Hello, World!

After reading the title of this blog post, the computer science people out there will likely have felt a little nostalgia for one of the first programs they ever wrote – a “Hello, World!” program. For the non-computer science people out there, writing a “Hello World!” program has been the traditional initiation to programming and coding since the creation of programmable computers. It is one of the simplest programs that can be written, and when executed it gets the computer to return the text “Hello World!” The purpose of writing such a simple program is to familiarize the programmer with the programming language they are using, giving them a basic foundation upon which to build and develop their programming skills.

The beauty of writing a “Hello, World!” program is that it is a simple starting point. Anyone with a computer and access to the internet (for a quick tutorial video) can write one. From there, watching further tutorial videos, accessing documentation on the programming language, and reading a book or two on the subject can allow anyone to learn to program. Of course, building upon the skills developed during the initial “Hello, World!” project will be more intuitive for some while requiring more work and effort from others; nevertheless, it is possible for anyone who wants to learn programming to do so by building a “Hello, World!”  program and then building on the resulting foundation.

Okay, so this is the point where you are probably wondering, “Why is D Smitty talking about programming… what does this have to do with my perspective on life?” The answer is as follows: anyone can learn write a “Hello, World!” program and, from that starting point, learn the basics of coding in a given programming language. From there they can tackle gradually larger projects and through that experience begin to master programming. I know plenty of people who believe that them learning to program is an absolute impossibility. If they were to start by learning to write a “Hello, World!” program, they would see that they actually could learn, at the very minimum, some basic programming.

In a broader perspective, every field has a simple project through which anyone can get their feet wet in that field – its own version of writing a “Hello, World!” program. By finding a given field’s “Hello, World!” project, any one can begin learning any skill or can begin becoming knowledgeable in any area of expertise.

Again, the beauty of these types of projects is their simplicity. They provide a reasonable starting point. They are relatively quick and easy. They don’t require niche knowledge. They are easy to build upon. They leave you saying, “Okay, cool, what’s next?” An example of such a project might be learning a few basic conversational phrases in Spanish (rather than attempting to read and understand the Spanish novel Don Quixote using Google translate). This would allow you to learn some basic Spanish grammar and leave you feeling accomplished knowing that, if lost in Spain, you could ask someone where the library is. It is a good introduction the Spanish language that can be built upon, and which won’t leave you with a massive headache while feeling unaccomplished.

One hard part could be finding the right project. But, through some research on the internet and asking around, you should be able to find a “Hello, World!” type of project for a skill, hobby, or new subject area that interests you. In some cases, a field might not have a common / traditional introductory project and you may be required to use some creativity to develop a simple project designed around the basic principles of that field. In that case I would recommend doing your best to keep it simple, remain flexible in the scope of the project, and seek out advice from online forums dedicated to your area of interest.

Learning and doing new things is a part of a happy and fulfilling life. We all have areas of interest we would like to jump into, but just haven’t. Time and money are, and will always be, limiting factors for everyone. Often, though, people don’t delve into new areas of interest simply because they fear failure, are intimidated, and don’t know where to start. Keeping the concept of “Hello, World!” projects in mind provides a way to overcome those obstacles. The invitation here then, is to find a “Hello, World!” project and begin learning about or how to do something you find intriguing.

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