Growing Young Hands

A recent conversation in the forum highlighted the need for me to re-adjust some of my priorities and push more to the forefront and into the light of purposeful activity the building of helpers too, not only of code. While this part is certainly not new to me nor otherwise entirely neglected up to now, it's clearly also not where I'd want it to be.

Over the past few years, in addition to the technical work that is indeed over-represented on my blog1, I have also spent some hours every week with young people (other and older than my son) mainly on Maths, occasionally on bits and pieces of programming. As such, I effectively planted some sanity seeds in fertile soil but this hasn't yet yielded any new direct contributors to Eulora or even to the wider TMSR. In part this is perhaps because they are yet too young2 but it might also be the natural outcome of my very leisurely (as opposed to tightly focused) approach to this side of things, doing it occasionally and selecting only out of the relatively small pool of those who are physically close enough to come to me with any regularity and have moreover searched enough to find me in the first place. While this has the significant advantage of a strong initial auto-filtering, it also has the crippling disadvantage that it's so slow as to be in the end not practical. I can improve on this a bit perhaps by selecting a few and simply immersing them more in Eulora/TMSR work directly, see where that leads. However, even at best, that'll be currently 1 or at most 2 people that I'd even consider at all so what's that going to do exactly anyway?

The low numbers above are not "too low" for what it is - if anything, they are actually quite good results I suppose. Given the natural scarcity of quality combined with modern artificial abundance of everything else, the above leisurely approach is really nothing more than playing the lottery and with very few tickets too. So no wonder as to results, but let's screw this semi-passive wait for repeated lottery wins and look instead for some more active and pointed ways to find the ones I care to find in the first place and to specifically aim the whole time at the most pressing need - help grow those who can actively take part in Eulora and TMSR.

The first obvious and most straightforward avenue is to go again to the local Uni but this time specifically aiming to choose some helpers, adjust, repeat and keep at it. I'm still mulling this part over mainly in terms of whether to spread the word and then simply set up some workshop right in their campus since a laptop and a few drinks is all it takes anyway. Alternatively or in addition I suppose I can even do the same at the local pub3 and it might even have better seats and better drinks than their caffeteria. The only hurdle here is really to reserve some time on a regular basis specifically for this (or similar public meetings basically). This would be prong 1: regular public workshops as selection grounds.

While the above should be anyway an improvement in terms of number of candidates seen at least, it still doesn't strike me as enough at all. And moreover, there are the hard limits of location and of how many can physically fit around me at any given time. Looking to the wide online space, there is of course plenty of room there and supposedly plenty of eager young hands looking for a place where they can matter too. A quick look around shows at least in theory more gaming/programming/learning forums than you can shake a stick at, so in parallel with the above, I'll have to set up additional time to trawl those systematically and see what really is there, if anything. I suppose a "come work with me on what really matters so that you matter too" is just as good a starting message as any and it's not written in stone anyway. This would be prong 2: systematic trawling of gaming/programming/learning forums and talking to all their members.

Speaking of the multitude of forums and learning platforms and courses and summer schools and hackathons and whatnots, it's worth perhaps mentioning that I'm not particularly worried about their huge number and supposed competition. They are many indeed but they are as far as I can see quite alike, a lot of the same thing under slightly different wrappers, pretty much like all the latest and bestest "innovations" - at this stage they really seem to me more of a way to drown the few young ones that look for meaning than to actually help them in any way. For all the hype that seems to be around pushing and shoving youngsters into computing, from where I sit it really looks increasingly more like pushing and shoving them towards becoming the slaves and guinea pigs of tools and not at all their masters. So those who want the first are plenty served while those who want the last (and might not even know yet how to say it) are more starved than ever. The same situation shows in schools too in fact and to the extent that those looking for meaning will do just about anything to stick with it once they finally find the slightest shred of it.

All the above mulling out of the way, the next main step is to move my schedule around again and as soon as possible to make space for all of the above even if it's only a couple of hours per week, as long as it's every week. The mountain of work seems to only grow so that's not easy and it'll take a while to readjust so that I don't otherwise drop any major ball. But while this readjustment is ongoing, I'll be able at least to mull it all a bit more in case I can add to the list above and even cut out more clearly some tasks that I can drop newcomers into since that's the fuzziest part for now - there's quite a steep climb at the moment to everything I'm in and that's not really ideal for someone new and green. Still, the ideal is never available, so whatever it is, they'll follow along as best they can and that's what it will always be.


  1. While I can always go "why didn't I write the rest too?" there is this fact that writing takes time too and at some point I can either spend my limited time on doing or on writing about doing/having done it. No matter how I go about it, there will always be some amount of selection as to what gets written and what doesn't. This being said, there is as always plenty of space for doing better at this, certainly, especially since I know very well how much worse it was before I specifically set about to make it better, step by step. 

  2. One just went off last year to study Medicine for instance, am I going to consider that as a waste now or what. 

  3. Cafes haven't yet sprouted right on my doorstep and I'm not going to go to the town centre for this sort of thing just to be somewhere more crowded and noisier. 

4 Responses to “Growing Young Hands”

  1. [...] how to start on things, I just picked Dev.to as the first online place to explore in search of young hands that grow from their right place and not from arse1. The choice was quite arbitrary really - it [...]

  2. [...] I already have a eager young hand and it turns out that even online young hands still need some space in which to mess around as much as their growth requires, I've went ahead and [...]

  3. [...] can start anew, unencumbered by the old conflicts and fixations. I truly hope it will, too, and I will do whatever I can to help it [...]

  4. [...] The Republic operates through a forum consisting of an IRC channel of record where those of sufficient standing converse in real time, and a web of blogs functioning as an ever-growing library. The "castles" are a relatively recent addition, essentially side channels where Lords can converse with whom they please, as the culture of the central channel, #trilema, has grown increasingly rigorous. "Ossasepia", then, is the word adopted by Her Ladyship the Marquess Eulora, Diana Coman, first for her blog and later castle, that being dedicated to growing young hands. [...]

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