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[P]
I Want To Teach Programming In The Developing World

By MichaelCrawford in Technology
Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 07:44:13 AM EST
Tags: Teaching, Education, Computer Programming, Software Engineering, One Laptop Per Child, XO, Engineers Without Borders, Esther Dyson, The Developing World (all tags)

I know you're all going to think I'm manic, but I'm not.

I sent the following email just now to Angela Bonilla, who was my piano teacher in Vancouver.

Angela is from the South American nation of Colombia. She was embarrassed to tell me that; she said "Americans don't like Colombians", no doubt because of the cocaine smuggled from there. It is also known for its coffee.

It is a deeply troubled nation, having faced an insurgency from a guerilla organization known as FARC for several decades; there is some possibility that Venezuela and Ecuador might go to war with Colombia, because Colombia attacked a FARC encampment in Ecuadorian territory.

I'm not sure yet that I will pursue the course I outline in my letter to Angela, but I do know that I have been considering it in a serious way, in different forms, for about fifteen years.

I'm submitting this as a story, and not just a diary, in part because I hope for a more in-depth discussion than a diary would provoke, and in part because I invite those who read this to consider joining me.

Perhaps some of you can suggest solutions to the problems I discuss within.

Perhaps this story will be just the first in a series.


Dear Angela,

There is a non-profit foundation called One Laptop Per Child that sells a very low-cost laptop known as the XO for use in schools by children. Their aim is for every child in the world to own their own computer. Usually a nation orders tens or hundreds of thousands of them all at once for its schoolchildren, often aided by charitable donations.

Their website is www.laptop.org

Their vision is explained on this page.

The computers come with free educational software that has been very carefully and expertly designed to be both enjoyable and useful to young children.

For a long time now - much longer than One Laptop Per Child has been around - I've had the idea of teaching computer programming as a way to help others make better lives for themselves. I first had this idea after the fall of the Soviet Union; I wanted to go to Russia to help start a software industry there that could sell their products to the West.

One day I met a woman named Esther Dyson, who herself was working with the new Russian software industry. When I explained my idea, she grabbed my arm with both hands and said "Russia needs you!"

But my idea went nowhere, and for no good reason. Basically I chickened out. It just wasn't the right time for me.

I started thinking about this again when I saw a picture of the entire Earth taken at night. It was stitched together from many satellite photographs.

Notice where all the lights are - the United States, Canada, Europe, India, Japan. But look at the dark areas: much of South America, almost all of Africa. Many people live there, but they are unable to light up their streets at night. They don't have electricity, or if they do, they can't afford to pay for street lighting.

I interviewed with the Google search engine around the same time I interviewed for my current job. They had a similar map of the Earth in their lobby, but it showed a real-time display of the distribution of search queries from all around the world. It looked much like the photo above: the industrialized world was brightly lit, but Africa and South America were dark.

I've never had a clear idea as to how I'd go about it, but for some time now I've wanted to go to the developing world to teach children how to program computers. My aim would be to enable them to start software businesses in their home countries, that would sell their products to the industrialized world, to earn hard currency that they could use to make better lives for themselves.

Shortly after India became independent of Britain, a University called the Indian Institutes of Technology was founded. There are seven campuses. IIT improved to the point that it is the equal of any American or Canadian engineering school. The result is that India now has many software engineering companies, some with thousands of employees, that develop software for sale throughout the world, thereby bringing vast wealth into what was once an impoverished nation.

I just turned forty-four years old. I'm starting to feel my age; I don't have the energy I once did and I will need to get reading glasses because I can't see close up anymore.

For some time now I have realized that, for all my hard work as a software engineer, I've never created much of value to leave behind after I'm gone. None of the software I have ever written will outlast me. The best I can say for my twenty-year career is that I made some already-wealthy people much more wealthy.

The only really valuable thing I have ever done was to write Living with Schizoaffective Disorder. That has made a big difference in the lives of many mentally ill people, as well as their loved ones and the doctors and nurses who treat the mentally ill.

Today I wrote to the One Laptop Per Child project to ask if they could help me with my idea. I also wrote to Engineers Without Borders. I'm still waiting to hear their responses.

For several years, my idea for a legacy has been to compose music that might live on for centuries. But it's going to take me many years of study before I can write such music. While I still intend to pursue my music, teaching software engineering is something that I can do much sooner, and that will make more of a difference to people who are alive today, people who otherwise might not find much to hope for in their lives.

I'm a very good computer programmer, and I know how to teach as well - I've been a teacher on two occasions, and they both worked out really well.

What I don't know is how to get started.

There are some problems: one is that I require daily medication for my mental illness; without it I'd be stark-raving mad. So I can't go anyplace too remote. The other is that I have many financial obligations, that I couldn't meet on the pay teachers typically earn. I have some ideas as to how to deal with that, but just ideas so far.

I intended at first to go to Africa, but it occurred to me just now that if I went to Latin America instead, I could drive my car there. That would make it easier to bring my possessions - I won't go without my piano keyboard - and to have transportation once I'm there.

Perhaps I could start in your home country of Colombia. OLPC has a web page about their efforts there - it's in Spanish.

I also don't speak Spanish - I'd have to learn it.

Besides teaching children, I aim to also teach other teachers, so they can pass the knowledge on to their own students.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think it's a good idea? Do you think it would work? If I came back to Vancouver, could you teach me Spanish?

The One Laptop Per Child computers are already set up to enable the students to teach themselves a programming language called Python. But there's a huge gap between what the computer presently enables, and what it would take to make a successful career as a software engineer. I aim to close that gap.

My phone number is $WOULDNT_YOU_LIKE_TO_KNOW if you want to discuss this over the phone.

Your Student,

Mike
hotcoder@gmail.com

I have since heard back from Engineers Without Borders. While they were quite supportive of my idea, they said it was quite outside the scope of what they do. But they encouraged me to pursue it.

My hope for dealing with my financial obligations is to find some funding agency that can give me a grant sufficient to service my debts while I'm away. Living expenses wherever I end up would be much less than in Silicon Valley where I live now; I wouldn't need much personally just to get by. I have the idea that my qualifications as a software engineer would make a convincing argument in obtaining funding.

The Other Site

I started a rather long Slashdot thread on this topic yesterday. I posted it initially out of idle curiousity as to whether one could develop software on the XO laptop, but as the discussion continued I grew increasingly excited about the possibility of pursuing it seriously.

Am I Selling Out My Brothers?

chlorus raises the objection:

Now, i'm no codemonkey, but if i were, i would be exceedingly pissed off that you were trying to train insanely cheap third world labor to do my job.

Yes, I agree completely that it's not patriotic, and could well be considered un-American. But I've been one of the downtrodden, stigmatized people. I know what it's like to have to do without while at the same time witnessing the obscene wealth of others.

I'm also not at all impressed by the unabashed materialism of many I've met in the software industry.

My aim is to enable those who are hungry, who die young because they lack clean water and sanitation, whose societies are torn apart from the drug trade, to earn the money they need to grow food, to purify water and process waste, and to make a good living for themselves by the sweat of their own brows, rather than having to beg for handouts.

I aim to teach a man to fish so we don't need to give him fish anymore.

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o Indian Institutes of Technology
o for all my hard work as a software engineer
o I made some already-wealthy people much more wealthy
o Living with Schizoaffective Disorder
o Engineers Without Borders.
o my idea for a legacy has been to compose music that might live on for centuries
o my music
o stark-raving mad
o many financial obligations
o a web page about their efforts there
o Python
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o my qualifications as a software engineer
o a rather long Slashdot thread
o the objection
o Also by MichaelCrawford


Display: Sort:
I Want To Teach Programming In The Developing World | 128 comments (113 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
more like (2.66 / 12) (#1)
by Linux or FreeBSD on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:06:14 PM EST

  • Free Music
in the developing world

If the XO has audio hardware (3.00 / 2) (#2)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:12:40 PM EST

... then Ogg Frog will run on it. Real Soon Now.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

It's does have audio (none / 1) (#37)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:32:46 PM EST

It has mic and headphone jacks.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

There is competition (2.50 / 2) (#3)
by United Fools on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:12:58 PM EST

no other than Hugo Chavez!

We are united, we are fools, and we are America!
Oh god... (3.00 / 13) (#4)
by givemegmail111 on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:14:59 PM EST



--
McDonalds: i'm lovin' it
Start your day tastefully with a
because when they don't have electricity (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by lonelyhobo on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:23:17 PM EST

they need to learn programming on the computers they don't have using the electricity they don't have.

Brilliant.

Doctor Negroponte already solved that problem. (none / 1) (#6)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:27:34 PM EST

The XO requires very little power (for example, the screen can be used with reflective sunlight, rather than a backlight), and I understand it can be charged with a hand crank.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

so let's go over the plan again (2.57 / 7) (#7)
by lonelyhobo on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:34:03 PM EST

You plan on:
  1. getting an organization that's short on product and dealing with intel bailing to give you a bunch of xos to give to children
  2. which you will teach programming, despite not knowing whatever language it is they speak
  3. even though there are decidedly more important things that need to be done in these places
  4. so that they can not get jobs in the industry that doesn't exist in their country or even better, border jump to america to do it
  5. because you've decided that driving your car thousands of miles through multiple countries which don't have that many developed roads are a good idea

And you're trying to say you aren't crazy right now.

[ Parent ]
Well, for one thing, I'd go where the XOs already- (2.50 / 2) (#8)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:48:43 PM EST

- are in place. OLPC typically deals with national governments, or their education ministries. Sometimes the laptops are paid for by charitable donations, but often they are paid for by the governments that own them. So I wouldn't be asking anyone to give me any laptops.

You have to realize that the only way to lift impoverished people out of their cycle of dependency is to give them the means to make do for themselves. Yeah, sure, give them food when their is a famine - but if there isn't, give them seed, fertilizer and agricultural equipment.

But charity isn't sustainable. What would be is earning the money required for seed, fertilizer and agricultural equipment for themselves. For that, they need products to export for which they can earn hard currency.

Software is a good product for that, and I know from my own experience that it can be profitably developed in extremely remote locations. I spent the Fall of 2000 running my consulting business out of Bonita's parents' house in her hometown, a tiny and very remote fishing village in Newfoundland.

But it worked out just as well for me as if I'd been in The Valley.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

this is where the XOs are already in place ---> (none / 1) (#33)
by raduga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:56:13 PM EST

its not that far.

One app that the XO is missing right now, is a good, interactive programmer's toolkit geared toward
noobs.

1. Are you a Python ninja?
If so, become a Sugar ninja before proceeding to step 3.
If not, become a Python ninja before proceeding to step 1.

3. profit

[ Parent ]

I expect I will do some Sugar development (none / 1) (#34)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:14:29 PM EST

... but just to become adept with the environment before I go teach.

Look at it this way: there's really no shortage of volunteer Python programmers wiling to stay in their home country to do Sugar development in their spare time. OLPC is second possibly only to Linux as the most well-known Open Source project.

But I have good reason to believe that there is a shortage of people qualified to teach software engineering in the developing world. There's lots of people in the industrialized world who could teach it - how many are willing to go to where the living conditions are bleak to teach it?

I'm a competent Python developer, but definitely not a Ninja. However, it's a very easy, sensibly designed language, so I expect I could master it in a very short time.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

you *do* know what happened to The Crank, right? (3.00 / 3) (#31)
by raduga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:37:23 PM EST

Mr Negroponte happily demoed the B1 machine for Koffi Annan (heard of him?) and his friends.

The engineers were all smiling and lolling and patting themselves on the back,
up until the point where the battery began to drain down...
and Koffi picked up the hand crank and began cranking.

And the crank broke off.

Leaving Koffi feeling very foolish, with a ruined OLPC in his hands.

____________

There is no moral to this story,
but if you're going to jump into a project like this half-assed,
expect to fail worse than Mr Negroponte and his fully-assed band of heroes.

If you're interested in doing useful things with OLPC, join their developer community-
build apps that will help kids learn things,
and test and debug apps that other people have done. Its a lot less glorious, but a better place to start.

[ Parent ]

I'm definitely going to research this thoroughly (none / 1) (#32)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:42:27 PM EST

Speaking to NGOs, speaking to teachers. I expect I will take the advice posted and try teaching kids right where I already live.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

what the fuck?!?! (2.00 / 11) (#9)
by chlorus on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 07:54:10 PM EST

now, i'm no codemonkey, but if i were, i would be exceedingly pissed off that you were trying to train insanely cheap third world labor to do my job.

"THROW YOUR HANDS UP AND LET THE CATS DECIDE" - hallo

Look at what it's done for India (1.50 / 2) (#10)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 08:05:17 PM EST

There was a time when they were starving. Now they export food to other countries.

Yes, I agree completely that it's not patriotic, and could well be considered un-American. But I've been one of the downtrodden, stigmatized people. I know what it's like to have to do without while at the same time witnessing the obscene wealth of others.

I'm also not at all impressed by the obscene materialism of many I've met in the software industry.

My aim is to enable those who are hungry, who die young because they lack clean water and sanitation, whose societies are torn apart from the drug trade, to earn the money they need to grow food, to purify water and process waste, and to make a good living for themselves by the sweat of their own brows, rather than having to beg for handouts.

I aim to teach a man to fish so we don't need to give him fish anymore.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

d00d. (none / 1) (#15)
by V on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:59:30 AM EST

Just stick with one cause.

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
[ Parent ]

India exports food because of programmers? (2.87 / 8) (#17)
by curien on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:23:10 AM EST

India's huge increases in food production have little to do with programming and a lot to do with the Green Revolution (look it up on Wikipedia).

Do you think programmers eat less? I mean, if your point had been that they import enough food thanks to a higher GDP, then you'd at least have a start of an argument. But the idea that a bunch of people making more money somehow leads to a vast increase in domestic food production -- well, that's just nonsensical.

--
Murder your babies. -- R Mutt
[ Parent ]

I support the subject of your comment; (none / 1) (#29)
by raduga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:23:23 PM EST

I do not support the text;

[ Parent ]
but i'm really not a code monkey! (none / 0) (#44)
by chlorus on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 06:02:19 PM EST

i have nothing to do with computer programming, auto mechanic work or any other trades.

"THROW YOUR HANDS UP AND LET THE CATS DECIDE" - hallo
[ Parent ]

Let them eat cake!$ (2.50 / 4) (#11)
by V on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 08:43:31 PM EST


---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
lol i'll go (3.00 / 7) (#12)
by dongs on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 10:34:43 PM EST

but we will not be listening to recursion the whole trip, buddy

more like the deliverance theme (3.00 / 4) (#41)
by ray eckson on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:55:30 PM EST




wampsy: hey ray why don't you start up a site. you could call it ray5.
rusty: I gotta fix that stupid cancel bug.
booger: How's that for daring to get ray eckson all sniffy, you cow?
poopy: Not that I'm gay or anything, but for you I might make an exception.
[ Parent ]
hrmmm (1.75 / 4) (#14)
by khallow on Mon Mar 03, 2008 at 11:02:22 PM EST

I'm of the Baldrsonian school of thought when it comes to Esther Dyson. The woman has been warped by the parasitic non-profit culture she is immersed in. Being involved in the Russian privatization disaster is another indication of trouble to me. "Chickening out" was a great idea.

Having said that, Baldrson actually did hire (remotely) some Russian programmers (I guess out-MCing MC here). But there was surprisingly little demand in the States for cheap competent programmers. And the usual modes for hiring people (eg, through networking or headhunters) is geared towards employment of US residents.

I know you're all going to think I'm manic, but I'm not.

You present a poor case. I have done similar meandering (and in my case with a great deal of fantasizing), but I never had the responsibilities you do.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Are you the guy (none / 0) (#19)
by TDS on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 01:04:19 PM EST

that knows Baldy IRL?
If so, what is he up to? He looked like a different man in those pictures after he got hitched.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
yes (none / 1) (#30)
by khallow on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:30:40 PM EST

I haven't been in touch with him in over a year (my fault). But I think he's been doing well.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Missionary Mike (2.75 / 4) (#16)
by SaintPort on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:05:50 AM EST

If we look at this from an angle of what's the most efficient use of your time in improving the world order, it would seem more efficient for you to teach local inner-city kids to program.

If we look at this from what is the most efficient use of your time in self-development and bread-winning, you need to live cheap and get a lucrative C++ job and learn C# and move to .NET... keeping the Python fresh, cause you never know, Python coding can pay well too.

But, we want to keep it real right? If we are looking for a hype angle... something to blog about... something to get a Wikipedia entry and pagerank.... this could work.

What comes to mind is the Missionary Concept. Churches send poor missionaries all over the world planting seed churches. Mike, you could be the John Wesley of Python. What you need is a mother-church for funding and direction.

The way you are heading might get you the needed connections. If not, you may want to consider Google and Microsoft as sources. They are kinda church-like.

If you want to make this more attractive, you need a vision that fills in the gap. OK, right now we have poverty. We inject laptops and Mike, and after some incubation we get X. X, I'm guessing is some wealth-building innovation. But that is kinda pie-in-sky. We need something immediate and practical. Like Heifer Foundation. You inject a cow, then pretty quick you can see milk, baby cows, cheese, meat...

Right now I'm thinking, inject Mike, laptops and pretty soon teach applied engineering and build roads, water and sewer works.  I think the more this rings of civil engineering, and the less this rings of social/computer engineering, the more it looks like progress and the less it implies a breeding ground for hackers and spammers.

Best wishes Michael.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

Google.org does charitable work (none / 0) (#24)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:12:30 PM EST

I expect that I'll approach them when I have more of a concrete proposal. Google.org


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

programming requires nothing but a good brain (2.00 / 4) (#18)
by circletimessquare on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:55:54 AM EST

if the educational infrastructure is there, such as philippines, india, china, brazil, you don't need to do any of this, kids will naturally gravitate to programming. you could open some academy in the middle of nowhere, and attract smart kids from the surrounding area, and make a bit of a splash with a few geniuses, but unless the country itself makes the educational investment, all you will have is a tiny gem which doesn't really change the society, just gets a green card to a few lucky smart kids. not that that isn't worth it, but the society itself needs to make the investment, not a few do gooded westerners

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

lemmie get this straight (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by rhiannon on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 03:33:42 PM EST

you want a foundation to pay you, someone who has no formal teaching experience or training(training programmers doesn't count) and doesn't speak the native language, an engineers wage to drive your piece of shit car all the way to columbia so you can play piano and teach kids a skill which there may or may not be a market for.

-----------------------------------------
I continued to rebuff the advances... so many advances... of so many attractive women. -MC
what you should do (2.33 / 3) (#21)
by rhiannon on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 03:37:06 PM EST

is practice teaching kids where you live right now.

-----------------------------------------
I continued to rebuff the advances... so many advances... of so many attractive women. -MC
[ Parent ]
Yeah I'm considering that (none / 1) (#22)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:08:36 PM EST

If nothing else, it would help me work out the teaching methods.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

damn rusty (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by raduga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:21:13 PM EST

I don't have enough five dollar bills to buy enough dupes to mod this one highly enough.

[ Parent ]
I don't expect an engineer's wage (2.50 / 2) (#23)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:09:43 PM EST

I just need to have some of my bills covered back home, and to have living expenses wherever I go.

My teaching experience is teaching college students. One class was computational physics, the other class was physics lab.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

i heard there was a 3rd world country to the north (1.66 / 3) (#25)
by raduga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:20:01 PM EST

that could benefit tremendously from your talents.

You should ask Bonita what she thinks, and if she knows any
underprivileged Hyperboreans that could use your help.

But yeah, you should ask Bonita anyway-
and preferably, before you've already made up your mind that you're going to do this no matter what.

I think Bonita would support this (none / 1) (#28)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 04:22:48 PM EST

She has encouraged me to teach before. Her particular idea was to have me teach reading and writing to adult illiterates. But I think she would favor any kind of teaching.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

Bonilla, the little Bone. (1.50 / 2) (#128)
by Ron Paul on Mon Dec 01, 2008 at 03:32:04 AM EST


This [Ron Paul] Diary! has brought Kuro5hin back to life! HUZZAH


[ Parent ]

work for IBM? (none / 1) (#35)
by zenofchai on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:16:57 PM EST

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/21937.wss

see: corporate service corps, their version of "peace corps for technologists" i guess:

enhancing global economic opportunity and access to education resources. The Corporate Service Corps will be global from the outset: Approximately 600 IBM participants over the first three years will be drawn from all over the world.  Project destinations will be in emerging and developing countries.

--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
Hey Thanks! However... (none / 1) (#36)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 05:20:22 PM EST

... it looks like it's meant just for existing IBM employees. I'll definitely check it out, but I'm not sure they'd hire me for the express purpose of participating in this.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

if they pick me (2.50 / 2) (#54)
by zenofchai on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:36:49 PM EST

i'll let you know how it goes.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]
denied. (none / 0) (#127)
by zenofchai on Tue May 13, 2008 at 05:10:42 PM EST

shot down; my employer will not be inflicting me upon the world at large.
--
The K5 Interactive Political Compass SVG Graph
[ Parent ]
I taught programming for a couple of years (2.66 / 3) (#45)
by mybostinks on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:14:17 PM EST

and have always wanted to go to a poor country and teach it when I retire. It would be an adventure.

Maybe you can help me develop my lesson plans (none / 1) (#47)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:15:40 PM EST

I've taught programming myself, but it was to Caltech students - very bright ones - and not kids. I don't yet have a clear idea as to how to approach it.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

For kids (none / 1) (#60)
by mybostinks on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:45:09 PM EST

you can use any language and teach the basics.

Recently, I have been looking at this for kids:
Hackety Hack

The idea is that programming is easy and fun. You want to keep motivation and interest as high as possible.

just my two cents...

[ Parent ]

For kids (1.00 / 3) (#61)
by mybostinks on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:45:57 PM EST

you can use any language and teach the basics.

Recently, I have been looking at this for kids:
Hackety Hack

The idea is that programming is easy and fun. You want to keep motivation and interest as high as possible.

just my two cents...

[ Parent ]

Hey wow, that's great! (2.50 / 2) (#67)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 09:58:05 PM EST

The XO comes with all its Python source code, and it has a sandbox so the kids can safely tinker with it.

While I recommend Python for beginners, I have the sense that it might not work well for younger children. Consider trying to figure out Python set operations when you haven't studied sets in math yet.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

Programming is fun? (none / 1) (#104)
by maluke on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 10:23:49 AM EST

If for anyone it's not -- GTFO, no need for this fuckety-fuck nonsense.

[ Parent ]
I'll tell you that I dislike this crap completely. (2.75 / 4) (#48)
by V on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:18:07 PM EST

Is this anything more than ego-boosting? Does this have even a slight possibility of generating something other than a blog?

This is slightly better than the "X without borders" motherfuckers. Oh! How compassionate! They build nice things for the savages! It's their white man's burden!

Fuck you and your self-serving philanthropy.

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens

Have you seen what X Without Borders actually do? (none / 1) (#49)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:24:04 PM EST

Engineers without Borders builds water treatment plants. How is that wrong? Millions die each year because of waterborne diseases; they might well be able to put a stop to it.

I can't say yet that I'll definitely do this - as I said some obstacles stand in my way - but I'm going to definitely pursue it in a serious way.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

It's self serving and patronizing. (2.33 / 3) (#59)
by V on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:42:40 PM EST

Those fuckers get off feeling all magnanimous for helping savages. They feel they have fulfilled their  white man's burden.

Newsflash: only when those savages decide to get out of the hole they will. Charity is an insult. Charity from self-serving motherfuckers is an even worse insult.

Like vinigga said above it's better to do "good" anonymously. That's not what you want.

HTH.

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
[ Parent ]

Globalization stacks the deck against them. (none / 1) (#66)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 09:55:04 PM EST

Stuff like worldwide patent conventions. The US got to be an industrial powerhouse in large part by stealing British patents, which at the time weren't enforceable here. But now we have GATT, the WTO, the World Bank and so on, and it's all designed to preserve the status quo, so industrialized nations have a source of cheap labor.

But locally-developed intellectual property will give them a way around that.

Even if it were patronizing - which I can guarantee you it's not in my case nor, I suspect, in the case of Doctors or Engineers without Borders - if you were hungry and sick, you might be willing to take a little patronization to be fed and healed.

Especially if you were taught a way you yourself could earn the money to buy food and medicine.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

They will deceive, steal, cheat, murder, (2.50 / 2) (#74)
by V on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:57:04 PM EST

and do everything to get themselves out of the hole.

Play along when it suits them, ignore the treaties when it doesn't. They will get themselves strong enough to make war a lose-lose situation. If they don't their society lacks something.

Giving them trinkets and tokens only discourages them from doing what is necessary. What you proclaim makes sense if you want to preserve the status quo, but you claim that you want to save the savages.

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
[ Parent ]

A valuable job skill isn't just a trinket. (none / 0) (#75)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:59:00 PM EST

It's something that can put food on your family's table for a whole lifetime.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

really? (2.50 / 2) (#80)
by Morally Inflexible on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 01:47:39 AM EST

I think that, for instance, China is doing much better than it would otherwise be doing because it largely ignores intelectual property laws, international or otherwise. I believe this is one of the big advantages that the 'developing nations' have.

Globalization, I think, is giving these countries a big leg up... Living like a factory worker from the early 20th century sucks, but it's a step up from sustinace farming.

[ Parent ]

Every fallacy wrapped in a third person plural. (none / 0) (#91)
by Scrymarch on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 09:17:55 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Mike, you can be a real piece of work at times (2.83 / 6) (#55)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:43:44 PM EST

you know that?

you profess to be a dirty gnu hippy and rally against intellectual property hoarding, yet throw that away at the prospect of making the third world into to the next microsoft, apple, autodesk, or adobe..  so you can be remembered for eternity for making the third world a thing of the past.

It's all just some ego trip.. you have this demented quest to have a lasting legacy. Well why don't you knock up bonita and create a familial legacy instead?

grandeur can't be forced, and when you try to force it, you're delusional.  You want to help the third world help you? do you know how retarded that shit even sounds?

Going and teaching kids to write code is all fine and well, i'm sure the peace corps would snatch you up for that.... and yeah guess what you're not the first person to have this bright idea..  nor would you be the first technical programmer over there, or likely the most notable or effective.

Helping the third world is largely a thankless and anonymous job.. which is great if that's what you're into..  but you sir are barking up the wrong tree.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!

Why do they have to be the next Microsoft? (none / 0) (#56)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:50:15 PM EST

The XO itself is completely Open Source - I understand it's Fedora underneath, and Sugar and all the applications are written in Python, with the source code supplied on every unit.

A great deal of India's software success comes from doing LAMP consulting - all Open Source, and the Indians do contribute code back to the community. I've seen it myself!

Without Open Source and Free Software, the industrialized world, primarily the US, would have a lock on the software industry, because the developing world couldn't afford to buy the development tools or license the patents.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

open source foundation is one thing (2.50 / 2) (#57)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 07:54:30 PM EST

but you're talking about sparking the fire for software companies that will bring vast wealth to their nation.

You get vast wealth by hoarding IP, not by sharing it openly.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

I don't think its ego (2.75 / 4) (#58)
by raduga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 08:33:05 PM EST

I think he's sorely mistaken in thinking that his s/a is under control.

I'm not sure there's any advice we can give him that he's able to hear.

[ Parent ]

Actually it's the best it's been in ten years (2.00 / 2) (#64)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 09:49:40 PM EST

It's not just that I have better medicine (Zyprexa instead of Risperdal), it's that I'm no longer self-employed.

It was a huge mistake to start my consulting business, at least the way I did. I should have got some kind of business education first, but not having that I ran myself into a hole from which I'm only now digging myself out.

It was the stress of that that made me so sick. Before I was a consultant I was doing really well.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

You must be a young man. Are you? (none / 1) (#65)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 09:51:08 PM EST

I have that sense from the way you post.

I guarantee that when you get to be my age, you're going to be feeling the same way.

Most men get sports cars, toupees and trophy wives. I'm trying to do better than that.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

well i'm a twenty-something, sure (2.50 / 4) (#68)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:05:26 PM EST

but I don't think I will ever feel the way you do no matter how old I get. Yes, the idea of leaving a legacy is appealing to me. But it's appealing in the same way that a sports car or trophy wife is.. a fantasy. You see, I, at my relatively tender age, have more wisdom than you do already.

I know that the ego is a great port of being human once you have insight into it and don't let it confuse and shroud you in confusion. The best life has to offer is intrinsic work. That is work that is its own reward. I would only go teach code to african tots if doing so would be its own reward. I only pick up my guitar or drumsticks when playing them is its own reward.

If I somehow manage to leave a lasting legacy on humanity before I die, will that will just be icing on the cake...  but it probably wont happen for either me or you, Michael..  but at least i'll die never having chased elusive dreams, but having lived obtainable dreams.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

I have always dreamed of greatness (none / 0) (#69)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:16:19 PM EST

At first it was to win the Nobel prize, but my illness took that from me.

I can accept that that might be some kind of character fault or neurosis - but I don't agree that greatness can only be achieved when you're not looking for it. Look at what's been achieved by some of those who were striving.

You probably know that Bill Clinton plays the sax. You may not know that he once dreamed of being a professional musician. But he knew that the odds of making it were quite slim.

He figured he had a better chance of getting elected president someday, so that's what he set out to do - from a very young age.

I'm absolutely serious.

I have always aimed for my work to do good for others. But as I say in Why I'm Proud To Be A Dirty GNU Hippy, I've been bitterly disappointed by the bill of goods sold to me by the software industry. Did you know that Apple used to run a radio ad promising that Apple employees could change the world?

Look at it this way: even if I'm delusional as you say, at least I'm insanely bent on helping my fellow man. That's better than could be said about some other crazy genuises.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

it's not that it can only be achieved (2.33 / 3) (#70)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:40:31 PM EST

when you're not looking for it... but it's only really worth anything when it's a side effect of you doing something you loved.

Yes Bill Clinton will be a name long remembered...  but what good is that to him, really? Did he become president of the United States of America to be great, or because holding that office was an intrinsically rewarding thing to do with his life?

Infact, any megalomaniacle politician's greatness is a fraud anyway next to the true greats..  the ones that became great while they were busy doing other things for its intrinsic reward.

Clinton goes around trying to be relevant today and it's just a sad ego trip to watch.

And if your greatness is your destination, it wont be that satisfying once you get there..  you'll probably realize that the trip was the most satisfying part... and then only the genuine and sincere parts of that trip.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

I do know well that teaching is its own reward (none / 1) (#71)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:47:33 PM EST

I actually do have some teaching experience (some of the commenters seem to have missed that). Not a lot, but enough to know that it comes naturally to me, and that my students like me.

To see a young person's face light up when they finally have an insight and really get the concept you're trying to teach? And to know that it was my teaching that enabled it? It's an incredible experience - gratifying isn't a strong enough word.

I taught computational physics (or numerical analysis) when I was an undergrad at Caltech, and physics lab when I was in grad school at UCSC.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

right but (none / 0) (#72)
by balsamic vinigga on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:52:28 PM EST

is that your motivation or is your motivation some vague notion of greatness? that's the important distinction.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]
Not greatness, no. But I want to do good. (none / 1) (#73)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 10:54:10 PM EST

What's going to matter to me, lying on my deathbed, is not that I am worshipped, but that I have made a difference in a positive way. It won't matter if those who have benefited even remember my name, so long as I've helped them.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

Some great people strived and worked hard to (none / 1) (#105)
by maluke on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 10:42:49 AM EST

become one. I've never heard of anyone who've actually announced such a wish beforehand and proceeded to accomplish that.

Every time you mention your legacy you're moving in a wrong direction. If you want results -- get to fucking work.

[ Parent ]

but isn't everything we do essentially (2.25 / 4) (#81)
by Morally Inflexible on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 02:09:32 AM EST

an ego trip?

When you remove the ego, what is left? I mean, nearly all of us on this website have the food and shelter and at least minimal medical care bits covered for ourselves and our dependants. After that, what is left besides ego gratification?

Personally, I've had bad experiences with 'unselfish' people- I don't really trust it when other people claim to be looking after my interests rather than their own. But I can see the attraction to fame... and eh, I don't think it's evil. Doing nice things for other people in an effort to achieve fame? I mean, it's not the path I'm choosing, but I can think of worse things to do with your time.

Really, I think if fame is his goal, educating programmers is probably a much more effective path for Michael Crawford than writing great music; amongst other things, there is a lot less oompitition- The combination of programming skill and the hunger for fame is probably much more rare than the combination of musical interest and hunger for fame.

personally, though, I think he might be better off continuing his internet ministries on programming, or perhaps writing books, rather than trying to do it in person. It scales better that way.

[ Parent ]

i'm not saying there's (none / 1) (#89)
by balsamic vinigga on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:09:13 AM EST

anything wrong with ego trips, or wanting fame, etc...  what i'm saying is that when you focus on that as your primary goal in life, you'll only end up hurting yourself and your ego will suffer more.

It's an issue not of what's right or wrong but of how to be happy.

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
[ Parent ]

"Congratulations, Mr. Crawford, it's a ... (3.00 / 3) (#110)
by creature on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 05:39:00 AM EST

... healthy baby boy."

"I will name him Michael David Crawford Junior, in honour of... me. Well, hey, there, little fella. Would you like some

  • Free Music
?"

[ Parent ]
The Inn of Sixth Happiness (3.00 / 3) (#62)
by sye on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 09:32:10 PM EST

MC, have you watched that film "The Inn of Sixth happiness" ? ... It was based on a true story. She has the same drive as you do and the same aim, I suspect... and lack of money did not stop her from doing what she believed...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
commentary - For a better sye@K5
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ripple me ~~> ~allthingsgo: gateway to Garden of Perfect Brightess in CNY/BTC/LTC/DRK
rubbing u ~~> ~procrasti: getaway to HE'LL
Hey! at least he was in a stable relationship. - procrasti
enter K5 via Blastar.in

Wow, thanks. No, I didn't know about it. (none / 0) (#63)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 09:47:43 PM EST

That's a really inspiring story. If I can't find it to rent, I'll buy a copy.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

save the money (none / 0) (#98)
by sye on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 03:51:10 PM EST

I'll mail you a copy if you can't rent one... and here's the link to the real person : Gladys Aylward (Chinese name: 艾偉德, pinyin: Ai.wei.de) (February 24, 1902-January 3, 1970

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
commentary - For a better sye@K5
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
ripple me ~~> ~allthingsgo: gateway to Garden of Perfect Brightess in CNY/BTC/LTC/DRK
rubbing u ~~> ~procrasti: getaway to HE'LL
Hey! at least he was in a stable relationship. - procrasti
enter K5 via Blastar.in
[ Parent ]

come join me on the front line, MC! (3.00 / 2) (#76)
by N0574 on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:05:44 PM EST

I can get you a teaching job here in the Far East if you like. I know, not exactly Ecuador, but you can develop your teaching method here and then move on to Laos or Burma...Both of which are quite dark from space, I notice.

- NCCTG N0574 CANCER PROTOCOL
Yeah I was thinking of asking you about it (none / 1) (#77)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 04, 2008 at 11:10:28 PM EST

A particular question I have: will a criminal record and a severe mental illness prevent me from getting a work permit? That's what's still holding up my Canadian immigration.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

I doubt it (none / 0) (#86)
by N0574 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 04:42:11 AM EST

but I would keep those two points under wraps when interviewing for a position :-) To my knowledge they don't do international background checks for work permits, but I will need to check to make sure.

- NCCTG N0574 CANCER PROTOCOL
[ Parent ]
What, exactly, do you mean by criminal record? (none / 1) (#88)
by BJH on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:27:20 AM EST

Since it's you, I guess it can be assumed that you don't mean parking fines, but that still leaves a lot of possibilities.
--
Roses are red, violets are blue.
I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.
-- Oscar Levant

[ Parent ]
Like the old saying says, (3.00 / 3) (#78)
by xC0000005 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 12:59:55 AM EST

Build a man a fire, he'll be warm for a night.
Set a man on fire, he'll be warm for the rest of his life.



Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't

Teach a man to fish (none / 0) (#93)
by daveybaby on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 10:33:35 AM EST

and then set fire to all the fish he catches.
You'd be amazed at how angry he gets.

[ Parent ]
LOL - to mix the axioms, (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by xC0000005 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 10:40:19 AM EST

I felt sorry for the man who had no shoes
until I saw the man with no feet.
Then I told them both
"Hey - you don't need shoes or feet to fish."

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]
hmmm (none / 0) (#99)
by SaintPort on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 04:59:32 PM EST

take a fish...
....add feet...
........ya got a Darwin Fish!

>< Darwin >
      LL LL


--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

have you considered writing a book? (2.50 / 2) (#82)
by Morally Inflexible on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 02:20:48 AM EST

many publishers these days will let you release your material online for free in parallel with the dead-tree printing. the advantage of getting a dead-tree publisher behind you is marketing muscle, and some monitization.

Personally, I'm not convenced that in-person learning is much (or any) more effective than reading a good book, and you are obviously a good writer.

I think you might do better both in educating the largest number of people and in generating fame by focusing on writing (and distribution of that writing) Perhaps you should start with a guide? If you did decide to teach in person, having written the material certanly wouldn't hurt.

The other thing to think about is working with someone to setup corrispondence schools. I don't know of any good, free, online 'how to program' courses. You could touch a lot more lives by writing one of those than you could teaching in person, and it would be less disruptive to your life

Food for thought. (2.50 / 2) (#83)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 02:29:55 AM EST

Yeah, I've been wanting to write a book for eons, but the most I ever seem to be able to do is write essays, if long ones. It seems to be a problem with my attention span. Oh look! Something shiny! For all people grouse about my music, I've actually been able to maintain my focus on it far better than I have on my writing.

If I write a real dead-tree book, I'll publish it at Lulu, because it allows me to keep the rights. Most traditional publishers require one to assign them the copyright, especially when its one's first book.

That would allow me to also publish it online.

The articles at GoingWare's Bag of Programming Tricks and Mister Markup are actually quite popular, and have been so for years.

But the idea I discuss in this story is to teach little kids, so they can be software engineers when they grow up. Little kids like that won't, I don't think, be into learning from websites.

The XO, though, can be used as an eBook reader. I'll look into how one formats such books for it. (The screen can be flipped around and folded back, hiding the keyboard for reading text. They stop the CPU in between page turns when used this way, to conserve power.)


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

some of the smaller publishing outfits (none / 1) (#84)
by Morally Inflexible on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 02:39:57 AM EST

are pretty flexible as to terms; my publisher No-Starch press (Yeah, we are still going to finish that god damn book. Really!) has said that I can maintain a parallel wiki that has all the book content. They were pretty flexible in negotiating with me, and you are in a much stronger position than I was, what with having proven that you can actually write and stuff.

Self-publishing does have some advantages; but as the primary goal with my book was fame (and the resulting consulting gigs and hosting customers) and as it is my first book - having people around who know how this sort of thing works is valuable, I thought going with a dead-tree publisher was the way to go.

[ Parent ]

A non-DRM eBook format looks like the way to go (none / 1) (#85)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 03:13:37 AM EST

Yeah, it would be nice to make money from book sales. I might consider selling dead-tree editions, but for the One Laptop Per Child project, and educating kids, writing a book in the format used for eBooks on the XO would really be a win.

Here is a Wiki page explaining their Book reader feature set.

It happens that both Guide von Rossum's Python Tutorial and Mark Lutz' book Learning Python assume the reader already knows some other programming language; even if they didn't, they aren't really suitable for educating children.

For quite a while now I've been recommending Python as a first programming language for anyone who wants to learn to code. But because there's no "from scratch" tutorial material available that I know of, I've also had in mind writing an article to be called "Python as a First Programming Language".

I'm going to install Sugar (their desktop) under QEMU this weekend. Once I have it up and running, I'll write such an article, but targeted at learning Python on the XO.

I'll also make an HTML version for my website, and maybe submit it to K5. Perhaps some non-techie Kurons would be interested in learning to code.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

ebooks are a great idea (none / 1) (#92)
by SaintPort on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 09:31:31 AM EST

the rub is gonna be...
easy reading in their native language.

Poor kids may not be literate in local language, but they need to learn English and Python. Probably need to work heavily in symbols, drawing, charts... and also multimedia. A basic text could be translated and read outloud into mp3. Once you have that use OpenOffice Impress to make a flash slideshow. XO runs Flash if I read right.

For the straight ebooks, PDF and DjVu look really good.

[XO]Read can read PDF files successfully. Read v42, which is in Build joyride-1606, can also read DJVU dejaVu files

DjVu ebook & graphics format

link update for DjVu Solo 3.1 (get it before it disappears) http://www.tuberadio.it/utils.htm

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

English isn't a huge barrier (none / 1) (#117)
by Morally Inflexible on Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 03:06:33 AM EST

compared with programming, I don't think. And there are alrealdy many excelent resources for learning English.

If you are teaching programming, you've got to accept that you are aiming to help, at best, the top 5% of the population. You will be helping the smartest children who can afford education. It's not the sort of thing that a semi-literate can do by following the pictures.

[ Parent ]

Fuck-1ng ego wankery.[] (2.80 / 5) (#87)
by mirleid on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 06:49:56 AM EST



Chickens don't give milk
HAI WAIT A MINUTE (3.00 / 3) (#90)
by Wen Jian on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:44:07 AM EST

Didn't Mindpixel have massive debts and then flee to South America somewhere?

We all know what happened next.

DON'T DO IT MIKEY!
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty

D-1ary. (2.75 / 4) (#95)
by daveybaby on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 10:40:58 AM EST

Because this isnt an article about teaching in the developing world, it's an article about Michael Crawford.

So what happens to: (2.70 / 10) (#97)
by TDS on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 03:24:12 PM EST

  1. Paying off your debts rather than just servicing them
  2. Your wife
  3. Finishing Oggfrog
  4. Playing your piano
  5. Composing your next "album"
  6. Holding down a normal job and getting on with life
  7. Taking care of your mental health
  8. Taking care of your physical health
  9. Taking care of your sleep issues

Do not answer that question here, I don't want to hear your dodgy justifications, just think about it

Are you sure you don't suffer from manic episodes?  This looks very, very familiar to me. Tell me, have you already started using this harebrained scheme as an excuse to yourself for staying up all night? Bet you have.

Make sure you are taking your medication and book a visit to your doctor. I'm very concerned about you. I think you are very close to being carted off back somewhere with rubber walls again.

Thing is, what will prove it is that you won't listen or think there is some way you can actually construct an argument against what I'm saying. And even if your idea didn't suck, you aren't the person who should be doing it. The piano is the most important thing in your life. Or was it your health. Or your wife (even)?

This isn't "ignore Mike because he admits having been a bit loopy in the past" or "find something to bash Mike with", I really mean this, I'm very worried for you first that you wrote this and second you can't how obvious it is that something is wrong.


And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.

WILO (3.00 / 5) (#101)
by white light on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 06:07:04 PM EST

0. Schizos Without Borders comes first.


..do you really want to help foster this type of laziness?
[ Parent ]
fantastic$ (none / 0) (#106)
by maluke on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 10:45:36 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Don't plan on driving to Latin America (1.57 / 7) (#102)
by localroger on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:53:02 PM EST

Seriously, if you can't afford plane tickets or nobody is willing to front them, this is a Very Bad Idea on so many levels I can't even begin to enumerate them.

First of all, you cannot drive to South America at all, no matter how determined you are, because of the Darien Gap in Panama. (You can cross the canal, sure, it's about 60 miles south of the canal where you run into the lack of roads and presence of kidnappers.)

Second, in Mexico traffic accidents are criminal offenses and in many backwater places as the "rich" American you are automatically guilty. Every single travel guide I have ever read has warned of this.

Third, once you get further south there are actual guerrillas and such, with enough frequency that it's not a good risk even though people have gotten as far as Costa Rica that way. Having a small, old, beat-up vehicle helps, but also remember there are no dependable auto services in the USian sense and no cell phone service either.

My verdict is that you cannot and should not do this unless you find a sponsor who has the resources and believes in your project enough to provide the air travel for you and your supplies, including your keyboard, and bringing in your meds. Otherwise it's just a disaster waiting to happen.

If you are really that intent on making an imprint on the world, why don't you go back to the thing you know works? Start a foundation based on Living with Schizoaffective Disorder to educate both the afflicted and those who have to live with them. It's a problem that exists in the First World, where you know how to live, that many people agree you can address from a unique perspective and with unusual eloquence. Use the still-potent Google juice you have to call attention to it.

Run it as a sideline at first while you study your music and/or finish Ogg Frog, and continue working normally. Give it the chance to expand to fill all your time when that includes enabling you to meet your other obligations. Let the project that shows the most promise win.

That is basically how I am addressing my house problem, and while I have several paths of inquiry open I am pretty certain that one day one of them is going to make a major dent in the way homes are built, if not here because of building codes then in some poor place with bad weather where an entrenched home construction industry doesn't own the legislature.

alexboko: I think, how do animals view our behavior?
Sgt York: Opening

Let me offer some first hand evidence of (1.00 / 3) (#107)
by xC0000005 on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 11:41:54 AM EST

the traffic problems. In Mexico right of way goes to the largest vehicle or the one with the driver who pays the most to the police. You have absolutely no business driving in Mexico in any area where you might come into contact with a citizen (fortunately there are vast areas where this is not a problem). The criminal bit is serious - they can, will, (and I have watched them) throw you in jail to rot for a few days. Then they basically turn you upside down and shake you for lunch money. You think american prison is bad? Hah. In America there's a decent chance if prisoner X is a lunatic who claws at people's throat he's kept in solitary. In Mexico there's a decent chance he has visitation rights to your cell. You haven't known fun until you've waited four days in some pissant town for the judge (who is the brother of the sherrif who arrested you) to decide what your fine is.

Don't drive. Fly, and only if you have a well organized ground force to support you when you get there. I've been south of Mexico twice and if you think things are bad there you have no idea what it's like just a little further south. There are really, really nice places in SA. There are some seriously bad places along the way.

Voice of the Hive - Beekeeping and Bees for those who don't
[ Parent ]

What do you guys do to attract problems to (3.00 / 4) (#113)
by V on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 04:45:42 PM EST

yourselves?

You just need street smarts, FFS. They once tried to   pin me a drug charge. I walked away in 20 minutes without even bribing the cops. Maybe you guys look like you are easy to take advantage of?

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens
[ Parent ]

We're not advising ourselves (none / 1) (#122)
by localroger on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:15:18 PM EST

We're advising Mike. I don't think he possesses that particualr skill set, and certainly wouldn't if he was away for his meds for too long.

alexboko: I think, how do animals view our behavior?
Sgt York: Opening
[ Parent ]
Um, I'm pretty sure (3.00 / 2) (#103)
by maluke on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 10:18:16 AM EST

you have no idea how well you will be received there.

"Hi guyz, I'll teach your kids computer programming. And I drove all the way from States with my fucking piano."
"Welcome sir, we were waiting for someone like you."

Yeah, right.

main problem: your understanding of programming $ (none / 0) (#108)
by th0m on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 12:57:40 PM EST



I'm sure you'd be a first-rate CS teacher, Mike. (2.50 / 2) (#109)
by creature on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 05:03:22 AM EST

The same way that racing drivers make great driving instructors.

Being able to do something well and being able to teach something well are pretty disparate skillsets.

Maybe you can become a qualified teacher with the concert money you get after you're a world-class musician after you've gone through music school after you've raised enough money through Ogg Frog after you've paid off your debts.

Oh, and another thing... (none / 1) (#111)
by creature on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 05:51:41 AM EST

Where does Bonita play into this? Don't you have any respect? Why don't any of your stories contain the line "I talked this over with Bonita, and she said..."?

Next time you talk to her read between the lines. I get the impression she says stuff like "Well, erm, if that's what you want to do of course I'll support you" because she's a good person and believes in letting you follow your dreams. But she'd probably just like her husband back.

I thought you promised not to do this any more. (none / 0) (#114)
by waxmop on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 06:07:15 PM EST

No more link-whoring, right?
--
"Return either with your TI-81 or upon it". nlscb
Interesting... (none / 1) (#115)
by k31 on Fri Mar 07, 2008 at 06:53:58 PM EST

So you, too, want to take over the world,
"but only to make it a better place",
just like Mr. Brain...


Your dollar is you only Word, the wrath of it your only fear. He who has an EAR to hear....
hey michael (none / 0) (#116)
by nononoitaintmebabe on Sat Mar 08, 2008 at 01:20:48 AM EST

i just read this.  and i don't think you should do this.  
i think it's great that you want to help people. but don't you think your life is already scattered enough?  what about bonita?

I think you should only do this, (none / 0) (#118)
by spooky wookie on Mon Mar 10, 2008 at 11:00:25 AM EST

if you can accept the idea that no one will remember you for it.

Otherwise you will just have another mental breakdown after a couple of months.

Technological Leapfrogging (none / 1) (#119)
by skyknight on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 07:35:38 AM EST

If they lack clean water and sanitation, shouldn't they first learn to be civil engineers? Software engineering can come later. Being able to do software engineering implies the existence of an infrastructure that does not yet exist.

I am largely unmoved by lamentations that third world programmers will destroy jobs. These people weren't complaining when the American manufacturing industry was going overseas so they could buy cheap jeans and power tools and Wal-Mart. Furthermore, only a subset of work makes sense to outsource for most companies: small, well contained and well defined projects, i.e. projects that can be captured in a very short spec and whose correctness is trivial to verify. Any non-trivial project that a company attempts to outsource to a third world country will be a disaster unless the company has an established beachhead in the country.

For Indians, I'm told that there are four tiers of developer talent:

  1. those who work for American software development companies in America
  2. those who work for Indian software development companies in India
  3. those who work for American software development companies in India
  4. those who work for Indian outsourcing companies (what most people mean when they speak of "outsourcing")

Software engineering, and I mean real software engineering, not just slapping together yet another CRUD app, is even more about effective communication than about solid knowledge of technology. Different time zones, non-fluency in a natural language, and cultural misunderstandings go a long way toward disrupting productivity.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
Keep an eye on our funny farm (none / 1) (#120)
by Vs on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 09:00:10 AM EST

We at UNU-IIST do this. But there's no full-time staff doing teaching, it's always researchers (i.e. regular staff) going out. Just yesterday there was talk about sending someone to Africa for 2 weeks of C++ and Python (yikes!). And who doesn't want to go to North Korea?! Who knows, maybe in the future there can be dedicated staff for this. But there's got to be someone (outside of UNU) footing the bills. So it just adds another layer of indirection...
--
Where are the immoderate submissions?
Wow, that's great! (none / 0) (#121)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Mar 11, 2008 at 04:32:03 PM EST

Thanks for posting that.

Yeah, I've been contemplating how to get funding. Google.org is one possibility, Esther Dyson is another.

I'll be approaching both, but need to have a well-worked-out plan in place.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

Do it (none / 0) (#123)
by the77x42 on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 05:19:08 PM EST

Everyone needs a plan/goal in life. This sounds like a fine one. The best that can happen is self-gratification and an army of Crawford's C++ Coding Columbians to take over ze werld. The worst that can happen is that you're just kidnapped or shot.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Thanks for your encouragement (none / 0) (#124)
by MichaelCrawford on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 08:30:14 PM EST

I just applied for the Spring Quarter at DeAnza College in Silicon Valley. I'll be taking a beginning Spanish class.

There are a lot of Hispanic people in the area, so I expect I can find lots of opportunity to practice it.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

A few thoughts (none / 0) (#125)
by jd on Wed Mar 19, 2008 at 10:14:17 PM EST

I don't always see eye-to-eye with MichaelCrawford, and therefore wouldn't normally read their diary entries, but the diary is talking about such an inspired project that I'm just sitting here in amazement.

First off, it's not a matter of whether you teach someone to code cheaply. It's a matter of whether they code well. If they code well, then what they earn, they hve earned by right of skill, not by being cheap.

Secondly, teaching anywhere is hard. Emotionally and physically. Expect teaching in a country like that to be far more draining. Don't expect resources (including air conditioning), do expect ferocious demands on your time, mind and body.

Thirdly, avoid politics at all costs. America is dangerous enough when it comes to politics, but South America has an evil reputation when it comes to who is free to say/do what.

Lastly, do it. We only get one chance in a lifetime to do something this spectacular. Programming isn't just about how to get a computer to do something. It has a lot to do with organizing thoughts, planning, understanding what it is that the person intends to do, and how to make sure that that is what gets done. Problem-solving is a core skill and there is much that could be taught that would constitute transferrable skills. That could have a far broader (positive) impact than intended.

I'd say go for it.


Hey, thanks for your support. (none / 0) (#126)
by MichaelCrawford on Thu Mar 20, 2008 at 02:17:00 AM EST

I have to admit I've been engaging in a lot of self-doubt and soul-searching since posting this.

But yesterday I got a very excited email from the Colombian OLPC team. There are just five people for the whole country, and they desperately need help.

I'm going to start by enrolling in a beginning Spanish class at my local community college, as well as by learning Sugar programming by running it under an emulator on my MacBook Pro.


--
Looking for some free songs?


[ Parent ]

I Want To Teach Programming In The Developing World | 128 comments (113 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
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