It's All in the Touch

IT’S ALL IN THE TOUCH by Scott Budman


We walk into class, and the first words we hear are:  “We’re gonna be talking about touch events today.”

And where else would we be talking about “touch events,” if we weren’t in Stanford University’s hottest class these days, CS193P: iPhone Application Programming?  Students sit laser-focused on guest lecturer Steve Demeter, who starts his talk by explaining that he’s “a touch guy.” 
But of course.
Demeter, it should be said, was one of the early success stories in app-dom, releasing his game called “Trism” to good reviews, and big sales.  After reportedly pulling in close to $250,000 from his app, Demeter now finds himself explaining the fine points of touching your phone to the students. To whit: “Never assume that all people have the same finger sizes.”
Words of wisdom to the next generation of entrepreneurs.  Talk about a class with little in common from your parents’ computer science courses.  Even Demeter himself admits that times are changing quickly: “When I was in school,” he says, “I think I took a Pascal course.  But this is cutting edge.” 
Will Perl, Stanford freshman, agrees: “Every night the assignment is something I enjoy doing, more like a hobby than schoolwork.”  Wow.  Has there ever been higher praise for a class full of engineers?  Stanford has another hit on its hands.
I say another, because about a year ago I sat in a class on how to create Facebook apps.  Similar M.O., with guest speakers from companies like Slide and Rock You, with occasional talks from Facebookers themselves.  It was a big success, and likely a model that Stanford will use again in the future.
Among the students pecking away on their laptops as Demeter talks is  Clare Kasemet.  A Stanford senior, Clare has something even better than a new app waiting for her this summer:  she’s been hired to work at Apple.  Not a bad perq to walk out of class with.  Calling the class “practical, but also crazy,” Clare waves shyly at the Apple PR person helping me, knowing that she’ll soon be about the youngest person working at the Cupertino campus.
See? It pays to listen to your teachers.  Especially when they’re talking about touch events.

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