It’s time Americans begin treating computer code the way we do the alphabet or arithmetic. Code is the stuff that makes computer programs work — the list of commands that tells a word processor, a website, a video game, or an airplane navigation system what to do. That’s all software is: lines of code, written by people.
We are socializing, working, consuming, and living in a world increasingly defined by programs. Learning to code is the best way to understand what all those programs do, or even to recognize that they are there in the first place.
NYC Mayor Bloomberg recently announced his intention to learn to code.
As a “social media guy” (god, I hate that term), I’ve seen the numerous ways knowing how to code has made my job easier; not just, “hey I understand how to write a socialgraph app and code my own Facebook tab” but more like, “Wow, the system we’re using to communicate events information internally is horribly out of date, and ultimately costing us a ton of money in wasted productivity. Why aren’t we importing these events as XML and reading them into an internal, structured database so we don’t have to pass info like location and description around between 10 people?”
It’s not just that coding helps you create programs — it’s that understanding code helps you understand how to work with programs, and how to better make them work for you.
The apps, websites, socialnetworks, and phones we all use produce an incredible amount of rich, structured information. If you’re letting it simply pass you by, then you’re missing some of the biggest opportunities to understand and change the world you live in.
I’m going back to get a second undergradute degree – a BS in computer science – next semester, because one advantage of working for a highered institution is the amazing tuition discount. But even if you don’t have access to something like that, there are a ton of other options, from Lynda.com, to MIT’s recently announced program to make all its classes freely available online, to the service the CNN author mentions (make sure to clickthrough to read the original article).
What’s your take on coding? Too complicated, or high time to get involved? If Bloomberg can do it, you can do it too