On Friday, Ralph J. Roberts passed away at 95

My thoughts and prayers for his entire family and to all who have known him. Comcast has been a great place to work, and has been great for family, and to give back to my community, and I know that springs in no small part to its founder.


Comcast: Ralph J. Roberts, Comcast Corporation Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dies at Age 95

Philly.com: Comcast founder Ralph Roberts, 95, dies

Billy Penn: Ralph Roberts: From selling milk and playing poker to founding Comcast and building the cable giant in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Magazine: Ralph J. Roberts: My Philadelphia Story

Comcast NBCUniversal Recognized for Youth Mentorship

I’m so happy to be a Big Brother in “Beyond School Walls”, a program of Big Brothers and Big Sisters that Comcast is a major part of.

The program is getting recognized for making a difference. I hope it expands with additional companies and schools taking part, and most of all, I hope I’ve had as positive an impact to my Little as much as he has had to me over these past 2 years.

If you have an interest, I urge you to look into becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.

I’m in this team!

Jon Moore: It’s a Great Team When….

It’s a fantastic privilege to work with the team I do. We’re a cast of characters, everyone is a contributor, fighting for each others success. Leadership plays a role in that. Mission plays a role in that. And so does a belief in one another. I’m actually looking forward to going back to work after a vacation.

How rare is that?

Programming, along with Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic – start NOW

Matt Ruzicka wonders what could have happened if his school was visited by someone who shared how programming has less to do with something he could learn in college, and more to do with what he was actually doing in class in his post “School, Math, and Code”. (via “Life and Code”)

More than a few of us from CIM are active in our communities, including my former manager Aaron Held, who received this note from a thankful student who needs more support from others.

Knowledge of programming, not the use of specific kinds of software (word processors for example), is a necessary part of literacy today.


MIT Scratch

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python

Google: Exploring Computational Thinking

Program or Be Programmed

Computer Programming for Everybody

Knowing and Doing: “Programming for Everyone — Really?”

MediaShift: Aran Levasseur: “Learning in a Digital Age: Teaching a Different Kind of Literacy”

A HTTP load/traffic generator and benchmark tool built on Node.js

Nodeload is a stress test utility built on node.js.

Comcast releases open source software

Comcast Voices: “Comcast Labs and ISC donate IPv6 Open Source software to open Source Community”. Conversation at Hacker News.

And check out Arpit’s post about his work on Comcast’s Xfinity Remote Prototype, “Have you seen the XFinity Social Remote app?”.

Social Networking == Social Division?

You would think after 20 years of the Web, we would come to a better understanding that it either helps us connect, or helps us segregate. You’d be wrong.

Following is some research and reading. But first…

What do you think? How diverse are the people you associate with as friends on Facebook or Twitter? Big range in class, race, religion, sex, age? Or are you judging diversity in terms of how many of your friends like Star Wars and Star Trek? If you’re a liberal, how many conservatives? If you’re a conservative, how many liberals? Libertarians? DC versus Marvel? Spiderman versus Twilight? Protestant versus Catholic versus Jewish versus Muslim?

I work in a career that smashes many of these distinctions, except four I can think of (more on that in a bit). There is a wide variety to religious practice, sources of entertainment, favorite music, and political leanings (although there is a libertarian streak). Programmers, as a whole are all very diverse in these areas. Our online social networks reflect this.

Now on to the four ares where we are far too much alike – class, age, sex, and race. Programmers tend to come from middle class households, be mid-twenties to mid-thirties, male (and heterosexual-male at that), and white, middle-eastern, or asian. And yes, our online social networks reflect this as well.

Me and many of my contemporaries fool ourselves into thinking we’re diverse – but you have to agree – those four are rather a *big* four. If we live in environments that are half women and half black, how come our online social networks and our workplaces do not reflect that?

In the end, I tend not to believe that social networking leads to social division or helps to bring people who are different together. I think it simply reflects our reality all too well. My hope is it doesn’t reinforce it. That what we are building will lead us towards greater connection with one another, no matter where we come from, no matter who we are.

Now onto the links:

danah boyd: “The Not-So-Hidden Politics of Class Online” PDF 2009: we’re seeing a social media landscape where participation “choice” leads to a digital reproduction of social divisions.

Joshua-Michéle Ross: Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age – Part One:
More access to information doesn’t bring people together, often it isolates us.

Joshua-Michéle Ross: Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age – Part Two: Individual perception of increased choice can occur while the overall choice pool is getting smaller

Joshua-Michéle Ross: Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age – Part Three: The myth of personal empowerment takes root amidst a massive loss of personal control.

NYTimes: David Brooks: Cellphones, Texts and Lovers: People are thus thrown back on themselves. They are free agents in a competitive arena marked by ambiguous relationships. Social life comes to resemble economics, with people enmeshed in blizzards of supply and demand signals amidst a universe of potential partners.

Pew Research: Social Isolation and New Technology : People’s use of the mobile phone and the internet is associated with larger and more diverse discussion networks. And, when we examine people’s full personal network – their strong and weak ties – internet use in general and use of social networking services such as Facebook in particular are associated with more diverse social networks.

These are connected: Future of Journalism Links and Communication for September 23, 2009

Ethan Zuckerman covered a Clay Shirky talk given at the Shorenstein Center” on journalism today and its future. It’s an absolute must read for media/info/com future thinkers: “Clay Shirky and accountability journalism”.

Mark Bowden traces the path a story takes, from political operatives, thru social media, to mainstream news, in the The Atlantic piece“The Story Behind The Story”. Another must read.

Paul Graham: Post-Medium Publishing. Slashdot thread.

Mathew Ingram: Micropayments for news: The holy grail or just a dangerous delusion?

The Atlantic: The Rise of the Professional Blogger

And finally, Timothy Egan attacks an entire subset of the population for their passion based on a lack of facts, missing the point that he is working for a member of the industry that has a role in that: “Working Class Zero”


Arpit Mathur: Personal landmark moment: My first patent: On the design of Comcast’s Fan Player