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Everyone, learn how to code

For once, Internet was good today instead of just a constant bruising source of pain and misery.

I had a fun conversation with akareilly, who wrote:

If you insist that people learn to code in order to use technology, I’m going to insist that you grow your own flax, do the retting, spin it, weave it, and sew it before you’re allowed to wear pants.

Yes, except not ironically. Knowing how to craft and repair clothes is a pretty good thing.

Absolutely! It doesn’t take expensive supplies to start mending, and there are many resources online now.

I am actually capable of doing all of these things using Neolithic tech. Apocalypse skills, sorted.

There are darning looms, tablet weaving supplies, rigid heddle looms, backstrap looms, spinning wheels, knitting machines, knitting belts and pins, sewing machines, and all sorts of things here.

I never worked with textiles professionally, but in school we were taught braiding, carding, spinning, weaving, knitting, darning, and crocheting. This started before we were taught grammar and multiplication. I appreciate being shown those things because it’s good to not get too abstracted from the levers we’re using to interact with the world.

Things like math and logic and writing and physics and drawing and all kinds of things got way easier after I had started learning to code. The same goes for the spiritual or psychological experience. Coding (probably better known as meta-thinking, thinking about thinking) is an amazing foundation for other fields.

(On the other hand I hate modern, commercial tech 💁🏻‍♀️)

We didn’t get fiber arts in school but I was lucky enough to have computers at school and at home.

3-2-1 Contact magazine had BASIC code for games that we typed into a Commodore64. Now there are fun, visual tools to get kids started.

Everyone should have the opportunity to code.

It’s also OK if kids find that boring and do something else.

If you also feel that way about writing, reading, math, politics, history, physics then that’s food for thought for me, I’d have to think about to what extent the grown-up world should insist on teaching things. Interesting dilemma 💁🏻‍♀️

If it’s coding specifically then I’m not onboard.

Kids should have a basic understanding of things that they find boring. With any new skill, there’s a certain level of learning that many people need to reach to know whether they really enjoy it or not. If someone gets to that point and can program something basic, or even reaches professional competence, and decides they don’t like code? That’s fine. The point is to try.

Then, programmers should understand that “can’t be bothered” isn’t “can’t”.

Just like the kids who don’t make all their own clothes. They still get to wear clothes and have preferences.

That’s what I find weird about open source software developers not taking feedback, and responding to any requests with “just fork it”. If you say “OK, stop buying clothes if you don’t like what you have” the answer might be “but I don’t have time to learn this! I wouldn’t have time to code! I could learn but I need to make software instead!”

I hate programming so much 😭

People don’t get that since I’m the world’s best programmer. They’re like “why don’t you program more?” Because I hate it.

As far as open source software developers not taking feedback specifically, I’ve argued against that refusal.

So in that specific fight, I’m with you.

Learning the basics of how code works and how to code simple things is all I’m asking; as you point out, the difference between knowing how it’s constructed vs having the time, resources, skill level to do everything from scratch always.

Code can also be copied so there’s a degree of cooperation and standing on each other’s shoulders that’s possible in code that’s not possible to the same extent in textile.

I thought we were talking about something else. When I’m like “everyone should learn how to code”, it’s not to give credence to your basic GitHub issues sourpuss. I’m with you on that one. Instead, it’s a reaction to the veneer of network path dependent silos like Instagram, Hacker News, Facebook, YouTube, how our infastructure is being gatekept by modern-day Priests of Ra who are stacking their castle walls on layers and layers and layers of abstraction and toolkits, locking everything down and wrapping your basic everyday tools in hard plastic and planned obsolescence. It’s a celebration of how coding can be a foundation for other fields and philosophies, how it can help us reason about our interactions with nature, others, and ourselves. How market capitalism is a broken program and how we need the best minds of our generation to set things straight before we burn the world. 🤷🏻‍♀️