The Harvard Computer Society has been a "driving force" in the development and deployment of computers at Harvard since well before the fall of the Soviet Union (or the very least, we've met weekly to talk about computers and technology and eat pizza since at least 1983). We do whatever we're interested in (and, by proxy, whatever you're interested in, if you join us) but we have a number of ongoing and currently active projects that tend to consume our time. They're listed below: if any of them strike your fancy, come visit us!
HCS runs the web server www.hcs.harvard.edu, and the mailing list server lists.hcs.harvard.edu. This means that most student groups on campus use our Linux machines to host their web sites and administer their email lists. More info on Systems can be found on the Systems page. Thanks to a recent grant from FAS IT, we've just spent over $30,000 completely rebuilding our systems from the ground up, which means we're now in a position to do lots of cool projects.
All those student groups have accounts on our servers, and the Account Services team is the group of people that makes their user experience as pleasant as possible. Like helping people? Want a fun, easy way to put off doing your homework? Account Services might very well be your cup of tea.
This semester, HCS is providing an open forum for speakers from around the Harvard community to give talks to interested students about computer-related topics ranging from UNIX to web design to the moral issues of patenting integers. We also give annual talks to student groups about the cool services we offer such as access to Content Management Systems, like Drupal, which was used to create this web site. This year some of our seminars are going to help extend the CS50 curriculum and help students become more familiar with Linux. If you like to teach, or want to learn yourself, this might be a good way to get involved!
HCS often brings big-name speakers to campus. In 1993, we had Steve Ballmer for a visit. In the more recent past, we've had Steve Wozniak, Stephen Wolfram, Paul Graham, and Cory Doctorow. Most recently, we had Larry Wall, inventor of Perl. In general, we try to contact well-known people in the computer and technology sectors and bring them on campus to interact with students.
Advocacy for Good Computing at Harvard
Harvard is a great place with a great computer network, but its policies need to be mindful of students' fair access to computing resources while protecting their privacy and security. We keep an ongoing dialogue with the people in power on campus and we try and talk through policy changes with them to encourage transparency and student-friendly rules and regulations. We've also had an HCS member on the faculty oversight committee for information technology for many years now.
We work closely with a lot of organizations at Harvard to promote the visible use of advanced technology. Some of our more important collaborative projects receive credit here. Other ideas? Just stop by. We're always looking for new project ideas.