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The Woods

Flatiron School / 25 July 2013

The following is a guest post by Max Jacobson and originally appeared on his blog. Max is currently a student at The Flatiron School. You can follow him on Twitter here.

A few months ago I saw a newish movie called “The Kings of Summer”, which is about a trio of teenage boys who get fed up with their loving parents, move into the woods, build a ramshackle house, and live in it. They’re trying to make a statement. I think it’s something like, “We’re men. Stop treating us like kids; we can live off the land.”

programmers, drawn to the woods

As I’ve been learning to program within the Ruby on Rails web application framework I’ve, at times, felt like those kids suffocated by their loving parents:

And drawn to that ugly pile of sticks in that clearing in the woods. Not because it’s better, but because it’s more mine.

I’m drawn to the woods when I read blog posts like this and want to replace OS X with Linux and Sublime Text 2 with Vim.

I was drawn to the woods when I got this eyebrow-raising keyboard I type fast as hell on.

I’m drawn to the woods when I read about Node JS even though I’m in the middle of a program learning Rails.

Summer is a pretty good movie. I like the way it pokes fun at these kids’ naïve concept of what it means to be an adult. At one point the protagonist is proud to grow a mustache. But in the end, they go home to their parents, and it’s the most grown-up thing they do all movie.

I’m slowly coming around to the Rails idea of “convention over configuration”. Not that I was opposed to it or anything, but I didn’t immediately appreciate or understand it. Learning and using Rails still feels a little like moving into a fully-furnished apartment where the previous tenant and I wouldn’t have necessarily hung out. But it’s got AC and a well-stocked fridge and who am I to complain?

Going to the woods is fine. You might find and bring something amazing back with you, like Rails or For Emma, Forever Ago. I really don’t mean to bolster any societal hegemony. Just try not to get lost.

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