This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak at WordCamp Atlanta about the Importance of Following The WordPress Coding Standards.
I had a blast talking with the audience, meeting new people, answering questions, and being exposed to some ideas and techniques that I’d not previously considered.
During the talk, a friend of mine happened to snap a picture of two young guys – between 11 – 13 years old or so – sitting on the front-row of the presentation.
Since I tend to be protective about sharing pictures of my own kids online, I’ve opted not to share the picture here, but it doesn’t matter – the important thing is that there were young kids present at this WordCamp soaking up every word that was being present and even asking questions.
This is something that I’ve yet to see at a WordCamp – at least in Atlanta – and it’s really got me excited for the future of computer science, of WordPress, and of programming in general.
On Computer Science
I know there’s a big push to get a lot of people into writing code right now. I think that’s fantastic – don’t get me wrong – but I’m also skeptical as to if everyone should learn to code.
I know all of the common arguments for it and against it and all of that jazz, but if a personality or mode of thinking isn’t in tune with what it takes to do that, then why would we aim to force that? There are other creative ways to get people into certain types of fields. We often see people pushing for people to code but not to, say, learn a musical instrument.
I digress, though. This isn’t about arguing that. This is about the excitement that I do see in the next generation coming up behind us with a legitimate interest in learning how to make their computers do things via writing code.
To that end, I think that we – in our position – have a level of responsibility in making sure that we’re making resources, talks, and even blogs as accessible to the generation as possible.
They’re hungry for this stuff. Let’s cater to it
If there was ever any doubt in my mind that WordPress will be around for years to come, that doubt is stifled when I see younger people insatiably interested in what WordPress is doing.
This is, they weren’t only interested in learning how to blog, how to write, or how to publish – they were sitting in multiple talks offered by the developer track. I absolutely love that, and I love that the majority of what I saw had people treating them as equals.
They asked questions, we answered, they asked more, we participated in a short discussion. How awesome is that?
On Programming in General
I don’t know if WordPress is where people will stay. After all, it’s more of an extensible application than it is a framework. But that’s okay! Even if it’s a gateway into getting others into the world of software development, then all the better as far as I’m concerned.
If nothing else, perhaps they will end up using WordPress to blog about their experience in writing code with other languages, tools, platforms, and so on.
Whatever the case, software development is an incredibly challenging and rewarding field and it’s something that I think that if a person is interested in doing – especially from a young age – then we should be doing all we can to cover all aspects of what it’s like (the good, the bad, the ugly).
And we can do that through our blogs, through our work, and even through channels like Twitter.
So don’t take for granted who’s paying attention to you. You’ve likely got a lot more influence than you think you do.
Use your powers for good.