Saturday, January 30, 2010

Should Everybody Learn to Program?

One of the co-founders of the start-up that I'm working with made an interesting comment yesterday. We were discussing web development, when she mentioned that coding "is one of those things that everybody should know how to do."

I had heard similar thoughts before from other smart people, but this time it really struck me.

Looking at the future, I'm wondering just how right she will be. Currently, knowing how to program in a few computer languages gives you an advantage. But I'm starting to wonder if not knowing how to program may become a disadvantage.

There's a subtle difference between those two statements, so let me use a different example to illustrate. It used to be that a bachelor's degree from a university gave people a huge job hunting advantage over people who did not have a bachelor's degree. For people in my generation, having a bachelor's degree does not give us much of an advantage in the jobs market. On the contrary, not having a bachelor's degree is a significant disadvantage.

I don't see it quite yet, but in the long term programming just might become one of those necessary skills. Any thoughts?