Being a programmer…Posted: June 29, 2011
An excellent post by Zed Shaw.
You have finished this book and have decided to continue with programming. Maybe it will be a career for you, or maybe it will be a hobby. You will need some advice to make sure you continue on the right path, and get the most enjoyment out of your newly chosen hobby.
I have been programming for a very long time. So long that it is incredibly boring to me. At the time that I wrote this book I knew about 20 programming languages and could learn new ones in about a day to a week depending on how weird they were. Eventually though this just became boring and couldn’t hold my interest anymore. This doesn’t mean I think programming is boring, or that you will think it’s boring, only that I find it uninteresting at this point in my journey.
What I discovered after this journey of learning is that the languages did not matter, it’s what you do with them. Actually, I always knew that, but I’d get distracted by the languages and forget it periodically. Now I never forget it, and neither should you.
Which programming language you learn and use does not matter. Do not get sucked into the religion surrounding programming languages as that will only blind you to their true purpose of being your tool for doing interesting things.
Programming as an intellectual activity is the only art form that allows you to create interactive art. You can create projects that other people can play with, and you can talk to them indirectly. No other art form is quite this interactive. Movies flow to the audience in one direction. Paintings do not move. Code goes both ways.
Programming as a profession is only moderately interesting. It can be a good job, but if you want to make about the same money and be happier, you could actually just go run a fast food joint. You are much better off using code as your secret weapon in another profession.
People who can code in the world of technology companies are a dime a dozen and get no respect. People who can code in biology, medicine, government, sociology, physics, history, and mathematics are respected and can do amazing things to advance those disciplines.
Of course, all of this advice is pointless. If you liked learning to write software with this book, you should try to use it to improve your life any way you can. Go out and explore this weird wonderful new intellectual pursuit that barely anyone in the last 50 years has been able to explore. Might as well enjoy it while you can.
Finally, I will say that learning to create software changes you and makes you different. Not better or worse, just different. You may find that people treat you harshly because you can create software, maybe using words like “nerd”. Maybe you will find that because you can dissect their logic that they hate arguing with you. You may even find that simply knowing how a computer works makes you annoying and weird to them.
To this I have one just piece of advice: they can go to hell. The world needs more weird people who know how things work and who love to figure it all out. When they treat you like this, just remember that this is your journey, not theirs. Being different is not a crime, and people who tell you it is are just jealous that you have picked up a skill they never in their wildest dreams could acquire.
You can code. They cannot. That is pretty damn cool.