Last week Bloomberg published a massive online article called “What is Code?” by Paul Ford. It’s a sort of beginner’s text for the corporate types about what programming languages are, how they work, and what they mean in our modern times. I skimmed it while M took selfies with one of our cats, and it looked pretty decent to me.
Here’s the thing, people. Learning to program is critical. For everyone. As I told students back at St. James, even if you’re going to major in English, History, or Business, programming is a skill that will payoff some how in some way at some point in your life. Even if you never dream of becoming a programmer, a mathematician, or anything related to science, programming is just a thing you should learn to do. Like learning to use a power tool. Because it changes how you think, especially improvisationally. You’ll never know what good it’ll do you if you don’t learn it.
If you’re interested in learning to program, even if only as a hobby, then I highly recommend watching the Harvard CS50 course. There are no adjectives I can use to describe this course. The professor running the show is drenched in sweat by the end of ever class. It’s pretty comprehensive and is excellent for beginners.
There’s also cultural aspects that are also worth learning. After “What is Code?”, read Neal Stephenson’s epic essay The Beginning…Was The Command Line and Eric Raymond’s essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar (kind of a “founding document” of the open source software movement).