Members of Fringe DC are organizing a Washington DC area study group around learning Clojure and hacking some righteous artifacts with it. The first meeting is Sunday, December 7, at 1PM at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, 1725 Columbia Rd NW. We’ll be meeting in person for about 3 hours every 2 or 3 weeks, and we’ll have an online forum for collaboration and contributions. Interested parties are welcome to come by. See some pointers below to prepare yourself so you can make the most of our time together.
We don’t have (and likely won’t have) a formal agenda for the meeting. But we do have some stars to steer by. The goals of the group, at this point, were suggested by Ram Singh:
- Spend the first 2 or 3 meetings, and online time between, in grasping the basics of the language. Meetings will feature presentations, mentoring, Q and A (we have some people coming who know a lot about the language) and, ultimately, a crystallization of what we’ve learned into a tutorial or primer or cookbook for Clojure newbies.
- If we like Clojure, we will spend the next few months working on a project — as Ram describes it, “a complex reality based anchor project”. This could be something that solves an interesting problem and/or contributes resuable code to the Clojure community.
I’m of the opinion that we should spend at least part of our time exploring three interesting features of the language:
- Code as data. Common to all Lisps, this quality — with first-order procedures, macros, etc — ought to be exploited.
- The JVM. What advantages might this give us, besides a nice big install base? What Java libraries should be used, and what other JVM technologies can we harness?
- Concurrency. This is a big topic — suddenly it’s everywhere. Clojure is intended to excel at concurrent execution. What project could we undertake that would increase our own understanding of concurrency and take advantage of Clojure’s power to really blow people’s socks off?
Other attendees will have other interests. I imagine the Fringe DC folks will be interested in functional programming and computer-sciencey topics, and I’m excited to learn alongside them.
Pointers for attendees
If you’re coming, be forewarned that Chief Ike’s is a bit of a dive. :-) It’s dark and smells like a bar, but it’s also friendly and has free Wi-fi.
- Juice: Bring a laptop if you want to code along, and charge your battery. (And bring an extra if you have one.) There are outlets at Chief Ike’s, but there won’t be enough to go around if we have a big turnout (this is possible).
- Food and drink: Chief Ike’s prepares and sells food, which I have been told is quite good. We’re under no obligation to spend money here, but it will engender good will if we do buy something to eat. They also sell coffee, so think twice before bringing in a cup from Starbucks.
- Travel: If you’re coming by Metro, leave a little extra time for travel. Sundays are slow service days. There’s some free parking on Sunday in the area, but it still can take a while to find a spot. Plan accordingly.
- Homework: Consider perusing some useful resources and bring your questions:
- The beta version of Stu Halloway’s Programming Clojure is available for purchase at the Pragmatic Programmers site. I’m working through it and am finding it excellent.
- Slides created by Rich Hickey are out on the ‘net: Clojure for Java, Clojure for Lispers, and Clojure in general
- A port of code from Graham’s On Lisp to Clojure, undertaken by Fringe DC member Fogus.
This is going to be good. I’m looking forward to meeting more programming language enthusiasts and fellow hackers there.