Localhost #6: Raph Levien on Xi

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

RSVPs for our sixth Localhost talk are now open! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Raph Levien, an RC alum who will be giving a talk about the Xi text editor on January 23rd from 7:00 pm–9:00 pm. Location TBA.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 30-minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public. We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks are a way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

Our next few 2018 Localhost talks are scheduled for:

  • February 27th
  • March 20th
  • April 24th

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

A few great things Recursers did in 2017

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

In 2017 the RC community grew to include more than 1,100 programmers from all over the world.

We asked our community to share things they were proud of having done last year, and received an impressive range of responses. Recursers launched companies, wrote books, gave talks, organized communities and conferences, published research papers, created tools that bettered people’s lives, wrote build tools and microkernels, made games, did some top-notch trolling, and were on the cover of The New York Times.

There were too many accomplishments for us to list in a reasonably-sized blog post, so here’s a selection:

Research

Timnit gebru 150
Timnit Gebru, Summer ‘12 — published a research paper about using machine learning to estimate demographic makeup and shifts in the United States. Her work was covered in The Economist and the New York Times.

More research by Recursers:

Art & hardware

Katherine ye 150
Katherine Ye, Summer ‘13 — released Hyperbible, a project for National Novel Generation Month that randomly generates new translations of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

More art and hardware by Recursers:

Tools

Saul pwanson 150
Saul Pwanson, Spring 2, ‘17 — released Visidata, an open source multitool for data exploration and manipulation.

More tools by Recursers:

  • JB Rubinovitz, Fall 2, ‘17 — worked on Bail Bloc, a program that redirects users’ spare processing power towards mining Monero, which is then donated to the Bronx Freedom Fund.
  • Keiran King, Fall 1, ‘17 — released Phil, a crossword puzzle generator.
  • Nick Sweeting, Summer 1, ‘14 — released Bookmark Archiver, a self-hosted way-back machine similar to the Internet Archive that turns bookmarks or browsing history into an offline, browsable HTML archive.
  • Nicole Orchard, Spring 2, ‘17 — created a site listing all the public works of art in New York City.
  • Parker Higgins, Summer 2, ‘17 — released gotham-grabber, a set of scripts that allows journalists to create PDF backups of their articles.
  • Stuart Sandine, Winter 1, ‘14 — shipped Pointed, a client-side developer tool for spinning up mock servers to build, test, and debug against.

Product

Omar rizwan 150
Omar Rizwan, Winter ‘13 — released Screenotate, a screenshot-taking tool for macOS and Windows that does automatic OCR to make screenshots searchable.

More product and project releases from Recursers:

  • Diego Berrocal, Fall 2, ‘15 — released the Marko Language Server, a Language Server Protocol (LSP) implementation for the Marko UI templating language.
  • Dustin Getz, Summer ‘12 — released Hyperfiddle, a visual programming tool.
  • Marijn Haverbeke, 2015 resident — released ProseMirror 1.0, a document schema agnostic WYSIWYG-editor library.
  • Mindy Preston, Winter ‘14 — was the release manager for MirageOS 3.0, which incorporated a new hypervisor backend and was a net loss in lines of source code.
  • Peter Lyons, Winter 1, ‘17 — released Hexagonal Lambda, an example serverless application for AWS Lambda and API Gateway including 100% code coverage unit tests, system tests, automated build tooling, deployment tooling and documentation.
  • Tara Vancil, Fall 2, ‘16 — built Beaker Browser, an experimental peer-to-peer web browser.

Talks

Aditya mukerjee 150
Aditya Mukerjee, Spring 1, ‘15 — spoke at conferences in four different cities about making programming more accessible to people who don’t speak English by translating programming languages themselves to other (human) languages.

More talks from Recursers:

Writing

Dan luu 150
Dan Luu, Winter ‘13measured latency across 40 years of computers.

More writing from Recursers:

We can’t wait to see what Recursers do in 2018!

Becoming a Recurser means joining a community of people dedicated to learning and becoming better programmers, which can be a major accelerator of growth and productivity during a retreat and beyond. If you’d like to attend a retreat and join the RC community, you should apply to an upcoming batch!

RC Pop-up: Two weeks of collaboration and focused work on generative art

Sonali sridhar circle Sonali Sridhar

Earlier this month, 12 Recurse Center alums met in Berlin to work on generative art in a two-week sprint, which we called an “RC Pop-up.”

What’s a Pop-up?

One of our goals is to support our alums in becoming better programmers wherever in the world they are. At its core, RC brings together people for intensive periods of personal and professional growth. During a batch, we provide a supportive and collaborative environment, space and time to focus, access to wonderful peers, and the freedom to explore what you’re interested in. While we host lots of social and technical events for alums in New York City, most of the 1,100 members of the RC community live elsewhere.

Many Recursers unsurprisingly report that their learning slows after their batches. Though alums are always welcome to re-apply to do another batch of RC, most don’t have the time or resources to do so. Our goal is to provide more opportunities for continued growth and support for our alums all over the world.

With that in mind, we came up with an experiment we thought would help us do that: a two-week RC Pop-up in a place other than New York City, where alums could recreate the intensity of a full RC retreat. We wanted the Pop-up to give folks a chance to get feedback and push each other to accomplish more than they would have alone.

We were inspired by Depth Jams, events in which people doing similar creative work commit to brief, intense, periods of working together and giving each other advice and critical feedback away from everyday distractions. We have lots of alums interested in graphics and computer art who live in and around Berlin, and given the vibrant community of artists and programmers who live there, we decided it was a good place to start. The School of Machines, Making, and Make Believe hosted us for the two weeks.

Vanessa Pyne, Moshpyt, FFmpeg

Pop-ups vs. retreats

The Pop-up was different than the retreats we run in several ways:

  • The Pop-up was two weeks long. We figured that this was a good amount of time for participants to get settled, collaborate, and do deep work on a project while not being prohibitive for people with jobs, families, or other life commitments.
  • It was themed. At a retreat, Recursers choose to work on or learn whatever they wish. Having a theme for the Pop-up gave alums with similar interests a chance to meet and work with each other.
  • We asked people to come with project ideas in mind. A project isn’t required to apply to RC, but given the time and theme constraint for the Pop-up, we thought it was important that people knew ahead of time what they would specifically work on.
  • It was only open to alums. This made it significantly easier and faster for us to organize, and ensured that all the participants already had a shared sense of community, trust, and values.
  • No RC faculty members were present in Berlin. We arranged the space, attendees, and framing of the Pop-up, but otherwise let the participants run it as they wished. Many of the alums who attended had never met each other in person, but successfully generated project ideas, set their own schedules, collaborated, did deep work to further their learning, and ran a show that was open to the public to share their work. We’re thankful to have such a rigorous, thoughtful, and self-directed group of people in our community.

We’re currently evaluating whether or not we’ll organize more Pop-ups in the future, and we are always looking for more ways to support our community’s continued growth.

In the interim, check out the list of participants and some of the work they produced below!

Jonathan Dahan, Glitch, Quil (Clojure)

Sher Minn Chong, Glyph poster series, p5.js

Participants and their work

Max bittker 150
Max Bittker, Summer 1 ’16, San Francisco — built a series of webcam sketches using WebGL, Clojure, SVG, and fragment shaders.
Sher minn chong 150
Sher Minn Chong, Winter 1 ’15, Singapore – worked on a series of web art sketches, primarily using p5.js (documented on her blog). She also sketched the Berlin Daily Comics.
Jonathan dahan 150
Jonathan Dahan, Summer 2 ’14, New York – focused on recreating a postage stamp using Quil in Clojure. He also set up a live feed of the pop-up and helped design the closing show.
Cory dominguez 150
Cory Dominguez, Spring 1 ’15, San Francisco – worked on animations of the U-Bahn Berlin metro tiles using p5.js.
Veit heller 150
Veit Heller, Summer 1 ’17, Berlin — prototyped a ring, wrote a number of blog posts and designed a triptych called Reprise part of a series in generative art explorations in p5.js.
Juan hernandez 150
Juan Hernandez, Fall 1 ’16, Barcelona – wrote a program in Rust that randomly adds glitches to make unique images reminiscent of NES (Nintendo Entertainment Systems) games.
Adrien lamarque 150
Adrien Lamarque, Summer 1 ’16, Toulouse – built a ray tracer and small fragment shader using Metal with Cocoa and macOS.
Mehul mandania 150
Mehul (Manny) Mandania, Fall 1 ’13, Berlin – worked on a generative art series using the Clojure/ClojureScript library, Quil.
Moritz neeb 150
Moritz Neeb, Spring 1 ’17, Berlin – attempted style transfer with neural networks.
Aline normoyle 150
Aline Lyn Normoyle, Fall 1 ’16, Philadelphia – built an interactive demo in Leap motion. Participants could use their hands to control an abstract piece of molten metal or see their hands visualized with pieces of candy.
Vanessa pyne 150
Vanessa Pyne, Fall 2 ’16, New York – collaborated with both Juan and Lyn on writing shaders. She also got a long time personal project called Moshpyt, a CLI to Datamosh, off the ground.
Alicja raszkowska 150
Alicja Raszkowska, Fall 1 ’16, Warsaw – worked on building animations using CSS.

Veit Heller, Reprise, p5.js

A special thank you to The School of MA and our alums for making our first Pop-up a success!

Localhost #5: David Nolen on the fundamental principles of software

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’re excited to announce our fifth Localhost talk! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is David Nolen, a former RC resident who will be giving a talk about the fundamental principles of software on December 12th from 7:00 pm–9:00 pm at Peloton.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 20–30 minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public! We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks will be a great way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

We are working on a schedule of Localhost talks for 2018. Stay tuned!

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open for future talks!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Come to RC for a one-week retreat

We’re excited to announce a new experiment at RC: one-week mini retreats!

This winter, we’ll be running two one-week mini retreats at RC. They will overlap with the fall and winter batches, and will be just like the six- and 12-week retreats we run, with the same goals and structure, but shorter.

The first mini retreat will be open exclusively to RC alums, and will run from Monday, December 4th through Friday, December 8th. The second will be open to anyone and will run from Monday, January 8th through Friday, January 12th (coinciding with the first week of the Winter 2 batch).

We don’t know if we’ll host more one-week retreats in the future, so this may be a unique opportunity to join the RC community. If you’ve been interested in RC, but have been struggling to figure out how six or 12 weeks in NYC could fit into your schedule, please apply!

Why are we trying this?

We believe that the community is the most important part of RC, because the primary educational value of RC comes from what Recursers learn from each other. Most of the time that people spend involved with RC is not at the retreat, but in the community as alums, and so we are always looking for ways to make the community even better.

The RC community gets better as it gets bigger and more diverse, and we think mini retreats will help on both fronts. A larger and more diverse RC community means more interesting events and discussions, more people with different backgrounds and experiences to learn from, and a better chance of finding people to collaborate with. There are great people who can’t or won’t do a six- or 12-week batch (for example, due to family or work obligations), but who we would love to have in the RC community. One week mini retreats give us an opportunity to bring some of those people in and enrich RC.

How will it work?

The biggest challenge with mini retreats is that a week isn’t a lot of time for focused, deep work. We’re working on structuring the mini retreats so that everyone can get acclimated and hit the ground running.

There are things you should do too:

  • Spend some time reflecting on how to use your week most effectively
  • Figure out your goals for your time at RC before you get here
  • If there’s a specific project you’ll be working on, spend time working on and thinking about it beforehand
  • Find people to work with using our internal mailing lists and chat system, which you’ll have access to before your batch starts

Because one week is so short, we expect you to commit to spending the full week at RC.

Like many things at RC, mini retreats are an experiment. We’re excited to see how they go, and we’ll be collecting feedback after both retreats to figure out whether we should run more in the future.

Applying

The process for applying to a mini retreat is the same as applying to a six- or 12-week retreat. Make sure to choose Mini 1, 2017 (this is only open to, and will only appear to, RC alums) or Mini 1, 2018 from the batch selection drop-down on your application.

  • Alums can submit an application on the reapply page. The application deadline for Mini 1, 2017 is November 27th, and the retreat will start on December 4th.
  • For people new to the community, fill out our normal application. The application deadline for Mini 1, 2018 is December 11th, and the retreat will start on January 8th. RC is free for everyone to attend. New Recursers from groups underrepresented in programming can request a $500 grant for living and travel expenses.

Mini retreats have a higher admissions standard than our regular batches. We’re using the same admissions criteria—we’re looking for people who are self-directed, intellectually curious, friendly, sharp, enjoy programming and want to get dramatically better—but we’ll only admit applicants who show us clear, positive signals on each of these. Specifically, we’re looking for people who have thought about and have promising plans for how to make the most of their short time at RC (see “How will it work?” above).

Normally we can take chances on people and admit them even if we’re not sure they meet all our criteria. Since no admissions process is perfect, this lets us get great people at RC who we might otherwise miss. However, because trying new things is inherently risky and because one week is very little time to get focused and productive, we’re not taking those chances for mini retreats.

As usual, admissions for these batches will be first come first served, and space is limited, so apply soon. We’re looking forward to seeing your application and welcoming you into the RC community!

Localhost #4: Leah Hanson on WebSockets

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’re excited to announce our fourth Localhost talk! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Leah Hanson, an RC alum who will be giving a talk on November 14th from 7:00 pm–9:00 pm at Dropbox about WebSockets.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 20–30 minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public! We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks will be a great way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

We currently have one more talk planned for this year (David Nolen will be speaking on December 12th), and are working on a schedule for 2018!

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open for future talks!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Localhost #3: Ron Minsky on types, and why you should care

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’re excited to announce our third Localhost talk! Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker is Ron Minsky, who will be giving a talk on October 24th from 6:30 pm — 8:30 pm at Jane Street about the practical role that type systems play in software development.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 20–30 minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public! We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. It’s been great meeting so many new folks at our first two Localhost talks!

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks will be a great way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

We currently have two more talks planned for this year:

  • November 14th – Leah Hanson
  • December 12th – David Nolen

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open for future talks!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Localhost #2: When r0ml brought down Morgan Stanley’s network

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’re excited to announce our second Localhost talk. Localhost is a series of monthly, NYC-based, free public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our speaker will be former RC resident r0ml, who will be giving a talk on September 26th from 7 pm - 9 pm at Etsy, about how he brought down Morgan Stanley’s network in 1984.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and schedule on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks are 20–30 minutes long, and are followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk for folks who wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks are open to the public! We’re setting aside a fixed number of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. This is new for us, and we’re excited to get to meet more programmers at our events.

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks will be a great way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

Future talks

We currently have three more talks planned for this year:

  • October 24th – Ron Minsky
  • November 14th – Leah Hanson
  • December 12th – David Nolen

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open for future talks!

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Localhost: a series of technical talks from RC

Rachel vincent circle Rachel Vincent

We’re excited to announce Localhost, a monthly NYC-based series of free public technical talks from members of the Recurse Center community.

Our first speaker will be RC alum Dan Luu, who will be giving a talk about branch prediction on August 22nd from 7 pm - 9 pm at the Two Sigma Ventures offices.

You can RSVP, read the abstract, and find more details about the venue and timing on the talk’s RSVP page.

Format

Localhost talks will be 20–30 minutes long, and will be followed by a dedicated Q&A session. There will be a two-minute break after the talk if folks wish to leave. There are a few reasons we run talks this way:

  • We’ve found that having folks ask questions during talks can often derail the speaker.
  • Having a break in between a talk and Q&A keeps the talk time–boxed and allows folks to leave if they wish.
  • Having a set time for questions leads to more equal audience participation and better discussions.

Unlike most RC events, Localhost talks will be open to the public! We’re setting aside fixed numbers of seats for folks who aren’t members of our community at every talk. This is a first for us, and we’re excited to get to meet more programmers at our events.

We know that attending a batch of RC requires a large time commitment, and hope that Localhost talks will be a great way for people to get a taste of what the RC community is like (and maybe even apply for a batch afterwards!). If you RSVP, please read about our social rules before the event.

When possible we’ll stream and record these talks for folks who can’t make it to them and alums who are outside of NYC. We’ll post confirmation of whether or not we’re streaming a talk and a link to the stream on the Localhost page.

Future talks

We currently have three more talks planned for this year:

  • September 19th – r0ml
  • October 24th – Ron Minsky
  • November 14th – Leah Hanson

We’ll open RSVPs and post details for future talks on our Localhost page and here on our blog. Follow us here and on Twitter for updates on when RSVPs open for future talks!

Special thanks to our first host, Two Sigma Ventures! TSV invests patient financial capital and expert human capital in ambitious early-stage entrepreneurs leveraging data science and engineering to create the future.

All guests of Recurse Center events are required to abide by our code of conduct.

Happy 6th birthday, RC

Dear current Recursers, alumni, colleagues, and friends,

Six years ago today was the start of the first batch of the Recurse Center. Since then, RC has both changed dramatically and remained strikingly similar. Many of the changes are easy to spot: We’ve grown from three people with an idea to a global network of over 1,000 alumni; moved from a small room donated by NYU to our own dedicated space; and gone from not having a website to a thriving online community.

The core ideas that animate RC — that self-direction is integral to real growth; that a supportive environment and community are key to helping people flourish; and that you can make such a community free and accessible through recruiting — remain the same, though our understanding of these ideas continues to evolve.

Of course, our path so far has not been smooth, straight, or fully planned. We’ve made many mistakes. And we’d be lying if we said we never wanted to give up on RC. Each of us has wanted to quit when we were feeling particularly down, or our situation felt grim.

But again and again two things above all else have sustained us: A conviction that RC should exist, and the people around us — our community, colleagues, and each other.

The latter — most notably the RC community and our employees — has proven to be an unexpectedly rewarding part of running RC. We have all formed close friendships with Recursers, and been inspired and re-inspired by the dedication, ingenuity, support, and love so many of you have demonstrated over the years.

Thank you for helping make RC what it is today; RC could not exist without you. We hope to have the pleasure of improving RC alongside you for many years to come.

Never graduate,

Nick, Sonali, and Dave
RC cofounders

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