Hello!!! ... World?

By Kyle R. Conway

Talk Abstract

A figure stands alone in the darkness.

The figure shouts with naive confidence into the void a single word: “Hello!!!”

and…

waits…

The figure finishes the phrase―now a question: “World?”

A short series of vignettes to evoke big, abstract emotions.

Witness. Remember. Reflect. Respond.

Talk Description

Overview

This series of small vignettes is conceived of as encounters between me and the unknown (some aspect of programming or the tech field in general). It will focus on the insecurities and misunderstandings I have had (and currently have) in an effort to abstractly dramatize the experience I’ve had with trying to learn programming, trying to join communities, trying to contribute code, without having anyone I “know” who does those things, are in those communities, or does technical computer stuff. A general structural outline I’m working from is the following. None of these vignettes are particularly long, but they’re dramatic/traumatic re-experiences:

  1. Hello!!! … World?
  2. Picking a language.
  3. Sending an email to a stranger in tech.
  4. Submitting a Pull Request.
  5. Joining an open source project.
  6. Going to a meetup.
  7. Talking to a recruiter.
  8. Trying to honestly describe me technical skills (without any context in the field).
  9. END: Figure and the Void (from elevator pitch).

Example

One such example is below. This is a more comedic interpretation of the description in the “Elevator Pitch.” The general structural framework would open with the comedic tone, slowly shift more through more serious emotive material, and end with the unnamed figure in the dark―a representation of another person (all new people) going through a similar experience. The emotive takeaway being that others will have these experiences too, and the open-ended question being “how do we make those experiences better?”

INT. STAGE - NOW The stage is empty. We can make out one person, a figure, front and center.

KYLE (staring, wide-eyed, excited, past the audience - beat * 3) Hello!!!

NARRATOR (V.O. LOUDSPEAKERS) This is Kyle – (beat * 3)

KYLE Hello?

NARRATOR (V.O. LOUDSPEAKERS) – he’s learning the new skill of –

KYLE Hello?! (Terrified / heavy breathing / beat * 1)

NARRATOR (V.O. LOUDSPEAKERS) – computer programming –

KYLE Hello, World? (Covers his eyes with one hand, twists away from the audience as if what he is about to do might blind him, and clicks a single finger down on an imaginary ENTER key. Bright lights up full. Beat * 3 – he peaks through his fingers.) It worked? It worked! Ha ha! Yes! Look at that. There it is: “Hello, World!” (Hand on hips – power pose) And you thought this programming thing would be hard.

NARRATOR (V.O. LOUDSPEAKERS) – but Kyle was in for – (Red lights, loud, blaring sirens, Kyle freezes in a macabre, horrific expression and body position) – a rude awakening.

Notes

I can modify the technical requirements as needed depending on available resources. I believe this can be effective as a solo-performance or with the trappings of lighting, sound, etc.

It’s useful for me to speak/perform/write on this topic because it’s about me. I’m currently emotionally conflicted and deeply uncertain about my own place in the broader technical community. Submitting this talk is part of my toe-dipping into becoming more of a part of this community that I’ve always felt a kinship and affinity toward, while hopefully being able to meet some kind people and make everything less mysterious and abstractly “voidish” to me.

Oddly, my non-tech degree of Fine Arts (emphasis in Theatre) ― which contributes to my uncertainty and emotional conflict in this space ― seems to be useful and relevant here (for a variety of reasons).