Everyone should program

Here’s a quote I enjoyed from the book I’m currently reading:

“If you’ve never programmed a computer, you should. There’s nothing like it in the whole world. When you program a computer, it does exactly what you tell it to do. It’s like designing a machine — any machine, like a car, like a faucet, like a gas-hinge for a door — using math and instructions. It’s awesome in the truest sense: it can fill you with awe.

A computer is the most complicated machine you’ll ever use. It’s made of billions of micro-miniaturized transistors that can be configured to run any program you can imagine. But when you sit down at the keyboard and write a line of code, those transistors do what you tell them to.

Most of us will never build a car. Pretty much none of us will ever create an aviation system. Design a building. Lay out a city.

Those are complicated machines, those things, and they’re off-limits to the likes of you and me. But a computer is like, ten times more complicated, and it will dance to any tune you play. You can learn to write simple code in an afternoon. Start with a language like Python, which was written to give non-programmers an easier way to make the machine dance to their tune. Even if you only write code for one day, one afternoon, you have to do it. Computers can control you or they can lighten your work — if you want to be in charge of your machines, you have to learn to write code.”

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

Future of books

I read an article about the future of book industry and authors [hat tip Sadie]. In it, they describe the ways that authors are suffering from the effects of piracy. Many authors are concerned about their lost profits at the hands of e-Book pirates and they are trying to come up with new business models to embrace this new media while still being able to keep the cash coming in. Fortunately, they seem to have a much better grasp on how to solve their problems than the music industry:

“We have to evolve and create a very different pay system, possibly by making the content available free to all and finding a way to get paid separately.” –Tracy Chevalier

If they can follow this concept through, their industry will survive. I have very little hope for the music industry at this point, so the best we can do is learn from their mistakes. Please read that last link. It’s a great article (actually it deserves a post of its own).