Are we in Danger of being the Lost Generation in Tech?

I live and work as a software developer in one of the largest cities in the world, and there can be no hesitation to say that we are in the middle of a technological revolution.

 

But what exactly does that mean? I am aware that this is just background noise for most; London is often an intrinsically insular thinking city which pretty much fails to grasp the concept of human existence outside the M25. What does a tech revolution mean to everyone that lives outside this type of eco-systems?

 

Well, at least most of the time, not much. And it’s hard to, as away from the hype and the free beer, people have their own issues. Innovations in technology are pretty damn niche in comparison to ‘I have to work a double shift tomorrow and dammit I just want a G&T shut up about fancy watches already’. So why am I writing this? Because our generation has a lot to lose from not caring about tech.

 

We made mud pies when the Dot-com bubble burst, we survived the millennium bug, we mis-managed the delicate politics of teenage social groups over MSN messenger, organised uni life on Facebook and graduated into the ‘Internet of Things’. Technology has utterly shaped our lives; something that on the whole we have accepted without much argument. Our generation’s IT lessons were spent flagrantly ignoring our teachers pathetic efforts to make a powerpoint presentations and fights with the rubber balls from the mice. IT was dull and pointless.

 

Nowadays that is not the case. Programming is being taught from primary school level, and children are being encouraged to code. Next year the BBC will give a raspberry pi to every 7 year old in the country to train them to build and break things. We are training a generation of mini super hackers. Which is great…

 

But not for our generation. The world of startups today offers a preview of how large swathes of the economy will be organised tomorrow. This pattern is already emerging in such sectors as banking, telecommunications, electricity and even government. The future is tech driven and in almost any sector this will be difficult to avoid. People who ‘don’t get computers’ will be left behind when the generation below us graduates.

 

The industrial revolution produced countless inventions that immeasurable improved many people’s lives and transformed society to the cost of multiple jobs. However, it created new economic opportunities on a mass scale, with plenty of new roles to replace those that had been made redundant.


Whether the digital revolution will bring mass job creation to make up for its mass job destruction remains to be seen, but how do we avoid being part of the jobless in years to come?… learn how to ‘get’ computers, and learn now.

(For and interesting article about this – check out this special report from the economist

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21593580-cheap-and-ubiquitous-building-blocks-digital-products-and-services-have-caused)

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My Year of Code

It is now roughly one whole year since I started calling myself a ‘developer’ (or, more specifically, Art Historian-turned-developer) so I thought I would write a wee little post about my general experiences from my year of code. Specifically, my year of code with Ruby and Rails.


In the beginning, there was Ruby. This was an Object Orientated Language, and it was Good.

‘I love Ruby.’

‘I have no idea what Object Orientated means, but it’s definitely a Good Thing’

‘It’s semantic – which means I can read it almost like English’

‘Yay for not needing a maths degree to program, I love art’

‘Dammit I miss history’

“I wonder how much I can relate history of art to code…’

‘…’

‘… bugger’


And on seeing the Ruby was Good, the Ruby was built on, with a Framework called Ruby on Rails.

This did things such as CRUD and other acronyms, and this was Very Good.

Totes got the hang of this now, TO RAILS!’

‘I have no idea what this is, but if ruby is a Good Thing, Rails must be a Better Thing.’

‘Failing that I guess I can talk to Dad about trains’

‘…’

‘Apparently Rails has nothing to do with trains’

‘Fat models skinny controllers – well, thats the OPPOSITE of the Fat Controller in Thomas the Tank Engine’

‘Holy mother of all the things what the hell is going on’

‘I done a scaffold and now I have a billion files’

‘But, why – why is this not working? what is a migration – why do I have to rake it, are there leaves on the migration?’

‘Maybe I understand what’s going on…’


But then, the world was Plagued by Acronyms. And it was Bad.

MVC, TDD, CRUD, RESTfull, API, Bash, ZSH, SSL, CPU, DNS, MVP…. ’

Acronyms + Dyslexia == Bad

Model Controller View or Model View Controller? – for a brain that reads words in different orders, exactly the same thing. But apparently, for a program – very different thing


And then, the code had to be written Test First

‘So I write the test for the code, to test the code works, before writing the code I want to run?’

‘But I don’t know what code I want to write’

‘Well, maybe I do, but I definitely don’t know how to write it’

‘So how do I write a test?’

‘My brain hurts’

‘Beer.Good.’


But then there was the front end, and the ability to get creative – and it was Good

‘Sod Ruby – I’m gunna play with Javascript, styling and semantically written HTML now’

‘Damm this page looks fine’

‘Damm thats a lot of css’

‘Oh god, what do I do with all this Javascript?’

‘Oh you want me to do Ruby? oh damm… I forgot how to code’


And then, there was a Big Monolithic App, and That was Bad.

I thought rails was simple, this is not simple’

‘Oh God where do I put this business logic? (What is business logic again?)’

‘I feel like I need a maths degree’

‘What the hell am I doing with my life? Why am I a programmer?

*checks internet for all history MA’s still open for application*

‘Who the hell is Sandi Metz?’


And then there were many Blogs

I love Sandi Metz’

‘Oh so that’s what Object Orientated means’

‘Though now my code no longer reads semantically’

‘But it has no dependancies, which apaarently is a Good Thing’

‘I also know what dependency means now, which is an Improvement’

‘I’ve totes got the hang of this…’

‘Is this still Rails?’