What I Wish People Knew About Programming

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if there was one thing I could change about public perception of programming it would be to convince people that is intrinsically creative. I’d even go so far as to say it is an art form.

Recently I saw an ad on TV that gave me great hope, and perhaps even the inspiration for this article.

(Link for those interested https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6zGytq7ckS8)

The ad portrayed technology as a magical thing, something to bring people together and allow creativity and joy in everyday life. I would contend that this rings true not just for the users of technology, but also the creators. And I use the word “creators” very deliberately, for that is what programmers are, creators of something from nothing.

Programming is, in its most basic form, the art of making things happen, on a computer. The ideas which come forth are more similar to that of a painter or a writer, and while it may become binary programming is certainly not as black and white as it is too often portrayed. It’s about creating things, of use or not. For entertainment, work and learning. I’m reminded of this constantly, as programming subreddits and forums are full of people who struggle with this very difficulty. They say, I’ve followed this and that tutorial and now I don’t know what to make. Now I certainly am not criticising these people as I too have experienced this feeling as I’m sure every programmer does. Yet it is in seeing these posts that I am reminded that the best programmers are those artistic types who have sparks of inspiration and create things of pure joy, using nothing but their head, their skills and their fingers. This is the crux of programming and where true progress is made.

Indeed the best approach programming in such a manner. I was listening to a podcast some months ago, where Linus Torvalds was being interviewed, and he said he created Linux and Git out of necessity. He saw a need and the creative vision to create something to address these needs, fast forward a few years and linux is inescapable, it is in fridges, printers and countless other devices. Merely going to show that a simple burst of creativity is where programming flourishes, and if there was one thing I wish people could understand about programming that would certainly be it.

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Projects that have inspired/intrigued me:

http://www.clock.tissin.com (Hex Colour Clock)

http://www.sanger.dk (Surprise)

http://www.barcinski-jeanjean.com/entries/line3d/ (Draw with a line)

http://paletton.com#uid=12r0u0kllllaFw0g0qFqFg0w0aF (Make Colour Pallettes)


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