Things I Won't Do This Year
I've made and broken my share of New Year's resolutions, so this year I thought I'd do something different and make a list of things I'd like to do in 2015 but (almost certainly) won't.
- Turn Software Carpentry into a book.
I promised Frank Willison I would do this more than a decade ago, and got as far as turning the existing lessons into a badly-formatted e-book last summer. I've never been satisfied with the results, but have never made time to revise it all. The good news is that Katy Huff and Anthony Scopatz have a book of their own coming out later this year, which is at least as good as anything I could do.
- Turn the Software Carpentry instructor training course into something other people can read and understand.
I've learned a lot about teaching and learning in the last four years, and I'd like to pass that on to other people. While I'm probably going to spend a lot of time this year passing that on through online and in-person classes, I'm probably not going to have time to write it all down.
- Finish Beneath Coriandel or The Voyage of the Unshadowed Land or The Prince and the Cloudherd.
I managed to deliver a 30,000-word story to my daughter this Christmas, but it took 15 months. Realistically, I'll do well in 2015 to revise that and get it published. The other fiction I've had on the back burner for the last few years will just have to wait...
- Write a textbook based on the same idea as 500 Lines or Less or one on empirical software engineering.
As I said a few months ago, most intro courses on software engineering are a waste of everyone's time. I'd like to create two replacements: one in which students analyze data from software projects (and thereby learn how to think about their work like scientists), and another in which they build small versions of real applications (like web servers and text editors) and compare their implementations to the real thing, which would force them to learn something about actual software architectures. Either would be a full-time project for a couple of years; I'm unlikely to ever get to either, but I can dream.
- Start playing the sax again.
Or the drums, or maybe piano—I haven't played piano in over thirty years, but listening to my daughter learn it has made me wish I still could.
So what does that leave on the table?
- Get paid.
I care a lot about Software Carpentry, but I've been running without a salary since the end of October, and that has to end—soon.
- Get the Software Carpentry Foundation on a firm footing.
The first election for our Steering Committee is happening at the end of this month. Once that's taken place we'll be able to start moving forward on partnerships, our new lessons, and a bunch of other projects.
- Get fit.
2014 was a difficult year—my exit from Mozilla was a lot bumpier than I'd hoped, and I simply didn't make time or have energy to exercise. That's not a good thing given the history of heart disease in my family, so swimming or biking two or three times a week isn't really optional any more.
- Help put together a meeting of grassroots "learn to code" organizations targeting under-represented groups.
We are organizing a meeting in June 2015 of grassroots groups that are trying to fix the tech sector's diversity problem. Whether they focus on women, racial minorities, the elderly, LGBT individuals, or people with disabilities, these groups' goal is to give people the skills, connections, and mentoring they need to get in and stay in. This meeting will give people from these groups a chance to share ideas, make connections, and learn more about non-profit governance, fundraising, and how to help people move from workshops to contributing to open source projects and getting hired.
- Revise Madica.
That's the (inadequate) working title of the book I wrote for my daughter's Christmas present. It's full of plot holes and half-used ideas; I really want to tidy it up and get it out the door. It probably won't sell any better than Still has, but that's no longer the point for me: borrowing from Matthew Crawford, there are things you can only learn about yourself from writing.
- Move to England.
If all goes well, we will be in Canterbury by August. We only plan to go for a year, but we hope to do a lot of exploring while we're there. Sadie is excited about the Christmas markets in Germany, Maddie's excited about visiting Hogwarts, and I'm excited about slowing down a little.