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Innovation

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A rather silly piece from Journalism.co.uk reports on a current debate in the US, where the big issue is whether journalists should learn how to code, like they used to need shorthand and a titanium liver.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor on

A rather silly piece from Journalism.co.uk reports on a current debate in the US, where the big issue is whether journalists should learn how to code, like they used to need shorthand and a titanium liver.

Sure, if you're covering a very technical beat then it helps if you know what people are talking about. But most of the issues -- even in the wild world of computers, networks and the like -- have little to do with the mechanics of coding. Rather, they come from the very human side of the business, the motivations behind actions and the differences between what people say and what they do. Add in conflict for resources, the difference between vision and its implementation, the mismatch between ability and imagination, the iron curtain between public and corporate truth, and you're getting somewhere. Really, it doesn't much matter whether you're able to write a nicely turned applet or not (although it may be useful if you spent some time as a programmer in the belly of the beast, watching what happens).

I had a long and very dispiriting argument on this very point with a developer of my acquaintance, round about the time I stopped coding and started writing. He was bitterly disappointed in me, and said that unless I was actually capable of doing everything I was writing about, I was not qualified. "You're just deskilling," he said. I pointed out, I think reasonably, that since there was an awful lot to write about - chip design, wireless systems, networking, servers, security - it wasn't actually possible to follow his prescription, and that there were good things about being a generalist who could join the dots rather than just colour them in. He didn't agree, but I never quite understood why.

I've still got my chops, though. The piece in journalism.co.uk ends up with a geeky joke that:

foreach (@commentator) { while $opinion = 1 { $debate = "ongoing"; } }

to which I say..

BLSHT EQU 01H ; value expected from argument CMNT EQU 1000H ; start of comment buffer

TOLDUSO DEFB "It's all rubbish!",0

ENT: LD HL,CMNT CHK4BS: LD A,(HL) INC HL CP BLSHT JP NZ,CHK4BS LD DE, TOLDUSO CALL WRITE_DE_TO_CONSOLE RET

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