Games That Teach

Games can teach. I think most of us know that. But did you know that games can also teach computers? Yep. Try this game. It was created by my friends Andrew and Melissa at USC's Institute for Creative Technologies.

The game's goal is to see what actions people can recognize and use the actions of people to inform machine learning.   In Andrew's words:

"The ultimate goal is to build a system that allows people to create their own movies (involving shapes), and have the computer automatically author a textual narrative that describes their movie in anthropomorphic terms."


Pretty cool.

The Journey of Journeyman

Twenty-three-year-old programmer, Patrick McConlogue caused a stir recently when he proposed offering $100 or coding lessons to a homeless man he passed every day on the way to work in New York. Well, it turns out, the homeless man, Leo, accepted the challenge to learn to code and is learning.

What are the tools Patrick is using to teach Leo? Where did he start?

He suggests starting with Codeacademy.

Then for a beginner: JavaScript for Beginners

For someone at the intermediate level: Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja

You can follow the Journey on Facebook.


Alexander Cockburn in his book Idle Passion: Chess and the Dance of Death published in 1974. With respect to chess and the fact that men outnumber women in its top ranks, Cockburn said that women,

"are happily without the psychological formations or drives that promote an expertise in the game in the first place. One could even add that women have never been allowed the cultural space to foster that lethargic yet zealous commitment to a useless pursuit that has fostered the bizarre careers of the great champions."

I have to wonder if this is what is going on with respect to certain parts of the programming culture - namely, hack-a-thons. Until it's necessary for survival, isn't it smarter to not worry about it? Women don't have time for hack-a-thons. They have lives. Meaning they have so much else to worry about - spouses, children, their homes but even adhering to cultural constructs like what they wear, hair and make-up. When you have to make time for all these things, it definitely reduces your leisure time or time to commit to singular pursuits.

Achievement often requires a unilateral focus that by just being women who must conform to a cultural standard immediately puts us at a disadvantage. Our pursuits are merely narrow aspects of a fuller life while men can be far more linear - their pursuits can be their whole lives.