My first job was an internship at New York’s old Chemical Bank in 1994, that I got as a prize for winning a debate tournament – don’t ask. I was surprised because one of the top guys didn’t know how to use a computer, and we’d had one in our house for 10 years (my dad was an early adopter before they had a name for it). This Mr. So-and-so thought he didn’t have to use a computer, because he had “someone else to do it for him.”
A few years later, at another job, one of the top guys knew how to use a computer for word processing, but didn’t do his own email – his assistant printed out his emails, and he wrote replies by hand on the printouts (don’t ask) which she then typed back to the sender. He had the same logic, he didn’t have to email because he had someone else to do it for him.
The expectation of computing skill in a run-of-the-mill office job keeps going up. There was a time when a job applicant’s resume would say “Proficient in Microsoft Office” – but now nobody really says that anymore because it’s like saying you’re proficient in breathing. And these days if I see a resume from a recent college graduate that says “Proficient in HTML,” I think the same thing.
This will continue. It’s not hard to imagine people in any role writing a simple script for themselves to automate a task (the line between coding and doing a macro is blurry), or testing an idea with a simple web application. Eventually, maybe everyone will truly have to be able to code to effectively do any office job.
IGN has people who code in almost every group – people doing “editorial engineering,” “sales engineering,” “finance engineering,” “operations engineering,” and of course product folks who will mock some things up themselves or just go ahead and build working features, designs, and services. Granted, we’re an Internet company, but not all our work is unique to our industry.
I don’t yet know how to code. Years ago, I took classes (BASIC, when I was in elementary school, and a C++ starter class in college where my grand achievement was a card-counting program for Baccarat that told me even a computer can’t get much of an edge), but I can’t yet build anything useful.
So I’m learning. I don’t want to become the guy who thinks he doesn’t need to know how to code because I have someone else to do it for me. Never too late.