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C'est la Z

CS and the liberal arts - my HackNY talk - a preview

So, I went for my walk yesterday and indeed was able to settle on a topic for my HackNY talk next week.

HackNY is, for lack of a better description, a support system for tech interns in NYC. It started 12 years ago. Back then, a college student would apply to HackNY. If accepted, they would be matched with a NY based tech startup and they'd be housed, I believe in the NYU dorms. HackNY would provide a number of common activities beyond communal living - talks and other events. Big tech companies like Google were already offering housing, guest talks, and special events both social and technical. HackNY sort of did this across the nY tech startup space. You'd intern at whatever small company that could provide a great internship experience and HackNY provided the out of office side.

It also served as a recruitment and advertising tool for NY Tech which was just developing back then.

Tech in NY and the startup scene is very different now and as a result, according to the HackNY website, the program's changed since then - they still provide the housing, talks and events but no longer provide the internships. The student must find that on their own prior to starting with HackNY over the summer. It could be awesome, with HackNY providing a nexus for these students who might otherwise be floating without much support - particularly those interning at very small companies or it could be that something's lacking without HackNY curating the internship experiences. We'll see.

Anyway, what should I, a career teacher, have to say to these students. Sure, I have a unique view - I've worked in industry and I think I'm one of the few people out there who's both strong as a teacher and technically who's experienced in working with populations from elementary school all the way well into the workplace but this isn't a room of aspiring teachers.

These kids will still be in college next year, and maybe for three more years. I thought, maybe I should talk about the liberal arts. Sure, Humanities in tech has gotten a little buzz in the last few years, first due to ethical issues and now because of AI but I've been talking about why the liberal arts are important for tech majors for far longer.

So, I outlined a talk on my walk and now I have to flesh it out. Sure, I'll talk a bit about the education scene, I think as New York's CS Education Curmudgeon I have to complain about that. I'll also talk about the ethics and AI issues but the focus will be on something more fundamental. How CS relates to the liberal arts from the humanities point of view and how studying liberal arts can enhance a tech person.

Devorah and I will be heading to Philadelphia tomorrow for a brief vacation (what is it, we won second place or something in a contest 1 but then I'll flesh it out. If the talk goes well, I'll write it up sometime afterwards. If not, I'll probably still write it up but it'll probably be more humorous.

1You know the old joke, the prize for the sweepstakes was one week in Philladelphia, second prize, two weeks :-)

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