Hi, I’m Janet Davis. After nine years teaching computer science at Grinnell College, I have moved to Whitman College, where I will found a new computer science program. This blog will tell my story and discuss many of the decisions we will face. The primary audience will be my colleagues in computer science education, although I hope to make the blog readable and interesting to Whitties as well.

To get notifications of new posts, follow @cs_whitman on Twitter or request an invitation to the “CS @ Whitman” group on Facebook. Please leave comments here about topics you would like me to address!

Photo of Janet Davis in front of a chalkboard

Yes, that is a real, authentic chalkboard—you can tell by the eraser.

About the title and cover photo

“Counting from zero” is a play on the phrase “starting at square one” and the zero-based numbering system found in many data structures. This is a bit of a misnomer, as I am not truly starting at zero: My math colleagues David Guichard and Albert Schueller have been teaching Introduction to Programming (CS1) and a data structures course (CS2) for many years. However, these courses are open to revision, so I feel I am truly building a CS curriculum from the ground up.

The cover photo pictures John T. Young’s Soaring Stones #4, one of many sculptures on Whitman’s campus. Computer scientists and those with programming experience may notice the resemblance to an array. I was particularly tickled by the “zeroeth” stone embedded in the ground.

The subtitle is once again a double entendre. (So are the names of my two cats, Eliza and Sprite.) “The age of ubiquity” refers first to ubiquitous computing: “a concept…where computing is made to appear everywhere and anywhere.” With smartphones in our pockets and the dawning Internet of Things, arguably we have arrived in the age of ubiquitous computing, making a basic understanding of computing all the more critical to the educated citizen. But I am also referring to the near ubiquity of computer science at top liberal arts colleges. Whitman is years—if not decades—behind the curve in offering a CS major.


My thanks to Zach Dodds of Harvey Mudd College for suggesting that the SIGCSE community would be interested in reading about my adventures at Whitman.

7 thoughts on “About

  1. Jason Bucata

    Pretty please, add an RSS feed for the blog so I can read via Feedly! (RSS might have fallen on hard times in terms of mindshare but it’s still a vital tool for many people…)

  2. Brett Becker

    Nice authentic chalkboard Janet! We have them in Beijing where I am teaching this semester. Back in Ireland they are difficult, if not impossible to find, but here they are in every room. In fact the header of my blog (cszero.wordpress.com) is an authentic picture of one of our authentic chalkboards. By the way, I’ve added your blog to my list of CSED blogs, also at the link above. –Brett


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