We Need More Problem / Solution Discovery in Programming


Nearly everything I read on Hacker News related to programming focuses on how to improve actual coding skills.

Learn new languages. Learn new platforms. Learn new techniques for doing something efficiently.

It’s useful, but the biggest issue I see in many programmers is not in their coding ability, but rather that they don’t have any ideas about what to build.

On the opposite end, you have someone like me. I’m a shit programmer. It’d take me far too long to do a lot of basic coding tasks that CS graduates can do without looking, in any language.

But I have ideas.

I see gaps in how things are currently done, and realize that I can write a program to solve the problem. I’d like to think a couple of my approaches have been clever, but my code is inevitably mediocre.

So I can see problems and can come up with novel solutions, but I’m not so great at coding them. Then you have what I would guess is most developers, who can code beautifully in many languages, yet but don’t see problems in the world to solve.

It’s an ocean of dormant potential.

I think we should put far more our educational efforts—university, coding camps, online tutorials, whatever—into teaching what can be done with programming. The details are important, of course, but it’s 60% wasted if new coders are not taught how to invent ways to apply their skills.

Let’s make more programmers who have both.

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