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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On learning to code

Today I stumbled upon this short film produced by Code.org.  It is meant to encourage everyone to learn to code, especially all our children.

I think that learning to code is important and can be fun.  The potential rewards are phenomenal.

Over 16 years ago, I learned to be a programmer.  My roommate at the time was a programmer.  I asked him how he learned to program and he said, "by reading books."  He then challenged me to learn to program.  This was one of the best gifts I've ever received.

I've been involved in software development ever since. I founded CyteShoppe in 1996 to provide successful web solutions to many small businesses.  Over the years, technology has changed and I've had the opportunity to work with many exciting projects and technologies.  One thing though has not changed, I'm still learning and have a long way to go...

So along with encouraging education in programming, I propose that it is essential that we also inculcate the need for continual learning.  So much in the field of education seems to reinforce the idea that learning is just an unavoidable inconvenience that is shed just as soon as the test is passed.

In technology, curiosity is especially critical.  A programmer cannot be satisfied with what he or she learned in school, or even last year, last month, last week.  Every 5-10 years the technology stack that programmers use is completely overhauled.  In this fast moving world that refresh rate may continue to accelerate to a rate of three to five years.  A programmer must recognize that continual learning is a part of life.

There are other character traits that are also very important to become a superior programmer such as humility, intellectual honesty, good communication and cooperation, etc...

By promoting coding as a basic skill we help students appreciate the value of these very valuable aspects of who they are.  These personal characteristics transfer well to whatever endeavor they choose to follow in the future.

To this end, this year I've been speaking with current programmers on the topic of personal character.  On Wednesday, February 27, I will be speaking at the New York Alt. Net User Group in NYC on the topic: "Become A Superior Programmer In Any Language"  I'm looking forward to seeing everyone who is attending and sharing with them what I know.  I hope that this is also an opportunity for me to learn from all in attendance.

Learning to code is a fantastic endeavor and the skills required to be a successful programmer can contribute to make life very rewarding.

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