Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Developer teaches homeless man how to program

There's a  well known Chinese proverb that says something like: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". If you think fish and technology have nothing in common, what I'm about to tell you might change your mind. In fact, the key issue here is exactly change... and how little it takes, if you're willing to make a difference.

McConlogue is a 23y old developer working in Manhattan, and everyday he passed by a homeless man: Leo. So he decided to do something about it and challenged him: the next day he would return, and either give him $100 and be done with it; or bring him some books and a very cheap laptop, so he could learn to program (as well as give 1h per day to help him along the way). Leo wisely chose to learn to program.

Let's be frank. It's highly unlikely that this episode will miraculously fix every problem Leo has. However, it's certainly a step in the right direction - quite possibly a very big step, as it is bound to become an "example" that will make its way around the world (though what matters the most is to see how things will go on, after the limelight and his 15 "minutes" - or should I say "seconds"? - of fame have passed.)

At the very least it may help remind us (all of us) that sometimes we should take the time and go past the obvious dismissive look with which we discard those that often are labeled as "undesirables". To change the world maybe you don't need a billion dollares and lobby the powers that be to do something. To change the world all it takes is for you to do it yourself, a tiny second at a time.

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