Alice fell down the rabbit hole and found herself in Wonderland. I had a similar experience last week. For three whole days I found myself amongst geeks. Unlike Alice though it wasn’t accidental and I went in with my eyes wide open (registered more like). An opportunity to rub shoulders with people and things I’d only read about, so of course I took it!
I got to attend the Mobile Web West Africa conference in Lagos as a guest blogger for a tech blog! Yes o, this is not something I’d have imagined a few months ago but it actually happened. The best part is that I not only got to discover some of the exciting things happening in that world but geek-speak was not hard to understand either…
That was my core concern before the conference, how in the world I was going to understand anything they said? Furthermore, how in the world I was going to write about something I may not have understood. Thankfully after the first speaker that was no longer an issue. In fact I said it in passing on my table and someone that also happened to be a speaker (hadn’t a clue he was) mentioned it when he got onstage. Almost sank through the floor but I survived and really enjoyed his presentation.
Geek-speak was actually kept to a minimum and whenever I heard acronyms, phrases and other things I’d never heard before I quickly asked the nearest person. The response was always prompt and never condescending either. In fact I got to a point where I was able to actually formulate some questions along very techie lines and my co-delegates suggested I ask during the panel session. Yeah right…like I was actually going to bring untoward attention to myself. I was relieved that I could follow the various conversations.
The first person I spoke to was another non-techie and that first encounter reassured me that I wasn’t totally a fish out of water. During the course of the conference I chatted with people from all over Africa and the globe, techies and normal people like me. I also met some really great geeks too! Dozie and his chaps actually created (developed is the more technical term I think) an app for mobile users. He was quite enthusiastic about making something so that users can have the authentic African experience.
I also met Derek, a Ghanaian that couldn’t be readily identified as one since he had an American accent. Trust me I dug a little deeper and got the entire story too. On the other hand I met Kevin, an American currently based in Ghana and deeply involved in the tech sector there. Their pals Robert and Maxwell too were fun to be around. These are young, enthusiastic, intense and fun loving guys, totally focused on their core passion of coding, analytics, teaching, providing various solutions to mobile users and all things techie.
As CEOs and co-founders of companies they all presented papers to the conference. Yep, I wasn’t easy rubbing shoulders with chaps that have been featured in magazines equivalent to the likes of Vogue in the tech industry! It turns out that geeks, app developers and the like actually look like the rest of us. It was fun to find out about their families, likes and other ‘normal’ things. The only thing that’s different about them is that they speak code, coding, API and techie jargon as their first language.
My foray into Geekland has opened my eyes to this Wonderland inhabited by strange and fantastic creatures that look like me in so many ways but are not really either. I’m now more inclined to actively seek out tech news and other titbits too. The African techies are alive, well and making great contributions to advance the industry not just on the continent but globally. If Lewis Carroll were to write about Alice’s adventures in the 21st century I’m sure the techies and their numerous inventions would feature prominently.