Trapped Between Worlds

I'm at the Drupalcon in San Francisco. It's a crush of 3000 people who use Drupal-- programmers, project managers, web monkeys, and academics. It's an amazing crowd to behold. There is a homogeny to them-- they all look like they could fit in Silicon Valley-- some have the dumpy student look, some have the hipster thing going on and a few are clad in sports jackets-- I think I counted one tie in 3000 and that was one the guy dressed in a Drupal zoot suit.
I don't know where I fit in. When we get into server administration, I go dumb-- I really can't brain that at all. When we get into programming and theming, I go to sleep because it's all well known territory. There's no way to identify newbie from pro and with 3000 people, I can't possibly hope to figure out who's who. At every session I make a point of quizzing the people near me on what they do. Much of it is very interesting: university folk; a coder from the Audobon Society; entrepreneurs; people who are doing lots and lots of cool stuff. Well, they are. I am stuck with too little time to do anything that deeply interests me. At work, 3000 hr projects are budgeted 200 hours and allowed 100. On my own time, I do some snazzy stuff, but it's semi-pedestrian coding-- so basic that I don't even bother sharing it with the Drupal community. With my own stuff, a lengthening list of produced but unrealized websites are cranked out and they hide in plain sight.
(and on... and on...)

I'm always trying to make a buck. It's as though I don't want to code anymore for a living. Maybe I don't. That said, lock me in a room with a computer and I'll program on it. It's involuntary. It's an urge.
The Moscone Center is a massive structure, multiple blocks in size, with connections between buildings beneath the city street. As luck would have it, I heard that in the same building, there is another conference called "AdTech"-- a meet-up of people who are making money by selling online. Or, at the very least, they make money selling to each other. I visited the Drupalcon expo floor and picked up lots of cool swag-- most of it bound for kiddo. I thought, "I bet those Adtech people have some wicked swag!"-- $50 off of AdWords is just the tip of the ice berg. These guys may be parting with some of these SEO and revenue secrets-- like action at a swingers party: you have to be there to get it.
I saw lots of Adtech people wandering around, invading our turf. The dividing line is pretty obvious. We have like a 70-30 men-woman split. They have a roughly 50-50 split of men and women. Our people look like they spend alot of time indoors. Their people look like they've all come back from a lunch on the patio: tanned and full. We look like garage salers. They look like realtors. For someone who's trying to make a buck, it looked like the promised land.
Lured by their swag and a free 20 minute window, I clad myself in my own sports jacket-- a little Frodo-esque, but it could be the jacket of a hipster (I like to tell myself that I could look like a hipster instead of looking like Chris Farley). I thought: I can bridge the gap and leap to the world that lay just one brane away. I ducked into the mens room on our side of the event horizon to relieve myself and pocket my Drupalcon lanyard. After all, a lot of the Adtech crowd were wandering around without them on (I could tell they were the Adtech/realtor types). I could be one of them.
I jumped the brane. Giggly blondes and good haircuts abounded. Their coffee smelled better. Their bookstand was big and shiny. And there was a shoe shine stand. A shoe shine stand? The last time I saw one of those was in 1985. But the topper was their expo floor: a bright carnival like space thrumming with hucksters and huckees(?).
I walked up and a security person stopped me: "Can I see you badge?"
Shit! "Uh, sure." I knew I was jiggered, but I thought I'd play out the rest of my fallacy. I pulled out my Drupalcon badge. She said I was in the wrong place. I said I got turned around. I apologized and turned around cloaked in the dishonesty of my honest mistake.
No Adtech swag for me.


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