So here, for my birthday to all of you, I'd like to share some things that have made me feel better about the world recently.
Yesterday morning, as tends to happen when I don't ignore the news, I was in a particularly sour mood about the prospects for the future of our species. Then I saw this, and spent the rest of the day smiling:
Two 6th Grade Girls Triumph at Startup Weekend with their Project GenerationCode
A few hours later, my mood got another boost. My friend Keith, who I've known since he was a frosh, 15 years ago, defended last week. Yesterday he sent a zephyr to class help saying he was due to hand in his dissertation in like 90 min, and would appreciate any last-minute proofreading. The acknowledgements section of his signed-off-on, MIT-Archives-bound dissertation now has a paragraph that begins "Thank you to the subscribers of MIT Zephyr’s help class, who organized themselves at the last minute to proofread this dissertation for me" --- followed by all our names. (My second appearance in the acknowledgements of an MIT thesis (he said, buffing his nails on his lapels...))
This gave me my first chance to put on my cat-herding hat in months, and I had a gas.
I love that sort of thing: providing just enough input to keep people's efforts coordinated, avoid the waste of duplicated effort, and to keep a sense of forward motion going. It's not a lot of effort: My main task in that 45 minutes was my own 20 pages of proofreading. But things tend to go awry when nobody takes care of those seemingly insignificant logistical details. And for whatever reason, nerds often don't. But I'm one nerd who gets a lot of satisfaction out of it. (And if do I say so myself, I'm really good at it.)
"Has someone taken on the clerical task of seeing what's been reported as proofread?"
"Right --- I'll do that, then."
Followed over the next 45 min by a half-dozen iterations of a table saying which page ranges had been proofed and by whom, with (in the first five iterations only!) blanks for un-proofread chunks. At the end of which, a 90-page MIT PhD dissertation in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science had been completely proofread by the coordinated efforts of a half-dozen seriously smart people, most with far pointier hats than mine.
I was going to post one more smile-inducing video. But I'm going to keep it for seed, so I have something to post about tomorrow. Because I'd also forgotten just how much I enjoy writing for y'all. :^)
[Edit: I don't know why (when viewed in some ways but not others) LJ is rendering the entire blockquote in italics: It showed up as I intended in preview.]