I’m a programmer. A software engineer by some standards. And I’ve been coding since I was a little girl—I first started poking at BASIC on my dad’s TI99/4A around age five. I note that neither of my parents are particularly tech-savvy, and I grew up in a household where there was no particular attention (that I can recall) given to the fact that as a young woman I could attain whatever career I wanted—it was just a given.
On the eve of student project/team assignments, I took the liberty of composing some of my random thoughts on teamwork and working with others. For my students, I share these with you now in the hopes that you might learn from them and add to them.
And continue to teach me.
I’m often asked whether I am a feminist or an egalitarian*. The problem with subscribing to such powerful doctrines via terms alone is the inability to adequately capture the subtleties and implications that come with each term. These aspects of humanity, like many, are far too complex to submit to a term or even a phrase; in trying to do so we serve only to distract ourselves from the actual issues and the hard work of establishing our personal stances (which may even draw from multiple doctrines). Furthermore, people are too easily offended by terms, granting them far more weight than the more deserving behaviours underlying them.
I had a wonderful conversation with a good friend of mine the other day as we reflected on relationships and some of the keys to success. A happily married man of 20 years, his advice was simple and yet profound: don’t assume.
This Friday I will wrap up my last class at UBC, having been a faculty member for the past six years. The position was always a temporary one, meant as a stepping stone towards a new adventure. My time at UBC has been a fantastic, if unexpected, opportunity that came to me after an accident sidelined my career progression. But now my new adventure has finally come calling. It is an adventure that I’ve spent a lifetime building toward, and I greet this new journey with excitement and anticipation.
A week or two ago I was touched by a post written by Brene Brown that I happened to encounter on her blog, Ordinary Courage (for reference you can find the specific entry here). In it she describes some media coverage that she has had regarding her recent TED talks on shame and vulnerability. Having spent a lot of time lately exposing myself and my work for the world to see, it was interesting to read/watch Brene’s thoughts. I’ve been reflecting on my experiences as I’ve pushed outside of my own comfort zone— sometimes it is exhilarating and other times you just feel, well, naked on an ugly day.
Last week I did something way out of my comfort zone: I co-launched a Kickstarter campaign for an iPhone game I’m making called, “Hungry Fins”.
I’ve never been great at asking for money to begin with (I’m independent and want people in my life to know that I value them as people first and I sometimes take ‘no’ more personally than I should), but a KS campaign really takes it up a few notches. Even as a reasonably confident, outgoing person, the thought of putting myself and my work out there and attaching a monetary value is scary.
I’m often asked what I like about Twitter. Those who follow me know that I have embraced the medium as both a means to disseminate information that matters to me and to my audience (I hope), but also as an outlet for some random thoughts and bursts of personality. If you had asked me this question two years ago, I probably would have rolled my eyes and made some joke about the inaneness of 140-character status updates. I probably would have mentioned that I’ve never even updated my own status on Facebook (admittedly that’s still true). So what changed?
This past week I came down with laryngitis. Not exactly newsworthy save for the fact I never get sick. Ever. The only exceptions in 15 years have been two throat infections, and the sniffles for a day or so, which might have been allergen-related. But my last cold was in ‘97. My last flu was before that still (and I’ve only had a flu shot twice in my life, basically since my mom developed heart issues and it became riskier for Typhoid Kim* to come around).
I’m at SIGCSE in Raleigh, North Carolina this week, a conference on computer-science education to which I make a pilgrimage each year. Great folks, great conversations, and lots of stimulating content on education, computer science and tech (and games in education). I thought in honour of the conference, I’d post an education-themed entry. So, here goes.