What I learned at Hacker School
So Monday, I’m speaking at Montreal Python about Hacker School, trying to figure out what to say and what it meant to me:
Some random thoughts:
1) Living in New York nearly killed me. I found it deeply unsettling, hard to find my feet, and I literally was two days away from dropping out and going home until I went to a Skeme Richard’s party, met a bunch of programmers/dancers who were into hiphop, and it fed my heart enough that it made me want to stay in New York and finish. That was an important life lesson, before that I thought that the secret to enduring was endurance, but really the secret of endurance is joy — the kind of joy that feeds the soul and gives you the power to endure.
2) I only became a better programmer afterwards. I’m someone who distills things slowly in the time afterwards vs during. For example a lot of what I learned from Thailand, I learned it afterwards and New York was the same. But I applied a lot of the techniques I learned at Hacker School afterwards and it definitely informed my programming.
3) Pair programming was the best part. They tell you this in the beginning, and it’s true. You get to see how other programmers conceptualize of the same task as you, it’s really interesting. Like dancing or travelling, some people you easily get into a groove with, others less.
4) Another useful thing was “Imagine your goal was to become the best hacker possible in these 3 months, how would you approach things?” This gets past your doubts, and you just do it.
5) Respect and community…Hacker School was a little haven in an often hostile tech world. The sense of respect and belonging I had there really changed my feelings about programming.
6) A lot of these things aren’t directly technical things, but HS is so much more than a place to upgrade your technical skills so it’s hard to seperate them. THere’s programming, but also the programming community and our place in it, and how we feel about it. I think there’s more awareness of trying to create that in certain communities now, for example the Python community.
7) Mel’s talk on learning styles, js hoisting with Mary, flask project with Dave, photography at Stock Exchange, seeing Caz play, Peter Norvig talk