My Interview on iTuring.com
> The original article is in Chinese, and it was published in 2014-05-19.
> iTuring.com is an online community provided by a Chinese publisher called Turing Book Company.
“It is better when you are doing what you loved.”
Liu Jingtao, the founder of the youth developer community http://adc-cn.org/, who has held the first youth Developer Conference and the second youth developer conference, likes web developing and computer vision applications, willing to participate in a variety of web standards projects. In high school, he worked as a translator for open lectures, a part-time job in Scientific American, and translated documents in the HTML5 team of W3C. After graduating from high school, he spent his first Gap Year in Opera Beijing and participated in projects such as Sphinx HTML5 Game Engine. Now he plans to do what he likes in Shenzhen for the second year.
Q1. When did you start programming?
When I was 15 years old, I had nothing to do during the summer vacation. My father asked me to try to help him do some LAMP work. So, I contacted CentOS, and then I started to learn English by Google. At that time, I built a Wiki and tried to do a knowledge base to integrate all the computer entries and useful articles. In terms of programming, I have always been interested in computer vision, such as Face indentation and image searching. At first, when I was in middle school, I saw the paper by Professor Thrun for Stanley driverless car after DARPA Grand Challenge in 2005, I thought this was a very magical field.
Q2. What does programming mean to you?
I think programming is a tool that can help people accomplish their goals more quickly, and realize projects that were only conceptual before. For example, art students will use the Processing demonstration project, and students of statistics will draw rich visualization data graphs with R. Sometimes, they will write an application to solve a small problem in life. Last year, I translated a video What Most School Don't Teach, the founders of many international companies showed up to express their views on programming. Among them, will.I.Am said that he was also learning to program, and also mentioned: "Great coders are today's Rockstars". The founder of Valve also commented "having the ability to program is just like people have magic." moreover, with the more programming tools for beginners, there seems to be no reason to turn it down. For myself, it is the most interesting thing to apply projects in different fields of programming, which can produce many new things, even new fields, such as Biological Computing, or Generative Art.
Q3. Why launch the youth developer community?
The idea was very simple at the beginning because, at that time, there were many developer communities for practitioners, but there was no platform for students who were interested in it. Also, most of the campus communities did not have good offline resources to provide students with access to this knowledge. Therefore, we had an idea to build a community for students (those who are in middle school). The idea was to integrate resources online on a platform (similar to hackernews or layervault, but not news content), such as meetup and workshop to enables students and developers from different places to get to know each other, find the suitable to work on projects based on their interests, invite technical experts to communicate with each other, and listen to their theme sharing for student developers, which I think it's a meaningful thing.
Q4. Did the college entrance examination have pressure on you? Do people around (parents or teachers) think that extracurricular activities will affect learning?
Yes, but I haven't had many lessons since the second semester of the second year of high school, so I'm not in this group. When I was a freshman in senior high school, I joined a team on the Internet to translate the videos of open courses. I got to know Prof. Strang, a lecturer in linear algebra at MIT. After several weeks of email communication, Strang was willing to provide me with a recommendation. At that time, according to my situation, after consulting with his family, I began to prepare for studying abroad. I applied to leave the school for study, the rest of the time was either to study in a place where there were no people or few people, or at home, with a normal schedule. At that time, many students and teachers supported me to do this, and it was at this time that I started to set up a community.
Q5. How many developers are involved in the community? Are these youngsters under the pressure of examination? How did you balanced your life?
Up to now, most of the online students are in the QQ group, including about 100 students and consultants invited. The rest of the communication is offline activities. Each activity is about 20 participants, and the content of sharing is gradually improving. After that, we will make an online discussion area, and gradually add some functions or sections with the theme of student developers.
In China, students who are interested in program development will have more or less pressure from schools or parents. Of course, there is also pressure for the college entrance examination. Therefore, most of the students will put aside their things, and do it later; another part of the students will choose to participate in the information science competition, another with excellent results can get the recommended places; there are also international classes and homeschools, because these two groups have relatively enough time, they can do something interesting in their spare time. Everyone has his own choice, how to take a different road, as long as they try their best.
Q6. Who had impressed you most in the community?
On Twitter, there are a group of students who are enthusiastic about computers, and there are many active middle school students. In the beginning, I got to know them one by one, of course, most of them in Shenzhen. For example, a student in an international class who has been developing IOS applications since junior high school. In the third year of senior high school, he won Apple WWDC's scholarship; some middle school students from Guangzhou wrote on GitHub a topic about Node.js framework that many professional paid attention to; some students are already the administrator of the Wikipedia Chinese community since senior school; since the canteen foods are awful, they jokingly take it NFC hack's with their card. All kinds of student developers, whether hacker or developer, are based on strong interests.
Q7. What are the difficulties in establishing and maintaining the community?
One of them is funding. Fortunately, after we first applied to the school for funding, the director thought it was very meaningful for the students, so they gave us a sum of money for the initial preparation. However, the next year's activities, some reimbursement, and rental problems.
Another is community management. Because of their tight schedule, they did not have much help. Team members inevitably made mistakes in planning. In the previous two activities (meetings), they did not control the content and arrangement properly, and some unreliable contents appeared, which made everyone embarrassed. Later (including now), I began to consult some event planning teams to find ways to show the characteristics of our community. For example, it's very interesting to let students and developers share their projects, join a small workshop, and discuss with invited consultants. We are gradually developing meetup in different places and finding the experienced to share the content. We are in the process of improvement gradually.
Finally, I would like to say that in the beginning, I was most worried about the consultant, but I did not encounter many difficulties. Most people responded to the invitation by microblog private message and email, and most of them were willing to participate as speakers. Mr. Lu Kanghao, who was invited from Opera at that time, as a guest, I hoped him to share with us how to participate in and contribute to the W3C interest group, finally, he was willing to help us with the construction of our website at the beginning, and he also contributed to the community fund during the preparation. Later, although because of the scheduling problem, he recorded a video (speech) for us.
I am appreciated his trust and support in what he did for us.
Q8. What's the biggest meaning of community to you? For other young developers, what benefit do you think for them?
Interpersonal skills are really important. No matter which community you are in, you can meet a lot of interesting people. For the students in this community, this is an opportunity to communicate with all kinds of professionals, including technical experts and peers, who will have meaningful experiences. Moreover, the community will provide sharing for students and developers, as well as roundtable discussions and workshops that are currently being planned (similar to a code-in activity held by Google before, which is the invited experts lead the students and developers to know about the open-source project, and students can find an issue, and the teacher email or IRC in charge of the topic Communicate, submit qualified code or documents to complete the topic, and finally rank according to who completed the most). The significance of the community to me is to help many developers get together. During this period, I met many interesting people in different industries. Their different resources and skills can drive the development of the community and student developers.
Q9. What is your thoughts on the meaning of Education?
I don't think I can (completely) express it now. Albert Einstein has a quote in “Ideas and opinions”:
The most important method of education accordingly always has consisted of that in which the pupil was urged to actual performance.
Therefore, I think that the persistence of driving force is the beginning, and the following development/practice is the place where "education" is needed. However, most middle school teachers seldom play this role, which may restrict the development of students' interests. Here, I want to repeat what @byvoid posted on Twitter before
Modern education originated from the mass production method of ordinary skilled workers in the industrial revolution era in Prussia, by which the purpose was to make the scarce educational resources cover as many people as possible. Therefore, the method of teaching by teachers in school classrooms was invented. Now education is not a scarce resource, almost everyone can get knowledge from books and the Internet cheaply. The education model of Prussian is out of date, which needs to be changed.
Q10. What interesting projects have you been involved in?
The most interesting projects I have participated in are web standards projects, which are my most interesting technical topics in the past two years, and also one of the channels for me to understand the development of the community. For example, people who know Mozilla will find that their developer network is very open. In this engineer community, any developer can raise bugs and have the opportunity to submit their patch. In this way, after you complete the patch, people using the software will run your code, which will make "vanity soar"!
I started by document translations to the W3C's HTML5, subscribing to WWW style and ES discussions email groups, and chatting on IRC. I started to write CSS test cases through TTWF last year and learned a lot of interesting hacks. I felt particularly lucky that at that time, I participated in the Shenzhen station activity, and happened to meet the W3C TPAC annual meeting. Almost all the web experts involved in W3C standards were present. I also had a few minutes' chats with Mr. Tim Berners Lee. Web as an open platform, we all have equal opportunities to contribute to the current system, and even have the opportunity to communicate with language inventors in email groups.
Q11. What are you doing now? What are your plans for the future?
Last year was my first gap year. I spent a very meaningful 8-month internship in Opera company and met many excellent and interesting colleagues. After returning to Shenzhen, I have thought for a while and am planning to start another year. Now I am working in Knewne Shenzhen, during which I will do some remote work, photography projects, and Pro bono. Next, I will apply to EECS. I hope to hear about the online substitute course of Professor Strang at MIT (HaHa). As for future choices, I don't know what changes will happen in the next four years. It's better not to deviate from what you want to do.