“Software is eating the world.” A bold statement said by a bold man – Marc Adreessen. Marc is an investor in Facebook, Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter and more and thus might know what he is talking about with a statement like that. Supermodel Karlie Kloss started a coding camp, singer will.i.am and actor Ashton Kutcher are heavily invested in tech start-ups, and even President Obama participated in the Hour of Code.
No longer the domain of male basement dwellers, coding and the push to learn to code is reaching a far wider audience. Writing computer programs isn’t new so why the sudden appeal of writing code now? Is mainstream coding here to stay or is its coolness just a fad?
Code In The Park, held recently at the aMBUSH Gallery in Chippendale, brought together the biggest names in Australia’s technology world to debate that very statement. Joining hosts Yahoo! 7 and General Assembly (the tech education company) were industry leaders Google Creative Labs, Muru-D (Telstra’s start-up accelerator), OneShift (job listing site), Code on Canvas (creative coding studio), and digital artist Andrew Sorensen. Collectively these industry leaders showed us in the audience that creating music, art and money is firmly within the realm of what code can do. With their varied backgrounds and professional needs, coding offered each of them an outlet to control, and develop, what they needed to be professionally successful. More than one of them noted that learning to code was the first time they felt creatively liberated, free to design and bring to life the ideas they had in their heads.
But what does Marc Andreesen’s 2011 statement really mean? Think about it this way; think about your daily life. How often do you interact with software? Chances are you are working with computers, in one form or another, all day everyday. Your car, the subway, your phone, the bank, when you shop, how you navigate and what you read; all are run by software. Software interaction has become so seamless, so commonplace, that few of us are even conscious of it happening. We don’t question the traffic lights changing or the digital records the banks keep of our funds. But what really do we know about this software? The average citizen spends 37 hours a month on apps, nearly as much time as the average person spends at a weekly job. We are interacting with apps more than we are with other human beings! Lets learn about what we are interacting with!
Australia, fully on the coding bandwagon, is currently toying with the idea of adding programming to the grade school curriculum, making it a requirement for all school children. Augmented reality, smart homes and 3D will be the norm within a year or so. With short-lived coal on its way out, and a new generation of school aged coders on their way in, Australia is investing heavily in the innovation realm to ensure there are jobs and spaces for the next generation to work. This, in combination with local business growth, will start moving Australia up from 17th to a top ten country for innovation. Coding, on its way to coolness, isn’t a fad and shouldn’t be considered one, instead, coding should be a necessity.