[Edu-sig] Example Poster

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Mon Jun 8 18:46:25 CEST 2009

This weekend I was privileged to join a former student's graduation
festivities.  His family sought me out through Saturday Academy, the
word of mouth school we use to recruit for various walks of life, by
inspiring a love of the field.  We do have a Google Video ad, but that
maybe counts as part of word of mouth I'm not sure.


Anyway, back when still in 8th grade, Tim built a Linux server for his
basement, registered dynamic ip that way people do, and customized
pybloxsom for Father Bob, the headmaster at his school.  The
liturgical calendar as well as USA secular "holy days" were built in
such that different CSS would load depending on the season and/or day,
changing the look, plus he went to all the work to find out about
mod_python and have stuff run from in there (through Apache).

On the day he was to give his presentation, I was there, and noticed
that although his teachers were awed and appreciative, they had little
idea what he was talking about when all this got mentioned.  Tim was
lonely in his knowledge, but for geeks like me, and like ya'll out in
edu-sig world, who really know about this stuff and provide community
for those eager learners who push on ahead before most kids are very
far at all down this read.

My hypothetical question for Vern would be:  assuming a parallel
Universe in which Tim's project was accepted by Pycon for showcasing,
what would that look like?

Having seen all the Blip TV out of Pycon 2009, part of my thinking is
"poster session" should mean an official part of the post-Pycon video
feed, i.e. browsers might surf to Tim's exhibit online, watch the
presentation, including screen shots, live action.  Five minutes or
less would be an appropriate format (lightning talk).  Here he'd have
a link for college admissions officers, others charged with background
checking a portfolio.

As soon as I think this, I'm thinking why just post Python?  Why
couldn't Pycon have this branding control over a YouTube channel
devoted to showcasing winners and runners up?  The older exhibits
wouldn't go away, even as new ones were added.

My final piece of the puzzle:  user groups.  In terms of seeking out
talent like Tim, or giving them a local contact, not every town has
either a Saturday Academy or a Python User Group, but the latter is
what's easiest to set up, even within a school.  Every year, Princeton
University asks its alums to actually meet with candidates and write
up their impressions in response to set questions.  I could see Vern
getting feedback from the field in that way e.g.:  "Dear Vern, as
member of user group X, I was asked to check in on Tim and assess that
state of his Python project, and here are my findings..."

This way you have someone on the ground authenticating a project, not
just getting a Youtube submission from out of the blue claiming to
show Pythonic animation of inside-outing sphere.  On the other hand,
if there's working source code and results might be duplicated... on
the other hand, we don't want to deluge Vern (or anyone else) with
projects needing to be "installed and run" unless that part of a paid
day job, with room to add staff.

As a beleaguered volunteer, that'd be thankless, plus doesn't even
address the whole need for judging beyond simply ascertaining that
so-and-so really is doing what they say they're doing.  That's why I'm
suggesting enlisting the support of user groups and giving young
talent the fun experience of a Pythonista coming to their school, say,
meeting the student, getting an introduction to the project, taking
away some pictures, maybe a DVD.  The beginning of the process... fame
and glory on the Pycon channel a possible end result.


PS:  Tim is going to Princeton, my alma mater (and his mom's), isn't
planning to major in computer science though, was talking about a year
abroad in Varanasi maybe.


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