Make It Stop
Code or Be Coded
The following story from last summer probably rings a bell.
On his way to work each morning, Patrick McConlogue, a New York entrepreneur, passed the same homeless man. His name was Leo Grand, and the two would soon become friends in the unlikeliest of fashions.
Mr. McConlogue stopped one morning to offer the man a choice: $100, no strings attached, or the opportunity to learn to code.
Codecademy managed to win the holiday news cycle last year with its Code Year pledge that even got Mayor Bloomberg to learn to code in 2012–or at least tweet his New Year’s resolution. It was hard to miss the headlines crowing about coding as the lingua franca of the 21st century. But despite the best intentions, some of us fell off the wagon, hard.
Code or Be Coded
Garry Welding is a programmer with a blog who works as a contractor for an ecommerce company in the U.K. Garry Welding’s daughter is an unsuspecting, angelic five year old who would probably like to play legos but is instead being forced to learn how to code by her programmer father because “Hacker News will love it, honey!”
Mr. Welding published a post to his blog about how his daughter had shown a passing interest in his work. He decided to seize on this opportunity and set up a simple program so he could begin to teach her how to code. Before she could touch the computer he filled up her juicy cup with Mountain Dew and told her that if she didn’t ship something today she’d have to go back to being a test engineer (not really).
Code or Be Coded
The “learn to code” meme probably reached its pinnacle around the time Mayor Bloomberg announced his dedication to the initiative, but it has now begun the inevitable slide into backlash territory. Who would have thought that a fluffy gesture of commitment to a burgeoning New York industry would tip over into controversy? This is why we can’t have nice things, Internet.
In a post published today on his popular blog Coding Horror, Stack Exchange founder Jeff Atwood publicly decried programming newbies’ hilarious attempts to learn the art of code. As if you pathetic wannabes could ever know as much as he does about coding.
New Education for the New Economy
Remember that whole kerfuffle earlier this week, when the Internet convinced itself that if they could just learn to code that they, too, could quickly become millionaires? Yeah, we penned a screed condemning that theory, but it appears it was not enough to stem the exodus of business dudes to coding professions. Our apologies.
Spencer Fry, cofounder of online portfolio site Carbonmade, wrote a blog post today explaining why he’s taking time off from being a “business guy” to learn to code. Mr. Fry put his computer science degree on hold in order to run TypeFrag, and ended up graduating with a psychology degree instead. This has apparently always haunted Mr. Fry. “Looking back at my decision to drop Computer Science for TypeFrag, I have no regrets,” he wrote. “However, not being able to contribute directly to the building of my products often left me feeling empty.”
The new product is based on work done by Codecademy’s first new hire, Amjad Masad, a Jordanian who’s open source work was already powering a big part of Codecademy. The aim is to get people writing and sharing programs without the hurdles of downloading software and learning to work in an IDE.
It’s easy to stop sweating the small stuff once you get to the top. As a recent New York magazine article pointed out, Mark Zuckerberg used to be a coding machine. These days, not so much:
But, as the Groups team was adding the finishing touches to its product, Zuckerberg said he wanted to write a few lines. “Everybody was like, Ohhhh, Zuck’s gonna write code,” says Feross. Someone set up an easy bug for him to fix—adding a link to a picture, or something—and he went to work. Five minutes passed. Twenty minutes. An hour. “It took him like two hours to do something that would take one of us who’s an engineer like five minutes.”
Dwight Merriman, one of the original founders of DoubleClick, was that company’s CTO for a decade, helping to create the DART ad serving technology which currently powers Google’s profits. Now he is founder and CEO of 10Gen, one of the leading developers and service providers for the MongoDB database language.
Betabeat was chatting recently with a 10Gen engineer who was impressed by how closely Mr. Merriman worked with the staff. “Dwight is drinking beer with us and writing great code.”