Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Rex spotted a question that I get fairly often myself: “if you were starting from scratch as one of The Olds (which I am, vis-a-vis most people who learn Python as a starter language), what would you do? What would you read? How would you practice?”

His answer is pretty much exactly what I would say. He starts off by explaining that at its most basic it doesn’t really seem to matter which language you choose, as most have the same fundamentals. He follows that up with where to start:

But okay, ya gotta start somewhere. Dig in. The absolute best scenario is to find something that needs to be fixed. Look at existing code, try to figure out what’s going on, see if you can fix a problem. Some of the best developers I know got started as script kittens who just wanted to fix things, and soon found they could learn Java over a long weekend. If you can’t find “something to fix,” then find something small you want to build. Maybe find a way to parse your Twitter feed and display it here (or whatever — something like that).

Couldn’t agree more. In my plan to come up with a curriculum to teach kids how to make stuff on the web (still very much a work in progress), the plan is to start by teaching them user-centered design. Essentially I want to convince a seven year old that when they find something that doesn’t work right they should figure out how to fix it rather than getting annoyed about it.

January 12, 2010