Coding: Not Just for Nerds and MySpace Users

Remember Myspace? That social media site from the Web 1.0 dark ages that made you feel special by allowing you to add a song to your profile, change your background and layout? The one that also taught you the fundamentals of coding?

Wait, what?

That’s right people, MySpace taught us how to code (kind of). Hypertext markup language, or HTML, is what the entire internet is composed of, and allows us to navigate from place to place online. It’s easy, customizable, and you’ve probably used it if you ever desired to change the formatting of your MySpace profile way back in 2005. But coding and web design are far more relevant┬áthan just changing social media profiles. It’s a valuable tool for marketers to know and understand, and it’s ridiculously easy to learn. And you can do it for free.

Codecademy is a pretty well-renowned site at this point, and anyone can sign up with it to learn HTML, CSS, Javascript and more. I used it last night for two hours, and really enjoyed the experience. It was incredibly simple (far more than I was anticipating), and their lessons are user-friendly. I’ve been meaning to learn at least the fundamentals of code for awhile now, and was actually very excited the opportunity presented itself for my digital marketing class. In two hours, I got 25% of the way through the HTML and CSS lessons in Codecademy (up through HTML Basics II), and plan on finishing both as well as continuing on through Javascript, jQuery, PHP and more.

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(Two hours of Codecademy is probably more useful than two hours of Netflix)

As I’ve discussed many times previously, marketing (like the rest of the world) has become largely digitized. Everything from websites to email to social media run on some form of code. To fully understand how the web works and to make informed digital marketing decisions, knowing code is crucial. Knowing how things such as HTML work allows for better communication with web developers, graphic designers and IT people. You’ll actually know how to communicate what you’re looking for in your marketing campaign, understand what all those crazy tech words actually mean, and maybe be capable of fixing an error yourself. IT people will love you for that, and it’ll allow you to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd as a valuable, multi-skilled marketer. You don’t need to be able to design a whole website, but basic knowledge makes for informed decisions and better allocation of time and resources. Knowledge of up-and-coming computing trends and their product applications isn’t a bad thing either, as computers are shrinking drastically while simultaneously becoming more powerful.

Long before MySpace, in the 1950s, Alan Turing created a model of a general purpose computer. Since then, processing speeds and power have doubled nearly every two years. Computers that couldn’t accurately predict the weather used to take up rooms, and now our smartphones are tiny and do almost as much as our laptops (and predict the weather pretty accurately in mere nanoseconds). The problem with this, however, is quantum physics – eventually transistors will just become too small to be composed of conventional materials. Scientists across the globe are working on new forms of computers so physics doesn’t stop us from innovating. Things like chemical and wetware computing use chemical reactions and cells (living cells!) to carry out elementary computing logic. Although both options are currently very slow (think minutes, not nanoseconds like we’re used to) and have run into their fair share of problems, they have tons of potential. For example, ChaoLogix chips are maximum security computer chips that are based on a wetware cellular design. They’re basically impossible to crack, and would probably help prevent all those hackings we’ve been hearing about lately.

Instead of just knowing how to fix your MySpace background, you can use your handy dandy coding skills to fix campaign errors or design mistakes, and think of new ways to apply those mind-blowing computing innovations. Coding is for everyone, and is especially useful for us marketers to understand.