MIS Courses: CS 120

I’m not sure exactly how I missed the fact that I’m a huge nerd until just now. It isn’t that I’ve not enjoyed the MIS 295 aspect of this semester, that’s been good too, but there’s something about the programming that I never knew that I would enjoy until now.

Last year if someone had asked me (and going into MIS they do ask you) how I could just sit in front of a computer all day and program. I would have told them that I couldn’t. I would have said that that’s not what I’m trying to get into, and that’s still mostly true, though now I know I wouldn’t mind it. People have this image of a programmer being a person who sits in front of a computer all day and types in innumerable insipid lines of code. And that image is actually pretty accurate, but what they don’t know is how a programmer has to think and that’s the most interesting part of the whole deal.

In some way I think that CS 120 has clued me in to the fundamental differences in the way that individual people think. Yes, there are hundreds of lines of barely colored code on the screen, yes, they are unintelligible computer speak, but what do they do? It’s all about computational thinking Ralph Hooper tells us. It’s about seeing what happens instead of what it looks like on the surface. It’s abstracting to a level where we can understand it, and then it’s being told that that’s all a fantasy then rinsing your mind, lathering it in a new fantasy and repeating. It’s Legos, but you never run out of the square bricks and the things you build can do real world things (and you never step on them when you stay up building until its dark in your room).

From my low vantage point it’s difficult for me to decipher exactly how much of this class will be applicable to the remainder of my education, but my guess would be a lot of it, and my guess would also be that it’s not the parts that a lot of programs these days are focusing on that will be the things that need to be retained. CS 120 is a programming class that teaches us all how to go about not becoming programmers.

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