What Next? January 2017

Paul Mucur edited this page Jan 19, 2017 · 8 revisions
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The Meeting

We began the meeting by welcoming new attendees and introducing ourselves before taking a moment to discuss potential changes to the club before we suggested new topics.

We discussed the struggle of working through difficult books while still remaining enticing to newcomers. The struggle with books such as Elements of Computing Systems was that attendance of the club dwindled over the months as missing a single chapter made it difficult to get back on-board (let alone someone wishing to join part way through). This wasn't the case for The New Turing Omnibus due to it having much more discrete chapters but some of us missed the opportunity to really delve into a specific topic.

To ensure we had a shared understanding of what people wanted out of the club, we discussed our motivations for attending at all:

  • Working through practical exercises with others in an environment outside of their job
  • The regular, scheduled nature of the club as a way of making time for areas of interest that might otherwise be neglected
  • The opportunity to have conversations with like-minded people
  • The chance to help others understand and teach about an area of expertise
  • Get through book one might struggle with on their own
  • Rediscover the joy at the heart of why we use computers in the first place
  • The ability to explore the theoretical rather than practical
  • A way of continuing education or making up for a lack of prior formal education in Computer Science
  • The secret alter ego of the club as a bread appreciation society

One key idea that was raised was to try mixing the two paces of the club: have a longer book that we would work through together but also hold regular, "interstitial" meetings about other topics that would lend themselves better to newcomers.

With all of that in mind, several people then pitched their ideas for a new topic.

The following ideas were discussed in brief:

We each then voted for topics we were interested in pursuing and the clear winner (with 10 votes) was Benjamin C. Pierce's "Types and Programming Languages" (aka TAPL).

As this is an academic textbook, we agreed that we would also take up the suggestion to hold regular meetings about topics outside the book to break up the pace. A suggestion for this was to pick the runner-up: one of the books from the "Seven $Things in Seven Weeks" series.

With a larger book, we took the opportunity to plan several meetings ahead for the first time and decided on the following:

  • First meeting about TAPL on Tuesday 7th February 2017
  • Second meeting about TAPL on Tuesday 21st February 2017
  • Third meeting about TAPL on Tuesday 7th March 2017
  • First interstitial meeting about another topic on Tuesday 21st March 2017

We also proposed resurrecting a London Computation Pub on Tuesday 31st January 2017 to fill the gap before the first TAPL meeting.

We were conscious of the fact that, as a textbook, TAPL is much more expensive than other books we've tackled (at ~£50 from Amazon) so we decided to seek discounts and sponsorship to provide copies of the book for club members otherwise unable to acquire them.


Thank you to Leo and Geckoboard for hosting and to all those who contributed suggestions.