Since merveilles (and mastodon in general) seems to be full of super interesting (but still somewhat techy) people I was wondering what kind of education people have with regards to programming/technology.

@kevin I was wondering if this is a good or a bad thing. All fediverse is rather complicated at first glance.
One thing, that higher entry threshold will keep community more focused.
But on the other hand it's even tighter social bubble than any other social media.

@sivar yeah i think the fact that it is split up into themed "groups" helps a lot, but it does seem that only techy people seem to find out about it.

@kevin in situations like this I like to use "grandma test".

If it's too hard to explain it to your grandma (or your parents, if you are a bit older) - it's too complicated and should be simplified :)

@sivar i don't think fediverse is tough to explain.
(like a bunch of separate social groups run by community members that are all interconnected)

it's just that people who aren't interested in the idea of it will just say "but I already have facebook" or "my friends are all on *popular social site*"

A lot of younger people have also grown up their entire lives with only a phone as their computer and struggle with the idea of the internet as not just another isolated "app".

@sivar @kevin How tech-focused Mastodon is can be a turn-off in itself for some. I’ve seen a few reactions where they’ve heard of it, but view it as something for techies (or specific types of techies), and they don’t give it much thought beyond that since they think they’re already not going to fit in. Or that the specific types of people on here will clash with their views. The people I know who have heard of Mastodon all specifically don’t use it for reasons other than “I already have Facebook and/or Twitter”.

I think the worst view I saw was that Mastodon is just a gateway to Gab, which was a little more than I expected.

@OberstKrueger yeah there are plenty of reasons that mastodon might not appeal to you, just like there are plenty of reasons that traditional social sites wouldn't appeal to you. I don't think there's really a right or wrong thing.

@kevin There’s certainly nothing that says it has to be one way or the other, although the early push seemed to want to be something more generalized. The fact that it hasn’t broken out of the mostly-tech sphere is unfortunate though, for me at least.

@sivar @kevin Maybe its because I've spent most of my life studying things widely considered "too complicated" and that I've derived immense pleasure from them, but I instinctively disagree when people say things _need_ to be simple.

Lots of stuff isn't simple. It doesn't feel like a big deal to me.

@vincent @sivar I agree somewhat. I think the root of it is to try and keep things only as complicated as they need be.

@kevin @sivar I think the relentless focus on simplicity is a side effect of a cultural moment where growth is the ultimate goal for any and all endeavors.

Apple Computers (for instance) are designed for _maximum growth_ not _maximum usability_. Economic competition puts an enormous premium on "immediacy" over "usability".

@vincent @kevin
Sure, some things are complicated because of its nature. IT systems are not one of them, especially if we're talking about user experience.

To be honest I've always considered that social networks can grow or die. But maybe in fediverse it's no longer true.

@kevin I put "no formal education", but I'm a pre-university student and may get a computer science degree. Just thought I should clarify :)

@kevin Unrelated to tech. I’m one of those crazy social science peoples.

@kevin i'm currently halfway through an art degree and i've somehow tried to work at the intersection of art and technology because apparently really cool things happen there

@rozina that's cool, i think for techy people it's easy to forget that technology is first and foremost a tool to help accomplish something else so it's good to see people be more multifaceted.

@kevin however at the same time i feel like there's a barrier to accomplish something else along with creating cool things using technology, mainly because i've seen some really interesting stuff (done with tech one way or another) and think "woah that's really cool i want to do that, and i wonder how that person's done it" only to try doing something similar myself and thinking "oh i can't do it yet, it feels way too technical for me to do", which leads me to putting it off since the barrier can sometimes be way too high for those who come from other backgrounds, along with me ending up getting caught up in the technical stuff that i end up forgetting the reason why i chose to do that thing i thought was really cool in the first place.

@rozina That makes sense. I think the problem solving aspect of dealing with tech/programming has a way of really sucking a person in. I always admire people who can execute their creative vision and have strong direction. It's quite a skill.

@kevin it sure does, and i also admire people who can realise their creative vision in that way in particular.

i've been trying to do that with my work for a while now and it's been a bit underwhelming since i know that i can do better than that, but i just don't know how to because it's too damn complicated (don't even get me started on trying to learn 3d modelling and animation with blender along with creating weird and wonderful websites that make you go "woah" everytime you see them).

maybe i should stick to what i'm already good at although this will be a bit limiting because for about a year now i feel like i've become more of a tech person than a creative one and i don't like where it's going since i've been in a bit of a creative block where i end up creating the same things over and over again because i don't know what else to do other than to fantasise about creating some epic things with tools that i currently don't know how to use.

@rozina @kevin Check out He's also an artist who taught himself programming. He has lots of tips on his blog.

@kevin i studied engineering first, then choreography but dropped out, and then a degree in something related to art+tech+design (?)
(just wanted to qualify my vote in the poll :)

@kevin Obtained a PhD in Pure Math ... I used tech (some programming in BCPL, ForTran, zed (a stream processing language), and shell (IBM3084 running Phoenix) ... but the qualification is *in* technology.

@kevin Been coding forty years, didn't get a degree in it until I had been coding for twenty-nine years.

Mostly I started by my mother putting me in front of a mainframe and teaching me enough JCL to watch her jobs while she worked on Saturdays.

@dmoonfire wow that's for sure an interesting introduction

@kevin I started coding around the same time when my dad (they were divorced) picked up this new "K&R C" book and decided to learn it. He asked me and my brother if we wanted to try, I said yes, he said no.

Somehow, in three hours, I learned enough C to start to make changes. The next morning, he came up to see me tweaking his code and I got my first of four(-ish) "nods of approval" that man has ever given me in my life. :D

@kevin So, I became a DBA for my mother and a coder for my dad. I ended up being good at both, so they both encouraged me into what I'm today. :D

@dmoonfire if you don't mind (feel free to ignore) around about how old were you at this time?

@kevin Six. My mother started paying me to code when I was ten. It was a touch-screen wedding registry for a local store. Before then, it was D&D work management in dBase III (later IV+).

I also helped teach her DBA classes in my teens. :D

My dad started me writing roguelikes (because I loved Nethack and Larn), then later he would walk me through his nuclear reactor simulators (~10-12) and then later with the particle accelerator simulators (age 15+). Ah, dBase. I've got a soft spot for it even though I never used it for anything. When I first started working for mumble College they had a dBase III/IV class that was offered through the computer labs so I assisted with grading a number of assignments for it.

@LilFluff @kevin I used to teach classes in the various dBase (and DB2).

But, my favorite program was a personal one. My mom's D&D world was a single world that had gone from red box all the way up. Massive number of characters, stories, etc. So, to manage it, she and I build up a world management program that created characters sheets, kept track of adventure logs, and all the individual plots.

That is also where I learned to write Postscript because I made fancy character sheets from dBase. I kind of wish I'd snagged my dads dBase IV book when I'd moved out, but I was pretty well behaved about only taking my own books from my room and not those elsewhere. And they've moved twice since then so they got rid of it a while back. I'd argue it's for research for if I ever continue my one NaNo project, but really I just want certain old out of date books (I've got a couple on HyperCard, some 80s PC repair books, and a Prolog textbook).

@dmoonfire That book is the most concise programming book I have come across.

@kevin studied political science at uni, but dropped out before completing my program. had programmed as a hobby as a teen so i picked it up to make ends meet. my parents keep saying i should get a maths degree or something. i want to be an artist mostly. wanted to be an activist lawyer when i was at school kek.

@kevin I flirted with programming in high school and university, but it didn't stick. I failed out of C.S. in university. Got my B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology. I taught myself enough to automate my tasks at my day job until I finally got a software engineering job 10 years after graduating from college.


i studied cultural / social anthropology and am largely self-taught when it comes to programming, though i did learn the basics with pascal in high school.

@glyph Do you work in a cultural/social field now? does your knowledge of programming help?


i no longer work directly in the social field. i'm currently writing software as my primary livelihood.

i worked as the lead of a streetgarden project at an ngo during and after my master's studies (for about 3 years in total). then i left to travel, study permaculture and grow plants and mushrooms.

after that, i started a mushroom business and began doing professional programming contract work at the same time. last year i left the mushroom business & have been programming fulltime.

@kevin i studied physics but took 6 CS courses. Selected the studied something else option

@aw i really should have made the second option say STEM instead haha. did you major in anything specific? does your programming knowledge help you in any specific way?

@kevin I majored in Physics, the CS courses were because I was interested in it, ended up with a CS minor. I had very little interest in physics by the time I graduated, and only took 2 physics courses my senior year i think.

@kevin computational linguistics with an emphasis in Japanese! 🇯🇵

@metasyn First time I've heard of computational linguistics. It seems super interesting.

as an aside, I have actually noticed a fair amount of linguists in the linux space, and I've come across a lot of linguistics packages for LaTeX. Do you need to use LaTeX for reports? That was one of my first experiences with Linuxy stuff.

@kevin i wrote a few papers using latex but mostly only for my thesis. but my comp ling professor was the first one of the firsts to show me the power of unix. i had written some program in python that was struggling to do something and he was like "why dont we just cat | grep | tr | sed | wc | ... " and so on haha

@kevin i spent 7 years in a 5 year high-school level computer school, where i learned a lot, some of it even at school! from teachers!

i never formally finished school, so my highest level of education is middle-school lol

@kevin I first met computers when the fancy school I had a scholarship at gave me one so I wasn't left behind. I was 10 or 11 back then. I've been fiddling with computers ever since. Back in 2012 I had no idea what job to take up so I decided I teach myself programming and get into a CS undergrad. But I (re)discovered a passion for social sciences, so today I'm working on my phonology/phonetics thesis as a master's student.

@kevin first did a degree in formal mathematics and went into compsci after that but tbh, most of my understanding of programming/compsci comes from maths + experience + self education/exploration/ self directed learning. I'd say that de actual education I had on comp sci added very little to my understanding

@secretlySamantha I feel the same way. even though I was taught a lot of programming stuff at school I don't think I really gained much from it until i tried to do something for myself with it a few years later.

@kevin No formal education, but I got my first job in tech (well, a job? it was a startup) in the late nineties, coding Perl.

@jameschip @neauoire self learning for the win! It does help to have people that are ahead of you around to help when you are stuck with something but the "teacher and student" system doesn't work for everyone.

@kevin I partially completed an undergraduate Philosophy course

@kevin Neuroscience/Biopsychology & English Literature, but always worked in tech, always will work in tech, and get to enjoy more than the average Joyce on the side.

@kevin I took a couple of computer science classes in college, but aside from that I'm self-taught. I majored in philosophy and then I went to law school.

@kevin self-taught but I've taken a bunch of compsci courses in high school so I can be eligible for a computer science program in university (where hopefully I might learn new stuff? if not it'll at least look good on a job application, I guess)

@kevin I have both. I first had no formal education on programming, where I learned the most. Work as a small freelancer, then had a diploma and worked at $EMPLOYER.

@kevin I have an M.Sc. degree in Computer Science, but would say most of my programming skills have been self-taught as a teen.

@kevin not everyone is a programmer. Not all tech is computers.

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