So I have not had the time to sit down and write a proper reflective post on 2013. Things have been in flux over the past couple months but I recently was offered the privilege of working for the Connecticut Democratic Party for the 2014 election cycle. While I had spent time extensively searching for legal work, and going to numerous interviews, the market unfortunately did not present an opportunity that fit well with my legal interests and background. I helped out at the state party for a couple weeks leading up to the 2013 election and enjoyed it very much. As the party's new Deputy Data Director I get to use my technology skills, and many of the analytical and research skills that I honed in law school.
With this new position I have seen an influx of people that wish to connect on social media. I am generally liberal when it comes to accepting requests on social media. My facebook profile is open to the world and I usually use it to disseminate interesting articles. I also tweet interesting articles, but will also use twitter for ranting, (not so) witty comments, and chatting. I also maintain a LinkedIn profile that I don't post things to as often. While twitter is free flowing I sometimes receive requests on Facebook and LinkedIn from people I do not know. I am happy to connect with and meet new people online if we share interests or experiences, but I will often neglect or reject requests from people I am unfamiliar with.
If you are trying to connect and do not know me, the best thing to do is send a short introduction letting me know why you want to connect when you send your friend or LinkedIn request. That way I have some context for the request and our relationship and am more likely to accept it. However if I don't accept you do not despair, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are mostly open and you are free to linger as a follower unless you harass me in which case you will probably be blocked.
It is Computer Science Education Week and many of the other blogs and people I follow on twitter have been linking to the Code.org video and resources. Codecademy released a neat iOS application as well. However despite all this hoopla I was surprised to learn how far there is to go.
I looked up the statistics for the AP Computer Science A exam in Connecticut for 2013 and discovered that only 413 students took the exam. Among those students only 89 were women. In spite of the hoopla inside the entreprenuerial circles about coding and code education, it does not seem to be reaching outside the bubble.
When I was in high school I got together with a few friends and convinced a science teacher to teach us AP Computer Science so we could take the exam. We gave-up a study hall session to be able to take the class since it was outside the normal class blocks. Sometimes grassroots energy works.
However students are not going to ask for it if they are not familiar with coding. Students need exposure to it through after-school programs or other projects. Schools need to make sure it is an option for them. Otherwise we will conitnue to have a shortage of people with these skills.
If you are an Apple fan you have probably heard Jonathan Mann's work. His song about the iPhone 4 antenna problems was featured in an Apple press conference. I did not know that he also wrote a song about Paul Krugmen. In fact he writes a song a day. I embedded the Krugman song below:
Over the past week or so I have been seeing people I follow on twitter tweet up a storm about the Patent Innovation Act. Fred Wilson wrote a good post on it at his blog yesterday. As always the discussion was worth reading as well. Gigaom also has a summary.
As someone who has listented to many podcasts I was happy to see the provision that would allow technology manufacturers to engage in litigation while litigation against users would be halted. Many of the blogs and tweets I have read from podcasters and mobile developers have lamented the threat of patent trolls and now this would allow Apple to step-in and defend them. Unfortunately for entrepeneurs, patent litigation is expensive and the threat of a lawsuit can cause them to have to pack their bags.
We still have some ways to go before the problem that patent trolls cause is tamed. However this is a good step and it appears that with the support of the White House and hopefully a passing vote in the Senate this will make the lives of entrepreneurs a little easier.