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Future of JavaScript — the need to pay it forward

Spoilers: The JavaScript Developers meetup is holding a free* JavaScript fundamentals workshop, sponsored by SEER Interactive, on August 27th. And, I’ll be speaking on JavaScript education/outreach at JSConf EU

Somehow I’ve got to fit all the awesomeness from that JSConf EU description into a talk. So, while I’m using this weekly post primarily to boost the upcoming workshop and flail about how excited I am to go to Berlin and talk about JS education and community, rather than go through my bullet points that I’ll cover, I’ll tell a little story. [EDIT: not so little apparently]

Earlier this year, I gave a talk about “Code as Craft” (always a fun topic, different for everyone who ascribes to it). I mostly did it to talk about my dad, who was having some health problems at the time, and how I identified my building things on the internet as a form of “making,” something my dad has always gravitated towards. My education activities came up, and in the Q&A, a friend of mine in the crowd asked “You seem to work with women a lot; why do you do that?”

And I totally froze.

I teach and advocate often through women’s events. It’s a very reasonable question. However, I don’t actually visualize myself as a “women in tech” activist — I’d much rather be a people in tech activist. I’m definitely a feminist, and that view is actually an expression of that facet of myself — make things better for everyone.

That’s why I’d like to continue the kinds of great activities that we hold in safe spaces for underrepresented groups and also bring them out into the user groups (like the Python community is pretty good at). Get the people who say “Oh, I’m not a developer, I just write scads of JavaScript” to you know, maybe stop doing that.

Host a free* workshop through a JavaScript  user group with a project night two days later where they can come get more help.

When I’m asked “Why do you do those things? Why do you care about bringing more people into the fold? Here’s the real answer: someone did it for me.

I wouldn’t have been in a college IT honors program if one of their students at the university hadn’t called and pressured me to apply. I wouldn’t have taken computer science if one of their professors hadn’t happened to stuff a postcard into my mailbox. And all that actually probably goes back earlier, to when I was in fifth grade, and my teacher set me aside to do more advanced math work, setting me up to lead in advanced math courses in grade school. Or when my dad first started teaching me to draw on a drafting board, and we took measurements and redesigned my room on a regular basis, you know, just because.

So I’m happy to pay it forward. And hopefully you might feel that way too. If you know someone who’s interested in programming — not just JavaScript — encourage them. Go to a user group meeting with them. Volunteer at a workshop that they’re taking. There’s so much negativity in this (digital) world when it can be so great — be a part of it.



*Note on “free”: $5 fee for “this is to hopefully ensure you will show up and not take anyone who really wants to go’s spot.” If you, or someone you know, finds the $5 a hardship, please let me know and I’ll get them registered. If you, or someone you know, signed up and will bail, please change your/their RSVP, so they don’t take someone’s spot!

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