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Learning To Code and Losing My Mind (Reprise)

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What does it all mean? (Jennifer Hsu/Youtube)

Coding is not for everybody. We admit it. But we should all take at least a peek under the hood of the computers and devices that power our lives. It's empowering.

Starting at a screen full of cryptic code is daunting, confusing, and might just well up some latent math anxiety. That's how New Tech City host Manoush Zomorodi felt, which is exactly why she decided to dive in head first. She signed up for a one-day computer programming intensive. This episode chronicle's how it went.  

In short: It began a jumble of doubt and worry with baggage from high school math holding her back. "I am going to have to commit an act of coding to bring my anxiety level down a notch," she decided by late morning during the theory portion of the day. Yet within hours, Manoush had made a mostly functioning web app for her kids. "The mere act of making it myself made it less scary," she concludes.  

Along the way she gains a greater reverence for the language of our machines and for the people fluent in them. Manoush wrote about this wild ride in more detail here, when a previous version of this show first aired.  

Also in this episode: 

  • Keith Devlin, author of "Introduction to Mathematical Thinking" and many other books, describes the kind of thinker that tech firms are desperately looking for. The new tech economy needs mathematicians, but he says, of the kind of math that is not so much about numbers, as problem solving and pattern recognition. These skills can be learned!

If you liked this story, please click here to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes / RSS to find our other episodes. We're on Twitter too: @NewTechCity

Now watch Manoush learn to code, despite her 10th grade math teacher! 

 (This episode is a longer version, with additional information, of our show that aired on January 8.)

Comments [1]

brett from Brooklyn

At around 1:49 when it says "Javascript" on the screen, Manoush refers to "Java". Those are two different things. This is not really Manoush's fault. Java is a programming language. It's pretty powerful and is what a lot of stuff runs on, notably every Android phone and tablet. Javascript is a totally different thing and is used to do tons of stuff, primarily on the web. When it was released, Javascript's creators decided it would be a good marketing idea to make it seem related to Java, which was very hot at the time. In reality, Javascript has very little in common with Java. This confused me lots when I was learning to code and is really the fault of some marketing guys trying to make a buck.

Sep. 30 2014 11:55 PM

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