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What motivates YOU to become a programmer?

Renea Mackie's Photo
Posted Jun 04 2010 04:15 AM

Most of the programmers I've spoken with over the past few months always refer to programming as "problem solving". I'd like to know how YOU feel about programming?

When I first thought about learning to program, and programming itself, I thought of it in terms of being a skill I could use to be creative, in much the same way as learning to paint, or learning to take photos. Now, when I think about ways in which I can attract a more diverse range of students into our programming classes, I find myself asking "what motivates YOU?" What drove you to take up programming? Problem solving? Game making? What was the motivating factor?

I'm interested to know if there are a variety of reasons or a definite common motivating point.
Renea Mackie

9 Replies

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  cupcakesandcode's Photo
Posted Jun 04 2010 06:25 AM

Like you, I also got into programming because of the creative potential. Game making definitely played into this -- when I was young, I enjoyed creating games with the help of a point-and-click authoring tool (Klik & Play) but also felt limited by the software, and decided that it was time to learn programming. For me, it seemed that having more programming knowledge would allow me to take control of parts of the creative process that weren't as accessible before.

One result of learning programming was that my thought processes have been reshaped a bit, and I've become a stronger problem solver -- while that wasn't necessarily a motivating factor for me, it's definitely a great outcome.
 : Jun 06 2010 02:43 PM

Thanks! That's a great answer.

"One result of learning programming was that my thought processes have been reshaped a bit, and I've become a stronger problem solver -- while that wasn't necessarily a motivating factor for me, it's definitely a great outcome."

This is one of the reasons why I'd like to take a more holistic approach with our programming class. Even if students aren't necessarily interested in becoming programmers, I think it's constructive to at least gain some understanding of the art of programming, and also, for programmers to benefit from the input of non-programmers.
Renea Mackie
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  nboever's Photo
Posted Jun 09 2010 06:30 AM

One thing that motivated me was just simple curiosity - I started building computers about the same time I started college, and I thought it would be neat to find out just what went into making them work :)

As has already been said, creativity was part of it, too: I'll be the first to admit that I probably don't have a single truly *artistic* bone in my body - I couldn't pass 'stick figures 101' if my life depended on it :P But building and making things runs in my family...my dad has been both a small engine mechanic and a carpenter; his father was a metal worker, and was for ever tinkering and repairing things at home; my other grandfather worked at a printing company for many years, doing everything from working with the press to, eventually, running the company itself. When *I* was little, I spent quite a bit of time with my grandpa in his basement, building little bird houses, bird feeders, and other 'after school' type projects. I helped my dad out in his shop when I got older, too.

I didn't put quite so much thought into it at the time, but looking back now, I enjoyed doing all that stuff. But, if I wanted to continue building things - to possibly make a living at it, even - I had to find a different way to do it: Some medical issues when I was little left me with a decided *lack* of coordination, so woodworking or being a mechanic would be frustrating, to say the least. I also do not have my father's gift for visualization: he can look at an empty wall or pile of wood, and see the deck or piece of furniture that will be the end result; I have a heck of a time seeing anything until it's actually built :P When I got into programming, I realized that here was a way to continue building things that people could use, without having to worry so much about size, or shape, or finishing a project & having extra pieces left over.

 : Jun 09 2010 12:40 PM
Thanks Nathan, that's fantastic. Yet another interesting way to look at it, and I suspect your constructive background has helped a lot with your programming skills, or is it just me that sometimes has bits of code left over? lol I'm kidding, 'onest. B)
Renea Mackie
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  Fenona's Photo
Posted Jun 09 2010 08:14 PM

I think programming is the future. I can't imagine the world without programming. My curiosity started like this way and I've studied programming like a hobby and now I'm really interesting about how operate complex websites and other things that started my curiosity like video games or apps developing. Programming is great. It's amazing!!
  Renea Mackie's Photo
Posted Jun 10 2010 05:17 AM

Thanks for that, Fenona! You're so right. Technology is like an ever expanding universe. Just as you think you might be getting to the edge, you realize the horizon just moved away from you again. I guess knowing it all is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Do we need to write a new programming language called "Leprechaun"? :)
Renea Mackie
  jwgaynor's Photo
Posted Jun 17 2010 09:10 AM

:rolleyes: I reckon what my inspiration was is "the ability to command the engine to do what I bid". I had always been mechanically inclined and also interested in electronics, logic and of course computers as they arrived on the scene. Both as a hobby and as a means of earning a living, I have been working with PCs since about 1984 have used a variety of OS's and also programming languages. As far as Microsoft products are concerned I have worked with about all of them starting with DOS 1.x through DOS 5.0, all of the versions of Windows. I was inspired to be creative and try to institute change real early in my career or the strt of it anyway. I had Batch files, in those early versions of DOS that were as many as 23 pages long trying to automate a lot of tedious, manual tasks. This programming back then would probably more appropriately be called Hacking but it was good and creative hacking too. For instance, within a batch file I wanted to edit a text file and I had a little knowledge of a unix tool called SED, but I had DOS and it only had EDLIN, which was to say the least a very crude one line at a time editor, and the trick to make it work in a batch file was a little difficult for you could set up a search string but edlin's end of search indicator was a ^Z (Ctrl-Z) which by the way is the end of file indicator for MS as well. Well, Microsoft gave us a tool to make changes although that was probably not their intent with DEBUG. Yeah DEBUG, you could use debug to disassemble a program locate the area in code that you needed to change and recompile it. My new program was then called SEDLIN. I changed the end of search string to be a ^D (Ctrl-D) and it worked. My inspiration and/or motivation was making the machine do what i wanted to. I found and still find it fascinating to code and control the machine. I write code most of the day on my job and guess what, I often spend a good part of my off-time at home writing code for my own personal use as well. That is my motivation. Sorry about the verbosity this was probably more than what you were asking for. B)
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  sboss's Photo
Posted Jun 17 2010 10:57 AM

I started off programming forever ago (hint it was the 80s) since it was fun and I was doing it as a non-adult. Went to college and wanted to be a programmer then realized that I preferred system/network management better. So I left being a programmer. But not really. I would write scripts (sh/csh/tcsh/bash/ksh then later perl) to do things that I had to do over and over again (the rules was once I had to do it more than twice, then it got scripted). Then in recent years I am back to programming as a stress reducer. Being able to write code that solves an itch and I can see positive results on, helps to reduce the day to day stress that comes up.

Probably not the answer you are looking for.
  ericgarton's Photo
Posted Jan 27 2013 11:43 AM

I put the same question when I was finishing the capstone projects after graduation, my older brother works as a programmer and I like what projects he is doing. The company he works for invests a lot of money in programming and I want to apply for a job there, working with my brother would bring me a lot of satisfaction.