Blake Smith

create. code. learn.


value creation, and the silicon valley hype machine

The following post was inspired by a twitter conversation I had with Corey Haines. It’s a manifesto about why I write software, and the dangers of an unhealthy perspective on learning to code for the wrong reasons.

Building software is about solving problems and creating value. The Silicon Valley hype machine has idolized an unhealthy perspective about what software development is and why it should be done. Billion dollar exits make for great headlines, but they’re not the reason I build software.

I build software because I know that creating tools that shape the future is important, and I want to be a part of that future. I build software because it gives me leverage, and the ability to reach people. I build software because it forces me to think about where I want to go, and then go there.

It’s not about quick cash-outs and easy money, but about taking on large challenges and big problems. Creating something of substantial value takes hard work and perseverance. There are no shortcuts to success, even in our hyper-connected, startup-crazed digital world. You have to work hard and focus to build something that will last - and when you do, all the sweat, tears and late night hacking sessions will be worth it.

I want everyone to feel empowered to learn to code. I believe that mastering the art of building software can do nothing but improve your life and work. The more people who are programming, contributing to open source, growing the community and progressing the craft, the better. It’s about learning from the community, and then giving back to others. If you’re learning to program because you want to be a better person and help other people, I wish you nothing but success. If you’re learning to code because you want to make lots of quick easy cash, I very much pity you (and honestly believe there are far easier ways than coding if all you’re looking for is a quick buck).

So please, explore the wonderful world of software. Dig in, be curious, and learn all you can. You will never run out of new things to learn and explore in this field, so be ready for a long haul of personal growth. Focus on the long road instead of looking for shortcuts. You’ll be happy you avoided the Silicon Valley hype when all those guys are burnt out and broke and you’re still creating lasting value, learning like crazy, and loving it even more than when you started.

about the author

Blake Smith is a Principal Software Engineer at Sprout Social.