There’s more to creativity than programming

The inimitable Ian Betteridge nails an annoying meme that suggests anyone who doesn’t program is merely a passive consumer of content. Naturally it’s a meme started by people who can program rather than, say, create an illustration good enough to go on the front of the New Yorker in an iPhone drawing app.

I’d argue, in fact, that the history of computing teaches us the exact opposite: the less people are required to learn programming in order to be creative with computers, the more creative work you get.

He’s right, and he’s right when he dismisses a claim that people who don’t get down and dirty with their computing kit are like cruise ship passengers who never leave the boat and discover anything about the local culture.

I’d argue that the approach he’s taking, which encourages users to get deeper into the hardware and software, to (as he puts it) “find out about the local culture” is actually more like requiring the passengers to do their stint maintaining the engines of the ship, whether they want to or not. The price they “have” to pay for getting on the ship in the first place is to become engineers.