Alex Godin is 17, a junior in high school and a hacker-in-training who commutes from Westchester to New Work City once a week.
His talk at last night’s Ignite NYC, titled “High School in the Age of the Hacker,” invoked Henry David Thoreau, John D. Rockefeller and the movie Office Space. High school sucks, his argument went, but a true hacker will still get something out of it. Think of teachers and parents as clients, he said, and then build things instead of complaining.
Alex’s parents were not in the audience at Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO to hear this, because Alex wanted to do his presentation on his own; his father, best selling author and marketing guru Seth Godin, tends to attract attention. “They’ll see it on YouTube,” he told The Observer.
Equipped with Power Point, a microphone and a room full of geeks, Alex was poised, smart and funny, and his message resonated with the audience. He compared high school to the cubicles of Office Space, talked about how his favorite teacher once decided to teach the Bible as literature instead of Shakespeare because the class had argued for it so well, and told the audience that even though the high school system is broken, the only solution is to “sit down and do the work.”
Alex also edits video and plans to spend his spring break learning Ruby on Rails. This isn’t the first time he’s stormed the city–his team won grand prize at Startup Weekend in the fall (video of Alex presenting his Startup Weekend team’s demo below). No doubt he’ll have plenty of willing mentors after bringing down the house last night.
“So far best talk by far at #ignitenyc is by a high school student. We’re all screwed!” one attendee tweeted.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries