As week 2 comes to a close, I feel compelled to write something about the difference between orthodox computer science pedagogy, as embodied by SICP, and the approaches taken by books of the variety of “Teach Yourself X in Ten Minutes.” I’m writing about technical topics in another post. This post is devoted mostly to the experience of tackling this material and a few musings on the psychology and the ethics of wicked-hardness. It is intended as commiseration and encouragement for the fellow autodidact.
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We’re just getting started on the MIT OpenCourseWare course Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. I got a lot of responses from interested people, which is exciting. So far we haven’t encountered much worth chatting about, but I’m thinking the material’s difficulty is going to increase quickly. In the meantime, I’ve jotted down a few notes about 1) why recursion is important, 2) the role of abstraction as a learning tool, and 3) the geekiest videos imaginable.
A while back I posted a long investigation of Scriptaculous’s unit testing framework, which is in the unittest.js file distributed with Scriptaculous. I’ve gotten around to writing some actual tests, so if you’d like to read about how it works, check out my little article about implementing unittest.
So, I haven’t been accepting comments on my posts for a while now. From a practical standpoint, it’s because I hate spam, and spam was all I was getting. In a more philosophical vein, I liked Dave Winer’s stance on comments, and Joel Spolsky’s gloss of Dave Winer’s stand — if you want to comment, post a comment on your own blog.
But I’ve discovered Akismet, and I’ve also started getting some signs that a few people are reading my posts. So, comments are re-enabled, for now. I reserve the right to disable them again. I’ll see how it goes.
Ummm… anyone care to comment? :-p
Thanks to a plug from my study group from Lispy, I’ve gotten several emails from interested Schemers, and there are now seven of us. I’ve decided to “close admissions” now, since I don’t think a really big group would be advisable.
I’ll be posting this fall about the course, so please follow along if you like. Hopefully we can engage a larger group this way. It’s going to be exciting.
Update: I’ve signed up six people for the study group, and I’m capping the size of the group there.
Hooray for acronyms. How else could I fit all that information into my post’s title. To unpack the question — is anyone interested in joining me in taking the MIT course 6.001 Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, via the MIT OpenCourseWare site?
My next-door neighbor just told me about Blackle, a site that presents a Google custom search on a black background with gray text. The site’s owner, Heap Media, produced this in response to a blog post that claimed megawatts of energy could be saved worldwide if the millions of screens displaying Google’s main page every day didn’t have to fire up all those white pixels. What a constructive idea.