Code Can Bring Us Together

November 9, 2016

I know a lot of people are sad, frustrated, ashamed, and angry today. I know a lot of people feel alone or divided, caught up in the “us vs them” frenzy that got us here. I know a lot of people are having conversations with scared kids who don’t understand. And I don’t have a lot to add to any of that, other than I empathize with you.

I don’t have anything smart or comforting to say, but this seemed like the right time to reflect on why I’m putting together this site. It might be a little pretentious to tie my dumb little tutorial website into everything happening, and I know I tend to get a little rambly when it comes to this stuff, but here it is:

Learning how to code can bring people together.

My real goal with this website is to build a community of people who love learning and talking and thinking about code. There is a joy in the process that can’t really be explained until you experience it yourself. My goal is to bring that joy to as many people as possible, and to bring those people together.

And I know that the joy of learning applies to pretty much everything, not just code. But code is what I know and love, so here I am. If you’ve ever wondered how it all works, or if you just want to poke around, or if you want to get a job or go to college… I’m here for you.

I’m here for you no matter who you are. Whether you’re gay or straight, or somewhere in between. Boy or girl, or somewhere in between. Young or old. Whether you use tabs or spaces to indent your code. You’re all completely, openly, lovingly welcomed here.

I was lucky (read: privileged) enough to be taught about computer science in high school. I was lucky enough to have a computer in my house, to have a teacher who wanted to fought to teach programming, to have the time to pursue it, and to go to college for it. But most people weren’t that lucky.

So I think it’s partly my responsibility to pay that forward. To try to bring that to people who might not have otherwise experienced it. To reach out to people and say “this is what code is!” and try to make them see that it’s not just ones and zeroes. It’s art. It’s beauty. It’s creativity.

You can use code to express yourself in ways that we’re still inventing. Code allows you to tell your unique story, to share your unique viewpoint, to connect to people you might not have otherwise connected with. And I think that’s important, especially today.

So whether you want to visualize an interesting piece of data to make people aware of something you care about, or create an interactive art exhibit that says something about yourself, or make a game with a hero that you identify with, or if you just want to play around or get a better job or are thinking about going to college… I’m here for you. This site is for you. You can code, and I’d love to help with that. Or to just talk about your story.

Computer science has never been more open to new people than it is today. When I was growing up, only a few people had computers in their homes. Now almost everybody is carrying around a cell phone that’s more powerful than the computers that got us to the moon. So if you can access this website, you have everything you need to learn how to code. (Seriously, you don’t even need to download anything, you can run code directly in the webpage.)

I almost don’t want to post this, because I don’t want to capitalize on current events just for page views. But I also think it’s important for people to hear: if you’re curious about code, or want to talk about it, or are stuck on a problem, then you’re welcome here. No judgement. No gatekeeping. You don’t have to prove that you’re the right kind of nerd to fit in here. You’re already the right kind of nerd.

This might all seem a little ridiculous or self-important, but I honestly believe that this stuff matters. We get almost all of our information digitally, and so much of our communication and exposure to other people is through social networks. So in that way, code is also responsible for dividing us, as the clickbaity digital bubbles we form around ourselves increase our us-vs-them otherism. I don’t know what the solution to that problem is, but somebody will figure it out, and that person will bring us together… using code.

I could ramble on about this stuff forever, so I’ll stop myself there. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or post in the forum if you have any questions or just want to say hi. I’d love to hear from you.

Happy coding.