Let's make programming ridiculously easy

Long Form


(But why stop there?)


With Github, StackExchange, man pages and mailing lists, compilers, debuggers and IDEs, it’s easy to forget one thing: programming is actually still hard to learn. Not impossibly hard, of course, or we wouldn’t be here. But hard enough to scare a lot of people off. And once you’ve learned programming, there’s algorithms, compiler theory, and a bunch of other hard computer stuff.

But what if this was all made ridiculously easy? What would that even look like?

This talk will be about “greasing up the series of tubes” that lead from computer illiteracy to hacks of glory.

I’ll begin with a brief retrospective of my life as a (mostly) self-taught programmer and summarize what I did in my Ph. D. project on “Peer Supported Problem Solving and Mathematical Knowledge”.

The rest of the session will be interactive. We’ll brainstorm about points of difficulty and draw up some designs that solve the problems. Depending on the skills and interests of participants, we may even clone some repositories and start writing code right then and there.

Where relevant (and where is programming not relevant these days?) we’ll also discuss connections with other technical fields.

Speaking experience

• Invited speaker at Workshop on Mathematical Wikis (MathWikis-2011) at ITP (2nd International Conference on Interactive Theorem Proving) 2011, Nijmegen, Netherlands, August 27th, 2011. Topic: “The PlanetMath Encyclopedia”

• Invited speaker at “P2PU: Open Community Learning on the Web” workshop at OKCon 2011, Berlin, Germany, June 30-July 1, 2011.

• Out from the shadow of Wikipedia: PlanetMath at Ten, Wikimania 2010, Gdansk

• All Yesterday's Tomorrows: The report on, and of, Project Arxana concerning word processing, electronic publishing, hypertext, etc., Emacs Conference, London, 2013 (upcoming)

... and many academic workshops and conferences


  • Joe

    Joseph Corneli

    PlanetMath.org, The Open University (UK)


    I work on the social, semantic web. I’m close to finishing up a Ph. D. at The Open University, UK. My thesis is on “Peer Supported Problem Solving and Mathematical Knowledge”, and I expect to submit in April, 2013.

    This research is developing in the context of PlanetMath.org, a popular community-created mathematics website run by the US-based nonprofit PlanetMath.org, Ltd. — where I also serve on the board of directors. I am bringing to bear a range of “semantic technologies” to enhance the peer learning experience on PlanetMath.

    My main hobby (which has also been very useful in my thesis work) is further research on peer learning and peer production, which I call “paragogy” or “peeragogy”.