Build Random Shit For Fun, Experience, and Glory

Posted on by ejames

A few days ago I realized a simple summary of what we do at NUS Hackers (if you subtract away all the marketing) is: get people to build random shit for fun, experience and glory.

It reads like a good motto to me. Let’s break it apart to see what it means:

  1. ‘Shit’ is random because it’s not fair to just build useful stuff. Sometimes fun, throwaway projects are worth doing, because they give you new ideas.

  2. Building stuff for fun is important because programming should be fun. (If it isn’t fun and you’re in Computing then you might have a problem.)

  3. Building stuff for experience is equivalent to ‘practice makes perfect’. We are told in school that the best way to become good at programming is to do lots of it. But building personal projects is also a rather useful trick to learning new things - for starters, you’ll bump against a lot of production-ready tools that you might not otherwise need when solving school-created problems. Also, building stuff is sometimes a good excuse in itself for learning new tools - e.g. the unofficial CORS API was used as an excuse to learn and deploy MongoDB.

  4. Doing it for glory is a raison d’être for NUS Hackers. The respect and attention of a close community is a powerful motivator for any student programmer. If we succeed in creating such a community, we will give our peers a reason to build things for their own benefit. Everyone wins in that scenario.

I think we’re 2, 3 years our from achieving this. We have a lot of work ahead of us.

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