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Thread started by Dave Winer on Monday, October 08, 2012.

I need grad students

Please, this is just a blog post, not an ad. I'm just writing aspirationally. Thinking out loud. You're welcome to listen, but do not feel compelled to act. That would be wrong. However if you're sure you know of a school that could do this, or even another kind of organization, please don't be shy.

A long time ago, a colleague of mine at Personal Software explained that I do software development as an academic researcher would.

It's still true, but I don't do it in an academic context. And that context is rapidly disappearing in academia, where so many students are now studying computer science not as a way to further the art, but rather to start something entrepreneurial and get rich.

And there's nothing wrong with that. In some sense, I did that too -- when I was younger. I thought making millions was the way to get validation for my work. My family and the society I grew up in raised me to see things that way. And I was successful, and as a result have been able to work on what I wanted to for my whole career. Pretty good.

Now it's time to take what I've learned and pass it on. There's a huge base of software, most of it open source, that reflects what I've learned. Not just as ideas, but as working code. And programming practices that are, imho, pretty far in advance of what's being done elsewhere. The only problem is, I'm not attracting the students I need to help build something substantial and long-lasting out of it.

I've outlined in the past what I hoped for in terms of an ideal environment, from the point of view of the institution. Now I realize that I don't need the institution as much as I need the students. And I can't work with beginning programmers. I'm looking for people who have spend at least a few years learning the basics, stumbling, falling and getting up again. What I have to offer is the equivalent of an actor's studio, for people with extreme talent and drive, to be creative making software. You might get rich from what you learn, but that shouldn't be the point.

Again, as with the previous piece this is not an ad, rather than an aspirational piece. Not looking for advice or "solutions" -- but if you have a compatible goal, I'd welcome hearing from you. Not guaranteeing anything, but I will listen.

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