Week one of my new programming hobby proved quite challenging, primarily because of a minor issue I’m still unable to find a solution for. After a two-day binge of Codecademy and my excitement in learning to program, the novelty wore off and the adventures of picking up HTML again began (I say “again” because I use to customize websites in 7th grade so I could create “dollz” with HTML, and that’s how I first picked it up). Though mundane to many, I found the process of learning to create ordered and unordered lists to be rather thrilling. Unfortunately, the excitement was short lived as I entered into HMTL Basics II. HTML Basics II was the sole frustration for an entire 48 hours. I had the assumption that font-size and font-color would be a bit more manageable but was quickly proved wrong. Each font-size exercise was met with a vexing size error; when asked to create font size 8, the error informed me that my size was 7.57832942384982, or some number extremely close. When asked to create font size 15, the error informed me that my size was 14.58493423. This error occurred repeatedly with every font size. I tried every variation to configure the code. I Googled tirelessly searching for a solution, and I sent a screenshot of the issue to people in desperation. Finally, with no solution at hand and impaired in frustration, I decided to stop programming for a day. Here’s the screenshot of my issue:
This minor road block proved to be a blessing in disguise. I couldn’t stop reading about programming and how it can be used to solve problems and create useful things. This led to discovering an entire sector called civic technology. I was stoked about my new discovery, all these different companies and an entire market where my passion for policy and government collides with my new found interest in programming. I knew I needed to know more, learn more, and discover more about this whole new world.
From what I have seen in Oakland and read on the web, civic technology seems to be a market in which companies partner with city governments to improve efficiency and civic life. That definition is incredibly vague, but in Oakland, civic technology was engaged with an Open Data Day hackathon, where developers, activists, and government employees spent a day “hacking” to find innovative ways to make information accessible. I am a believer of this movement that is Civic Technology, but the more I read the Code for America vision, the more I could not stop questioning the sustainability of this government-tech sector partnership. During strained budget quarters (which seems to be every quarter), will city governments, notorious for slow technology (my computer, an HP, looks like an ancient device that belongs in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View), continuously shell out money for update/efficient technology? Clearly, this is a very superficial inquiry of civic technology and perhaps I need to do more research, but we will see how this all pans out. As for now I will keep googling to learn more about this world of programming and continue to work on Codecademy. I will say though, that I am really glad Mattan Griffel’s class starts tomorrow because I’m extremely frustrated with Codecadamy right now.