Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Why coding is freakin' awesome.


Coding is for geeks. It means staring at a screen, by yourself, to make something that spits out boring drivel. Coding is hard and antisocial. Leave it to the geeks, right?

Wrong.

Well, kind of right, kind of wrong. Wrong enough to be interesting, anyway.

Coding is just using words to make computers do stuff for you. 

That's all. Coding isn't hard, or clever. It's just a little esoteric - you just have to know the right words, and where to say them, and open sesame - power at your fingertips. It's a bit like learning a language. But one for a country filled with friendly robots.

"Coding" can be a single word, or a simple sentence - the power comes from context. That simple instruction can kick machinery into action that do incredible, world-wide things. Think of every button you press on our phone - one click can send an e-mail or a message to anyone on earth. Code is weird like that.
Awesome #1: Coding means Cheating.

On one level, coding is cheating. it's a way of getting something else to do the hard work, all those repetitive tasks involving sitting, clicking and checking stuff on a screen for hours and hours and hours. CODERS HATE THIS AS MUCH AS EVERYONE ELSE. The only difference is that coders have other ways of doing it.

You know those times you do basically the same thing to 100 slightly different things? Coders have a nice little looping tool for that. In fact, they have dozens. They have ways of checking what those things are, and what to do depending on what type of thing it is. All stuff you might otherwise have to do in your head while you could be doing something more interesting, or more fun.

(Actually, this is probably why you don't get taught to code. Doing things the hard way is "educational", or something.)

This is also why geeks love to party - because they're usually "doing" something else at the same time. Or their code is, anyway.
Awesome #2: Coding means New Stuff.

On another level, coding is inventing new stuff that you can then play with. Code lets you hook things together that have never been hooked together before: hardware, software, information, organisations - and most importantly, IDEAS. 

Ideas are cheap, they can spring up at random, inopportune moments. But they can solve problems, ask questions and create new worlds. But without a way to turn ideas into something practical, they remain fantasies.

Did you ever write a story? That's fun, but in a one-way way - sure, you can read your own story back, but it's better to give it to someone else. 

Once you've coded something, you can interact with it, just like anyone else can. What you've created is separate to you. It's ALIVE. If it breaks, you can fix it (or not). But check it out - once code is running, it's spookily our of your hands.

This is so immensely awesome that many people make lots and lots of money from it.

So there.

If you don't like it, that's fine. Many people don't code, and still enjoy life. But I just wanted you to know. Coding isn't scary, and it's not dull. And robots will take over the world.