I remember it well.
Travelling down in the elevator of the hotel where the very first AstriCon was held in Atlanta.
I had been voicing the Asterisk stock prompts – and increasingly more custom orders for prompts – solidly for the previous year. I knew they were being ordered by a wide array of companies, from all over the world – but the scope of where the prompts were reaching – or the idea that the Asterisk Community even knew who I was — really didn’t dawn on me.
On that elevator ride down to the reception hall, I had a pep talk with myself. I’m inherently shy, and really urged myself to make a point of introducing myself to everyone. “They’re not going to know who I am”, I reminded myself, so I would just have to explain what my association with Asterisk was. I had business cards at the ready to assist in making the introduction.
Few people have had the sensation of an entire ballroom stopping in their tracks and staring at them, but that’s precisely what happened. Then – a dashing man from Sweden named Olle – co-organizer of the conference – got on a mic and informed the room that “Allison – The Voice of Asterisk – has arrived!” It was then about navigating through the crowds, shaking hands, posing for pictures, deflecting requests to live-record outgoing messages directly onto people’s cell phones and finally meeting an incredible community I had no inkling existed, much less that they knew who I was.
While that first AstriCon was ground-breaking for me, each and every year’s conference (and I haven’t missed one) is special to me. With every year, I meet developers and end-users who are new to Asterisk, and I have the joy of seeing community members who are now good friends of mine and get updated on their spouses, kids, travels, and projects. I have a rare opportunity to have seen the community grow; to add new members and sadly see other change direction – but without a doubt, each year brings a fascinating collection of personalities.
I’m non-technical, and to do my job announcing Asterisk prompts, I need not know of the deep inner-workings of the PBX world. Regardless, I attend as many presentations at Astricon as possible, and have developed a deeply-rooted understanding and respect for the intelligence and tenacity of the Asterisk Community. Here is the best and the brightest minds in telephony, finding increasingly imaginative and important ways to deploy Asterisk. There are presentations for scaling up (and down) Asterisk; you can hear talks about Asterisk being used in the most impoverished sectors of the world – as well as fulfilling enterprise-grade requirements. The expertise behind the ways Asterisk is used is limitless – and by attending AstriCon, you’ll meet experts from all industries – and every one of them is as excited and as energized about the future of Asterisk as you are.
Thirteen years after that first Astricon, I am filled with almost more anticipation than Christmas. It’s a fun-filled week where friendships are reinforced, ideas shared, and our community created by this incredible platform called Asterisk continued to grow, evolve, and improve.
Allison Smith – the Voice of Asterisk – is heard on many other platforms such as Cisco, Mitel, ShoreTel, Bell and Vonage – but still counts her work for the Asterisk Community as her favorite and most important contribution to telephony.