Looking for Python Programmers to Change the World

by Tom Adelstein

Ten years ago, the then CEO of Ericsson in Sweden wrote an internal article about digital convergence. He stated that within a very short time, all data produced in an analog way such as books, music, photographs, newspapers and so forth would cease to exist. Instead all content would become digital and we would render, view and listen to digital formats. I believe he had a vision for the future, but his timing was off about eight to ten years.

Recently, I ran into the CEO of a leading edge video provider. He started his company approximately four years ago and his vision has sprouted wings and started flying. In a nutshell, if you want a video on the Internet, you can upload text and a few images and his software automates the process of building, editing and producing the final product without human intervention.

The software produces living images rather than computer generated ones. For example, if you go looking for an automobile and find one, you can click a video image and see a thorough, high quality look at the car. You will look at the exact car you would buy identified by the VIN number. It makes the current productions of video advertisements look like old black and white talkies. The software also does the job for a tiny fraction of the way we generate videos today.

How do they do it? Of course, I asked and discovered a Linux shop. The developers use Mac laptops running virtual machines with Linux. They use Apache as their web server, PHP as their primary programming language and have started re-mediating parts of their software to Python. They're moving into new markets and have decided to use Python to build new components.

I started prying into the logic of their software and the excited CEO and developers went silent. So, I asked how I could help. At that point their eyes widened and the CTO muttered about how difficult a time they had finding Python developers. I just looked at them dead pan and asked: What?

Their HR people hadn't received a single application for a programmer. I asked to see their recruiting advertisement and quickly understood the problem. Buried in a plethora of technobable was a short line about Python. Rather than insulting them, I simply suggested they write an ad for a Python programmer. The head of R&D asked me to write something I thought would attract the brightest and best. I did and got back an edited version of more technobable.

The Linux shop with so much promise, a customer base that's growing exponentially and technology to communicate so effectively seemed mired in an inability to bring developers into the fold. I came to realize why I became a tech writer instead of an admin/analyst/project manager and so forth. Many Linux companies with managers from traditional development shops don't understand the Open-Source culture. They can say tech writer and hire one, but say programmer and they want someone with a Masters Degree in computer science and five years experience in every kind of programming skill the shop doesn't even use.

I want to help these guys. I've explained that some very good Open-Source people probably skipped college and got a job programming immediately. The people listen to me and I can see that they have started coming around and seeing the picture. Instead of writing a typical HR recruiting ad, I expect a simple one to appear.

Watching their products and the people working in their cubicles and in conferences rooms, I realize I'm watching innovation unfold. What we think is so cool today will fade away as a wave of new technology hits the wireless world.

I remember many innovations in my young life starting with a new kind of woman's hosiery, electric guitars, and watches with batteries. I even watched an operating system built on-line over the Internet. Now, I'm privy to a real digital revolution and I've seen a glimpse of the future. It's python.