My 3 tips for mastering the “superpower”
- Posted on March 8, 2013
Code.org, a non-profit foundation dedicated to growing computer programming education, recently did a high-profile short film (see below) with digital heroes like Gates, Zuckerberg and Dorsey talking about programming as the new “superpower” and how learning to write code can change lives for the better. I truly sympathize with code.org’s ambition, and watching the movie made me remember my own curiosity for computers starting with a game of Pong and then fast moving into an interest while teaching myself coding on a ZX Spectrum whose rubber keyboard become very used and abused indeed. The interest evolved to a passion while wrestling with Assembler on a Commodore 64 and, many years and a university degree later, a successful career which I have never regretted.
While I’m not (yet?) :) a digital hero on par with the ones featured in the film, I nevertheless thought I’d share three personal thoughts and tips to those who are embarking on the journey to master the superpower of computing
- Being a “superhero” will require a broader set of skills compared to the past. Getting started is easy, but there are many computer technologists out there. There are fewer good ones, and the truly great ones are those who manage to combine deep computing skills with a broader interest in other areas such as economics, psychology, medicine, marketing, project management, statistics, agriculture, design, foreign languages & cultures, and so forth and who manage to creatively mix the skills to build things that don’t currently exist.
- Never stop learning. As Alfred Toffler put it, “The future belongs to those who are willing to learn, unlearn and relearn.” The pace of change is relentless and (r) evolution happens every day. I can guarantee that the “hot” products and tools you are learning to use today will become legacy in a few years’ time, but if you stay curious, keep an open open-minded attitude and combine past experience with re-learning, you will succeed.
- Make your choice for the right reason. Yes, getting to chill out with music and free food :) is fun, and I’ve certainly enjoyed my fair share of nice perks, but the thing which still motivates me after all these years is knowing that the things I do positively touch and impact the lives of millions of people every day. It can be small things like a new funky application for booking train travel, big things like designing how millions of people connect with their local government, or sometimes topics of life-and-death (one of Avanade’s recent solutions is for a children’s hospital, which is using Cloud to help fight cancer by automating and speeding pattern recognition and early detection in medical images)