Monday, November 26, 2007

Virtual Neighbors

I was talking to my friend and fellow roaming-around-the-world speaker Jason Hunter a little while ago. He made the observation that the definition of distance has changed. He lives in San Francisco and I live in Atlanta. Yet, we see each other on a fairly regular basis. It's almost like we're neighbors, except that the common element is that we travel and work in similar places, not that we live next to one another. This is really true with guys like Scott Davis and Venkat Subramaniam, who I see about 1/2 the weekends of the year, always in a different city (driven by the No Fluff, Just Stuff schedule). I consider them my virtual neighbors. During the busy No Fluff, Just Stuff times, I see them a lot more (and more reliably) than my physical neighbors.

And it gets even more like living in the same physical neighborhood. The other day, I walked into the Red Carpet Club at O'Hare airport and heard someone call my name. Brian Sletten was waiting for a flight and we sat and chatted a while. What's funny is that Chicago is home for neither of us, and we were not in Chicago for the same reason. We both happened to be in Chicago at the same time. Just like you bump into your down the street neighbor at the hardware store, I bump into my virtual neighbors in random airports.

If you travel as much as I do, this is inevitable, I guess. As a company, ThoughtWorks travels a lot. I've bumped into co-workers in airports 2 different times when it was not the home city for either of us and we weren't going to the same place. The world is indeed smaller.


dje said...

I understand ThoughtWorkers travel a bunch. Does your organization have a 'carbon neutral' policy to offset the carbon your brand of work style introduces into the atmosphere? If not, how would one advocate its consideration?

Thanks, Darrin

Neal Ford said...

It is indeed being addressed. We are a very socially responsible company and have thought long and hard about this issue.

Ideally, we would not travel at all. But software is primarily a communication exercise, and (still) the best way to build software is face to face, both with other developers and business people.

Darrin Eden said...

Good to know. I looked forward to your company publishing said policy. Thanks!