as usual Ive been collecting lots of links on coding related subj & decided this is a perfect moment [excuse?] to unleash em.
yeah Im a real blogwh*re for hits and yet I doubt this subj is gonna push the needle much. so I guess consider it like a short public service announcement between my regular flashy papparazi posts.
theres a resurgence in interest in CS after the dotcom crash led to a decline in university CS enrollments. Im psyched about this [see other blogs on subj] but I certainly realize its cyclical. easy come, easy go.
there is a big debate in education about whether coding should be taught. personally I think coding is a critical part of what is called STEM education-- science technology engineering mathematics. I think its the invisible "A"-- STEAM. where A stands for Algorithmics.
as you can imagine I am totally in favor of CS [computer science] education but qualify that heavily by feeling that kids should have some option in whether they take it. sort of like an elective, like say what used to be called "home economics" in school. the problem/challenge is that if classes are mandatory, it often takes a lot of the fun out of it. Im against compulsion, which kind of is at odds with what is officially called "compulsory education"....
computer science is not a magic bullet, as Brooks used to insist years ago in his legendary book "the mythical man month", which tried to educate IT managers everywhere that if you have 9 women, you still cant have a baby in 1 month. but of course they still attempt to defy that particular law of physics, like of course on my current project!
U of florida recently made headlines by cancelling its CS classes in favor of expanding its athletics dept, causing alarm bells to ring in certain geek quarters of the internet, but I think this might be an anomaly/aberration.
this kind of dates me. I was introduced to computers at about age 9 in 3rd grade when my math teacher/algebra dad brought one home on winter vacation. I was hooked. I learned in Basic. but I remember when apple IIs were introduced to schools. I had one at my elementary school. they were greeted with a kind of weird response.
I remember distinctly the teachers were awed but also intimidated. there was some undercurrent fear I think. about a future we couldnt imagine, but was sitting right in front of us. I remember a 5th grade teacher lecturing that computers could be used for good or evil. interesting. at the time the sentiments slightly reminded me of a superfriends cartoon. I imagined a sort of archnemesis who could write code. cool.
Ive been fascinated with turing machines since a teenager. I read the book "metamagical themas" by douglas hofstadter [his books are still excellent/classic introductions to CS] which introduced the MIU game. I remember spending hours trying to solve it by scratching/doodling on notepaper and then doubting there was a solution.
a rare functioning apple I computer was recently sold to an anonymous collector for $375K. amazing. a 1974 memo by jobs sold for $27K. original apple founding papers sold for $1.6M.
there seems a lot of debate recently over females in engineering. the same topic was in front of the public when I went through school ~20yrs ago. I dont know if it will ever go away. I think that women voluntarily elect not to get into computing, not because they cant handle it, but because its hard to relate to.
yin is all about society, yang is all about machines. but with the rise of social networking there may be more yin in the digital realm, I think I see distinct signs of it happening. there are some very elite female coders out there now.
juliet waters, blogger extraordinaire here on open salon has some great recent blogs on getting into coding, check em out.
turing machines are one of the coolest inventions out there and Ive spent more than 2.5 decades learning about and playing with them. I think they yet hold some big surprises. for example suppose that there is still yet some "twist" in turings proof of impossibility of the halting problem.
suppose there were some remarkable algorithms that succeed on "many" difficult instances of the halting problem that correspond to deep proofs in mathematics. I think thats the case!
I had some new ideas along these lines that I hope to bang out over the next few months or half year. I dont want to be too specific but let me just say that 2 of the remaining claymath problems (what is it-- 5 left or so?) seem to be quite directly related to this type of approach or attack. wish me luck.
turing is unquestionably one of the great geniuses of the 20th century. but he's much more obscure than the famous one eg Einstein. I think in contrast his fame is on a slow boil upwards.
if you dont know what a turing machine is, click on the link below talking about the Google Doodle or the one with the lego turing machine. a fitting tribute.
the nobel prize is worth about $1M and the Turing prize is now worth about $250K. they are both awarded to highly deserving individuals [although I bet with the Drones, the prize committee is wishing it had a clawback mechanism!].... I do wish the prize amts were reversed there. as I recall the Turing prize used to be for far less money. I bet the older prize winners are feeling just a little green about that.
Im trying to be as upbeat as possible here & not let let my cynical self creep in. I might seem a little mercenary sometimes. it took me many, many years of very hard work in java to clear a 6 figure salary. I wanted to be like Turing and had strong dreams of going an academic direction/career but realized early on that if I went into science or research or R&D, it just wasnt ever gonna pay much no matter what. you can tell what a society values quite clearly in the standard pay rates. I decided not to push the river, so to speak. I do feel a little bitter about all that sometimes, that society's values seem to be so out of whack, but as they say, people in h*ll want icewater too. this might seem a kind of lame way to end this essay, on a somewhat bitter note, but lets not forget what happened to Turing in his literally "bitter" end.
joy of coding
- Learn to code, get a job - CNN.com
- University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department, Increases Athletic Budgets. Hmm. - Forbes
- Programming should take pride of place in our schools | Technology | The Observer
- Learn to Code by Watching Others Write It | Webmonkey | Wired.com
- BBC News - Apple 1 computer and Steve Jobs Atari memo sold at auction
- The Secret of a Successful Programming Language? A Really Great Beard | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com
- Tech world preps to honor 'Father of Computer Science' Alan Turing, as centenary nears
- Alan Turing’s Brother: He Should Be Alive Today - The Daily Beast
- Google's impossibly clever Alan Turing doodle | Technically Incorrect - CNET News
- Celebrate Alan Turing's Birthday and Check Out the Lego Turing Machine | PCWorld
- BBC News - Alan Turing: A multitude of lives in fiction
- A.M. Turing Award
- LEGO Turing Machine
- Alan Turing 100th birthday celebrated by Google Doodle (Wired UK)
- Steve Rosenbaum: The Girl in Computer Science: a Google Success Story
- Sophia Chung: Fighting Stereotypes One Day At A Time
- Marita Cheng: The World Needs More Female Engineers
- My Code Year, Things Being More Equal Than Others - Juliet Waters - Open Salon
- My Code Year, So Far - Juliet Waters - Open Salon
- My Code Year: The Women - Juliet Waters - Open Salon
- Soraya Chemaly: NYT Just Doesn't Get It: Men, Women and the Internet
- Google's Marissa Mayer: Girls Can Be Geeks, Too - The Daily Beast