Hacker Book Club

At LPDN, our weekly programmer drinkup, we have been talking for a while about watching the SICP lectures from MIT as a fun thing to do. I then got to thinking about how it would be neat to involve more than just the few of us in Lawrence. Everything is more fun on a larger scale, and having compatriots makes you more likely to finish it. Somewhere along the lines of the Infinite Summer, I was thinking about having some kind of Hacker Book Club.

SICP may be a bit intense for the beginning of the club, but it’s something that I think that everyone can learn and have fun with. Along with the typical book club style things, seeing the audience, I think we could make some really neat additions to the idea. A few have come to mind, but I’m sure there are lots more.

I would imagine having an IRC channel where we can all hang out and ask each other questions. I’m sure the #scheme channel will be a resource as well, but it could be neat to have a focused group of people focused on learning the same material. It feels a bit like an open source classroom, where disperate people can come together to learn and share in the open source mindset. Sharing is caring, not cheating.

Since SICP is available for free online, we could suck the book into a database of some sort and allow a commenting/discussion medium around the text as well. The Django Book is a good example of that. I think it would be interesting trying to tie in discussion on the site with IRC. Perhaps have some kind of encoding that allows you to reference pages in the book on IRC and have that inline the log transcripts. My friend Nathan also runs Readernaut, and already has a basic syntax established for tracking book progress on Twitter. We could throw this on IRC and twitter as well, where each user could register their account and keep progress.

I think it would be a really interesting way to combine a lot of the conversations that happens across the web in one place, with context, about a book. I have also wanted similar abilities in other things (Think your work IRC channel and code instead of Book pages). This could spawn a neat open source project, if we were so motivated.

Let me know what you think!

Hey there! I'm Eric and I work on communities in the world of software documentation. Feel free to email me if you have comments on this post!