I’ve always been a bit of a tinkerer (not to be confused with tinker, obviously). As a Girl Guide, the badges I went for first were the ones where you had to put together flat pack furniture or rewire a plug. Whilst I don’t rewire plugs anymore, I do enjoy putting together flat pack furniture, and if there was a badge for fiddling about with HTML on a wordpress blog I’d have it in a jiffy.

The thing is, I have a long history of being really really into computers. My brilliant step dad is a computer programmer, and I was lucky that I was a young user of technology. I had a Commodore 64 that I loved (I wish I knew where that was), and my Step Dad taught me how to programme it to make a game where a ball bounced across the screen. As I grew up we got a full blown PC aged 15, dial up internet and I taught myself to code basic websites with HTML and Text Documents using hosting like Geocities (who remembers that?!)

Learning To Code

Throw in a few computer science studying boyfriends along the way, and my love affair with technology and the internet would never be matched. And whilst I still understand the basics of HTML and can get by with the tags I understand and a bit of googling,  I’m desperate to know more. So, this year I’m learning to code.

Why?

You may ask, quite rightly why? I’m a voluntary sector worker by day that although does work on digital platforms and products, doesn’t need to know exactly how to code something or specific languages. We actually have an in-house developer, a digital team and the assistance from agencies for that. I don’t even work in digital.

Granted, I may well edit this blog too, but with blog platforms becoming increasingly more accessible I can pretty much do anything I want without any knowledge of code at all. Custom themes you can buy that are simple to change and a content management system which is almost exactly like word. Sometimes I use a cheeky bit of HTML. Sometimes I google (or ask for help) on issues. But generally speaking, I’m no code maker, and don’t need to be.

But, I spend so much time online that I really want to know how it all works. Just like learning a language for that holiday, I feel that understanding coding and the joys of web development is one of the best things I can do for my brain and my future as a woman. So what if I don’t need to learn how to code now? If I want to have a digital career, or want to do some saucy upgrades to this website, it is surely going to come in handy, right? And I’ve always harboured some secret dreams of becoming the developer of the next Angry Birds. Or a less shit Facebook. Come on. It could happen.

Basically I want to challenge myself, and there is nothing more current and more past, present and future than coding.

How?

The good thing, is that there are lots of ways you can learn to code using the internet. For free. That is golden, and I’ve been spending Sunday mornings working through the exercises and information over at Codecademy. You can just work through what is there in the order they provide, or choose “tracks” depending on your interest – Javascript, Web Fundamentals, API’s. They are all there waiting, ready for you to learn for free in bite sized chunks. The spin off, Codeyear is also awesome, and you’ll get a weekly lesson from them if you sign up.

If you prefer to learn in a class and have money to spend, Decoded has been getting a lot of press recently, not least because their founder Kathryn Parsons is definitely someone I’d like to spend time with. You can learn to code your own app in a day, and if that won’t give you a sense of fuck yeah! satisfaction, I don’t know what will.

And if you still need convincing that coding is the thing to learn in 2013, have a look at the Ted Talk by Decoded co-founder Alasdair Blackwell.

Just remember folks – we don’t all have to be hackers in basements in our pants to learn how to code.

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