In An Octopus's Garden With You


Reflections on the Recurse Center

The Recurse Center uses an octopus for an informal mascot, from an observation that the octopus emoji glyph looks like it's holding up its tentacles in support of the preceding lines.


Under The Sea

The Recurse Center's batch plan is an immersive software intensive, with cadence and guidance provided by the faculty, and prompting and cueing for participants to be self-directed in choosing their work and objectives.

You may bring intentions of improving your skills for work, but the introductory frame of mind setting is that you should be self-directing toward points of curiosity and interest, to exercise via exploration.

People may shift from a more heads-down focus to a more social and connected approach during their time. You can't do everything, so the introduction provides support for reflecting on what you intend to do with your time, and how.

In An Octopus's Garden

The key themes to the Octopus's Garden are creative exploration and play, along with discovering and stretching your limits. Discovering what you want, what you can do, and how you can be more effective are the invitations to the participant.

Exploratory groups work together on reading technical topics, or working through progressive tutorials such as NAND to Tetris or Machine Learning Zero to Hero.

Creative coding has a weekly time block and a prompt to work from, a short phrase to spark a creative response expressed in software.

Impossible Things Day challenges a participant to make a day's worth of progress on a project they consider impossible, or beyond their reach. The day after Impossible Things Day is a point of reflection where possibilities may emerge from the struggle to do the impossible. Maybe a possible path appears, or maybe there's another thing there, even more interesting than the Impossible Thing.

With You

Part of how the RC faculty sets the scene for collaboration is demonstrating pair and ensemble programming. The internal groupware is equipped with automated matchmakers to set up "coffee chats" and programming pair partners to support the intention of collaboration and knowledge sharing among like-minded but diverse participants.

There are designated teleconference and screen-share channels specifically for working together.

There are regular opportunities for brief demonstrations of work in progress.

Each participant is encouraged to learn generously, to communicate respectfully and avoid statements that suggest that anyone else is unlearned or unwelcome.

There are groupware channels for requesting help, code review, or expertise on particular topics.

When advice is requested, avoid presuming too much or being dismissive of others. Avoid being over-presumptive with advice which may not match the asker's intentions and purpose. Leave space for others' viewpoints, perspectives, and background; let the asker determine what is helpful.

The Return Statement

It's customary for participants in the Recurse Center code intensive, when finishing their work, to reflect on what you're coming away from your session with.


I came into my six-week "half-batch" with a set of intentions:




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