A new blog

Hi, I’m Mitchell N Charity, an ex-MIT software engineer.

This blog is envisioned as a few posts a month on a range of topics, including One Laptop Per Child, programming languages (especially Perl 6 and Ruby), and science education (especially rough quantitative reasoning).

This is my first public blog, and an experiment. Does blogging help fill the gaps between wikis, web sites, and mailing lists? Do I enjoy and keep it active? Does it find readers and generate discussion?

The name “Bootstrap Exercises” comes from computing. “Bootstrapping” is creating a not-yet-existant system, using (often) more limited existant systems as tools. Often the effort and pain of creation would be much less if the new system could be fully used as tool in its own creation. Eg, “if someone had ever done this before, it would be much easy for us to do now”. While you obviously can’t fully use something until it exists, often parts of it can be used earlier. The challenge and art of a bootstrap, is to incrementally orchestrate parts and placeholders and jigs, and tools partially working and variously broken, to craft a minimally costly development path to the desired system. And it’s a process which occurs with remarkable similarity in many fields of engineering, education, and society. Civilization is a bootstrap exercise. It’s a process usually frustrating, often tragic and joyful. And one dear to my heart. Thus the blog name.


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