Paul Ford made a big splash this week with an article in Bloomberg Business called What is Code. As I learned about The Man in the Taupe Blazer I was astonished at how accurately he had hit the nail on the head. I was also amazed that nobody had ever written so succinctly about this aspect of business that is considered the backbone of technology and everything innovative that seems to be keeping our economy afloat. Call it the digital elephant in the room.
As it turns out, Paul didn’t really want to write the article at all. It was just too big of a monster with too many tentacles and, as a writer, it was difficult for him to create it without stepping on toes and ruffling feathers. But the editor of the magazine, Josh Tyrangiel, did everything he could to harass and encourage Paul until they finally produced the 38,000 word article, which is worth any number of hours it takes for you to read it.
Now, I’m not a computer science major or what would be considered a coder, but I know how the code works, what it’s called and how the different parts of it work together. I can make these words appear here and I can modify existing code to create desired results. I combine this with the skills I’ve practiced for years in how to effectively organize visual information and most effectively communicate. Throw in a bit of practical common sense marketing that anyone can figure out, and that is what I do.
But it’s important that people, especially older people looking at how to make business decisions, take a look at what’s really going on. There is a big misconception that because all the youngsters are stuck to their phones, tablets and laptops all day updating Facebook and tweeting, they know a lot about computers and code. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve found that many students are not being prepared for situations where they have to use computers in business contexts, or in ways that differ from their daily social media use.
So, it’s great that Paul has written this remarkable article, and a lot of people will read the whole thing and get it. Hopefully it will help steer people into a more realistic place where they can understand the dedication and high level skills of people who write code, and how few people using computers 24/7 know what really happens when they press a “like” button. There is so much going on behind the scenes. In fact, a lot of people praised Paul on the code used for his article, but it was actually 40-50 people working for a month to produce it.
And there are still people who think publishing is dead.
Take a look at some of Paul’s other writing at http://medium.com/@ftrain It’s great stuff!