Last year, Joel Spolsky's address to the Eclipse faithful at their yearly conference was a huge success. This year the organizers have tapped Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, to keynote EclipseCon 2007. EclipseCon will be held next month in Santa Clara, California.
Adams, who served 9 years in a cubicle at Pacific Bell before turning to comics and writing full time, uses his own experience and those of his many readers as fodder for his daily strip. "Thanks to my 300 e-mail messages a day, which are this constant reminder of the inanities of business," said Adams in a Salon interview, "I'm probably more plugged in than I've ever been."
In late 2004, Adams was diagnosed with a debilitating health problem called focal dystonia, which affected his drawing. He had to re-learn how to draw using a graphics tablet instead of pencil and paper. Then last year, thanks to a related disorder called spasmodic dysphonia, he lost the ability to speak in a normal conversation. He could sing or speak to large crowds, but "could barely whisper and grunt off stage". He struggled with the problem for months, trying different therapies like botox injections, but nothing worked.
Then one day, while helping on a homework assignment, Scott noticed he could speak perfectly in rhyme:
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.
After repeating this over and over, something "remapped" in his brain. What his doctors had told him was a permanent, incurable syndrome miraculously vanished. "Suddenly I felt the connection again," he wrote in a blog earlier this year. "It wasn’t just being able to speak, it was KNOWING how. The knowing returned."
By turns inspirational, funny, serious, and silly, Scott Adams should get the Eclipse conference off to a great start. Be sure to check out all the funny subtitles people have submitted for the Dilbert cartoon at the web site.
Unfortunately it looks like I won't be able to go see him this year, since I've been unable to find sponsorship for the trip so far and the meeting starts in two weeks. So if you attend, be sure to send me lots of pictures and news so I can stay plugged in.