Why I am (still) not learning to code..

Over the last couple of years it has become de rigueur for all and sundry (at least in my corner of the world) to announce that they are going to learn to code. They sign up for Codeacademy or one of the many other online tools and beaver away learning basic Javascript, Python or some other language of the day.

I was recently reading this article about the new head of open data and transparency and his mention of his conversion to Codeacademy from social gaming brought to mind this announcement from Mayor Bloomberg in NYC last year;

There has been no word from the Mayors office about how well that went by the way 🙂

I hugely respect the talented coders I deal with everyday – they are my colleagues and my friends and a number of them are truly amazing at what they do. It is a talent and one honed by years of practice, hard work and no small amount of inspiration. It is not for me though. My brain violently revolts at any notion of logical thinking and numeracy is an impossible dream. I am a man of letters (at least in my own head) and believe the ability to write, comprehend and analyse text is no small feat in of its self. I spend a considerable amount of time and energy using my own non-coding ability to add value to this digital community I find myself a part of and do not believe my fumbling around with nursery school level code would add any additional value to anyone – least of all myself.

I enjoyed this post from Jeff Atwood about this topic last year – Jeff was the founder of StackOverflow amongst other things and is a coder of some repute himself and he articulates things far better than I.

I was having a look at the draft for the Mozilla Web Literacy Standard that Doug (amongst others) is writing.


I like this diagram a lot – I find myself much more comfortable with the ‘exploring’ and ‘connecting’ categories than ‘building’ – though I am not without some ability to ‘compose’ on the web at this point 🙂

I have thought for quite some time that it is skills like understanding ‘security’, ‘privacy’, ‘credible’ content and just getting more out of things like search and browsers where people out there really need assistance – we don’t need to be a nation of webmakers anymore than we were ever really a nation of shopkeepers. The difference is we did know how to behave in those shops (well most of us).


2 responses to “Why I am (still) not learning to code..”

  1. Whilst I think that increasing general awareness of what developers actually do (some people still think it’s akin to secretarial work) is a good thing, the idea of everyone learning to write code is as ridiculous as suggesting that everyone learn… tax accountancy, for example. Neither are an essential life skill.

    I’m glad you linked to Jeff Atwood’s post because I was remembering it whilst reading yours.

  2. Yep I think you hit the nail on the head there with the essential life skills line.

    I do believe the more I learned about decent development the less I felt any desire to learn it – once you work with talented people the last think you want to do is return to trying to bodge it yourself..

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