So, as we continue down the road of building on what started out as this little experiment that we like to call TopCoder, there are a number of thoughts I have been having that I would like to share. The first of these relates to a number of news items you may have seen.
As you may have noticed, we have been engaged by DARPA to try and help improve student learning with respect to computer science. We are obviously very proud and excited to have been chosen for this. We think it reflects well on the TopCoder community and the platform we and the community have built. One of the things that excites me so much is that even 5 years ago, I think this would have been an impossible task without a community of the size and depth of the TopCoder community. We have serious plans for this and great hopes. Education is a difficult subject – what works and doesn’t, how to motivate students, how to make it interesting, fun and effective are all things that are great challenges. As has been clear for quite some time now, nothing gets this community going so much as a great challenge.
Andy LaMora – our project manager on this will be communicating in some detail. Your feedback will be critical as we evolve this new platform.
Speaking of platforms, I like to think of this initiative as part of something larger that I have been thinking about for quite some time, but TopCoder simply has not had the resources to do. Given the growth of the community (and the company), I feel at least comfortable starting to talk a little bit about these things. No promises on when we’ll get started, but at least something to think about.
I have termed (for the time being) the larger context as “Community by Community” (CxC). It has occurred to me that, at least in one sense, what we have here in TopCoder is a community that can build communities. I think we have been lucky in building first things first. I can’t think of any community that doesn’t rely on information and the ability to manage, present and analyze it. Nor can I think of any community that doesn’t have a need to connect with people who have a fundamental understanding of information and its application to their needs and desires. Other communities will undoubtedly have different needs, desires and motivations, but I think (in the TopCoder community) we have the basis for at least trying to help figure this out. I think that it is likely that involvement with these other communities will evolve the nature of the TopCoder community as well (in a positive fashion, of course). I find it appropriate that one of the first of these is through the DARPA project as a community learning how to help others learn. None of this is to say that we have it all figured out, but to me, that is a large part of the fun and what is fulfilling. I suspect it is for many of our members as well. My hope is that continuing down this road will offer increased opportunities for our members as well as we continue to evolve TopCoder.
Once again, most of the thanks goes to each of our members who collectively have built this community to the point it is and the platform it has become. We simply wouldn’t be here without you.
Stay tuned as we continue down this road…