Is learning how to program computers and apps the right path for you?
In a world in clear disarray, with stupidity proudly displayed as a virtue, we are subject to a constant barrage of monikers that, while sounding smart, are in fact deeply stupid. The great philosopher Daniel Dennett defines these sentences as Deepities. Deepak Chopra is a great source of these with enlightened quotes such as “You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.” or “Don’t try to steer the river.”
Lovely. I guess you need to reach the place inside yourself where steering the river is both possible but unadvised. Must be his Quantum Fluximeter healing biofield theory in pragmatic form…
Thus we have now the rise of flat-earthers, gravity-deniers, anti-vaxxers, creationists… Sure, rational people are quick to dismiss these wild demonstrations of sheer stupidity, but we are still showered with some sentences that seem to, intrinsically, make sense.
Seeming logical is not necessarily logical
The worst of these is the “Learn to code”. On its face it feels logical. Computers do more and more of the activities humans used to. And learning to automate further is not only a trend, but a necessity for companies to just remain competitive.
But this sentence breaks the bullshitimeter for various reasons:
- It seems smart – Sure, the world is based on communication, communication is done by computers, information technology rules everything from the phone to the washing machine, it’s logical that we should know about it. However, the IT field is broad. Incredibly so. Learn to code is akin to learn sports. What do you mean? Learn to play or coach? Learn sport design or commentary? Learn the rules or the techniques? Of what sport? All of them? How? How long does it take?
- It is said by people who do NOT know how to code – It’s a generalization but one that is mostly correct. And that is because the tone is completely different. Coders with good communication skills encourage people to start, give guidelines, offer help, create tutorials, build communities to help each other, work to solve your problem, free of charge, because they know tomorrow they will be the ones needing a helping hand. Pundits, on the contrary, phrase it as a fault on the non-coding person. “Well, you are going to lose your job, so you better learn to code…”. Great way to look at things. Have they tried it? No. Their job is to… analyze things for us and tell us in a most dismissive and condescending manner, the dimwitted know-it-all paid shrills.
- Unreal examples – Always there. The success story of the coal miner, line worker or stay-at-home mum (always a woman) that picked up an HTML course and are now coding webs professionally and making good money out of it. Sure, these exist. Didn’t take them a fortnight to get from zero to money-making status, I can tell you that. Mortgage payment comes every month, whether you want it or not.
- Cost – whoever says it makes it look like coding is something you can acquire for free. Or, at the very least, through some government funded program. Just open youtube and type coding 101 and you are on your way, right? Well, yes and no. I can guarantee one thing though, they never consider the endless hours you will spend trying to find a missing bracket before you even manage to get the computer to print the date on a screen. And the wasted time until you realize that what you have been learning will not serve the purpose you set out to achieve. All that time is paid by nobody, and certainly not by the prophet that told you to start through the TV.
Finally, it is false. Completely false. Knowing how to code is growing in importance, yes, but clearly our trusted governments seem not to think so, for if they did, the school curricula would already be centered on it. Geography, Calculus, History, PE, all subjects kids learn in school. Coding? An after school activity at best. I thought you considered this important. Crucial for survival in the new computer based economy, if I go by your propaganda channels. Yet, the oversight in the educational field remains.
The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growthWarren Buffett
And there is another reason why it is false. And that is because the value of a skill is inversely proportional to its availability. That’s why the solution from these attention grabbing idiots is never “Well… you should learn boxing, or NBA playing, or Astronauting”. 30 years ago, in my native Spain, English was the make-or-break skill. Knowing it meant immediate job posting and a higher salary. Today, it is the difference between getting a job in an office or one hitting rocks with other rocks. And guess what, the second one is actually better paid. The more people that learn how to code, the less valuable the skill becomes.
Thus, the good coding jobs, those that pay handsomely, are in the cutting edge of technology. In AI and Machine Learning. Fields way beyond the capabilities of the everyday repurposed worker. And fields that actively work towards making the job of today’s baseline coder unnecessary.
Fields that take a hell of a lot of time and effort to learn. Fields that are occupied by baseline coders of yore that kept learning for years while working on an app to… match you to a pet, and using their free time learning stochastic programming and self-correcting algorithms.
It’s no different in any other field. We all cook, some people make a living out of it, a handful get rich doing it. You have a plant pot in your living room, and it’s green and beautiful, but you are not getting a contract landscaping the next golf course. Last week I located the spark plugs in my car. Can’t wait for McLaren or Bentley to hire me for the overhaul of their latest GT…
Learn to code. Can’t think of any other three words that will become more damaging to our state of mind in this decade. And they are going to be repeated a lot. Wait and see…