IT Best Practices

Everyone Doesn’t Need to Learn How to Code

Teaching everyone code seems like a great idea on paper. Our world is increasingly run by it now, so the logic follows that everyone should become a coder to keep up. But the line of thinking, according to Matt Asay at least, is “complete and utter rot.” In an article for TechRepublic, Asay explains why he believes everyone learning code isn’t a great idea.

Debunking Universal Coding

Asay says that the Silicon Valley types will argue up and down that coding should be universally taught to everyone because it’s now a necessary skill. But just as jeans, turtlenecks, and rimless glasses aren’t setting fire to the fashion world, coding requirements are a Silicon Valley trend that isn’t catching on elsewhere in the world. Becoming a developer helps developers, but it may not help someone trying to write the next War and Peace.

Besides, when programming is taught, it is often done such that everyone is encouraged to do it the same way. Creativity is inadvertently stifled right off the bat.

Gartner analyst Martin Kihn also highlights how a constant bombardment of algorithms with lack of creativity from other venues devalues the content:

[“][I]n our rush to hypertarget, marketers ignore the perils of personalization. Algorithms…build a commercial echo chamber and hone us down to our obvious features. Every time an optimization is made, some data is discarded. Usually, it’s data that doesn’t fit the model, which are exactly the features that make us unique.[”]

He goes on to point out that, “in programmatic terms, we give digital signals from our comfort zone that label us as the Brooks Brothers man or luxury two-seater millennial. For a minute, these labels improve ad response. But over time, putting people into audiences flattens them and they lose their impact.”

Asay wraps up by stating that programming and algorithms are by no means bad things, but they require a balance of the human element to keep them fresh. There are a variety of people out there in different fields with different contributions to society at large, and not all of them would be made better by knowing how to code.

But do you agree?

You can view the original article here:

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  1. Perhaps not “everyone” needs to learn to code, but the argument in the article were weak: that it doesn’t teach creativity. Well, you know what? Learning grade school arithmetic doesn’t teach creativity either; does that mean it should not be widely taught? Learning to code doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative. I have been developing and supporting software for several decades (that means, by the way, that I CODE). However, I also have a creative/artistic side. Do I earn a living with my artwork or creative writing? No, not yet, anyway (though I may after I retire as a programmer in a couple of years). However, since I did learn to code, I’ve been steadily employed since the early 80s and have earned a darn good living, which will lead to my retirement in my early sixties. It certainly has benefitted me.

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