“If you can’t code, you’re illiterate” ?
A few days ago I joined a Software Developer Social and as we were all trying to get over our social anxiety someone said “In the future, coding will be just as important as reading. If you can’t do it you’ll be considered illiterate”. Upon first hearing this I thought back to my college days, when I was super obsessed with tech, it reminded me how little I understood about how subjects become necessity over time in society. Now after years of meeting so many different people from so many different ages, creeds, religions, genders, etc; I realize that coding is important in our society but knowledge about code or how to use it does not hold people back from being functional parts of society.
How do we use Computers today?
While I am currently pursuing coding and software development as a career, it’s important to note that there is no barrier of entry for using a computer. Computers have been developed to have wonderfully intuitive interfaces that even toddlers can understand. Bright color patterns, responsive designs, clear labels, and so much more combine to give us websites that we can recognize what to do immediately. No amount of coding is needed to use the computer, you just follow your intuition and you can do so much from the start.
Take for example my father, he didn’t grow up with computers anywhere near him until I turned 8 years old. Even then he never felt a need to use a computer. Back then PC’s need floppy disks to run a programs, unless you had the money for latest computers out there that had OS installed. All my father could see when he saw a computer was this huge screen that would give us text. It didn’t make sense to spend much time on it when a calculator could be much smaller and book/newspaper/tv could give you all the info you needed and he was working construction. Now my father learns languages from Rosetta Stone, knows how to download files, can search any piece of information, find people through Facebook, and use a variety of ways to connect to his family back home in Mexico.
Is he a computer pro? So far from it, but he understand how to use the tools that software developers like myself build to increase accessibility. That in a sense is our responsibility as software developers. We are trying to lower the barrier of entry for people to use these amazing machines that we’ve built. Our common goal is to get people of all types connected with every tool that these wonderful machines can produce. Need software to create 3D objects? No problem. Want a way to keep track of different news outlets? Someone made it. Want to listen to your favorite music or find a show? Yup multiple ways to do that.
“What if I want some specific thing that doesn’t exist?”
Well still nothing really stopping you, you could create it yourself and more power to you if you could. However, all those apps that you see aren’t just a simple pieces of code. They are multiple frameworks, libraries, and other components built to make extraordinary things. You could spend your time to learn and build with every technology that you need, it would eventually be easier to bring in other people who have learned the pieces you need.
Yes, you could know how to code, but you could also hire teams to do that work for you while you focus on other goals for the thing you’re trying to create. You still don’t need to understand the code in order to make things happen.
“I can make anything cause I can code”
Well you can code out a script to create something for people to use. You can create tools that with general purpose to capture wide audiences or you can build tools with such niche uses that only specific groups need them. Sure this is great, you are coming up with solutions for a variety of problems, but you can’t solve all the problems with code. No one is knocked down for not knowing how to garden, build a house, draw a picture, or any other subject. These things are just important as coding and not everyone will have the skills to do all of these.
Knowledge in code is helpful I can’t refute that. Is it the most important thing to know to continue in a functional society? Definitely not. Computer Science like any other field is a specific topic that you can eventually specialize in. I gladly welcome anyone who wants to learn in, you’ll open up opportunities that you didn’t even know about. If this isn’t your interest you’re not anything less for not knowing. To my coders out there, don’t set up our future generation’s anxiety by setting expectations. Instead encourage anyone who wants to check out our field and give them patience through their journey into computer programming.