When I was in highschool, I read Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, one of my all-time favourite authors. I used it in my big English project in either grade 12 or my OAC year. (Aside: remember when you thought you’d never forget the details of your highschool existence? Well, you totally do.) I don’t remember the whole point of the project, but I remember that one of the points I was trying to make was that Internet-speak (short forms, emoticons and LOLspeak) was going to dumb down communication and make us all terrible spellers. Keep in mind that this was circa 1996-1997.
Maybe I should have gotten into futurism as a career. At least I can still spell.
The description of Microserfs from Douglas Coupland’s website is this (emphasis mine):
Microserfs first appeared in short story form as the cover article for the January 1994 issue of Wired magazine and was subsequently expanded to full novel length. Set in the early 1990s, it captures the state of the technology industry before Windows 95, and predicts the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s.
The novel is presented in the form of diary entries maintained on a PowerBook by the narrator, Daniel. Because of this, as well as its formatting and usage of emoticons, this novel is similar to what emerged a decade later as the blog format.
When I was in highschool. I could have taken a basic intro to computer programming course. I think it covered Pascal and Fortran, but I’d have to confirm that with Sean who did take the course. I thought programming would be too hard so I didn’t take it. I took a word processing course instead (WordPerfect in DOS! Don’t miss that!). That course – along with my journalism class that wrote and designed the school newspaper and yearbook for that year – put me on a path to my eventual career in graphic design and document layout. But now I’m kicking myself for not taking the programming course too.
That last paragraph makes me feel like such a feminine cliché. Remind me to tell Flora not to underestimate herself when she is a teenager. I could blame the general slacker culture of the 1990s for my own hesitance, but ultimately, I know I was lazy. I could have done better in school and tried harder. I just didn’t want to.
A few weeks ago, I signed up for Codecademy, a site that teaches basic coding skills for the web, and in various programming languages. I’ve been working through the Web Fundamentals track because my HTML skills are woefully out of date. I took my first HTML course on a Saturday afternoon in 1999 back in college. I learned the basics and ran with them. I created several shitty websites. Including the one that got me an interview for my first job as I had posted my resume on it. With my full mailing address. How naive was I?
Today I saw this video from Code.org. It’s less than ten minutes so you should watch it.
I’m not so sure of what I think about little kids learning to code (they get so much screen time as it is), but now I’m finally diving in. I’m desperate to create something I’m proud of. Learning to code adds another tool to my arsenal.
Learning to code is teaching me patience and perserverance. Those are skills I need away from the computer. Being able to create something is almost a bonus.