In Defense of the Code…

I’ve been writing code for a while now. I first learned to program at age nine, and can now write an entire app on my own. The thing I’ve noticed, though, is that a lot of my friends seem to have a bit of a phobia of writing code. 

The US may be pushing code in a big way, but in India, computer science still seems to be the realm of precious few. I take computer science in school, and there are only 7 others taking it out of a class of 40. There isn’t a single girl in our class.

Basically, what I’m saying is that no one really wants to learn to code. Not just because it’s the domain of geeks and nerds the world over, but also because they think it’s difficult and complicated. Topics being rather thin to the ground, I thought I’d write a post about why code really isn’t as challenging as it seems.

The name, for starters, certainly doesn’t help. “Code”. Sounds indecipherable, like something you’d have to crack in order to prevent the other side from winning the war. It’s a term which brings to mind some manner of arcane symbols and a man with glasses seated at a table, scratching his head. The truth is, though, there are no arcane symbols involved whatsoever – unless you’re one of that sheltered minority who has never seen a cedilla (~) in their lives. 

The other big problem people seem to have with code is that it’s heavily maths-related. People seem to think that being able to code requires that you understand some form of very complicated maths, and that if you don’t like maths, you can’t possibly enjoy coding. In my experience, though, nothing could be further from the truth. I, who find it taxing to calculate how much change I need to get during small purchases, enjoy writing code. You don’t necessarily need to be great at maths – or even enjoy maths – to write code.

I think we also, in part, have Hollywood to thank for the aversion to coding. Coders in movies are always skinny people with thick glasses and an aversion to socialization and sunlight. They also appear to be able to type at a rate of, on average, 9000 words per minute. The unfortunate wardrobe choice for coders in movies – either a checkered shirt buttoned at the neck or a slobby t-shirt and pants – doesn’t help. Till date, though, I’ve never met a coder who can type quite that fast, and not all coders dress like slobs – that’s really just me.

I guess what I’m really saying is, if you’re thinking about trying computer science but are nervous about learning to code, give it a go. For all you know, you might actually enjoy it.


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