Djangocon: Coding with knives (pt II) - Adrienne Lowe

Tags: django, djangocon, python

(One of the summaries of a talk at the 2015 Djangocon EU conference).

Adrienne Lowe wants to share some lessons she learned while learning to code. And how to use knowledge learned in one area in another one.

Another area? Cooking! She cooked a lot. Working in restaurants, private cook, training, everything. She started a blog called coding with knives.

Three lessons she has for new coders:

  • If one tutorial doesn’t work for you, choose another one. Don’t let it reflect on your own opinion of yourself. If you’re a cook and a cookbook doesn’t work for you, you simply pick another! So simply look around for a different tutorial.

  • Reach out. Don’t be afraid to ask basic questions. The person answering also learns something: being a better teacher. So you both learn!

    In the cooking community, you exchange recipes. You help each other with tips. The same here in the django community. It is so friendly! And most of it is open source. Great!

  • Let your goal guide you. You’ll inevitable run into problems as a beginner. Don’t let that discourage you. Make sure you have a specific goal you’re working to and celebrate when you reach it. Simply accept that there’ll be some problems along the road. That’s fine as long as you reach the goal (“get a first django view working”).

How can we help new coders? Conferences like this can be daunting. Explicitly reaching out and getting newcomers to such a conference with grants helps a lot.

What helps even more: showing that we’re regular human people. Being open. We are all in this together. Many of us are insecure. And many of us have a tendency to see the best coders as heroes and ourselves as people down at the bottom of the rungs. But we’re all in this together. We are all regular human people.

Look at the keynote of Jacob Kaplan Moss (youtube). He, one of the django founders, described himself as a mediocre programmer. He wants to do away with the myth of the superhuman programmer who is 100x more productive as all the others. Programming, for the most part, is an accumulation of skill and knowledge. Just like cooking! In cooking, you have celebrity chefs that look like they have some inherent skill that ordinary people cannot reach. But… by doing it and learning it and exercising yourself and more doing it, you can become a pretty good cook.

What we should tell new programmers? You can. You do. You are. You can program. Make sure you do it. If you do it, you are a programmer.

(Note: using knowledge learned in one area in another one? There was a talk about exactly that two weeks ago at the pygrunn conference)

Holiday picture from the Eifel region logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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