Why I made CodeCosmos
I never really thought much about my career until recently. From my first internship at Bethesda Softworks in 1997 to my short tenure at Facebook in 2012 I basically just followed my interests and made changes whenever I was no longer passionate about what I was doing.
This optimization strategy served me very well, but I ended up at a local maxima. I'm very fortunate to have seen such success with Mochi Media, but now that I'm choosing from the set of all jobs that I'm interested in and physically capable of, it's hard to even think about how to evaluate such a decision. For the past few months I've been enjoying my roles as "startup advisor" and "thinking about what to do next as an entrepreneur". Neither of which pay very well, but that's not what I'm optimizing for anymore.
The "mission statement" I've been working with is that I should leverage my opportunity to do something that is of obvious social value. The vague hypothesis I started with is that there gaps in education where software on today's platforms could help. This of course is not at all a new idea, but I believe that there are new opportunities due to order of magnitude improvements in network connectivity, performance, and the price of suitable devices. It's also very much aligned with some of my personal interests; I enjoy building things almost as much as I love to learn.
Feel free to poke around on CodeCosmos.com and let me know what you think. If you make something cool, you can click to publish it as a gist that is viewable on bl.ocks.org. Everything should work on Google Chrome, and might work on some other browsers, but the lab here is all Chrome so that's all I've tested so far. All of the code is up at github.com/CodeCosmos. I'm not at all very proud of the code, it's essentially a throw-away prototype that I'm going to refactor into something that makes more sense (and has docs, tests, robust network calls, supervised backend, etc.). There are also a number of features on my list that I'd like to implement or polish. I'll talk a bit about the architecture and the decision making process in a follow-up post. (EDIT: that post is How I built CodeCosmos. See also Teaching with CodeCosmos).
I'd like to thank my wife Margaret Ippolito (@elektradarling), Cat Crumpler (@catcrumpler; and everyone else at The College Initiative), Amit Pitaru (@pitaru), Mark Sawula (@p5k12), Tim Corica (@tcorica), Danielle Fong (@DanielleFong), and Bret Victor (@worrydream) for all personally taking the time to provide the advice and inspiration I needed to make this happen.