Why this 40-something is learning to code

{or at least html and css for starters}
Simple html in wordpress

“Boomers love our resume-building service. You know, a lot of them aren’t really comfortable with computers,” said the woman at the demo table.

Really?! I thought the boomers invented personal computers.


Then I thought — among my non-engineering peers  — she’s probably right. Add to that people stuck behind corporate firewalls, and the technology gap is even wider.

I’m no femgineer, my background is finance. Early on in my career, I tracked bond covenants in dBase and spread the numbers on numerous corporate valuations off a Lotus 1-2-3 floppy. dBase, Lotus and later Excel were career-specific applications. You could get by professionally with a good secretary.

Thanks to Codecademy I can untangle the knots that attack these WordPress posts. Forget the WYSIWYG-nr editor (nr=not really), I can now dive into the text editor and clean up the HTML. Granted, I’m not creating apps in Ruby on Rails, but the benefits of learning some basic code are obvious to me, and go well beyond being able to italicize fonts.

Today, technology isn’t optional. If I couldn’t take advantage of web-based productivity tools, I simply couldn’t get as much done in the same amount of time as someone who is technologically literate. In this town, that’s about half the population. They would be driving a Tesla, and I’d be in an old Land Rover; at least now I’m in a Mini Cooper in the middle lane.

My desire to need to reduce WordPress frustrations drove me to sign up with Codecademy and dive into the html and css lessons. I didn’t try to learn to code and then find a place to apply it, instead I had a pain point that needed remedying.

Ten years ago I learned Spanish to solve a problem: I needed to communicate with local engineers, lawyers, politicians and workers (and friends and neighbors) in Costa Rica. The books didn’t teach me, practice did. The real learning was in the real-time, constant feedback loop of bumbling through the language until I could communicate.

Be a lifelong learner and pick up a new language, HTML. It might end up being even more useful than Spanish.

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Personally, I feel not “getting” technology in the San Francisco Bay Area is like not “getting” politics in Washington, media in New York or entertainment in LA. Certainly a lot of people would say I don’t know anything if I can’t query a SQL database, but I can set up a dark site for communicating in a crisis in 30 minutes flat. Shazaam!

  • Photo credit: Terry_Wha, Creative Commons on Flicker.

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