You’re probably channelling this Wired article. It’s actually drivel. Says author, Clive Thompson:

What if we regarded code not as a high-stakes, sexy affair, but the equivalent of skilled work at a Chrysler plant?

I don’t know what Mr. Thompson thinks “coding” is, but programming is an engineering discipline. It requires abstract thinking and serious problem-solving skills that can only be developed through years and years of field experience solving programming problems. It appears to me that Mr. Thompson is equating programming with the mere act of learning a programming language, which is used to code a programming solution. Well, how do you arrive at this programming solution? That’s what programming is all about.

This is a mistake that others make, too. Sarah Marquart at Futurism says you can swap programming languages for foreign languages in basic education. What rubbish!

If you study French and Spanish, you can use your knowledge to communicate your thoughts and ideas to French and Spanish-speaking people. It’s a very practical skill. If you study JavaScript and Python, what can you do with these languages? Write software? Not if you don’t know how to program! Not if you haven’t put in the thousands of practice hours necessary to become competent at programming.

Learning a programming language is NOT learning how to program.

Programming involves many important skills, such as requirements analysis, data modelling, program design and architecture, coding, testing and debugging, performance optimization, software deployment, development tools configuration, designing for usability and security, coding for maintainability, among other things. “Coding,” as Mr. Thompson understands it, is only a small part of this entire process.

Says Clive Thompson:

But any blue-collar coder will be plenty qualified to sling Java­Script for their local bank.

And you think the local bank will pay them $81,000 a year to do that? For that kind of money, businesses expect real programming competency, not merely the ability to tinker with a login page’s JavaScript code.

Moreover, the demand for mediocre programmers will continue to fall, as more and more of these mundane programming jobs are offshored to Asia. Further advances in software development automation must eventually eliminate many more of these jobs. I have no doubt that in another decade or so, we’ll see genuine programming “bots” taking over from the blue-collar coders.

Here’s an excellent counterpoint to Clive Thompson’s article from Steven Lipton at LinkedIn: “Programming is Not Blue Collar.”

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