Over time, we hope to grow the site into a destination for finding fun, technical work. We aim to convey the full range of things people create during and after RC, from neat gists to ambitious projects, gifs of prototypes, stories of odd bugs, games, apps, computer-generated music and art, compilers, dev tools, electronic crafts, works-in-progress, and so much more.
Why we’re doing this
There are over 1,300 members of the RC community in the world, and it’s nearly impossible to see all the neat stuff that they do during and after RC—even Recursers find it hard to stay up to date. We’ve also done a poor job so far of sharing Recursers’ work with the wider world. We think there are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that our priority has always been making RC a great place to grow as a programmer. For us, this means providing a space where people can feel like they belong, ask questions without fear, and focus on programming and learning with as few external distractions as possible. It is easier to build a space like this when everyone is there to learn, has committed to healthy social norms, and feels comfortable with each other. The side effect of this is that RC is a relatively closed community. It isn’t because we want to be exclusive, but rather the opposite: we’ve found this is the best way to make a genuinely inclusive environment.
But this comes at a significant price. It’s harder to let new people know about RC and even harder to let people see and experience what goes on here before applying and attending.
The second reason we’ve struggled to share what happens at RC is related to its structure. If RC had a curriculum and teachers that taught it, we’d have easy answers to the questions of what people learn here or what a typical day looks like. But we don’t have teachers or a curriculum, nor do we tell people what they must do at RC. Rather, Recursers decide for themselves what they want to accomplish and how to structure their time, and so the answers to what people do here or what a “typical day” looks like are as varied and diverse as the people who come to RC. This is what we mean when we say that RC is self-directed and community-driven.
With Joy of Computing we intend to share much more of what happens at RC publicly, in a way that’s in line with our community-driven structure and which doesn’t disrupt the experience of people attending RC.
You can think of Joy of Computing as a bit like a big group Tumblr. Any of the 1,300+ people in the RC community can submit their own or other Recursers’ work to the site. Each submission is reviewed by one other Recurser to make sure it’s appropriate for the site (in short: the work must be technical, open source, and made by a Recurser), and once approved it gets added to a queue of upcoming posts. Every morning the site randomly publishes one post, weighted by how long it’s been in the queue.
The site is in some ways a successor to Code Words, the quarterly publication of technical writing we shuttered in 2016. But unlike Code Words, Joy of Computing is designed to be truly community-driven, rather than carefully curated by RC faculty. It is meant to be serendipitous and a bit messy — just like RC. Additionally, we aim to reflect the diversity of work people do at RC, and not only the highly polished, long-form writing that Code Words featured.
Computing and joy
A lot of computing has felt grim recently, and rightfully so. Each day has brought a new reminder of Google and Facebook’s scandals and surveillance, and our industry’s broader failings. The world has realized that technology isn’t a panacea, and some of its effects are downright harmful. We as programmers must think carefully and deeply about the impact of our work, and change our behavior accordingly.
In a climate like this it’s easy to lose sight of the positive things that attracted many of us to programming in the first place. We hope Joy of Computing will serve as a healthy counterbalance to the news of the day, and remind you that there are still many good sides of computing and technology. Programming can be not only useful but also playful, intellectual, exciting, expressive, delightful, and humane.
We released the site privately to the RC community earlier this month ahead of our public launch today, which is why the site already has a number of posts.↩