Summer of Code encourages college students to participate in open source projects over the summer, by funding both the student (for the time spent coding and learning open source processes) and the project (for time spent mentoring). The students earn enough for it to be their main summer job, but they also often stay involved in their projects after the summer is over, which is a sure sign that the program is working. In some cases, a Summer of Code project has led directly to a full-time job offer for a graduating student, too.
This year, Google decided to send every student a signed copy of my book, Producing Open Source Software. Now, the team that runs Summer of Code is the same team I worked in when I was at Google: the Open Source Program Office. But I’m sure they chose the book on its merits, and that there’s no favoritism going on here (so stop muttering under your breath like that, please. No, really, I can still hear you… there, that’s better, thanks.)
Thus it came to pass that a couple of days this spring, I drove down to the Google offices in Mountain View, visited with my old teammates for a while, then went to a cubicle and signed books. Nearly a thousand of them — it took a lot longer than I expected, and my wrist hurt, but on the other hand it was interesting to have a way to physically feel how big the Summer of Code program is. Next time I ask a computer database to iterate over a thousand entries, I’ll do so with some sympathy.
If you received a book, here’s your evidence that the signature is real:
(Notice the pad of paper under the elbow of the signing hand. I’ll bet real authors travel with a special cushion, but that, uh, hasn’t been necessary so far in my case.)
About halfway through the second session, I took a break. The books stacked neatly on the floor in front of the cubicle are done, the ones on the desk are still unsigned:
Someone asked me if I signed every book exactly the same way. The answer is yes, except for one: there’s an Easter Egg book with a special message. If you got it, you’ll know it.