I’ve recently been following Codecademy‘s ‘Code Year’ project:
Coding, or programming (per my simple, home made definition which follows!), refers to the building the list of instructions that you give a computer, possibly via some sort of assembler/emulator, to run a program (ie, have the computer do something for you, typically resulting in output to a monitor/screen, and engaging in some form of interaction with the user of the computer).
Why sign up for Code Year?
“it’s like reading and writing to me. everyone should know how to code”
I think the background to Fred’s comment lies in coding being:
- a core skill in achieving greater control over creating/developing computer-based content (although there are indeed many other ways one might also engage in online content creation/development – WYSIWYG blog tools, HTML website developers, etc.),
- a key part of the software, and the internet, that we use on a daily basis (and therefore something worth better understanding), and
- a key building block driving economic growth, underlying much of the technology sector (and also being the core platform behind relatively recent sector titans such as Google, Facebook, etc.).
As such, don’t we owe it to ourselves to ensure we have some understanding of what coding is, and leading on from that, isn’t the best way to do that to learn, at least some of the basics of, how to code?
This quote, from “Codecademy Offers Free Coding Classes for Aspiring Entrepreneurs”, by Jenna Wortham, September 14, 2011 (in Bits, New York Times’ Technology Blog) also helps define the point being made:
[…] the high demand for the site is an early indicator that there might be a lucrative opportunity in offering people ways to see if they can build the next Facebook or Google — or simply to become a more competitive modern office worker.
“In 20 years, programming will be just another blue-collar job or related to almost every major employment field,” Mr. Sims [a co-founder of Codecademy] said.
It may be the above thinking that has also attracted the attention of the White House (see link below). I personally don’t aim to try to build the next Facebook, nor do I aim to have programming become a core part of my own employment, but I do believe that having a better understanding of it can help make me a more competitive modern office worker.
Also, as I grew up I was part of the generation that learned to program in ‘Basic’ (in my case BBC Basic, using a BBC Micro model B). I later learned some Fortran, to support a university class (Mathematics). Coding is therefore a little bit of who I am (“part time geek”).
I first heard about Codecademy (which I think is pronounced ‘Code academy‘, but all as one word) from Fred Wilson, via the blog post linked to above (the venture capital firm in which Fred is a partner, Union Capital Ventures, is an investor in Codecademy).
What is it? Well, I like the way that the Codecademy team geekily ‘defined’ Codecademy on their ‘About’ page:
var The_Gist =
“Codecademy was created out of the frustrations Zach and Ryan felt with learning how to program. Tired with less effective text and video resources, Ryan and Zach teamed up to create Codecademy, a better, more interactive way to learn programming by actually coding. This is just the beginning. Join us as we make it easy for everyone to love and learn how to code.”
Codecademy investors/partners (at time of writing) include Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly, SV Angel, Yuri Milner, Social+Capital Partnership, Thrive Capital, CrunchFund, Collaborative Fund, Founder Collective, Joshua Schacter, Vivi Nevo, Naval Ravikant, and several others.
Codecademy has recently generated a number of high profile news articles, including for example:
- “NYC Mayor Bloomberg Vows to Learn Code in 2012” (Mashable.com, January 05, 2012, by Sarah Kessler)
- “Codecademy and The White House Announce Code Summer+ Youth Education Program” (Techcrunch.com, January 17, 2012, by Josh Constine)
So far more than 360,000 people have signed up to CodeYear (although, it’s probably fair to say that not all people manage to stick to their New Year’s resolutions!), with many more already using Codecademy.