By now you’ll have realized that I have a slight reverence for Bill Joy and so I feel compelled to talk about the first time I met him. It was back in 2000 and there was all this buzz about the article he wrote in Wired Magazine entitled: “Why the future doesn’t need us.” He spoke over lunch and discussed his views and every word was enthralling. At the end of his talk people all clamored to speak to him. I found myself standing right in front of Bill Joy with all these other guys going on about his talk. All I could think about was how this man had influenced my life with Vi, Csh, BSD, NFS, etc. and instead of talking about his lunchtime talk I started blabbing on about how grateful I was for all of his amazing contributions. It was very uncool in the context of the meeting and he looked at me as though I was a whack job.
I was a whack job. I could hardly string together a sentence, I was so in awe of this man. I eventually pulled myself together but it was too late and his attention had moved on. I felt like a real tool.
Luckily, as I was leaving the room a little while later, I saw him walking down the corridor alone. Instead of going on about how great he was I remembered that he had a young daughter and I gave him my Magic business card and said to him: “Mr. Joy I enjoyed your talk very much, if you ever need a real magician to entertain your daughter, just give me a call and I’ll be there.” He first looked at me with suspicion, but as he read the card – Magic and Mystery for Select Occasions – a big smile came over his face and he thanked me and went on his way.
Just for that instant we connected and I felt that I had redeemed my earlier mistakes. I felt so happy that afternoon.