Soliciting Thoughts & Feedback for Community Meeting on Introduction to Programming

Harnum, Alan aharnum at
Tue Apr 5 16:13:55 UTC 2016

Hi Taliesin,

That’s great feedback, thank you! It makes me want to talk even more about what I think of as the “class stratification” of software development – who gets to call themselves (and think of themselves) as “programmers” vs. “software engineers” vs. “developers”, the longstanding discourse around “programming” vs. “scripting”, “front end” vs. “back end”, etc etc. What you describe are IMO the experiences of someone who’s entirely entitled to call themselves a programmer!

From: Taliesin Love Smith <ts14hh at<mailto:ts14hh at>>
Date: Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 11:12 AM
To: Alan Harnum <aharnum at<mailto:aharnum at>>
Cc: "fluid-work at<mailto:fluid-work at>" <fluid-work at<mailto:fluid-work at>>
Subject: Re: Soliciting Thoughts & Feedback for Community Meeting on Introduction to Programming

Hi Alan,
This is a great idea, especially for MDes students who might have more experience with front-end scripting or visual design.

I have ventured down the road to learn to program many times! I still haven't thrown-in the towel, but have accepted that I will never be a whiz :-) I've read books, done courses, and even built a web-site using the python-based django framework. I am very comfortable with code, but still don't feel like a programmer :-)

Like any new skill, it takes a lot of practice to get good. For novices, understanding how to transfer from basic stuff to more complex stuff is important. There's often a gap - the easy stuff is dead easy and the next step really hangs newbies up.

A fundamental skill in programming is trouble shooting. Developing strong trouble shooting techniques is required in order to understand what the programmer is telling the code to do. Something on this topic might be really useful.

Nowadays, no one can contribute to an open source project without understanding version control, so that might be a useful (but separate) topic as well for a novice.

Related to version control and open source does a novice introduce herself (or himself) to an open source project that s/he is interested in contributing to.

Unfortunately, I will be traveling on May 4th, but I will be in Toronto for the end of Grad Ex and the the beginning of the MDes Grad Extra. I'll check in with you to see how it went and what the next plans are.


On Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 12:06 PM, Harnum, Alan <aharnum at<mailto:aharnum at>> wrote:
Hi Fluid folks,

Some months back we were discussing possible community workshops and I floated up “Introduction to Programming” as a topic – this received some interest and we’ve now scheduled it for May 4, which means I need to decide what to do for it. :)

So I’d like to throw a few questions out to the community before I start down any road and throw the following questions out to anyone interested in this topic:

  1.  What are the big or small questions you have about computer programming? These can be conceptual, historical, practical, psychological, whatever.
  2.  Are you interested in doing some hands-on activities? I was thinking it might be fun to do some live programming as a group.
  3.  If you’ve gone through any kind of “introduction to programming” material before and found it weird, alienating or otherwise negative, what was it that you think created that experience?

I’d like this to be fun and informative (within the constraint of the time the community meeting gives us), and people’s opinions would be very helpful.


E aharnum at<mailto://>

100 McCaul Street, Toronto, Canada, M5T 1W1<>

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