Homo Naledi and Programming

Not so long ago a man sitting in the sun on a rock cut out 3 rows of numbers on a baboon fibula. 2 of these rows were primes adding to 60 and the other adds to 48. 60 and 48 have 12 as a common factor. What is interesting is that he did this 10 thousand years before primes were discovered.

More interesting was that 40 thousand years before this a woman in the Lebombo mountains made a 29 notch tally. The Lebombo mountains also provide home to the worlds only state sponsored Sangoma school.

Here is a fun claim: the two people cutting notches into the tally sticks mentioned above were the world’s first programmers.

Why do I, a programmer, raise this? We know Charles Babbage made the first computer, that Ada Lovelace was the first programmer and Alan Turing made it work.

It is not my intention to claim Homo Naledi invented programming, although it is a fun idea for 2 micro seconds.

However it is my intention though to question some of the baggage we carry with us from the days of installing MS Dev Studio and running MFC apps.

The weight of our history should not affect our future.

This is my perspective: programming should become more useful and accessible. Don’t worry – I am not going to talk about vendor lock in or open source.

Many of us program for the joy it brings. But programming also provides the key to finding good work and access to markets and information.

The digital economy is not just consuming content but making things. The mortar is data, the bricks are the cloud and mobile. Small business should be using technology to grow, but technology alone will not solve development challenges.

Programming is not supposed to be rocket science. However, programming has become more arcane and technology a source of division. While it is true that if you are programming for an enterprise there are complicated issues. But for the majority of small companies software is a nightmare. It need not be.

We have built our solution, the Tree, to do the plumbing to make coding more useful. We must remember coding is often the easy part. It should not provide a distraction from the important parts: communication, prioritising, planning, learning and  designing systems.  Our solution helps small companies get purpose built software, more quickly and cheaply. Small companies cannot afford ERP solutions, let alone managing a team to produce a bespoke solution. The cloud can reduce costs and this is something we use to make programming better.

This perspective on programming is not new, but it will change everything for small businesses. 10 000 companies turning over $100 mill get all the software. We want to get to the 10 000 000 companies turning over $1 million.

I am sure that one does not have to go back 10 000 years to find someone enjoying programming; someone programming a ZX Spectrum (4kb RAM) had more fun that someone programming the latest mobile phone  (4GB RAM). It can be like this again.

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