For many of us computers are a daily part of our lives. At work, at home, at the cafe, and almost anywhere we might be we are wired up and logged on to the internet – and even when there is no internet connection available we’re using our computers for work, play, and keeping ourselves organized. But there is a big difference between using a computer and really controlling it. A person who can program a computer has learned to do more than just “use” the computer – they understand the inner workings and have learned how to make a computer do what they want it to do.
For years we have used mechanical devices to make our lives “easier” – things like calculators, typewriters (remember those?), and even blenders and toasters are (or have been) commonplace for a long time now. But these types of devices do very specific things and there isn’t much you can do to customize how they operate or how effective they are. The typical personal computer, on the other hand, is a general tool used for countless purposes – everything from word processing to controlling industrial equipment to playing multi-user internet based war games. And we have only scratched the surface of what computers can be programmed to do.
So the question you might ask is “Why should I learn to program computers when there are so many software programs I can buy to do everything I could possibly want to do”? That is certainly a good question – and the answer is a personal one which will be different for each person asking it. So here are a few reasons you might want to learn at least a little bit about programming computers:
1 – Someone who understands the basics of programming and how computers work internally can have an advantage in the work world, especially in highly technical industries.
2 – As you learn to program, you will gain an understanding of how to better use the software you already use on a day-to-day basis – many common applications, like word processors and spreadsheets allow the user to customize and automate how they work using simple macros and special programming languages.
3 – As a career, software development is in high demand and constantly rates in the top 10 best paying jobs.
4 – It is a fascinating hobby – it allows you to create, invent, control, solve problems – it really exercises your mind.
5 – There is a deep satisfaction in seeing someone else using your creation. And for a change, you can be the one they are cursing under their breath when something doesn’t work right.
6 – You will gain an appreciation for how much work has gone into even the worst programs you use. It is humbling, and we all need that.
7 – Learning to program computers will help develop your thinking abilities and organizational skills. Or at least you can hope that it will.
8 – You can lord it over people and make them think you are a genius. Well, this doesn’t actually ever happen, and you might jeopardize your current social standing if you aren’t careful.
9 – It’s fun.
10 – You might as well do something useful while you are sitting at that computer all day.
Programming is hard enough to be a challenge, and easy enough that almost anyone who can use a computer can learn to program. I hope you give it a try.