By Katherine Lofthouse
Even with the rise of “Geek Chic”, tech talk and the language that the rest of us communicate in can seem worlds apart. But as technology becomes increasingly vital to business strategy and individuals alike, we can no longer afford for it to be a source
In recent years, coding has increased in popularity faster than an athlete during Olympic season. Shrugging off the stigma attached to the word ‘geek’, there’s been a massive push to broaden its appeal, and help a new generation understand why it’s relevant to their lives. Initiatives have been set up worldwide to create a new, all-encompassing generation of coders, and particularly to encourage women and children in the field. Google has launched a $5million investment programme; many schools now class it as a language course; and an orphanage in Cambodia recently introduced it into its curriculum. But do the people who benefit from coding (so, almost all of us) actually have any idea what it is?
Coding is basically modern day, ‘Oh my God this is actually happening’, real-life magic. Essentially, it’s the art of creation, and is the DNA for the programs you use regularly (‘coding’ and ‘computer programming’ are often used interchangeably). It’s used to whip up your Word documents and your browser; your Facebook page and the apps on your phone. Coding is, and always has been, an integral part of the digital world, encompassing everything from the very first desktop PC, to the most mind-blowing piece of technology available today.
In the most basic terms, computer programming is like writing a recipe. You get together all your ingredients (pictures, text etc.), and then define step-by-step instructions on what to do with them using code. At the end of it you have a delicious cake/application! You can then use decorations/code libraries to add on all the fancy bits and make your cake/programme even more awesome. Code writes in programming languages (there are hundreds of these) to create the end product that us users interact with.
There are some unbelievable examples of coding across a range of disciplines, proving that anyone can become an expert coder. For example, a group of teenage school girls recently won an award for building an app – using code – called ‘Hello Navi’, which helps blind pupils navigate around their school.
Teaching people in developing countries how to code has even been tipped to break the world-poverty cycle, as it provides them with the in-demand skills of the future. What’s even more incredible is that knowing how to code will offer the opportunity to create programs that may directly impact their lives in many other ways, across disciplines including health, finance, government – almost any sector imaginable. For example, the Nairobi-based Akirachix app connects women in technology across Africa, facilitating innovation on the continent whilst simultaneously empowering women.
The possibilities are endless, and the whole world has gone crazy for coding; even pop star Will.i.am is learning to code so that he can create his own music apps. There’s a wealth of resources out there for people who want to start learning, so even if you never thought that coding applied to you, it’s about time to get with the programme!