Of all the comments that have been made on my most busy post to date one from Gregg Irwin best captured what I was hoping to do by posting that story. I was hoping to inspire some young people to trying to stretch themselves a bit. I was hoping to encourage people, especially students and hobby programmers, to use their imagination and to believe that more was possible than the “programming is hard” talk that we hear all too often would have them believe. I was hoping that some people would try a little innovation. Simple innovation to start. The things I had in mind were combinations of features that others hadn’t thought about. Taking a different look at things, asking the great “what if” question and then trying it out.
I discovered software completely by accident. I was sort of interested in computers but 35 years ago they were hardly the sort of thing one came across in common use. Rather they were the stuff of science fiction. Huge, power hungry behemoths controlled by really smart people with advanced degrees. The machines themselves had more potential than actual ability to change lives. So when I was looking through the general education requirements for my degree program (I was a sociology major at the time) and saw that I could take a computer programming course in place of a mathematics course I thought – why not?
The rest as they say is history. I found something that really inspired me. Here was something I could use my imagination with in a way I had never been able to use it before. I could do some innovative things with this powerful tool. Well the programs I wrote back then do some things that are pretty common place today but that is the result of enough people doing similar innovative things in many places so that the uncommon became common.
I’m getting ready for Computer Science Education Day (earlier comments here, what one teacher has planned here) and I will be talking to students at a New Hampshire high school. My goal that day is to inspire more students to think seriously about studying some computer science. I hope to get them to see that there is still a lot of room for imagination and innovation in the field. We need a lot more out of the box thinking if the next 35 years are going to see anything like the growth of the last 35 years.