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You are not self made

There is no such thing as a self-taught or self-made programmer, because…

Someone learned before you and wrote the curriculum that you are basing your learning on.

Before that, someone made the computer you’re learning to code on.

Before that, someone mined the materials, which was processed by various someones into the millions of components that make up a computer. And so on.

I learned to trace this logic to its end as I read The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves — a book about how we are living incredible lives in the 21st century but how none of this is possible at any level if not for collective human activity mediated by specialisation.

My first learning is to appreciate just how intricately connected I am with millions of fellow human beings in terms of our individual, specialised output that collectively make this crazy modern life — where I can tap on glass and have anything I desire delivered to my doorstep — possible.

But my second learning, which I think is more profound, is that what I do enriches the lives of groups of people, whose enriched lives (more money, more free time, more equipped) enable them to do what they do, which in turn enriches the lives of other groups of people, of which I am certainly part of. I enrich you, you enrich someone, and someone enriches me.

This is how we prosper as humanity. You do you, I do me, and we all become better off.

Isn’t it beautiful to know that you are not self made?




notes from the field of software engineering

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Nick Ang

Nick Ang

Software Engineer @ Shopify. Dad, rock climber, writer, something something. Big on learning everyday.

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