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Everyone Should Learn to Code - That GNU+Linux Guy

Everyone Should Learn to Code

Preface

I know what you're thinking: how can I expect everyone to learn code? After all, it requires a degree of skill, and you're just fine with the software other people have programmed... right?

I don't really think so. Consider the fact that you're taught in school about chemistry and physics regardless of your career path. If you're working in retail, do you really need to know the volume of two moles of hydrogen at STP? Probably not, but you're taught anyway. Consider high schools that require an art credit in order to graduate. If you're going into mechanical engineering, do you really need to know about chiaroscuro? Certainly not.

On that level, why not learn code regardless of your field. Well, the examples I gave weren't exactly encouraging, so let's look at this again under a different light...

The Practicality of Learning Code

Even if it's a simple language like Python or a scripting language like JavaScript, learning some language is practical for anyone going into any field, because everyone in a developed part of the world will spend some amount of time at a computer, and one of the top reasons that people spend so much money on computer repairs is not for actual hardware failures, but rather a lack of software know-how.

I'm by no means suggesting that you become an expert programmer and learn to fix all your software, but knowing the basics of programming is a good way to diagnose issues and find out what it is that's going wrong and what steps to take in order to fix your issue. Additionally, computers are one of the few things which people use every day yet seldom know how to control. With a little bit of programming skill, anyone can automate simple tasks they would otherwise spend more time working on or spend money to have someone else develop that software.

For instance, I could make this website by manually writing the HTML and uploading it using some FTP client, but I don't like to write HTML. It is far easier to write out the text and automate what needs to happen. By writing a simple script for BASH (my command line shell), I can turn the more simple form of this page into the webpage you're looking at now with the click of a button.

The Dangers of Ignorance

It's also important to educate yourself (or be educated) in the area of programming for deeper reasons. As I stated, few computer users know how to make their computers do what they want. It's just magic. I don't mean they really believe that magic powers their computers, but any time you don't know how something works, it's magic. When you don't know how to control your computer, you become a slave to the developers of the software running on it. In the event that the computer runs nonfree software, there are even more issues at hand.

To learn how to program is to empower yourself to at the very least know the fundamentals of how your software works which can give you a better sense of appreciation for the work software developers such as myself and those with far more experienced that I make on a regular basis.

Conclusion

If you're interested in learning how to program, there are a number of good books and guides about programming in whatever language you choose. You can find a list of them here.

If you're still not convinced, or if there is something you'd like me to add to or change about this article, please contact me.