Learning to Code in the Age of Making / by Nate Westheimer

(want to skip this post and just vote? go here)

At this Spring's SXSW, at 9am on the Sunday morning -- yes, the morning of Daylight Savings, so let's say 8am, and since it was the morning after GaryVee's wine party, let's say 7am -- my friend Vin Vacanti and I held a session called "Learn to Code and Make the Software You Want."

Now, given that this was effectively 7am, I would have been surprised to see any conference room at SXSW packed with an overflow line out the door... especially a session run by two relatively unknowns.

But I wasn't all that surprised.

Learning to code is not a fad and learning to code is not about being a coder -- I don't know anyone who's learned to code who thinks that's the case. That conference room was packed because people are waking up to the fact that this is a new age of making and invention and that in an age of making and invention, if you don't make and you don't invent, you are left behind.

Over the past two years, I've been completely blown away by this movement to code. In January of last year I wrote the HOPE Manifesto, and Vinny has written this amazing Guide to Becoming Your Own Technical Cofounder.

I don't know about Vinny, but because of this movement, I get to hear from some amazing folks and get to know their stories. Take this email I received the other day:

I'm 30, married for 8 years, two kids, one on the way, 6 years in Real Estate development working my way up the ladder. 4 months and 7 days ago I gave my notice, 10 days later I was on a plane, by myself, to Code Academy for three months to learn to code and pursue a passion I'd been cultivating for a couple years prior to that being ascribed the title of hacker or problem solver when everything always seemed out of reach. It's been a while since I worked that hard for something. I landed a job, came back and am absolutely in love with life. I love what I do.

How can you not see the amazingness in this? This is just one story of many, and they're all the same. Learning to code isn't about doing something because its cool or hip or because they just want to be a differently shaped cog in a different place in the machine -- learning to code is about empowerment.

Learning to code is about being a true participant in the age of making and invention. Not a bystander. Not a commoditized pundit, prognosticator, or manager -- I've been that, and it's far less valuable than being a maker.

This is all to say that Vinny and I are planning on going back to SXSW next year to give an updated talk on this subject, but we need your help. Please head to the SXSW pannel picker site and vote for our session and leave a comment. I think this talk should be taken to a much bigger stage, and with enough votes I think this could happen.

Thanks for your support. Go code.