Can I Code

People seem to get tech envious of IT personnel.  I don’t know why.  It is just like any other profession/art or talent.  I have had friends/peers that are of the opinion that it takes a special breed to be a programmer.  I think that is bullshit.  It takes two things to be a programmer – desire and practice.

I grew up playing a lot of basketball.  A lot of people said I had talent, the right physical attributes and that is what led to me being a good basketball player.  To them I would say bullshit.  I started playing basketball when I was 4.  I played year round till I was 18.  I practiced over 2500 hours before I was even in high school.  I played or practiced another 2500 hours during high school.  I made all state by the end of my high school career.  That 5000 hours of playing basket ball is half of what is recommended to be prepared for a division one college scholar ship.  Source is out there, not sure where but Colin Cowherd over at ESPN references the 10,000 hour mark a lot.

So anyone can code?  Yes, and no.  ANYONE can learn to code.  NOT everyone will have the desire to continue learning how to code to gain a level of proficiency where they can be considered programmers.  This is a blessing and a curse – but I shall not digress.

The initial thing that gets a lot of non-programmers intimidated is the programming language.  We generally use an instruction set that looks like English, can even read a bit like English buts it not English.  People look at code and get intimidated.  That’s understandable.  It can feel a lot like being in a foreign country with little to no knowledge of the local language and/or dialect.  Hell, I find it hard to communicate in parts of Louisiana where they speak English.

I don’t know of anyone that can learn a new language and be fluent in it in a month.  That is almost what learning to program is like.  The only difference is while you are typically dealing with an English readable code the computer will not infer meaning.  With people, the audience can infer meaning from what you are trying to communicate.  A compute just says no, your wrong I stop now and will not try to infer meaning anytime soon.  We have some tools that try to predict errors and suggest corrections for a programmer.  These tools are like talking with someone that takes you literally and some bystander is listening into your conversation pointing out each mistake.  That is in its simplest form, learning to code.

You have to practice this craft.  You need to get to that matrix point where you see – blond, brunette, red head.  That takes a ton of practice.  Is there some study that says after X hours of programming I should be a proficient programmer?  Yes!  But the hours of practice have to revolve around practicing the right “moves.”  This article is not about identifying what the right moves are, its about informing you that you can code.

My point is yes, you can code but that does not mean you will like it.


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