When I was a little boy, I watched a cooking show on Sundays called “Jacques Pépin.” Over the course of 30 minutes, Jacques would orchestrate a symphony of raw ingredients into a dish that I yearned to smell and taste. That chicken paillard looked sumptuous.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been coding in Rails 3 quite a bit, building a collection of tools to be more effective as a VC. And oddly enough, I think back to Jacques Pepin quite often.
The Jacques Pepin of the Rails world is Ryan Bates, creator of RailsCasts. Watching Ryan’s shows I’ve learned how to build AJAX search, deploy an identity management system and code beautiful charts in ten minutes each.
There’s something intoxicating, exciting, and liberating about watching someone convince you of your capacity to perform a seemingly challenging feat, whether cooking or coding, by showing you how easy it is to do. It’s a testament to the power of video in teaching.
Buttressing Bates' tutorials, StackOverflow has become my essential tech support community. Paste an error message into Google and the first link is bound to contain a fellow coder’s struggles and eventual solution to the problem I’m now facing.
The combination of tutorial expert video and support community is immensely powerful because it shares the expertise of a master with many while scaling the support and help needed by a mass audience. I believe this form of teaching will become ubiquitous for this reason. It’s already happening in coding with Railscasts and StackOverflow, university education with 2U, gaming with Machinima and many others.
Jacques Pepin never did tell me how I botched that homemade mayonnaise. But there’s someone on the web who has watched the same episode, made the same mistake and found a solution who might.
Published 2013-05-16 in