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Coding

There’s something that I keep hearing: coding is not only a good skill to have, but it could be one of the preeminent skills that will be needed over the coming decades. This has been repeated by the likes of Cal Newport, Seth Godin, and Tim Ferriss. 

But what are we looking at in the future of coding? What can we come up with? Another app for the smartphone?

My recent interests have been looking at machine learning and quantum computing. Quantum computers “promise  to power exciting advances in various fields, from materials science to pharmaceuticals research.” 

While the computer remains vital in everyday activity, the quantum computer promises a leap forward into something we may not even be able to imagine yet.

The man in the arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt

Failure is an option

In creative endeavors, mistakes are made – and usually accepted. In some cases, such as Google, who says, “reward failure”, mistakes are celebrated. Yet often, when it comes to mistakes, we shame them. 

Failure is not a shameful experience. It is exceedingly important to fail when trying to create anything worthwhile. There is room for failure. It’s okay to screw up in pursuit of something important. 

More on distractions

It isn’t enough to not take on distractions. There needs to be a systemic method for canceling out the desire to be distracted. 

Because we have programmed ourselves to feel pleasure at distraction. It isn’t necessarily our fault. It’s a side effect of the technological age. Similar to the marketer/shopping reward scenario that made consumerism such a pleasurable sensation. We are rewarded by checking social media, or email, or taking momentary breaks in our day.

So systems that we put in place to limit distractions get us closer to performing at our highest levels.

 

The undistracted mind

It’s easy to focus when nothing else grabs for your attention. But we aren’t built to handle distraction. When you consider that we were often beset by predators on a daily basis, it makes sense that our attention would be easily pulled away from what we were doing – lest we’d be eaten.

So handling distraction isn’t so much a matter of will power, rather than it’s a function of setting your environment up in such a way that potential distractions are blocked before they can even reach you. I like the description in Cal Newport’s Deep Work of Carl Jung: “He began with a basic two-story stone house he called the Tower… [including a private office]. “In my retiring room I am by myself,’ Jung said of the space. ‘I keep the key with me all the time; no one else is allowed in there except with my permission.”

In a practical sense, maybe you can’t have a tower out in the woods. But you can set up distraction-proofing.

That means, for me, working on a computer with the internet off, notifications off, noise-canceling headphones, a song on repeat (this one certainly takes some getting used to, but I’ve found that once the song fades into the background it is easier to concentrate than with other ambient noises), and a block (or blocks of time) that are strictly for the work.

Digitizing my life

I’ve been working on decluttering for some time now. It’s amazing how much you can accumulate in a short amount of time.

One way I’m doing that is scanning documents that I don’t physical copies of anymore. It’s a challenge, as I have boxes full of files that, for some reason, I’ve carried around rather than getting rid of.

Another tool is photographing something that I want to remember, but don’t really have a use for. Even actual photographs themselves, as addressed in this post from Courtney Carver.

The politics of tricky subjects

Political interpretation at its core is the distilling of beliefs through the window of law and social pressure. We don’t get re-dos in a lot of areas of our lives, but politics is one of them where we can overturn previously held ideas and reverse decisions previously made.

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” (Declaration of Independence)

The government in this country is powered by the consent of the people. As ideals and understanding of our world change, so do how we ask for our government to govern.

But simple things, like mandating the raising of revenue from the taxpayer, or instating and overturning prohibition, seem to be more unified than how we enforce or punish criminal proceedings, or encourage the unity of the nation.

The government, granted power through its constituents, is an extension of those constituents: and we are very much human, prone to mistakes and missteps. Yes, we may try for perfection, but we are incapable of it.

I don’t know that there’s any way to have an agreement about something tricky (race, policing, LGBT rights, health care, minimum wage, etc.) without first having a conversation about it. But I guarantee, putting your fingers in your ears and pretending like you don’t hear the other side is not the way.