Coding & Writing: Twins – Part I

Coding and writing scratch two similar but ultimately significantly different itches.  They both satisfy my perhaps most important need:  Growth and learning.  Today, I learned that arrays in JavaScript have deque-like features.  You can “shift” and “unshift” to insert/delete from the zeroth index!  The humble array!  Good lord, I’ve been programming a good long time now but this just goes to show you honestly don’t know what you don’t know.  I honestly should just read the entire MDN documentation from front-to-end.  Actually, I will.  It’s something I really should have done long ago.  (I also finally, formally learned what a “reverse-proxy” was today.  About time!)

Similarly, one of the main reasons I write is I enjoy learning about random subjects and physically actually jotting that information down somewhere helps me retain it.  Writing is a vehicle for not just expression, but also understanding, comprehension, and retention.  For example, back in August I looked up GPS to finally learn how the thing works.  Mind you, this is a technology I use every day in the form of Google Maps but I somehow never knew that the US government actually owns the Global Positioning System which consists of 33 satellites (not in geosynchronous orbit!) and can intentionally degrade its service (accuracy) anytime it wishes.  But now I know!

Like all twins, coding and writing are also significantly different though.  When I think of coding, I think of Kat from Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (2012).  She is basically the Terminator, driven by an insatiable desire to know.  Despite it being nine years since I read the book, I still remember one scene where Kat only owns black t-shirts because it makes dressing very easy in the mornings.  She didn’t want to waste any brain cycles on deciding what to wear (a moronic, worthless activity unless you’re trying to pair-bond, which she wasn’t) and so it was simply more efficient to just own a wardrobe of entirely one clothing item.  I, personally, employ a version of this strategy as well.

Coding is beautiful in the way that a fancy rocket ship is beautiful.  It’s sleek, shiny, and futuristic.  You take one look at the thing and can’t help but give a low whistle at its sheer technical magnificence.  The aerodynamic shape and raw, unadulterated engineering prowess.  Coding is definitely the sexy one, the supermodel beauty who graces Vogue covers.