Why Learn Programming?

If I were a kid today, I wouldn’t have chosen software development.

Computer science now feels like an established path for people to walk down. Just another venue for kids to compete with one another for higher test scores and better results. It feels like something that’s meant to keep most people out.

And that’s unfortunate, because when I was a kid, computation, and software development in general felt more exciting. We were all misfits, and we were all extremely subversive, using open source as a means to share information and educate one another.

In other words, software development back then was about being inclusive, letting all the weirdos in. Now it feels exclusive, as if only the “best” get be a part of it.

Too Important to Let Go

As we’ve already seen, computation is human augmentatin. Computers and their networks allow humans to go beyond their biological limits, and to become super thinkers. But this is a trade off. We get the computation boost in exchange for inhabiting the world the software developers have created for us.

And our attention in these apps is what has made some of the largest companies in the world right now. What we give up when we get that mind augmentation is the sphere around what we think about and what we focus on. The places where we communicate online are mostly privately owned, meaning they’re mostly designed to get us to look at ads and buy things.

So wait, why is learning to program important? Without learning to program, we still have access to all the information and networks available to us through the internet. Even if most of our computation happens on private platforms, we still get to pick what we focus on, right?

The Other Side of Computation

I came to music late in life.

For 27 years of my existence, I had seen music as a passive experience. It was something you listened to, who you were was defined by what you liked, and how good your taste was for what great music was, and more importantly, was not.

That all changed when I decided to pick up a guitar.

After a few months, I realized music didn’t just have to be something you consumed, it could also be a story you actively participated in. You can take inspiration from the things that resonate most with you, and create something entirely new.

Spreading Your Realities Far

In the same way, learning to program means seeing the other side of computation. We go from being passive users of the world of computation, to active designers in it’s future.

Computers are the new medium for thinking, and increasingly, of living. It’s where we explore ideas, decide who we want to be, and what sorts of lives we want to live.

If we can’t program, we’re going to have to always be living in idea worlds other people have designed for us. Without the ability to program, we can’t shape the realities humanity gets to collectively experience.

The Programmer’s Journey

Every programmer is self taught.

Just as every musician is self taught. Reading books and listening to music, and being told what to do won’t ever work, unless you begin doing the work yourself.

You’ve got to play music, terribly at first, and then get better. In the same way, you’ve got to start writing programs yourself, and then slowly, get better. It’s always a struggle at first, for everyone. Getting past that first hurdle of being okay with being bad is what separates the people who make it, versus the ones who don’t.

This process, of sticking through problems, of tackling them piece by piece, has become the most important skill to acquire in an age where all information is available to us, at all times. The people who can shut off the noise, choose a single thing, and follow it through to its completion, are the ones who get to decide what’s next in the world we all inhabit.

We Need Your Talent

Computation, and the world of our collective minds needs your perspective. If we continue with a group of people who selectively choose who is capable of contributing to the world of computation, we won’t end up with good spaces to collectively inhabit. Instead, we’ll find ourselves trapped in more rat race, addictive apps.

Imagine what things you could build, and how they could contribute the conversation we’re having now. About what it means to be humans, in a world where we can all access the same information, and see the same things. What comes next?

Don’t you want to be a part of that conversation?