Coding: Not Your Achilles Heel

When I think about coding, I generally picture my computer engineer father writing complex code that helps women find breast cancer.  In the past I’ve completely written off the idea of self identifying as a “coder” because it frankly felt like something so far from my realm of interest and ability.  If you would’ve asked me two years ago if I would be coding, I would probably tell you that my abilities diminished after a short-lived jaunt with myspace page customization.  Fast forward to spring 2014, and I am taking computer science classes, go figure. Myspace and HTML memories came rushing in as I delved into basic coding of HTML, HTML5, and JavaScript.  Pursuing computer science for me, was less about understanding the complexity that goes into many webpages, and more about understanding what the heck tech people are talking about.  One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to think and communicate across functional areas.  I mean, code is the basis for most of our marketing today.  Without a basic understanding, it is impossible to talk to an IT guy or gal without them quickly writing you off.  And once more, can you imagine not even having to ask the IT person in the first place?  You would become the most valuable full stack marketer.  Arguably the most important aspect of knowing and understanding code on a basic level is the autonomy it gives you.  No longer are the nuts and bolts of your online presence things that have you shaking in your boots.  Your newly developed knowledge of code allows you to (in a practical way) fix campaign bugs yourself.  Marketing nirvana.  Ultimately not having these skills could set you back.  Don’t let coding become your Achilles heel. Digital Marketing graphic Okay, so you might have totally bought into the idea of marketing yourself with coding skills, but you may be asking, “what’s next?” or, “how can I actually do this stuff?”.  If you are one of many, and if you don’t know how to make that leap between clueless coder to competent, have no fear!  There are many resources you can use to become self taught, all you need to do is take a leap of faith (and put forth a little effort too).  According to a Moz blogger, being a self learner is often more important than experience itself.  So by the simple fact that you are self taught and took initiative, those traits can be a resume booster.  Bonus– you might actually learn something too! For starters, direct your efforts to Codecademy.  Its simple interface and step-by-step instruction makes it the perfect tool for beginners.  The game-like quality of each instruction makes it a low stress, high fun factor.  Codecademy is a completely approachable way to dive into your self-taught skills.  Recently, I spent two hours on Codecademy, just to test out the ease of use and effectiveness of teaching basic coding skills.

I started at zero:

Codecademy before

And made it 55% through basic HTML and CSS

Codecademy After … in just two short hours!  That’s one episode of The Bachelor or two episodes of Game of Thrones or approximately how long it takes to bake cookies or whatever it is you fancy.  Did I mention it’s free? Seriously, no excuses. Once you are confidently coding and want to try some things out on your own, experiment, or you just forgot how to do a certain thing, I suggest using w3schools. Digital Marketing CodingCodecademy is great as an introduction, but w3schools is better for detail oriented trouble shooting.  As you delve deeper, you may want to have a platform to do some developing of your own.  A popular platform is Dreamweaver (which is not free, bummer).  Dreamweaver is great because it does a lot of the work for you and has a great interface that allows you to see the effects of your coding, while you are doing it.  Another, more well-known option is Notepad++ which works best for PCs.  Most marketers are Apple fans and therefore have a bit of trouble finding a text editor that is Mac friendly.  My favorite text editor is TextWrangler, which allows you to code seamlessly and find errors easily with color-coded elements.  Okay, so now things are getting pretty serious and you are speaking HTML and CSS so easily that you move to JavaScript.  If you are looking for a great resource to trouble shoot and get applications, for free, look at Stack Overflow.  By now you will be less intimidated by the tech lingo, and you can communicate your needs or ask the right questions more easily.  Stack Overflow is open source which means it works like a community of coders and programmers of all levels.   Users volunteer their time to help others and ask questions to solve problems of their own.  If this sounds at all interesting to you, I encourage you to check those resources out!

All of these websites are opportunities for personal growth along side the growth of technology and the web.  Technology grows at an exponential rate and things that take us minutes took hours, days, months or even years 100 years ago.  Even computers today are thinking, behaving, and solving problems on a level most would be afraid of 25 years ago, but today we embrace it into our everyday lives.

Let’s get nerdy.

Moore’s Law states that after two years, the number of transistors that can be placed onto a semiconductor chip doubles.  The application behind all of the technical and physics terminology is of course that after two years, technology doubles and the latter developments become irrelevant.  By far the prevailing computing has been done through electrical because it is the fastest, most predictable computing power we know.  But who is to say that in 10, 20, 30 years from now, it will be relevant?  It may not be, and this brings me to two potential candidates: chemical and wetware computing. chemical computing

Chemical computing is an unconventional method based on chemical reactions.  Semi-solid chemicals are used as data determined by differing chemical makeups.  The advantage of chemical computing is that these reactions occur naturally and therefore require very little power requirements.  For this reason, chemical computing could be very useful in resource scarce third world countries where energy is not consistent or reliable.  The down side to this of course is it that time is limited because chemical computation takes longer than electrical.

Wetware computation on the other hand, is made of an organic computer that is made of leech neurons.  This type of computer has the ability to do simple arithmetic computations, but tends to be unpredictable which is a major problem, unless it can be turned into an asset.  For example one possibility is encryption.  A more practical application could be the potential for authentication through handwriting recognition.

Both wetware and chemical computation have potentials and weaknesses.  The brain makes  chemical computations and wetware is basically a brain, so you can imagine the potential there, but as you may know, scientists know almost nothing about the brain.  Kind of a catch-22.  Seems as though there is great opportunity, but more progress must be made.  Every great endeavor begins with a little turmoil, failure and a healthy dose of trial and error.  Keep that in mind when you are tackling those programming languages too!

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