Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson

Co-founder of Software Carpentry
Author of books on computing and teaching
(and for children)
Ph.D. in Computer Science
Parent, spouse, and proud Canadian

Years ago, I lost my temper while arguing with my brother, and said, "Jeff, I could teach you everything I know and you'd still be an idiot." Please keep that in mind as you read this site.


August 22, 2019: Finally Real

For the last twenty years I’ve kept a list of books and projects that I didn’t think I would ever get around to doing. I am very (very) pleased that two of them have become a reality this summer thanks to the hard work of my RStudio interns:


August 20, 2019: Riding at Night

There is something magical about riding a bicycle down an empty street on a warm summer evening. Porch lights are on, and you can hear TVs and people talking or getting ready for bed, but the cars are still and the road is yours.


August 14, 2019: It Feels Good to be Useful

A notification landed in my email earlier today because my GitHub ID had been mentioned in an issue, and I couldn’t be happier about its content. @njsmith wrote:


August 14, 2019: Research This!

I presented “Research This! Questions that Computing Educators Most Want Computing Education Researchers to Answer” at ICER 2019 this morning, and the full paper is now available on this site and through the ACM. It was a pleasure to work with Paul, Brett, Michelle, and Piotr, and I hope people will find our results useful.


August 10, 2019: Exoplanets

I think a lot about Scott Hanselman’s phrase “dark matter developers“—about the possibility that the 1% or 5% of developers who blog, tweet, post on Stack Overflow, and have active accounts on GitHub are no more representative of the rest than stars and planets are of whatever makes up most of the universe. Of late, I’ve started wondering as well whether computer science undergraduates are also as atypical of novice programmers as our solar system is of solar systems in general. The more of the latter we find, the weirder ours looks; now that so many people are getting into programming in so many different ways, perhaps we’ll discover that our ideas have been as skewed as astronomers’s were.


August 08, 2019: Documentation Types

This post is an update on an earlier one that slims down the set of documentation types. Feedback is very welcome.


August 06, 2019: RIP Toni Morrison

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.
— Toni Morrison


August 05, 2019: Computational Science Education (1996 edition)

Once upon a time, my job was to make scientists’ software run on a supercomputer that (like me) lived in the basement of a building in Edinburgh. A new faculty member in astronomy came to my office one day and asked if I could help him with his program. It was about a hundred thousand lines of Fortran, all in one file, but to my relief it was broken up into lots and lots of functions.


August 04, 2019: No Support for Hate

Twitter, Cloudflare, Shopify, and Amazon won’t care if they lose my business: I’m just one consumer. They will care if programmers refuse to work with them because they can’t survive without our skilled labor. So:


August 03, 2019: Teaching Online

I think that our grandchildren will probably regard the distinction we make between what we call the real world and what they think of as simply the world as the quaintest and most incomprehensible thing about us.

— William Gibson