I had the pleasure, last night, to meet in person for the first time an IBM colleague who I’ve known electronically, networkly, for about three years. His name is Luis Suarez Rodriguez, his external blog is ELSUA, and he’s in town for the week for a Web 2.0 symposium hosted at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center. I actually stopped in on the symposium on Wednesday morning and caught a few of the plenary presentations, but I didn’t have a chance to seek anyone out then.
The first thing I noticed when I collected him at his hotel... well, the first thing I noticed was his ready smile and easy friendliness, but that was no surprise — it’s consistent with his online personality, and I was expecting it. But the first thing I noticed after that was his interesting accent. He’s a native Spaniard who’d been living in the Netherlands for some years before moving to the Canary Islands (and he still reports in through IBM Netherlands), and the accent to his English is more Dutch with some Spanish thrown in, rather than mostly Spanish, as I’d anticipated.
And yes, the Canary Islands — Luis has lived on Gran Canaria for the last four years, working remotely. Quite remotely. And he loves it. I think it would bother me not to have the option of being face to face with anyone I work with without getting in a plane. It doesn’t bother Luis, and he has no plans to leave las Islas Canarias any time in the foreseeable future.
We had some great conversation — about things IBM, about the Canary Islands, about politics and law, about beaches and mountains, about the relative climates of various places (who knew that a typical summer in New York is hotter and less pleasant than one in the Canaries?).
It’s always nice to meet someone in person after having known them on the Internet, and this was no exception; I had a delightful time.
Check out Luis’s blog, and see what he has to say about Web 2.0, knowledge management, online collaboration, social computing, and related topics. Check out his reports of his recent experiment: to stop using email for work, replacing it with other social networking mechanisms (starting here, with a first report here and his most recent comments here). And enjoy the great photos he posts of his cluster of volcanic rocks off the coast of Africa.