How Codecademy changed my life.

HTML
So I’ve just finished the HTML/CSS track of Codecademy and I’m left wondering how I’m going to fill my evenings now it’s over. I really enjoyed it – instantly practical and useful and I recommend it to all journalists!

But instead of twiddling my thumbs or spending my evenings watching endless episodes of Nordic Noir I decided to think about how Codecademy has changed my life. That’s not a flippant statement. It’s actually true. I first started it about eighteen months ago following the Javascript track. It opened my eyes onto a whole new world! Work commitments meant I didn’t complete the Javascript course (I started to flounder once we got onto OOP) and I do need to get back into it before I forget everything I ever learnt.

6 Ways Codecademy Changed my life

  1. Evangelism

    I realised how important this stuff was – not just for an old hack like me but for EVERYONE! It’s not boring and it’s not that hard. I started to think about how I could spread the word. What could I do to help other people who had never learnt how to code? What could I do to help my daughters learn to code because school wasn’t going to teach them?

  2. Pinterest Board - Coding for beginnersPinterest board

    I made a Pinterest board of some of the resources I was finding as I voyaged round the internet looking for programming help for beginners. It’s got followers! Pinterest is a really great way to share resources – much more enticing than a list of hyperlinks, for example.

  3. CodeClub

    Doing Codecademy gave me the confidence to set up a CodeClub at my daughters’ primary school. I’ve got a couple of real experts on hand to help with the clever stuff but I think the children like the fact that I’m learning too.

  4. Teaching my daughters

    photo-57I’m not patient enough for home educating normally but some of my enthusiasm for learning to code has rubbed off on my daughters. This makes me very happy.

    Related Links

  5. Blogging
    This blog has morphed from a blog about journalism education to a blog about learning to code and generally getting techy. I’m thinking about migrating to WordPress.org….. It’s got to be done, hasn’t it??
  6. Journo-coders

    I’ve become really interested in the rise of the journo-coder in newsrooms. Who are these people and how did they get to be this way? Should journalism departments at universities be doing more to create journo-coders?

    Related Links

So those are a few thoughts about how I’ve changed since starting to teach myself code. I’d love to hear your stories too! Never, ever stop learning new stuff because it will open up surprising new doors and keep you away from the TV.

Why Pinterest is the crack cocaine of Social Media.

In the beginning, the common theme amongst tech commentators and Social Media gurus was that Pinterest was something for the ladies – a bit of harmless fun that made them feel like they were using a computer.  It was somewhere the ladies could go whilst their menfolk were in Google Hangouts.  Pinterest became the Babycham of the internet era.

If the tech writers were to be believed, across the less fashionable parts of America, a new generation of Stepford Wives was mindlessly pinning and repinning pictures of ponytails whilst maintaining their fixed smiles.  Who needed tranquillisers in the Pinterest era?

And it was respectable.  Unlike vulgar social media like Twitter and Facebook you couldn’t just JOIN Pinterest.  You had to be INVITED – like a Tupperware party.

And maybe Pinterest would have stayed that way if Big Business and powerful media organisations hadn’t started sniffing around, trying to see what was keeping all these women so happy, trying to see if they could make a buck or two out of this pinning/repinning compulsion.

Pinterest crossed the boundary from bridal shower to boardroom.  Things would never be the same again.

Soon Pinterest was no longer the preserve of nice, middle America homemakers who liked making their own Christmas cards.  It became the social media of choice for any up-and-coming marketing newbie or social media editor who wanted to show off.  Men were no longer embarrassed to be seen to pin in public.  Suddenly, everyone was doing it.  It went global.  People measured their success in repins and follows.  Greed was good.

We should have seen it coming.  But we didn’t.  We never do until it’s too late.

Slowly, inevitably, Pinterest revealed its darker side.  It wasn’t a sweet, innocent pick-me-up after all.  It was cruelly addictive.  It was the crack cocaine of social media and once you started pinning, you’d keep coming back for more.  And more.  And more.

Growing numbers of women – and men – turned into hopeless addicts in desperate search of a repin.  But the repins were getting rarer and the hit wasn’t as high.  Nobody was interested in their boards any more.  Their pinning became more and more desperate, erratic, thematically vague.  Eventually, they reached the bottom rung, forced to do things they’d never thought they’d do;  they started pinning images of moderately engaging kittens.

 

I speak as one who knows what it’s like.  I’ve tried to wean myself off with strong doses of Storify but it’s no good.  Pinterest’s got its hooks into me and no mistake.

We may not be sharing needles, but we’re sure as hell sharing pins.

To feed my habit, I’ve started pushing.  I’m targeting social media novices.  They’re weak, vulnerable to the promise of unlimited images of clever storage ideas for small rooms.  I’m not proud of myself.  Pinterest made me do it.

So why am I writing all this?  Because I’m hoping that this blog post might help some of you avoid the Pinterest habit.  Don’t be deceived by its feminine guile.

It’s too late for me.

SAVE YOURSELVES!

Spreading some coding love on Pinterest.

This blog seems to be less and less about journalism and more and more about computer science!!  That’s not something I would have predicted when I started out twenty-odd posts ago.  But I love that kind of deviation from the planned route.  The whole beauty of blogging and social media and linking is that you are taken in directions you never thought possible and can find yourself delighted and reinvigorated by the most unexpected things.

I’ve been messing around with Pinterest for a couple of weeks (there’s a lot of buzz about it) but couldn’t really find a use for it.  It’s, well, a bit twee at the moment.  It’s really taken off with female crafters in the States, people planning their weddings, pictures of cute animals doing amazing things – you can imagine.  So not really my thing.  But everyone was talking about its huge potential.

If you’ve not come across Pinterest yet (it’s invitation only at the moment!!) it’s a digital pinboard site with lots of sharing (repining.)

Then yesterday I came up with the idea of creating a Pinboard about all the great resources and blogs and people I’ve come across as I learn about coding.  So instead of writing a blog with hyperlinks to all these sites which people skip over and ignore, I’ve got a pinboard with lots of intriguing images which draw people in and encourage people to click and visit.  That’s the idea, anyway.

My coding Pinboard - 100% not twee

Within minutes, these images were being repined and commented on in the Pinterest world.  That’s a lot of sharing bang for your buck!  And maybe as a result one more person will start to learn a little bit about coding….

What I like about it is that it provides a good format for telling a non-linear story.  So my collection of resources for coding learners doesn’t really lend itself to a traditional narrative structure – although you could find a way of doing that, of course.  But a Pinboard enables me to bring all my material together and the “linking narrative” is the passion about the subject which I want to share with a wider audience.

I got in touch with Manchester Girl Geeks about it too (I’d pinned them!) so they’re playing around with Pinterest in the same sort of way.  Between us, we’ll turn twee into geek!