Computing stuff tied to the physical world

An eventful year

In Musings on Dec 26, 2012 at 00:01

Maybe it’s a bit soon’ish to talk about this, but I often like to go slightly against the grain, so with everybody planning to look back at 2012 a few days from now, and coming up with interesting things to say about 2013 – heck, why not travel through time a bit early, eh?

The big events for me this year were the shop hand-over to Martyn and Rohan Judd (who continue to do a magnificent job), and a gradual but very definitive re-focusing on home energy saving and software development. Product development, i.e. physical computing hardware, is taking place in somewhat less public ways, but let me just say that it’s still as much part of what I do as ever. The collaboration with Paul Badger of Modern Device is not something you hear from me about very much, but we’re in regular and frequent discussion about what we’re both doing and where we’d like to go. For 2012, I’m very pleased with how things have worked out, and mighty proud to be part of this team.

The year 2012 was also the year which brought us large-scale online courses, such as Udacity and Coursera. I have to admit that I signed up for several of their courses, but never completed them. Did enough to learn some really useful things, but also realised that it would take probably 2 full days per week to actually complete this (assuming it wouldn’t all end up being above my head…). At the time – in the summer – I just didn’t have the peace of mind to see it through. So this is back on the TODO list for now.

My shining light is Khan Academy, an initiative which was started in 2006 by one person:

Screen Shot 2012-12-25 at 00.07.58

Here’s an important initiative from 2012 which I’d really like to single out at this point:

Khan Academy Computer Science Launch with Salman Khan and John Resig

To me, this isn’t about the Khan Academy, Salman Khan, John Resig, or JavaScript. What is happening here, is that that education is changing in major ways, and now the tools are changing in equally fundamental ways. This world is becoming a place for people who take their future into their own hands. And there’s nothing better than the above to illustrate what that means for a domain such as Computer Science. This isn’t about a better teacher or a better book – this is about a new way of learning. On a global scale.

The message is loud and clear: “Wanna go somewhere? Go! What’s holding you back?” – and 2012 is where it all switched into a higher gear. There are more places to go and learn than ever, and the foundations of that learning are more and more based on open source – meaning that you can dive in as deep as you like. Given the time, I’d actually love to have a good look inside Node.js one day… but nah, not quite yet :)

I’ve been rediscovering this path recently, trying to understand even the most stupid basic aspects of this new (for me) programming language called JavaScript, iterating between total despair at the complexity and the breadth of all the material on the one hand, and absolute delight and gratitude as someone answered my question and helped me reach the next level. Wow. Everything is out there. BSD/MIT-licensed. Right in front of our nose!

All we need is fascination, perseverance, and time. None of these are a given. But we must fight for them. Because they matter, and because life’s too short for anything less.

So – yes, a bit early – for 2013, I wish you lots of fascination, perseverance… and time.

  1. Looks like you’ve been having fun in 2012, JCW! All the best for 2013!

  2. Hey, Neil! Likewise!

  3. All the best JCW, NodeJS will rock 2013 ;) ! btw: Greetings from Amsterdam.

Comments are closed.