Creative, imaginative and inventive aren’t the first words you’d use to describe computer coding or programming. Nerdy, dull and too techie would be more like it because that’s what everybody thinks.
But if you listen to Harvard MBA student Diana Kimball talk about the unsung artsy side of coding, you’ll understand how she went from taking a computer science course as something she “should” do to diving into coding as a creative obsession.
Diana talks about coding the way other people talk about poetry or creative writing. She really believes if all students are exposed to even a bit of coding at a young age, the nerdy stigma around the foundation of our computer-driven world would quickly disappear.
When we start school we learn to read and write, opening up all the possibilities for what we will learn from books. Yet we never learn to read and write code even though we’ll be dependent on computers for so much of what we do the rest of our lives. Without coding, we wouldn’t have Facebook or Twitter and iPhones or iPads plus a zillion other inventions that keep changing how we interact with each other and the data we’re all creating.
In an interview with CBC Radio’s Nora Young, Diana says we’re turned off coding because we see it as “manual labor” rather than interacting with data in new creative ways. She admits some aspects of coding are just labor but other inspiring parts are “a dialogue between you and your imagination and a dialogue with the real or imagined users” for what you’re creating whether it’s a website, game or app.
Coding is like introspection because “the computer is thinking something on the other side and it’s your job to figure it out and change its mind,” Diana says. “Programming and coding are valuable because they’re fun and inventions come from fun and experimentation.”
If you’re even a little bit intrigued by how coding mashes up creativity and tech, listen to the full CBC Radio interview with Diana - Coding as a Liberal Art
If you’d like to experience for yourself why Diana thinks coding is fun, here are two websites where you can take basic coding courses for free without worrying about grades or how long it takes you to complete a lesson. Give it a try. You just might fall in love with coding like Diana did!
Codeacademy: Learn to create interactive websites, fun games and killer apps.
Mozilla School of Webcraft: Mozilla's mission is to keep the web open, and to enable anyone to take part in building its future. In School of Webcraft you can earn badges backed by Mozilla that highlight your technical and community skills to your friends, colleagues and potential employers.