The Joy of Not Knowing How

The computer industry implants in the minds of many the legend of the lone programmer, sequestered in a parents basement coding the next paradigm shift of technology. The myth is not that far from the truth, since many of the big names in software, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, were all created by hobbyists charting unknown territory in code.

I’m sure that everyone working in computers today, everyone, has some crazy project roiling in the back of their heads. But the majority of us don’t even start, let alone finish these projects out of fear that we aren’t qualified to do this, that we should let someone with “expertise” eventually make that app we want.  What we fail to realize is that the “experts” rarely know more than we do what unwritten programs look like. The only reason they are experts is that they’ve made their fear work for them. The frustration and uneasiness that comes from a new language and technology drives them forward instead of holding them back.

So if you’ve got an app or a script or whatever on the back burner, get it up on the monitor right now. Find that spot where you left off and feel that mixture of rage, terror, and embarrassment that made you shelve it. That feeling isn’t telling you that there is something wrong, it is telling you that you are working on something challenging and worthy of your skills. That feeling, right there, is the frontier of software development.

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