I may not really know how to do it, but I like to code.
Being able to put together a string of seemingly random characters -- and getting a tangible output -- is really freaking rad. But I'm not a computer science major: In my mind, rubies belong on necklaces, not rails, and C++ might as well just be the grade I got on that really horrible art history paper I wrote my freshman year.
Sure, as an ATLAS student I know basic HTML and CSS, and I've dabbled in Processing. A lot of people don't even need classes to learn to code -- my friend Brandon taught himself a host of programming languages before he even graduated high school and earned himself a full-time developer position by the time he was 19.
Some people have that amazing skill. But when it comes to learning programming languages on my own, I don't even know where to start.
Fortunately, I found help.
In one of my classes this week, I read about Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, the creators of a little thing called Codecademy.
Born out of Sims' struggle to learn code and Bubinski's lust for teaching it, Codecademy is a free site that allows people to learn programming languages through a series of interactive lessons.
The lessons are created by people like Bubinski, "Creators" who want to help people learn in a fun way. In addition to the "joy of teaching" and all that jazz, Codecademy offers its Creators the opportunity to boost their reputations. So if you're a nerd who's actually good at programming (like those are hard to find) -- Codecademy's for you, too.Codecademy
If learning code or imparting your eternal wisdom isn't enough motivation, you also get points and badges for the lessons you complete. It's kind of like Foursquare, but even nerdier. Codecademy lets Students give feedback about lessons and Creators, and if a lesson is too easy, you can skip it.
The site's rapid growth -- they launched in 2011 and now have over a million users -- is a testament to its values and strengths. Sims and Bubinski have partnered with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as the White House... which I'd say are pretty good indicators of how badass Codecademy is.
So go on -- get nerdy, get coding.
Jessica Ryan is a senior media studies major at CU-Boulder. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @jessicalryan.