Suddenly programming is sexy. Codecademy is drawing hundreds of thousands to its online programming tutorials. “Those jumping on board say they are preparing for a future in which the Internet is the foundation for entertainment, education and nearly everything else … ensuring that they are not left in the dark ages,” says a recent New York Times piece.
The NYT’s Randall Stross went on to write about how “many professors of computer science say college graduates in every major should understand software fundamentals.” At parties these days, people are more impressed when I say I write apps than when I say I’ve had a few novels published. How weird is that?
Is this the long-fabled Triumph of the Geek? If so, it should seem unreservedly great to those of us who started programming when we were ten and haven’t much stopped since. So why does this sudden surge of enthusiasm make me feel so uneasy?
Modern scientific and engineering research relies heavily on computer programs, which analyze experimental data and run simulations. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a scientific paper (outside of pure theory) that didn’t involve code in some way. Unfortunately, most code written for research remains closed, even if the code itself is the subject of a published scientific paper. According to an editorial in Nature, this hinders reproducibility, a fundamental principle of the scientific method.
Reproducibility refers to the ability to repeat some work and obtain similar results. It is especially important when the results are unexpected or appear to defy accepted theories (for example, the recent faster-than-light neutrinos). Scientific papers include detailed descriptions of experimental methods—sometimes down to the specific equipment used—so that others can independently verify results and build upon the work.
Reproducibility becomes more difficult when results rely on software. The authors of the editorial argue that, unless research code is open sourced, reproducing results on different software/hardware configurations is impossible. The lack of access to the code also keeps independent researchers from checking minor portions of programs (such as sets of equations) against their own work.
Continue reading :http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2012/02/science-code-should-be-open-source-according-to-editorial.ars
It seems learning to code has become a theme in 2012, and the demand is being met by Code Year and others. I want to reflect on my experience as a non-technical person we should stick what we are good at, and not waste time learning to code.
So, should people who can’t write code do a startup? This is tricky. I dont want to discourage people but from my personal expereinces it doesnt seem quite easy for non tech guys, including me 🙁 The process of iteration is far easier if you, the person with the idea, can actually code it and that’s what ultimately makes a startup turn into a successful business: iterating to get to product/market fit.
Running a business is a repeatable skill; if you’ve done one well, you should be able to do another well. But a startup isn’t a business, yet; it’s an idea which may or may not work, and all the traditional business skills you’ve got don’t count. The problem with non-technical founders is that they don’t know what they don’t know, until they’re in way too deep.
I know many people who were inspired after they watched ‘ The Social Network’. The Social Network is a great movie, and for many people quite inspiring as it tells the exciting story of how Mark Zuckerberg built it when he started at the age of 19 in his Harvard dorm room. But when you watch the film please remember that Mark Zuckerberg is both an exceptional individual, and a very skilled computer scientist. But it wasn’t his idea; it was the Winklevii, those famous programmers Olympic athletes. That’s why everyone says execution is everything, not the idea itself.