Should You Learn to Program?

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A lot of people ask me if they should learn to program. They’ve seen that learning to program in 2012 allowed me to launch my new startup, Uncover, just a year later. Mainly I’ve heard from aspiring entrepreneurs who have had a difficult time finding a technical co-founder. They ask me if learning to program is their best bet for getting their idea off the ground. But plenty of regular folks from around the world are asking me: “Will I be left behind in five years if I don’t learn basic programming?”


The simple answer is: yes, learn to program.

I believe that everyone should at least learn basic programming skills. Programming is a language like any other, and as the world becomes more and more technical, I’d go as far as to say that in the years to come programming will replace Spanish, French and other languages as a second language in schools. It’ll be more useful, as technology becomes the world’s language.

In Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, Douglass Rushkoff argues that now more than ever it’s time to learn to program: “Understanding programming — either as a real programmer or even, as I’m suggesting, as more of a critical thinker — is the only way to truly know what’s going on in a digital environment, and to make willful choices about the roles we play.”

For those of you who aspire to understand technology — and if you’re reading this then that’s most of you — there’s no better way to do that then to build things. As a builder of software, you see first-hand what goes into making something work. Even those of you who do not aspire to make things for a living will come away with a more critical understanding of the way the world works.

Not only can I build whatever ideas pop into my head, but also, since learning to program, I look at the world in a different light. How so? Well, as a programmer you learn to think about problems both objectively and by taking into account all outcomes. There are only positive outcomes that can come from learning a new skill, and programming is the skill of our future.

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Spencer Fry

I’m a 29 year old entrepreneur. A Business Guy turned Programmer. Co-founder & CEO of TypeFrag ('03 - '07), Carbonmade ('07 - '11) and currently Uncover ('12+). Uncover is everything you need to start and run an employee recognition program for your company. My hobbies are squash, soccer, cooking, music, and art. You should follow me on Twitter.

Comments

9 comments on “Should You Learn to Program?

  1. Personally i like coding means programming, have idea but i far from away causes have no practice now. But nowadays it has more and more demand in the market place. Most useful c# and .Net, as well of all programming.

  2. I like the advice but where are the tips? What resources did you learn to program so quickly?

  3. Great points, Spencer. Thank you for sharing. I’ve noticed that understanding basic programming and web design makes communication within company more efficient. It saves time when developers and designers don’t have to explain you every little detail. Also shaping an idea comes more easily since you already know preferable approach to get the job done.

  4. Spencer, are you recommended learning the concepts of programming? Or learning a full-blown language? Obviously the two go together, but I am curious as to what you are speaking more of.

    • I think you need to certainly start with the concepts of programming and then move to learning a full-blown language if you still find it it interested. Learning the concepts will definitely help you have a better understanding of technology.