It’s not everyday that you get to tune in to mainstream TV news and see Mark Shuttleworth on screen, chatting about life aboard the International Space Station.
It certainly added a bit of pep to my cornflakes this morning!
The Ubuntu founder was being interviewed by BBC Business Live‘s Susannah Streeter and Sally Bundock as part of their ‘Inside Track’ strand which focuses on well-known business figures and entrepreneurs.
Despite introducing him as “one of the world’s most influential tech thinkers” and an “outspoken advocate of open-source software” the presenters (understandably) couldn’t resist probing Shuttleworth about his time in space.
Trivia: Mark was just 27 years old when he visited the International Space Station.
On it he comments:
“The universe out there really represents extraordinary opportunity and in many senses the future for all of us. I had a sense that the space programmes in Russia and the US were opening up, and I had the great privilege to [spend time in Russia training].”
The hosts ask if his time up there among the space debris had helped inform what he did next (i.e. Ubuntu):
“Everybody who has that experience, who goes away from earth and looks back at it, has the realisation that the world is small and fragile. After that you, I observed many astronauts who want to be part of things that have a global impact.”
And Mark’s ‘global impact’ was — keep up at the back — Ubuntu.
The multi-millionaire cites his love of ‘technology and entrepreneurship’ and the role open-source had played in allowing him to become such a success at such a young age as being a catalyst, and says he wanted to “enable other people all over the world to build interesting things”
“So I created Ubuntu as a way of making open-source easy to consume for both businesses and scientists and researchers.”
The hosts go on to ask him to explain what Ubuntu (the OS) is and why it’s special.
“Most people are familiar with Windows [and] Ubuntu is like Windows, but it is used in a wide range of other environments, like the cloud — most of the cloud runs on Ubuntu — and intelligent devices, smart meters, self-driving cars, [etc].”
“The magic of Ubuntu is that it doesn’t come from one organisation. It represents the innovation from thousands of different companies and individuals and our job is to pull all of that together and make it easier to consume. So it’s become the platform for…”
At this point the interview is slightly derailed as one of the hosts interrupts to ask if, having made all of this wonderful software available for free, Mark had made enemies from others in his industry:
“Along the way [we’ve made enemies],” he replies, before (attempting) to pivot back to his previous point.
“We’ve certainly changed peoples expectations about how they should engage with infrastructure at scale…”
The host interrupts again, this time to ask how he came up with the name ‘Ubuntu’, before returning to the subject of space, including a few queries about the the scientific experiments Mark helped with while onboard the space station.
And then it wraps up. Ends. Done.
The interview was over faster than a multi-million dollar trip into space.
If you’re in the UK (or outside, but have somehow slid under the geofence that guards iPlayer from non-Brits hands) you can catch Shuttleworth’s full interview on the Thursday, September 7 edition of BBC Business Live on the BBC iPlayer. Shuttleworth’s interview begins at roughly 16:55.
For full effect enjoy it with some cornflakes, a pair of headphones and a little bit of pride.
Thanks Keith K.