Learn to Code

In case you have not realised it yet, computer programming skills are as necessary for success today as reading and writing have been for the past few centuries.

In fact, “You’re a second-class citizen if you don’t know how to read and write today, and in twenty or thirty years the same will be true for people who don’t have basic computer programming skills. Those who don’t understand–at the very least–the concepts of order-of-execution, variables, data structures and recursion will be as socially and economically disadvantaged as the illiterate are now.

There was a time when literacy and basic arithmetic were skills reserved only to intellectuals and monks. Today our monks are programmers who know how to wield magic and illuminate scrolls of code. If you don’t understand what an array is today, or how to loop over it, then you’d better learn or you’ll be screwed tomorrow. The reasons unfold below.” – The Future of IT (click to read more)

Do you know the basics of programming? Are you ‘literate‘?

In case you want to learn the basics of computer programming, then you are in luck. Renown Stanford professor Sebastian Thrun is going to be running a free online course that promises to teach you the basics of computer programming in just seven weeks.

The course is:

Learn programming in seven weeks. We’ll teach you enough about computer science that you can build a web search engine like Google or Yahoo!

You can sign up for free here: www.udacity.com

Additional Resources


  1. Jaffar Mohamed says:

    This is something to look forward to. I am a competent programmer but enrolled already, there is always something new to learn. For “zero beginners” there is also a good site to check out [http://www.codecademy.com]. It features free weekly courses.

  2. While it is true that computer programming is becoming an essential asset for people who want to make it in the online industry, I don’t think it is the core skill needed. Most of the online money is found in the content sector; adverts, information and even graphics. Become good in one of this areas and you won’t need to concern yourself with any programming jargon.

    Most people I know make bucket loads of cash online without even the slightest hint of what makes the internet tick let alone their computers. Yes, you can sell a good computer application for a few hundred thousands. But you can also get paid the same amount for a nice Ad Copy. Content for me is where I feel we should perfect ourselves. If you are a writer, stick to it and strive to improve your skill set. Do not pick up new fads just because they are hot. Stick to your guns and you will get rewarded.

    There’s my two cents

    • While I agree with you, I am not looking at it that you have to be a programmer so that you can earn your living through it.

      I mean that you need to have at least a basic understanding of how code works so that you can do small scripts for yourself and so that the programmers you hire do not screw you over.

      • If you put it that way, knowing a little bit of HTML tags can’t hurt. But anything beyond that am not too comfortable with it.

        Cheers for a great post though Kevin. Really like the site and its about time I become an active member 😀

    • Jaffar Mohamed says:

      @Gicharu, that’s definitely two cents. Computer programming is not a fad. To some people computer programming is like poetry, you can’t make a lot of money selling poetry. But again if you are the best poet around you can make a lot of money. It is not always about money. On a global scale, which is where we should be focused, computer programming attracts more pay than in the “content sector”. I am in the IT sector running a succesfull firm so my comment here may be biased. I spend tons of cash on my programmers but very little on guys who do content (adverts, graphics copy). Why? Because every Tom, Dick and Harry can do content, my inbox is always full with their job applications.

      • Slow down some Cowboy! First let me skip to the last part of your comment. Not every person can do a copy or even write a single line worthy an advert. That’s why there are so few copywriters in the market. The same applies to your sector. I might know my way around the programming maze to come up with a legal C++ syntax but that does not make me a programmer, does it?

        I meant no disrespect with my post. All I said was, IT knowledge is essential yes, but what runs the internet is basically the content, seeking information. That’s what keeps us going back to it day after day. Not the mechanisms that work behind the scene. And that need is what should be fully exploited by freelancers who are seeking to make money.

        You see it day after day. Google makes money through ads, Facebook does it, Youtube does it other websites do it. Simply put the driving force behind internet commerce is content. Technology is fully reliant on content makers to push it up to the next level. But it is the backbone of the whole realm, that I have no objection to. Get it?

        • Jaffar Mohamed says:

          Interesting that you are missing the whole point. I rest my case, but i understand the point is difficult to see, considering the huge amounts of money made by “writers” in Kenya (e.g with uvocorp and academia-research ). You mention freelancers in your post, the following would be interesting to look at:

          • The point was well noted. You hold the position that comp techies are better paid than content developers. Apart from this, I cannot deduce any other point from your three posts. I disagreed with that in its entirety.

            Your reports focuses on freelance portals, which sadly are not an indication of the real figures made online. Freelance portals are just fraction of the web’s income market. From what I remember the rates on these portals are just horrible. And I constantly advise local writers I come across not to use them.

            Read Carefully Now

            My argument stems from the interactions I have had with various writers and advertisers. A blog owner makes a six figure income by just posting stuff (read content) on his blog. A guy who gave me my intern as a copy editor earns an average of $10,000 for every ad he writes and another ghost writer gets an average of $300 for every post she writes. She does 20 in a month, not because she can’t write more, but because she is competent with what she gets.

            The reason why people are willing to pay this kind of money for a few words is simple, TRAFFIC. Without traffic, there is no money on the web. You might have the best software on sale if no one visits your site, you are stuck with that traffic. Writers generate traffic, software does not.

            As a writer I do write my ads here and there, Google Ads are my favorite but I also try and get in on clickbank network whenever I can. I also ghost write for a few blogs here and there. I get a substantial amount for all these weekly. I spend about 20 hrs a week writing.

            Come to programming, I do not think there is a possibility of making the same amount as one of these writers given the same resources.

            I hope I have ‘seen’ and addressed your point now.

  3. Ben Kairu says:

    excellent post and comments as well. personally i am not on either side (obviously everybody seemingly defending his corner) but if i was to make a choice i would rather learn to code than write ads and stuff. secondly, i think this kenyan story of “i know somebody who works as an [insert your killer job or career here] and earns $$$$$$$$$$” is misleading and has wrecked may job seekers and careers. It is a trivial and irrelevant hypothesis to say the least. One comment says “Stick to your guns and you will get rewarded”, your guns could be programming, writing, carpentry or even Yoga. The point here is that you stick to your guns and be very good at what you do.

    this is straight from the movies: imagine our planet has been destroyed and the human race is to relocate to another planet, there is one extra seat on the space craft and you need to choose between a computer programmer and a guy who can create a soko ugali advert. Who would you choose? ultimately a programmer has more value than a copy writer.

  4. @Ben Kairu.

    Now that is just mean! 🙂 Us writers don’t get much in terms of gratitude. But I do agree with you. If you are good at something, do it to your level best, programming or otherwise.

    As for the story of knowing someone with a killer job, well they it has it’s advantages. Those guys I mentioned above actually extend me small gigs and referrals each week. From them I manage to rack up a few hundred $$ on a good week. Sure there are hard times where you make $200, but that’s the odd week. Consistency does pay and I have been in the field long enough to know this.

    New entrants into the freelance market make a mistake of under pricing themselves (Kenyans and Indians mostly) and once you are stuck in the $1/500 rut, its hard to get out. There are guys making good $$$$$ here in Kenya, want proof? Head over to Skillspages and look at the figures locally based are willing to pay others in the same category. I actually came across a Kenyan who was paying $3 for a 500 words article. It all depends on your ambition and of course what you bring to the offering…

    Uuuh, I have my own movie 🙂

    Computers have taken over the world just because some smart ass programmer decided to make them a little more intelligent than they are supposed to be. You are trapped in a room with the programmer and a Soko Ugali ads writer. One bullet, who do you shoot? Ultimately everyone (programmers especially) can screw up.

    That said, the internet is dictated by content. If the owner of this site, Kevin, posted B.S on his site, we wouldn’t be here, not withstanding the awesomeness of his site or the jquery plugins he has installed on it. CONTENT is king 🙂

  5. I might look at it although working online I have though to focus on Web creation

    • Some necessary skill I would consider adding since I am already “self-teaching” myself web designing after some not-too-pleasant experience I had with an IT graduate. I am considering it not because programming may appear “cool stuff”, but because I can find the use for such a skill within my larger strategy of expanding my online presence.


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