I dropped-sideways from Coursera

My future potential will be forever blemished by my lack of completion in Coursera’s Fantasy and Science Fiction class.  So, it’s a good thing it’s not on any permanent records 😉 The class was well-organized and by-far one of the best English-literature classes I’ve taken.  The professor’s video lectures alone are worth signing up just to see.  In fact, his lecture on interpretation is a great explanation of why readers have different views of a book and why some are wrong.

Honestly, the timing of this class was not very convenient.  It came smack in the middle of my Database final, leaving the military (for good this time), and moving back home.  But, I still found time to go to the Philadelphia’s Linux User Group (PLUG) and hear some anecdotes by Eric Raymond.

The PLUG Penguin by Stephanie Fox.

There was about 20 Penguin-heads in attendance and after an hour of lively discussion from Virtual Machine hosting to the Carrington event, ESR took the podium.  He told of several anecdotes, some which I intend to post about in the near future, but the one that fits well with my Coursera experience was his tale of Culture Hacking.

On his blog, ESR advocates the creation of a “ground truth” document by software engineers, who find themselves working on hardware, or a system, with less than adequate documentation.  Simply put, it is the process of document assumptions about how the system works prior to writing any code.  Some enlightened commenters expressed thanks to ESR for naming a practice for which they’ve routinely performed. Culture. Hacked. This practice now has a name to which others can refer and spread.  While it may not be the catchiest name, the fact that the idea is now named gives it weight.  In fact, this is one of the few things that stuck with me from Gravity’s Rainbow (that and I want a banana greenhouse on my rooftop):

“Names by themselves may be empty, but the act of naming…”

So, in the spirit of a new J.J. Abrams show, I officially bestow this name: Drop Sideways: The act of no longer attending a MOOC.  I would call it pulling a “datko” but something tells me that thousands of others are doing the same thing.  Besides, at my last job, I’ve heard some shout “datko!” when there was just enough coffee in the pot, for a half cup :p

5 thoughts on “I dropped-sideways from Coursera

  1. I’m taking Gamification right now on Coursera. It’s definitely a very interesting class and taught by a professor I know at Penn!

    1. That class sounded cool. If only I completed my master’s a few years ago, then I would be able to take all of these fun classes 🙂

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