" as to what it would be used for. Setting aside the obvious answer that clocks are used to tell the time, the broader implication to me is this: the police don't understand what all of us do. They don't understand doing a thing simply to find joy in doing, and further joy in sharing. They have no passion. They walk, yet they are dead inside.
|Hipster-nerd gatekeeping, at its worst.|
Watch below as Putnam goes from nasty attacks to mean-spirited mockery on his Facebook page. It's not pretty watching a successful adult bullying a 14 year old just starting out in his field.
So Ahmed and all of you other Ahemd's out there, keep doing what you're doing. Don't ever let anyone tell you that it isn't enough. If you have the chance and want to, learn more and go farther. In any event, find your niche.
And you gatekeepers out there, the Chris Putnam's of the world, remember your roots. Learn empathy, learn humility. Welcome the next generation with open arms and open minds, even if their path does not match your.s