NYC Engineer shows Homeless Man the Value of Computer Coding and Blogging

Posted by barbarahales

 “Feed a fish to a man and he eats that day but teach him how to fish and he eats for all his days”.

 Patrick McConlogue has taken this to heart.

As he walks to work each morning, Patrick, a software computer coder for a 35-person startup company, passes homeless people living on the streets.

"I walk by a homeless guy every day on the way to work and I get this feeling every day that he is a smart guy -- he has books and he writes," McConlogue told ABC News. "I was trying to think of a way to engage him and help him."


This week, he made a proposal to Leo, one of these homeless men. Take $100 or a laptop, three JavaScript books and two months of coding instruction from McConlogue.

"I figured that was enough for a ticket some place or a few meals, if that's what he wanted," McConlogue said.

Leo, who McConlogue described “as very articulate and gifted, especially in on the topic of environmental issues,” chose the second option.  "I want to spread knowledge and information about climate change and global warming," Leo told ABC News in a phone interview facilitated by McConlogue.

According to the report in ABC:

 McConlogue will deliver him a Samsung Chromebook with 3G connectivity, three JavaScript books, a solar charger for the laptop

and something to conceal the laptop in. He will spend an hour before work every morning teaching him the basics of software coding.

This action was met with a great deal of criticism including Techcrunch editor-in-chief Alexia Tsotsis who stated that his plan showed “ a profound cluelessness about poverty and the disenfranchised.”

Slate's Matthew Yglesias argued that housing, not coding, is the first step in fixing homelessness.  Then, Slate's Will Oremus called him a "naive techie."

However, there are people supporting his effort. More than 1,200 people have liked the "Journeyman" Facebook page McConlogue has set up about the project and he said he has even heard from some previously homeless individuals who see the effort as useful.

Leo himself, who is aware of the online chatter, said that he is understands the criticism. "It's America, people have the right to have their opinions," he said. "It's the Internet, people have the right to post what they want. I agree to disagree." When asked about housing Leo said that he thought "housing was great for people who want to be put in housing, for people who want and need it."

Ultimately, McConlogue says he is offering what he can do right now to help.

"Being able to code will help him do some of the things he wants to do," McConlogue said. "The negative feedback is that you should give him housing and food. My thought is that technology will do a better job connecting him, in the long term, to what he wants."

McConlogue plans to keep blogging about the experience on Medium and Leo himself will write the next post. He said he doesn't have plans to do anything with the larger homeless community at this point, however.

"I've tried to build products for many before, but I wonder if this new

generation is building projects for the power of one," he said. "I am going to do a really good job with this guy. I will learn from him, maybe even more than he learns from me."

The jury is still out but it will be interesting to see the results.

It will demonstrate that everyone can blog and write to get noticed. (or even for a living)

Do you have a business plan in place for blogging?

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