January Blues

This post was written 5 years ago.
Tue, 08 Jan 2019
I am starting up this blog again with a little heartache.

One of our two rabbits has gone, vanished without a trace. I let them out in the garden, as I often do, but I did not check as frequently as I used to, and when Alex was back from school I did not get them back into their house because I thought it was alright as long as he was there.

It could be that we'll get the rabbit back. Our garden is surrounded by a high fence except for one spot where it is still very high, but not totally unthinkable for them to get over. If he did manage, we should have spotted him in that garden, the neighbours weren't there, but the children jumped over, and they couldn't find him. A garden further? Did somebody take him inside perhaps?

All the while I was at hack night and had no clue this was going on.

And here is heartache number two. I cannot even explain it, and I don't want to analyse too much.

It is funny because I would say it was a success, in that some people really got something out of it, and one person who'd not been before got good pointers for his future career and he thanked me in a message, and gave me a tip for my job search as well. People got talking and had a good time.

This is always my main concern, that people feel comfortable and get something out of it.

But I felt kind of stupid afterwards for a variety of reasons, and they don't even have to do just with the hack night. There's also the never-ending men vs women ruminating.

And it's as if I deliberately tried not to progress, stay a junior forever, a beginner. It is good to keep being a beginner, at new things. But not at everything.

I just read a book called "The Courage to be Disliked" which is about the psychology of Adler. I did not completely buy it all, I found it was idealising Adler's approach too much and not talking about the difficulties, but it was really interesting, it did turn things on its head. Especially this point: Usually, as Freud did, people look at the causality of things. I behave this way because in my childhood this and that thing happened. Adler looked at the purpose. I behave this way because I want to achieve a certain result. - And this can be something quite negative. You might just create certain circumstances because you are afraid of changing, you don't have the courage to break out of a situation.

In any case, I hit a wall once again. It's evolve-or-die time, baby.

This post was written 5 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: family / codehub /

Armistice Day

This post was written 6 years ago.
Sun, 11 Nov 2018
The first time I became aware of a fundamental truth about war was when I was watching Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. At the end, Michael Moore is quoting George Orwell (this is put together from various pieces of a chapter in 1984):

"It's not a matter on whether the war is real, or if it is, Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past, and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against it's own subjects and object is not the victory over Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact."

How many lives are lost in war, how much money is sucked into it that could so much better be spent elsewhere, how much are the wealthy benefiting from it?

I wonder if reason will prevail one day, and make war obsolete. I still believe in the ability of the Internet to connect people, and make them see that almost everybody just wants to live in peace. And bit by bit stop manipulation and dominance by those profiting from war.

We just watched a documentary made by Peter Jackson, who directed Lord of the Rings. It used real footage from WW1 large pieces of which were coloured in, and underlayed with realistic sound. At the beginning there were interviews and mostly black and white stills, or sometimes black and white video footage.

Matin made me watch it, I had not been aware of it and was also unsure if I wanted to see it. I think it was good I did though. You still cannot imagine what it must have been like, but you got a little closer. One thing it made me see was that a lot of time in the war was spent on preparation, or sitting in the trenches, the actual time fighting must have not been so much. And there were things like trench foot and sinking into mud (some boys and men died that way) that were horrific even without the fighting. But when they did fight it was absolute horror.

Watching this it seemed to me like a computer game come to live, and of course it is the other way round, computer games are modeled on this. But they really were players in a game, they did not even have something against the Germans in particular, they got along with them even (more the Bavarians and Saxons, not so much the Prussians which were disliked by their own countrymen it seems). They just did a job.

There are some uncomfortable truths in there. Even after having come through the war, men spoke of excitement and not wanting to have missed it. One also remembered that when news of the armistice broke they did not celebrate, they were too exhausted, and some didn't know what to do now, it was as if they had lost their job (this was one record, I wonder if it was different for some.) In effect, they did. They were often not wanted in jobs when they came back to their home towns. Some shops had signs that said "War veterans need not apply".

A lot of young men seemed to partly have signed on because they found their jobs boring. The war promised excitement.

I have written stuff in the past few days, but discarded it, so there is now a little hole in my November diary, but I think it is acceptable.

I have peen putting together my document on Codehub, I hope I will be able to finish it tomorrow. I had two nice chats today with Codehub people too. There is something about it that it has attracted the right people, and hopefully keeps attracting them. More to be written soon, I hope.

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: war /

This post was written 6 years ago.
Fri, 09 Nov 2018
What a weird day! For a substantial part of it I was quite downtrodden. It looks like I might have moved out of that now. We'll see.

Yesterday evening we did a workshop on TDD, and I thought it went well. But I think I might have missed some things. Also, it is always so very difficult to get feedback from people. That's probably part of the reason I did not like running workshops so much anymore.

I also really really hope I can finally sum up something like proposals for a future CodeHub and put it in front of some people. It is driving me mad. I cannot even explain it. For a long time it felt like I was giving birth to something. Now I just think I am nuts. And I would like to hand this over to others in the most elegant way possible and hope they will make something good out of it.

The thing is, there is obviously such a demand for it, we have people signing up every day. But I still think it promises too much. In a way that is not really my problem, if people don't feel it helps or they don't like it, they can just stay away. But still, I wish it helped them.

And a big thing about it is both the company, and feeling okay with where you are at. I want to model that as well. But I fear in the end I just look like a clueless fan girl that shouts "hooray, how great" at everything.

My daughter came home from a one day trip to Tyne Cot in Belgium, the site of World War I soldier cemeteries. It made a huge impression on her. One thing she noticed was how there was only a very small monument for the Indian soldiers while so many of them had faught in the war as well.

But when we were sitting at the dinner table and heard her talking about the trip, it was the sheer scale of the carnage that struck me again, and I find it so difficult to grasp. How could this ever happen? How do wars happen, how are young made to fight in them, I don't understand. This is the real madness.

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)

Diary 6 and 7 November

This post was written 6 years ago.
Wed, 07 Nov 2018

Tuesday 6 November

I just enabled web monetization on two Codehub sites.

Wednesday 7 November

The above was all I wrote in the end for yesterday :) It again got really late, and it is late now, too! Today I spent about two hours this morning in a chat about a book and related topics. I am grateful that I have the freedom to do that.

Tomorrow we will have a TDD workshop with Codehub, and after that I hope I will be able to write a lot about plans and ideas for Codehub. I had been wanting to do that for a long time. I think this might be a good moment.

And, good night.

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: diary / november /

November diary

This post was written 6 years ago.
Mon, 05 Nov 2018
So I have just about managed to keep my resolution to write every day, but at the moment it is not more than a personal diary.

Friday 2 November

A book called Emergent Strategy, written by Adrienne Maree Brown, arrived today and I started reading it in the evening. It is very powerful and different from anything else I've read this year. And there's so much which I've always felt and known to be right.

It is happening a lot to me these days, reading things that somewhere deep down I knew to be true, but did not dare to believe when the competitive overzealous and violent spirit of our times tried to fuck with my brain over and over again.

Our only chance as humanity is the positive sum game instead of zero sum. Collaboration over competition.

Also, harm reduction versus Doing Good on your own privileged terms.

And as I'm at it, stop co-opting feminism and other activism for your elitist means and to make you feel better. Sometimes when I see 'for good' in an initiative's name, I want to run a mile, though I think I am wrong, I am sure they really do good things.

Saturday 3 November

It became late night again. I worked on a Haskell exercise that was not that complicated, and still it took me ages. But I don't mind so much. Each time certain pathways are made deeper and stronger in my brain.

The day before — with some help from Eleni — I dockerized my hatchling Django up which made me happy.

Sunday 4 November

It got so late again.

Of today I know exactly what I did. In the morning I drove my son and two mates from his football team to Bristol Manor Farm, then watched them play (a defeat unfortunately).

Then I spent about three hours (not exaggerating) in the bath tub reading Emergent Strategy.

Then I continued reading the book outside the bath, only interrupted by dinner, an episode of Dr Who and later reading from Harry Potter, which my daughter has returned to recently.

I have now finished Emergent Strategy. It is an extraordinary book. There is so much to take from it, and so much where I feel reaffirmed, but then it goes much further, into territory I had not even considered.

Something that has happened a lot in the past two years: Scales falling from my eyes. Again and again. Or I could say. I've got red-pilled, though that would happen only once :) maybe I got red-pilled and I'm just recognising more and more. Or do I? There must be so much more. In any case this book has further contributed to it.

Monday 5 November

It was bonfire night today, and also my 16th anniversary of moving to this country, and to Bristol.

We saw beautiful fireworks at Abbots Leigh. I had two cups of mulled cider.

Later I learned that my grand-uncle had died. He was 96. I had briefly visited him in the summer, on my way down to Munich. I am glad I saw him. I could hardly understand him when he talked, but I knew he recognised me and before I left he squeezed my hands and wished me all the best. 96 years. He has been there all my life, not always in my life so much, but this is another person from my past gone, and especially my mum's. And so many memories, there are people that nobody will remember anymore now, because he is gone. He could talk so lively about our ancestors, he was a keen researcher of our family history as well. I wish now I had recorded what he told us a few years ago when we all visited and he was still in good health.

Otherwise, I am still thinking a lot about Codehub and I want to write more about it.

Not tonight though.. Past 3 am AGAIN!

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: diary / november /

Sleepy Kat

This post was written 6 years ago.
Thu, 01 Nov 2018
To be honest, I am only writing this because I have set myself the target to write every day in November. And I cannot miss the first one! I cannot miss any of the days!

I will not create a new post for each day, but collect them in one post per week.

As always, there would be so much to write!

Re-reading the thing I wrote 10 days ago, I wish I was in that mood again. I whish I was in the presence of the spirit of Emma Goldman and fantasizing about anarchy in the UK.

There's never going to be anarchy or even minarchy, and I cannot even imagine what it would look like. I mean on the big scale. At the same time, you can get anarchic bubbles, where a group of people live in that way, independent of the state.

I recently read about a place in Catalonia created by Amir Taaki in "The Dark Net" by Jamie Bartlett. Then there is Rojava in Syria.

I quite admire David Graeber who actually tweets a lot about Rojava. He has also recently published a book called 'Bullshit Jobs' which started as an article. The article is enough for me, I don't think I need the book. It is weird, I think part of my huge inner resistance to look for a job is a, the fear I might land a bullshit job and b, I don't feel like working too many hours. You can call me lazy, I don't think I am. I just have a lot of interests, especially I like to read. I think it's what we all should do more, and think independently if such a thing is possible.

Then tonight I was at an event about "Reinventing work" which is about Teal organisations, and the ideas from the book Reinventing organisations by Frederic Laloux. It was very interesting. As to be expected it does not all look as rosy as Laloux depicts it in his book. It is sure good to have self-organising teams and less hierarchy, but the process of moving towards that can be quite difficult. It was an "open space" style, with no pre-set agenda, people suggested at the start what they wanted to talk about. In my group we talked about fear and the need to cover up your needs at work, and it was mainly about experiences some people had with their co-workers who were negative about the whole new "self-managing" style.

It is certainly true that work "is not working" for a lot of people, with huge levels of stress and impact on mental health; also a lot of terrible decisions get made at companies.

But I wonder if telling people to work more independently is going to cut it. What if we simply need more meaning in what we do as well? How do we move towards that? In a lot of industries, especially the PR and marketing ones, meaning is not a priority.

At the moment I see more meaning outside the world of work -- though there are jobs that have meaning, including in the tech industry, and I am going to look for them. But on the whole, could we not just work fewer hours in our paid jobs, and do more voluntary work besides it?

Night night - after 3am now, yawn

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: work / anarchy /

Free woman's perspective

This post was written 6 years ago.
Sun, 21 Oct 2018
Never have I felt a stronger need for these two things: To write, and to acquire this thing called "self-discipline" (it does not feel the accurate name for it, but is one that people have converged on) -- I think I begin to understand my apparent, almost life-long, lack of it better now, for one thing. Which means there might be a chance of improvement.

I am acquiring such a different perspective on things. History, that of the world, of nations, but then also my family's and my own.

Looking at my life: Along with the apparent lack of self-discipline, there's a lack of notable accomplishments or competencies. That's what I've felt for a long time, and boy, how much it used to bother me.

Now I think, this lack is a sign of our times, and it is also due to an interplay of various constellations in my early history. It is as if I've been a ball in a pinball machine, and the way I have hit against the objects on the table have always kept me on a trajectory of dependency, doubtfulness, indecisiveness and so on.

I was successful at school, I managed to complete a degree equivalent to a Master's, and I have managed to hold down a few jobs, though my first ones pretty badly. But that was it. Am I too harsh? I think I pitch it against what people would have expected of me.

The important thing is, it does not bother me so much anymore, and I have never had more of an appetite for learning and working on things. No paid work at the moment, and I am glad for it. I plan to look at that again soon, but not yet.

I have developed a great interest in all the things that as a young girl I did not understand and therefore found boring. History, economics, social structures. I recently read Frederic Laloux's book
'Reinventing Organisations' (illustrated version) and I just spent several hours browsing arcticles about anarchism and anarchists. I ended up reading the wikipedia article on Emma Goldman.

This is adding more puzzle pieces to a changed picture I have of polictics, democracy and so on. And the state. There is too much good in what "the state" provides for me to say, doing away with it would be good. But then, it might be worth looking at where these things are coming from. State-run schools. They could be run independently, and would work just as well, or better? The good thing about state schools is that kids come from very diverse backgrounds (certainly the case with the school my kids attend), and most of the teachers are really good and care -- true for private schools as well. It's called a state school, but do you need the state for it?

The NHS, which I love. Now being sold off by the lovely representatives of our state to the highest private bidders. The people who work in its hospitals and practices would need no state to do their work. We just don't know it any other way than it being under control of the state.

These are just thoughts whitout much background, and yet to even just think that way would not have occured to me a few years back. There could be a difference between something 'communal' (or 'the Commons') and 'run by the state' while we often don't differentiate.

I've come to all this partly from reading and watching videos about cryptoanarchy, which perhaps is not even anarchy. But fascinating in its own right. I have not made my mind up about it yet, and don't know if that's even possible.

And anarchism - while I bet you'd associate that mainly with men, is a very female, and feminist affair. Of the latter article, I like this in particular: "And this is something that we tend to forget: patriarchy is oppressive for everybody, not only for women."

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)


This post was written 6 years ago.
Mon, 17 Sep 2018
The last blog post took me very long to write, now I am trying the opposite, writing something fast. And that is something I want to do more. Because I want to document what I am doing. A bit like the "weeknotes" that some people write, but I know in my case it won't likely be exactly each week.

I want it to be a mixture of documenting what I have actually done — especially in terms of learning new things — and commenting on books, articles and current events as well as occasionally jotting down all kinds of thoughts. A lot is in flux, with my life (my work life much more than my family life, though I have to admit the children becoming teens has an impact!) and with society at large.

Plan till the end of the year

Learning new things and organising Codehub, these constitute my — unpaid — "job" at the moment, which I take seriously and so far have managed to treat as such. And the documenting, I'd like that to become part of the job, too.

Job description:
  • Learn (and build)
  • Organise CodeHub events
  • Write about both

With learning my focus will be on:
  • Python
  • DevOps with Vagrant, Docker, Ansible; also simply learn more about Linux
I would like to carry on learning Haskell, but it will be difficult to invest a lot of time in it.

And these are currently my projects
  1. The main one will be a Django app with the working title "Book exchange"
  2. Build and manage "Codehub servers" where members can put projects up
  3. Building a mini website for a friend of mine, with a CMS called Pico and text files managed via Github and prose.io
  4. Trying some web scraping (shared interest with Lewis, who's in Malta)

I have decided that Mon, Tues, Wed I will each day do at least 4 full hours on Python, the app, or related DevOps. Thursday was going to be reserved for Haskell (but last week showed in practice this will be difficult), then Friday for reading, writing, communicating, philosophising. A day where I'd also purposefully allow myself to "drift off". - The minisite and web scraping I will do in other slots of time, late afternoon, evenings, weekend…

So I decided to set myself a minimal target per day, but then be rigorous about those 4 hours. Apparently you can not be very focused for more than 4 hours per day anyway. Still I will work for more on most days.

I will have to write about plans for Codehub organising another time.

One and a half weeks in

I'd also would have liked to write about what I have done so far! Maybe I will try a very brief summary:
  • Set up a Vagrant and using Ansible installed relevant Python modules and Postgres on it, created Postgres db and user
  • Then, for now, carried on manually with a Digital Ocean tutorial on setting up Django with Nginx and Gunicorn
  • Started working through the Django tutorial
  • Before all that, for my mini site, I worked out how to create a webhook from Github, so that on updating content via https://prose.io, a PHP script is run on the server to pull in the changes from the repo
This list is uncomplete. I am anyway pleased I got a fully functioning production server set up on my Vagrant, though I realise that this is doing things backwards. You can just start with using the development server — and I will use that to go through the tutorial. But somehow I wanted to solve the challenge of setting up a production environment first!

As so often when I start to write, there would be so much more. But at least I have made a start. I hope it is the start of things!

As to books, I am reading "The Guilty Feminist" by Deborah Frances-White at the moment. I have so much respect for her. Here is somebody who speaks her mind, and you can tell that it is simply what she thinks, and there's some really original thoughts in there that you would not hear from many other feminists. I also like her pointing out that the "calling out" and language-policing can quite quickly itself become dogmatic and then not much is gained. (She said this differently.)

The book and some of the thoughts in it is also something I will want to write more about!

For now good night, so late now, 4 am. Tomorrow is hack night…

This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)

A Pending Promise or Already Functional?

This post was written 6 years ago.
Sun, 03 Jun 2018

Turning a Meetup group into a platform for independent learning

"..and I don't really know what's going to happen with the institutions, but I do know that this wild learning is happening and that some people are becoming more expert at it." Howard Rheingold in the foreword to Peeragogy (https://peeragogy.github.io/)

If you have been a web developer for a while, the concept of independent learning is nothing new to you. You do it all the time. Quite a few developers started that way, too. They built a site for themselves in HTML, then got commisssions from friends and small businesses, and before they knew it they were working for big business and in teams. Their knowledge grew alongside the industry, they helped each other out, in real life and online.

This might be idealising a bit, but it did happen (and still does I suppose, but less). I witnessed the early years of the web, not as a developer, but longing to be one.

And a bit later I went on that journey too, for me it was a very longwinded one, a career in slow motion, full of doubts and setbacks. I was already in my 30s and had two kids. I created a website for a children's playgroup, then through a friend did work experience at a Uni department, building an unspeakably ugly website on their Plone system. Next I met two developers "off Twitter" who both helped me a lot, through teaching me some 'tricks of the trade' and passing on work to me.

I was not a natural developer, I did not take to it like a fish to water. At school things had come easy to me, this did not. Looking back I wonder how I managed to stick with it when it was so difficult, the anxiety running high, and the comparison with the 'accomplished' people who were bantering on Twitter reducing me to a fearful mess. It must have been the ongoing fascination with the web, the pleasure of eventually getting things to work, and the desire to belong to this world and the community around it.

I was working all on my own, managing my own clients, "learning on the job" but without senior colleagues at hand. This too seems crazy to me now. My debugging methods consisted of very crude trial-and-error. At one point I considered putting out a Tweet "Can somebody form a support group for web dev mums working from home?" I knew Gicela at that point, and a few years later we set up a group. It was not exclusively for mums, but in its first incarnation it was for people working from home. We were going to meet up so we could learn from each other.

The gist of the above is, I went a strange way, even in web dev terms where people come from all kinds of backgrounds. And I'm 'off' - old, female, foreign.. For a long time I found it difficult to know where I stand, and to a certain degree that's still true. There's no doubt anymore that I am a professional web developer. I know a lot and take my work seriously. But does that make me a good one? Volumewise I have done less compared to those working fulltime, and only in recent years have I worked on a team (and that did make a difference!)

So.. this was a bit of a long intro, and one I hadn't planned. But I guess it is useful to understand my growing interest in independent education.

I know it can be done, and I'd like to know how far it can be taken. As Kio Stark observes in her brilliant book "Don't go back to school", there's a few professions where you can't get round official credentials (healthcare, law, teaching at schools, architecture), some others seem "culturally closed", that is, difficult to get into without a degree, for example fine arts and sciences. But it is not impossible. It is just very hard.

With coding, there is a certain distinction between software development (backend, and at scale) and web development, where the former still recruits its workers from university graduates mainly — in engineering, computer science and so on —, while web development is more flexible. Funnily some software programmers think web development is harder (especially JavaScript!).

Setting up a peer learning group

When Gicela and I set up CodeHub we were inspired by the New York HackerSchool which has since been renamed to Recurse Center. Our group was very different (Recurse center do 3 months coding residencies!), but the idea that you could learn a lot with and from your peers was the same. A bit later I found out about OpenTechSchool that had a similar approach and we became a chapter.

The peer learning was there from the start, as well as the idea that it should all be free. We soon started to create little workshops for each other in our morning sessions, and organised longer ones with invited speakers in the evenings. We also ran a few JavaScript one-day events. You can find some information on all of them on our Github Pages.

The evening workshops were very irregular and although they were great and mostly well-attended, I never quite felt at ease organising them, and I kept stopping for long periods. For one thing, it felt strange asking people to create workshops for free. I know from many of the speakers though that they totally enjoyed it and one of them said "the person getting the most out of a workshop is the one giving it". I can fully subscribe to that. As I kept asking people for free workshops, I thought I should at least give one myself to offset that a bit. The workshop on Git ended up being a bit chaotic, but I learned so much from it! And I know others got something out of it too, despite its shortcomings.

From 2014 there's been fortnightly hack nights, and our first study group, JavaScript101, started in 2015. It has been morphed into WebDev101 this year. Since autumn last year, there's also a Haskell study group. (The Haskell group meets in the evenings, WebDev101 during the day)

The map is not the territory

It's five years since we set up CodeHub, and it's grown into something really nice. People are friendly and helpful, and there's expertise in lots of different areas. Members have learned new technologies through the group and found jobs, companies have found the right employees.

And yet for a long time I had this urge to do much more. I felt there was a potential that hadn't been realised. And that we promised too much in what we were saying about the group. Recently somebody was interested in teaching. All we can say at the moment is "come to the hack night or webdev101" (and see if somebody needs your help).

Mark has started a spreadsheet now, where potential mentors can enter their names and areas of expertise. We had a brief discussion on how to go from here, and I just had some more ideas. We'll work something out.

A lot is happening, just slowly. And that's okay. I think this has been a key challenge for me: Wanting too much in too short a time (and often this got stuck at the wanting). I am grateful to my co-organisers, first Gicela, and now Mark and Audrey, for conveying the same message again and again in different ways: It is already good the way it is. You don't need to force yourself to do stuff.

Still, I want to collect here some thoughts on what CodeHub is and can be, and who I believe it is for:

In a few words, it's:
1, a support group for the self-learner
2, a platform for developers to pass on their knowledge, including in person, and practicing mentoring and teaching
(A member can, but doesn't have to, fall into both categories; for me, the second one doesn't come easy I've noticed)

Much depends on the initiative of individual people, especially those wanting to learn. There is at the moment no traditional teaching. It is also worth noting that in many cases the informal learning (with this group and alone) will be in addition to a job or formal education (Uni or a coding bootcamp). We have links to Bristol and Bath coding boothcamps: DevelopMe are a sponsor, and teachers from both DevelopMe and Mayden Academy are happy to act as mentors to our members. This makes me glad.

How best to facilitate this type of learning then, is an ongoing question, and it's good just to experiment with different things. I've written something about the study groups below, and here is some ideas for other formats I've had:

  • Talks or workshops where a relative novice to the topic does most the work, but is guided by somebody experienced
  • Online collaboration: A study group could just exist online, collect some resources and discuss progress, questions etc. on a slack channel; or use an online classroom tool like piazza.com
  • Establishing a reading list for a topic, and members can share books
  • Working on projects together (perhaps for non-profits as Free Code Camp intended)

When you start something, you have to be prepared that it might fail. Because learning outside a traditional context is hard, and so is organising a group of people doing it together. But the potential rewards are high.

There is so much more that I could write (and I have written more! then consigned to the virtual dustbin), and you could go off in many directions.

To me, it has all been a great adventure, though not all plain sailing! I've been close to giving up more than once. In fact, I tried to hand the group off once, but nobody came forward! Recently, I have not been doing that much, and I seriously want to work towards being just a member. Not that I was that much of a leader, but I've been invested in the group more than anybody else. Also, nobody has benefited from it more than me!

In the end, what I've learned most about in the past five years is probably — people. Including myself. And I'll spare you the things I've learned. I might write about them some day. Some can be hard to accept (both with regards to others and yourself), but ultimately it's helpful to see more clearly.

I hope to write more about CodeHub and also independent learning in the future. For now, here are a few resources I found quite interesting:

Appendix: A few observations on study groups

A pattern I have observed in the study groups: There is a high drop-out rate soon after the start, and after a while the group converges on a few regulars. It is nice when that happens, you can rely on people being there, and in all likelihood they get something out of it. That can be advice from mentors, collaboration, or even just socialising with people that have common interests.

A nice thing about JS101 was that the group converged towards 50:50 female:male and stayed that way throughout the three years ot its existence - we dissolved it when many of the regulars found jobs or moved away, and we did not feel like starting again from scratch.

There would be much to say about the different study groups. I've loved being part of all three. But they don't come without their challenges. JS101 was hard to navigate once we stopped working through Eloquent JavaScript, due to the vastness of the topic. I mostly ran the group, and my lack of JS programming experience did not help. Luckily experienced people did turn up, and even co-ran the group for a while. We started working on projects together and giving little presentations. It was a really nice group with a good atmosphere. A lot was decided from session to session. Again, this could be a bit chaotic, and again, I learned loads. I'd not say my JS is great, but it's improved massively.

WebDev101 originally had the aim that we would each set out some goals and hold each other accountable in mini-standups. I soon noticed that I kept doing completely differen things from what my stated intentions had been. I suppose that in itself taught me something. In general, the original concept was hard to keep up. It could also be that the topics were just too diverse. But then, it did kick something off that was really good, as the group is now as described above: A place to ask for and share advice, meet and collaborate. A bit like a hack night during the day.

The Haskell group is modelled on this document on how to start a Haskell study group and is mainly about working through the Haskell book. There again, we've abandoned the original schedule, people are on different chapters now or working on own projects (it's just what happens). I'd never have started learning Haskell without this group. When Jack asked if I'd like to join, I thought I'd give it a try, and so far I've stuck with it. I also really like it though it is quite challenging. We will see what comes of it!


This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)

New look for the blog

This post was written 6 years ago.
Sun, 13 May 2018
I thought the day would never come. I have finally set live the new version of my blog! For now, I have also removed all previous posts. I will add most of them back on, but would like to have a look at some of them first, I think sometimes I overshared a bit.

This is a 'minimum viable design' btw. I wanted to make things easier to read, that was the main thing. - Mobile styles now also fine, I had not realised I had not optimised those yet.
This post was written 6 years ago, which in internet time is really, really old. This means that what is written above, and the links contained within, may now be obsolete, inaccurate or wildly out of context, so please bear that in mind :)
Tags: blogging /