What will our existence look like five years from now, do you imagine? Well, I’m imagining network jargon and lines upon lines of code toiling away silently between users’ browsers and apps. I’m imagining an internet culture for the place I call home. Context maybe? Yeah?
“[The] differences between economic growth and socio-economic development [are that] one requires finite resources. The other, social participation,” This is just one of the many lessons I and my fellow coders have learnt from WeThinkCode_ guest speakers such as Richard Poplak (from The Daily Maverick).
We’ve learned from other speakers such as Edward Lawrence (founder of Workonline) about bricks and clicks, which teaches us that the internet is more than just Facebook; it’s a place everyone goes to, for everything.
Where I’m from, the internet is seen as an unnecessary luxury and programming is considered a waste of time, since all you do is siphon through abstract symbols and characters trying to attach meaning to them. It’s not that the code itself holds no importance but with relation to the circumstances of our environments it doesn’t, and it’s this mentality that needs to be changed.
The abstract is no longer something that can be viewed from a distance, as it’s not applicable to physical labour that’s henceforth dismissible as a source of income. Just the opposite in fact; in the information age the abstract is tangible and holds more monetary value than the most tangible of physical labour operations.
Sites like Stackoverflow and Tutorialspoint once held no meaning for me. Today however, I spend more time on these sites than I do on gmail. What was once an abstract form of luxury, has now become my most valuable tool.
A Makefile (a tool for compiling programs) is a more valuable asset at present than a mouse. I mean, I don’t think I click stuff as often as I make it. Google, you’ve heard of them right? Yeah they’ve probably used makefiles too. Last you checked, what was that company’s was the net-worth?
I come from a place where the youth feels helpless, hopeless and vexed. Armed with the search engines of our web, the right skills, guidance and resources might be the compass we need to find our way.
In five years I will be building code that will help me construct an internet culture that will turn into a community of cultures, integrating in a web space to create jobs. Much like WTC_ has done for it’s students.
I want to be coding towards a better South Africa and a better world by creating apps and software that will help advance the people I grew up with. They can in turn help people from other places and communities grow.
In five years armed with code, social skills and experience I will hopefully be able to solve my community’s problems, which if successful will begin the larger journey of solving the problem of the ages.
What is the problem of the ages? Well that depends on the age, and my solution: Good Code.
Written by Mandisi Makwakwa
This story is part of a regular series written for htxt.africa by students of WeThinkCode_, a revolutionary new teaching college in downtown Johannesburg, reflecting on what it’s like to be a young technologist starting out in South Africa today. Find out more about WeThinkCode_ by clicking here.