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Bringing “hello world” to the masses

You remember a few years back, when the market for health information management exploded, and everyone was throwing money at startups targeting it? I think I figured out what the next that will be. There was an article published on nytimes.com a couple days ago called A Surge in Learning the Language of the Internet, that hits on a big one:

> The market for night classes and online instruction in programming and Web construction, as well as for iPhone apps that teach, is booming. Those jumping on board say they are preparing for a future in which the Internet is the foundation for entertainment, education and nearly everything else. Knowing how the digital pieces fit together, they say, will be crucial to ensuring that they are not left in the dark ages.

I’ve been thinking about this, and I don’t believe that the apps and businesses in this market that are going to be wildly successful will be targeting people who want to be programmers. There’s already plenty of ground covered there (the article mentions Codecademy, which wants to monetize by helping recruiters and companies find new programmers). I think the tools that will see the most success are those that try to put computer programming in the skillset of people whose jobs aren’t related to software development at all: receptionists and doctors and what have you… people who aren’t interested in making a living as a developer, but who realize that knowing how to write a simple program will help them stay competitive in the job market.

Think about it: how many people do you know who have some part of their job which is just mind-numbingly repetitive work? If a receptionist knows how to parse a CSV file with a simple script instead of copy-pasting for hours, and their competitors do not, they’ve instantly gained value as an employee. Everyone benefits.

Of course, it also helps that being a programmer is sexy right now, and being a “nerd” has gone from being a derogatory term to one of praise. The time has literally never been better for the uninitiated to break into the world of computer programming; it’s really just a question of who will take them there.

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