I’m taking a coding class. Why?

I don’t know entirely. I think it’s because I’ve really enjoyed building things for people to use.


My favorite place in the world is the Algebra Tea House in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s an Arab cafe and bistro run by Ayman, a Palestinian-American artist-philosopher-entrepreneur. Walking into Algebra is like walking into Ayman’s heart. Nearly everything in the shop was built with his bare hands. He carves the furniture, paints the floor tiles, and sculpts mugs in his studio under the shop. He even learned construction Cleveland union guys to build the shop himself.

And his mugs - oh man, his mugs. They look like pieces of coral scooped from the ocean. Grown things, alive things, gently harvested.

algebra tea house


Last year at FindOurView, I built a webapp in Bubble (no-code) with a Stripe integration and closed B2B SaaS sales through it. It was my first time. One day, our user Andrew was testing our first complete user flow. I had just finished buidling our sign up page - my first sign up page, with input validation and everything! - and Andrew started to fill in his information. “Okay,” he said, “I’m entering my company name… alright I’m clicking submit… looks like it’s loading, cool I’m on the next screen…” I could not believe what had just occurred. THE THING WORKED! THE SIGNUP PAGE WORKED! HE JUST CLICKED SUBMIT AND THE THING DID EXACTLY WHAT HE EXPECTED IT TO. IT FADED INTO THE BACKGROUND. IT WAS JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER APP I HAD EVER USED IN MY LIFE. HE DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE. HE DIDN’T SAY A WORD. IT WAS A FUCKING AFTERTHOUGHT. AND I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT.

The same week, I released a video game with my friend Sarah and watched a stranger engage with art I’d made for the first time. Zackavelli, the host of my favorite game dev podcast, played it on his Twitch stream. He replayed it 5 times and I watched as his speculations about the game’s meaning got wilder and wilder. “Maybe it’s about food addiction. I know that when I’m feeling bad, I just BAM salami BAM salami until I feel better.” That’s not what Sarah and I intended at all, but I understood what people mean when they talk about an artwork transcending its creator. It became bigger than me.

Ayman has told me about this joy, when he sees someone hold up his mug, marveling at its form, saying, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” His audience felt something; it shattered their expectations. This is the joy of an artist.

I imagine he feels a different joy when he sees someone reach for the mug absentmindedly, bring it to their lips, take a sip, and set it down, without breaking concentration. The thing he designed worked. His mug was of service, exactly as intended. The user felt nothing; it met their expectations perfectly. This is the joy of a designer.


I like to describe myself as a “handyman” programmer - in addition to game dev, I’ve done robotics, light ML, and some light web development (this website). I’ve never felt like a “general contractor” - able to “build” “something” from “start” to “finish.”

Whenever I've tried to dive deeper into programming, hopelessness shows up wearing a mask.

When I was 20 and a college student, the mask was “what’s the point? am I even learning the right stuff? I’ll just become a dime-a-dozen web dev like every other schmuck out there - and I’ll be behind because I don’t have a CS degree!”

When I was 22, before ChatGPT dropped, the mask was “there is so much to learn here… did I need a CS degree? should I do a bootcamp? I want to learn things properly. do I need to learn to code to build technical products? what’s the point?”

Lately, it’s worn the mask of “AI devs are going to take over anyway. The cost of producing shitty javascript code is going to go to 0. what’s the point?”

I've tried grappling with these masks directly but that's a failure mode. The underlying desperation and hopelessness is an overwhelm response to how much I have to learn.

My instructors Andrew Rose and Jake Zegil raised a fair argument: If AI is going to make certain aspects of coding obsolete, and make it easier and faster to build apps, it’s worth asking what the “point” of software development is for me. Is it memorizing every element of how the Javascript ecosystem works (2024 hireable engineer)? Is it solving data structures problems with novel shapes (Jane Street route)? Is it building and shipping things as quickly as possible (AI-enhanced product engineer solo founder route)?. Some of those are more economically viable than others. Some have cushy employment associated with them now and might not later. Some will be more interesting to me than others. What is the point, for me? Why do I want to learn software development?

I don’t know the answer in its entirety yet. But I think it’s worth chasing down the fact that I truly enjoy creating artwork and products for people to enjoy and use.