Once again, the haves and have-nots of the digital world seem neatly defined by the presence or absence of one skill: the ability to code.

Buried at the bottom of a glittering heap of new OS X and iOS designs, at Apple’s latest Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), was an announcement about Apple’s new programming language called Swift. Apparently it’s designed to make it easier than ever to develop iOS apps. It also, according to Jon Gruber, acted as a stark litmus test for WWDC attendees.

It’s easier than ever to find coding courses, and it’s easy to understand this reader’s mounting anxiety about whether or not he should get with the program. So I’m a mid-career ‘creative type’ (I write, produce multimedia, and have an eye for design), but in order to take my work to the next level I’m feeling a lot of pressure to learn how to code. Is this something I should acquire some skills at, or is it enough just to find the right talent (i.e., a developer) and collaborate? Do I have to have programming skills myself in order to truly do interesting things in the digital realm?

There’s nothing wrong with learning a valuable and marketable skill out of sheer economic necessity. But the creative question is murkier. Is coding a medium–like film, prose, and music? Or is it a new form of basic literacy–like knowing how to read, write, and operate an iPhone? Is programming a creative preference or an unspoken requirement?

 

 

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