A lot of people disagree with my “everyone should be able to code” attitude. “Coding is hard enough”, they say. “You can’t let amateurs do it — everything will break.”
But then I read about what happened at Rutgers, and I know I’m right.
Vaibhav Verma was bored and frustrated. In other words, he was motivated. He wrote an app that notified him when people dropped a closed course that he was interested in taking. Within a semester 8,000 other students were using it.
The university responded by shutting him down.
A good reason to shut it down
In fact, it was a very poorly written application. It just kept querying the registration system over and over. There’s no way this would scale, it most certainly put a strain on the registration system in a way that would impact everyone else trying to register, and it would probably be expensive to fix on the back end so the application could be properly written.
That said, 8,000 people adopting the application in a single semester probably means there’s something valuable happening for students.
Instead of helping these 8,000 students, the university preferred to just shut them down.
Remember when we couldn’t use Macs at work?
Why can’t IT support this sort of innovation, and provide a platform that helps people write applications that don’t break everything? Why do companies feel that it’s OK to simply “shut it down”?
Bring or write your own software
Eventually companies are going to realize that people aren’t trying to break rules for their own sake. They’re actually just trying to do a better job, or make their lives easier, or both. By shutting them down they’re doing a lot of damage. To morale. To the sense of belonging.
How do you think people will respond when you just shut them down?
For kids that grow up writing software to solve problems, who have the whole internet of APIs on which to experiment, working at a company where they can’t is going to be perplexing.
It’s going to be insulting.
It doesn’t make sense to me that companies aren’t moving more aggressively in this direction. The innovation occurring out “in the real world” is dramatic. One would think companies would want to participate.