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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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ATLAS and the Wonderful World of NCWIT

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We had an NCWIT (National Center for Women & Information Technology) board meeting yesterday in advance of two days of NCWIT alliance meetings.  I’m delighted with the progress this organization has made in the past three years.  We held the meeting for the first time at the new CU Boulder ATLAS building.  Bobby Schnabel – a co-founder of NCWIT, the Director of ATLAS (“Alliance for Technology Learning and Society) and Vice Provost for Academic and Campus Technology – has a good podcast up describing ATLAS titled ATLAS – Is It Technology, Art or a Coffee Shop.  If you haven’t been there, it’s a cool, cool building.

Tonight’s reception is from 6pm to 8pm at the Folsom Stadium North Club Level.  We’ve got over 300 people attending – if you are part of the front range tech community and want to learn more about NCWIT – come join us.

NCWIT Reception on May 15th at 6pm

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On May 15th and 16th leaders from over 100 distinguished universities, corporations and non-profits from across the country will attend the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) semi-annual meeting at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

I’ve been chairman of NCWIT for the past few years and am incredibly proud of what Lucy Sanders and her team have created.  NCWIT is a capacity-building coalition working aggressively to increase women’s participation in computing/information technology (IT) – we believe that women’s participation is a compelling issue of innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability.

On the evening of May 15th, at 6:00 pm, NCWIT and the ATLAS Institute at CU Boulder are hosting a reception on the CU Boulder campus (on the North Club Level of Folsom Stadium) at which you can meet these leaders and share ideas with them about the meaningful role women can play in technical innovation.  If you are a member of the tech community in Colorado, I encourage you to come join us.

The reception is sponsored by NCWIT Investment Partners Avaya, Microsoft and Pfizer and we are honored to have State of Colorado Lt. Governor, Dr. Barbara O’Brien, and CU Boulder Chancellor Dr. Bud Peterson offer remarks.

I hope to see you there.

NCWIT Heroes Campaign

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At the National Center for Women & Information Technology we are about to embark on a “heroes campaign” – a new project to highlight 20 successful women IT entrepreneurs via 15 minute podcast interviews accompanied by text transcriptions. We’ve got a great initial set of women that we’ll be interviewing but are casting our net far and wide to find interesting, amazing, and inspirational stories.  If you fit the profile (female IT / software / Internet entrepreneurs) or know someone that does, please give me a shout.

Overview of NCWIT

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As chairman of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, I’m enjoyed observing the regular evolution of how we describe the organization.  My friends Larry and Pat Nelson just interviewed Lucy Sanders – the CEO of NCWIT – and I think Lucy did a particularly crisp job of describing what NCWIT is about and why it’s important.

Where Has BASIC Gone?

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David Brin has an outstanding article up on Salon titled Why Johnny can’t code

I’ve been the chairman of the National Center for Women & Information Technology for the past two years and have learned an enormous amount about the sociology of computer science, especially among women and kids.  This summer I decided to “practice what I preach” by teaching my Alaskan 14 year old neighbor Eric how to program.  I received a bunch of interesting comments and eventually settled on Ruby – which we are making ok progress with.

However, Brin’s article smacked me over the head.  I learned how to program on an Apple II using BASIC when I was 13.  I eventually learned Pascal, but did most of my programming – until I was in college – in BASIC.  When my best friend Kent came home with a prototype for the first TI PC in 1982 (his dad – ultimately one of the early Compaq guys – was the TI project manager for the PC) we programmed a complex Yahtzee game in BASIC (the TI graphics were incredible – I learned a lot about abstraction manipulating them.)  In my first real job (in 1983) at a company called Petcom I wrote two sophisticated commercial programs in Basic (PC-Log – Oil Well Log Analysis; PC-Economics – Economic Forecasting for Oil and Gas projects).  Lest you wonder how sophisticated this could get, I also contributed to an Oil and Gas Accounting System (PC-Accounting) that ultimately used Btrieve as the database engine and probably could have been a competitive stand-alone accounting system in the 1990’s if the company had evolved that way.

So – when I read Brin’s article, I longed for the simplicity and beauty of BASIC as a teaching tool.  Yeah – I know – it teaches you “all the wrong stuff”, but as I’m working through basic looping with Eric, I’m not sure objects and methods are the right way to learn this stuff.  Maybe I’ll hop on eBay and buy Eric an old Apple II.

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