March 20, 2001, 10:47 AM —
Writers are funny. Some you like, some you don't. Some you seem to sense a bond with the first time you read them. I like Emmett Plant. Something in his article about Linux, "Welcome Wagon," touched me deeply. It eventually triggered a related column of my own. Evidently, Plant has the same effect on a lot of people. Since I wrote that column, we've chatted on IRC and run into each other at shows like the Annual Linux Showcase last fall in Atlanta, and I've been a guest on "The Linux Show," where he is a regular cast member.
Plant is a semi-celebrity in the world of Linux and open source, by virtue of his stints at Linux publications like Linux Today.com, Slashdot.org, and Linux.com. But in less than 2 years, he has joined and left each of those career-making sites. Plant recently put his own boat in the water with the launch of Binary Freedom.
I'm not exactly sure what Plant and I share: Do we connect because we both come from dysfunctional families and sometimes go a little further than merely questioning authority? Because we both had our own BBS systems, or grew up with a love of reading? Because we both love to make a living writing about Linux and open source? Who knows? But after speaking to Plant at length recently about his career and his new site, I'm convinced that on some deeper level, we speak the same language. One reason I find this bond remarkable is that I'm more than twice his age. Plant just turned 24; I'm on the far side of 55.
Emmett Plant did not set out to become a famous -- or even highly popular -- journalist of the open source age. He was a terrible student in high school; he said, "If I passed an English class, it was because they had pity on me." He did manage to find a few things he liked, though. Audio/video production was one; he even had his own TV show on a public access channel for a while.