Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning to code. On doing it and not worrying about doing it wrong

Some weeks ago I let you all know that I was trying to learn how to code by doing a little bit of hacking with the Head First series of books every night after I do the dishes.

The bad news is that's not I have been doing what I said I would be doing. But the good news is that I'm happily hacking with OpenStreetMap and OpenLayers with help from P2PU. (Lookie! I made this! )

Sure, I would be more pragmatic if I spent my nights working on improving my Drupal skills for our ongoing website migration at MPOW or (in support of the same ends) I worked on expanding my understanding of PHP and MySQL, but I'm much happier at the moment making maps.

I'm happier learning and hacking maps because I want to eventually contribute work to CrisisCommons. I'm happier because learning a little bit everyday gets me closer to the day that I am able to launch a map-related website using open government data for my community. And I'm much happier because I know someone who is also interested in maps and my work has inspired her work and her work inspires mine.

I have the tried the formal route of learning computer science. I took first year Algebra while I was on maternity leave so I would have the prerequisites to enroll at the University of Windsor's one year Bachelor of Computer Science (General) for University Graduates program. And I took my first computer science course of that program when I returned from maternity leave, but I found that the coursework and studying were taking too much away from time with my family. It also was not particularly enjoyable.

So I'm blazing my own path. I'm not worried that I'm "doing it wrong" (I'm not inclined to learn Python for the sheer beautiful purity of the language and I'm not going to apologize for that). As long as I put in the time, the work, and the mindfulness I will get to where I need to be.


Candace said...

I wish I had more time to this stuff! I took last Sunday morning to play with maps and was very excited with what I made in a short time, but haven't had a chance since. The only reason I got at it then was that it's reading week and I was treating myself to some fun after grading a giant stack of papers (electronic papers, but still a lot of them). I wish I could commit to a set amount of time each week or day to explore this stuff.
We should meet up and chat about our map projects. I'd like to hear more about how P2PU is working for you and what else you have planned. What do you think?

Mita said...

Sounds good to me. Let's have another map chat at the Green Bean! Just name a good time for you.

William J. Turkel said...

The map is really cool. It really doesn't matter what you hack, as long as you're having fun and learning things. I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with next.