It’s our fault.
Technology professionals (AKA the nerds and geeks) aren’t always the most welcoming bunch. It’s all too common for those involved in technology to talk down to others, or attempt to impress others with [through utilization of] highly technical and esoteric terms.
I’m not saying that coders are rude – but when it comes to communicating about technical concepts with the average person (i.e. the non-coder), there’s often room for improvement.
Just listen to how hackers on tv shows and in movies talk. They spew out terms that most people don’t understand. They are speaking a different language and that different language causes a breach between them and the listener.
People tend to tease that which they don’t understand – which is probably why “nerds” were bullied so much in the past (see: Revenge of the Nerds).
Whether or not we mean to, failing to speak in an understandable fashion can actually push some people away.
Now, there are occasional cases of pure arrogance. The developers who try to make others feel stupid for not knowing about the newest technology or who put down others when they make mistakes. Such people attempt to dominate those around them through shattering their self esteem.
This “I’m better than you because I know something you don’t” attitude is as ridiculous as a master pianist criticizing a novice piano player that can’t perform Bach.
It takes months to become a beginner in coding. It takes years to become an expert. Making others feel dumb because they don’t share your level of experience is folly, and only serves to slam the door in the faces of those looking to break into this industry.
The point is that we as developers need to show more patience, tolerance, understanding and compassion.
We should be mentors and teachers for people. And an important element of being a teacher is talking to others at their level of understanding and bringing them up from there. Reverse-wise: don’t talk over people's heads. This means to define terms and explain concepts as simply as possible and in a way the “student” can understand.
Don’t assume someone else knows something just because you do.
In recent years, people that earned computer science degrees accounted for less than 4% of those graduating with bachelor degrees. With CS degree-related jobs being some of the highest paying jobs for college graduates, one would expect more interest, right?
Well, believe it or not, the required vocabulary and how we flaunt it is part of the problem with expanding the industry.
I’m not saying this is the only reason. To be honest, computer programming isn’t always presented as the sexiest profession. Whereas shows like Suits and Grey’s Anatomy glamorize law and medical degrees respectively, outside of Silicon Valley (an exaggerated view of a lifestyle that doesn’t reflect what 99% of coders experience day to day) or the geeks who slam out thousands of lines of codes in seconds and hack to prevent the world from ending, coding isn’t always presented in the most exciting light.
When you look at your career choices, money is only one element of the decision process. Other factors include: what your purpose is, doing something you enjoy, helping others, making a difference, etc.
The thing about coding that I don’t think the general public understands is how creative and artistic it is. You get to build something from scratch. Imagine creating a blueprint for a house and then constructing it. It’s like that. It’s your house. You made it.
There’s also no way around the fact that coding requires a sharp mind. You will be forced to figure things out, spend a lot of time researching for solutions – it’s definitely a “thinking” profession.
But look at several of the top companies on the planet: THEY’RE TECH COMPANIES! The richest people on the planet own tech companies. We are surrounded by technology on every hand.
There’s tremendous gain to be had in learning to code – it doesn’t just open the door to working in the top industry on Earth - who knows, you might end up creating the next big thing!
At The Tech Academy, we have attempted to make technology understandable for anyone. To that end, the first course we offer students is the Computer and Technology Basics Course. In this class, students learn nearly 1,000 technical terms defined in a clear and simple way. There are also nearly 100 videos on the course that walk students through every element of computers and how they work.
I wrote the scripts for these videos myself and the definitions. My Co-Founder (Erik Gross – who has an extensive background in technology and teaching) then edited the content to ensure complete technical accuracy. He even personally delivers the whiteboard presentations in these videos.
An important note on this is that we didn’t use any existing definitions or videos. We had to create these from scratch because the existing materials that we could find were too difficult for most beginners.
When creating the content for this course, the discipline I enforced on myself was, “I need to write this in such a way that the average teenager or elderly person could understand.” Meaning, I assumed no prior knowledge on the part of the student.
It was hard work and took over a thousand hours of my and Erik’s time, and we both sincerely hope we accomplished what we set out to do.
If you don’t know how to code: the doors to technology are open for you.
If you’re a coder: please lend a helping hand and hold the doors open for others to follow you in.
About the author: With years of executive and managerial experience, Jack C. Stanley has overseen The Tech Academy since its inception. He owns and operates several successful companies.
His background in teaching and curriculum development contributed greatly to the creation of The Tech Academy’s boot camps. As the Co-Founder and chairman of the school’s Board of Directors, he supervises the day-to-day activities and long-term planning for the school.
The Tech Academy is a technology school that trains students in computer programming and web development. They are the proud recipient of SwitchUp.Org’s and CourseReport.Com’s Best Coding Boot Camp award and were named the “World’s Greatest Code School” by How2Media.
The Tech Academy offers a wide range of services including: