I’ve never remotely considered myself a techie but I found myself today on a one- day course on coding. The website www.decoded.co (sic) was a good one and they promised that I could learn enough about code in a day to build a website – and I did. It wasn’t a very sophisticated site and I’m not sure that I could repeat it in short order – but it was a functioning website.

Why bother?

First, to learn the language. Techie talk is a foreign country to anyone not involved in that world and to be able to talk to someone doing any IT stuff it is good to know what they are talking about and why it matters. This involves a history lesson on how the internet came about and the practical and commercial forces that shaped it. In itself this would have made the course worth doing as you appreciate the extraordinary tug between the monopolist tendencies of the tech giants and its opposite, the altruistic sharing of information and advances by people who don’t see the web as a commercial venture but as a the modern tool of human advancement.

Second, to understand how the various factors used to build a website work –HTML, CSS and Javascript. What I came away with was a grasp of the sort of logic you have to use when dealing with any programming. We are all used to making intuitive short cuts that take you from A to D without going through B and C. With computers you have to follow the logic – which is surprisingly difficult. I don’t want to become an expert in it but if I have to commission work from someone else, I want to be able to ask the right questions and, even more importantly, make the right demands.

Lastly, to stretch your brain. The guys running the course were highly intelligent - but one in particular had that rare ability to explain complicated ideas with great eloquence and sophistication. The other attendees were varied – most, but not all, with more prior knowledge than me – and they shared it well. I was hanging on by my fingernails at some points and felt like my mind had been for a workout in the gym afterwards.

It’s fun to do that every now and then.

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