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Revisiting Paul Ford's "What Is Coding" on Wednesday's Access Utah

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  When Bloomberg Businessweek told him it was going to give him the whole magazine to write a single article about computer programming, Paul Ford, a soft-spoken programmer and writer, sat on his couch with a pillow over his head and just let out a long “aaaaaaahhhhh,” like he had just stuck his finger on the ‘A’ key. Ford’s piece started out as a 2,000-, then 4,000-word piece. It grew much longer from there, demanding the efforts of a team of editors, graphic artists and web  developers to make it what it is now: An interactive primer that not only teaches how computers process code, but commits code as part of its narrative. This turned into “What Is Code?”  

 

 

“What is Code?” is, perhaps most interestingly, also an exploration of the culture of coding. Josh Tyrangiel, in his introduction says: “Software has been around since the 1940s. Which means that people have been faking their way through meetings about software, and the code that builds it, for generations. Now that software lives in our pockets, runs our cars and homes, and dominates our waking lives, ignorance is no longer acceptable. The world belongs to people who code. Those who don’t understand will be left behind. This issue comprises a single story devoted to ­demystifying code and the culture of the people who make it. There’s some technical language along with a few pretty basic mathematical concepts. There are also lots of solid jokes and lasting insights. It may take a few hours to read, but that’s a small price to pay for adding decades to your career.”

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.