Two weeks ago I wrote about bypassing cultural barriers in tech and said I wanted to start an open source project here in Philadelphia that will create a module for the dat project. Response has been unanimously positive. The coordinators of Code for Philly encouraged me to set the project up under their umbrella while the dat team have been enthusiastically supportive and encouraging. Tonight we had our first meeting of the project. Seven people showed up and it went really well. I’m feeling very optimistic right now.
The dat jawn project page on Code for Philly’s website has a formal writeup about the project, its goals, and how to join the first cohort of participants.
I’ve given myself about 6 weeks to recruit people before calling the cohort “closed”. After only two weeks of recruiting, I didn’t know how many people to expect at the first meeting. A group of students from the New York Code and Design Academy of Philly (yeah, a mouthful) said they planned to come and a smattering of other people had expressed interest over the week.
At first it appeared that only two people had shown up – two guys from the code academy. That’s a good start, especially since they’re coming off a 12-week boot camp in Rails development. About 20 minutes later, Ben Novack from Code for Philly called all of the first-timers to get a “Civic Hacking 101” talk. Of the thirty people in the room, about twelve sauntered over. We joined in. At one point Ben prompted me to pitch the project and many faces lit up. When Ben finished his intro, we had gained five more participants, bringing our total number of participants up to eight! Quite an impressive showing for the first meeting.
After confirming that “jawn” is a comically Philly name for the project and “dat jawn” is “beyond perfect”, we spent an hour covering ground level business – intentions for the project, structure of the project, relevant code bases, the initial github tickets, my outline of the habits & practices of great engineers, the technologies involved, etc. We then dove into the fundamentally important topic: how will we communicate? First we got everyone onto irc and said hello in the #dat channel on freenode. We then set up a google group but promptly became embroiled in a discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of Slack. In the end, we resolved to create a dat-jawn channel within the Code for Philly slack team. To join the Slack channel, create an account on the Code for Philly website then go to the channel and log in using your Code for Philly username & password.
A very good start, with more to come.