Scott Hanselman

Be a Technology Tourist

October 24, '19 Comments [16] Posted in Musings
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Passport Pages by daimoneklund used under CCI was talking to Tara and we were marveling that in in 1997 15% of Americans had Passports. However, even now less than half do. Consider where the US is physically located. It's isolated in a hemisphere with just Canada and Mexico as neighbors. In parts of Europe a 30 minute drive will find three or four languages, while I can't get to Chipotle in 30 minutes where I live.

A friend who got a passport and went overseas at age 40 came back and told me "it was mind-blowing. There's billions of people who will never live here...and don't want to...and that's OK. It was so useful for me to see other people's worlds and learn that."

I could tease my friend for their awakening. I could say a lot of things. But for a moment consider the context of someone geographically isolated learning - being reminded - that someone can and will live their whole life and never need or want to see your world.

Travel of any kind opens eyes.

Now apply this to technology. I'm a Microsoft technologist today but I've done Java and Mainframes at Nike, Pascal and Linux at Intel, and C and C++ in embedded systems as a consultant. It's fortunate that my technology upbringing has been wide-reaching and steeped in diverse and hybrid systems, but that doesn't negate someone else's bubble. But if I'm going to speak on tech then I need to have a wide perspective. I need to visit other (tech) cultures and see how they live.

You may work for Microsoft, Google, or Lil' Debbie Snack Cakes but just like you should consider getting a passport, you should absolutely visit other (tech) cultures. Travel will make you more well-rounded. Embrace the ever-changing wonders of the world and of technology. Go to their meet-ups, visit their virtual conferences, follow people outside your space, try to build their open source software, learn a foreign (programming) language. They may not want or need to visit yours, but you'll be a better and more well-rounded person when you return home if you're chose to be technology tourist.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Saturday, October 26, 2019 5:22:49 AM UTC
I second that - particularly the other way round. As a European you should travel the US (or any other larger sized country). It will tell you a lot seeing a distance like west - east coast in the US and Europe.
This truly applies to tech also - I always tried to neglect the one system, language, you name it evangelism.
Saturday, October 26, 2019 10:07:24 AM UTC
Given the insane cost of international air travel, that we've had two fairly serious recessions since 2000, and a general weakening of the dollar until very recently, I'm not surprised. I've always known we have it good in the US, but for me, international travel has still driven home just how good it is here.

For some of those techs you mention (particularly mainframe) it can be pretty difficult in a locked-down enterprise environment to break out of the confines of your designated job title. I'm sitting here thinking about the paperwork it would involve, and no thanks, I'll stick to exploring whatever I can use from home in my spare time.
Mac
Saturday, October 26, 2019 10:54:10 AM UTC
Good post. I think most devs should experience a couple of languages. Our industry is constantly evolving and it is rare that someone can spend their entire career on a single language/platform. General inquisitiveness will serve you well as a developer.
Joe Brinkman
Saturday, October 26, 2019 1:06:39 PM UTC
I absolutely agree with this sentiment. Having a global view of the world and technology is invaluable. Us humans are inherently myopic so getting out of our bubble is an existential imperative from my point of view.
Saturday, October 26, 2019 6:09:42 PM UTC
I moved to the U.S. on a K1 Fiance visa for a short while. I lived in the U.S. for about a year. After our divorce, I went back to Belgium, but never felt home ever again.

I really loved working in the U.S., I only had 5 paid vacation days as opposed to 32 in Europe, but I was happy.
Saturday, October 26, 2019 6:09:42 PM UTC
I moved to the U.S. on a K1 Fiance visa for a short while. I lived in the U.S. for about a year. After our divorce, I went back to Belgium, but never felt home ever again.

I really loved working in the U.S., I only had 5 paid vacation days as opposed to 32 in Europe, but I was happy.
Saturday, October 26, 2019 10:37:47 PM UTC
Remember that in 1997, you didn't need a passport to visit Canada or Mexico. So it's hardly surprising far fewer Americans had passports then.
Dave
Sunday, October 27, 2019 9:28:43 PM UTC
If you want real culture shock, travel to one of the Asian countries. They do things so much different than they do here in the US, especially China.

It's amazing that China is one of the tech capitals of the world, yet their entire public Internet is practically walled off by the government. They also pay almost entirely by phone. Yet the area is largely peaceful.
Jacob
Sunday, October 27, 2019 10:36:23 PM UTC
Great analogy. Also, don't judge the country or the people in it by visiting its capital or by reading the press. Your point on "Go to their meet-ups, visit their virtual conferences, follow people outside your space, try to build their open source software" is even more important. The country does not make the people, people make a country. A technology does not make people, people make the technology (the production but also the community support)
Patrice Calvé
Monday, October 28, 2019 2:08:40 PM UTC
You can come and visit Sweden.
I will be happy to show you around if you ever visited the city where I live in.
You are very welcome here. :)
Rojan Gharibpour
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 4:31:39 AM UTC
Need to add tourism of computer programming practices from 15 years before you graduated college.
John K
Thursday, October 31, 2019 1:54:06 PM UTC
I love it! It's the most beautiful succinct thing I've ever read on your blog, and I've been following for a very long time. Be a technology tourist, yes, yes yes!!
Thursday, October 31, 2019 3:00:28 PM UTC
The best thing I did as a student was study abroad. The best thing I have done as a professional is to explore as much technology as possible. I hate stagnating and I love learning new things, so this is entirely true! It has served me well in all of my roles and given me the confidence to try new things.
Chris Malpass
Sunday, November 03, 2019 3:25:06 AM UTC
Very good, Excelent my friends
Tuesday, November 05, 2019 10:31:45 AM UTC
I really like reading through a post that can make people think.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.