Frequently Asked Questions
HCS is a student organization at Harvard devoted to promoting community around computers, technology, good technology policy, and the study of computer science. We've been around since at least 1983, which gives us the fine distinction of being older than our average member. HCS members come from all fields, from History to Biology to Computer Science, and from many different parts of Harvard, from Harvard College to many different graduate schools, prominently the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
HCS was founded to publish the Harvard Computer Review and Computing@Harvard, two magazines which ultimately couldn't be as current as the internet. We've since moved on to other projects. Our longest-running and most widely recognized project provides a suite of computer services to student groups. Notably, our mailing list service has thousands of active lists and gets around ten thousand unique messages on a good day. We've been involved with helping students get connected to the campus network.
We now offer our members and the general public a wide variety of experiences and resources that ranges from community nights with food-filled fun to professional help with tech interviews and resume building. You can learn more about HCS by visiting our about page. Interested in joining? See the "How can I join HCS?" link below. You can also subscribe to any number of our mailing lists below!
HCS-Announce: This is our main mailing list through which we send general HCS announcements about member events, bootcamps, tech talks, and other cool stuff
HCS-Discuss: This is meant for general CS information at Harvard - everything from CS concentration requirements to questions about the evolving field of CS
HCS-Jobs: This is meant for deadlines and applications for CS internships and other job opportunities
Besides our many and various projects, HCS also runs a series of events throughout the year. These include hosting prominent speakers (in the past we've had Steve Ballmer, Steve Wozniak, Stephen Wolfram, Paul Graham, and Cory Doctorow, for example), discussions with faculty and researchers in computer science, panels with leaders in industry (including executives from S&P 500 companies), tech talks by engineers from interesting companies like Google and Facebook, tours of the Harvard NOC and main datacenter, seminars on how computers or the internet work, workshops on how to make the most of technology, and whatever else we can come up with.
Beyond events, HCS is involved in advocacy for good technology policy at Harvard. We maintain close relationships with many of the people who set policies that affect students and we've helped to make sure that an informed student voice is always part of major decisions. Our current focus involves advocating for more open and transparent policies in several areas. We've also helped courses expand their technical capabilities, through collaboration with CS 50 and CS 51.
HCS also hosts the annual Datamatch service, which uses advanced computer technology to pair Harvard students just in time for Valentine's Day.
You can find out more at our about page.
Harvard Computer Society (HCS) offers two free web services available to Harvard affiliates: mailing lists and web accounts.
Mailing lists provide an efficient way to facilitate announcements to or discussion among student groups, houses, study groups, blockmates, or groups of friends. It is easy to add any number of Harvard and non-Harvard addresses to a mailing list, and administering them is simple and requires little technical expertise. They have the form email@example.com, and can be created here.
HCS accounts are a simple way for any Harvard student group, official or unofficial, to host webpages with 2GB of space, mysql database, and a firstname.lastname@example.org mailing address. The websites are hosted at http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/group-name, and can be requested here.
You can find out more about our services by contacting us.
At HCS projects nights, we provide our members with the resources, mentorship, and training to pursue their interest in computer science. Each event consists of a hands-on workshop working with cool technologies, office hours with upperclassmen to ask about CS at Harvard and beyond, a space to hack with friends on a favorite project, and, of course, the best dinners Harvard Square has to offer. Towards the end of the semester, member teams will be given funding and mentors to work on a final project which they will present at the end of the year.
HCS projects are as diverse as our members: working with the university to better technology policy, managing and securing a production web server, talking about computer science problems, building and destroying computers, etc. A more complete list can be found on our about page.
We're usually very willing to listen to your idea, particularly if it's really crazy and will change the lives of people at Harvard and beyond. If you've got an interesting idea for a project, you should come up with a pitch and contact the HCS board. We regularly help out or take on interesting projects and give them computing resources, people resources, connections to the Harvard administration, etc. We're particularly good at absorbing projects and turning them into things that live perpetually, rather than things that die when their founder/author graduates. If you want help or resources but still want to lead your project, you should consider joining HCS and making your project an official HCS project. Then you can try to recruit a fiefdom. Er, following.
If, on the other hand, you're looking for developers for your club/website/startup, we're probably not interested and you should consider instead writing up a pitch and sending it to the hcs-jobs mailing list. If you really think we might be interested, you should still contact us. We're very friendly and usually willing to help send you in the right direction even if it doesn't involve us directly.
You should probably contact the board and someone can help you. We gladly accept donations (for a long time, we ran entirely on donated hardware) to support our various projects. If you're donating something of value, like money or computer hardware, we can arrange for the donation to be tax-deductible, but we need to know in advance so that we can channel it through the right part of the university.