I am #blessed enough to be a member of the Spec podcast network. We just hit a collective total of 5,000,000 downloads, and it made me reflect a bit on what I’m trying to accomplish with Does Not Compute, and my work as a whole.

I started breaking computers with code about 17 years ago, in 1999. My toolchain for those first few sites was extremely basic: Notepad.exe and lots of trial and error. I was just a nerdy kid playing with nerdy virtual toys, but something about programming really stuck with me. It was the first time I ever felt truly empowered to create anything I could dream up, without any limitations. I never thought I would be smart enough to be a “real” programmer, but making websites seemed like something anyone could do. Little did I know those first few goofy sites would eventually blossom into my career over the next decade.

I still carry that feeling of empowerment with me to this day. Sometimes it’s expressed in different ways now, like creating silly robots, a podcast, or even sometimes overly-complex circuits in Minecraft. No matter what, the bottom line always remains: With enough effort, computers let me create anything I can dream up.

Last year, Sean and I started Does Not Compute with an unspoken mission. As development evolves and becomes more complex, we want to help make sure new developers don’t feel intimidated or excluded. The magic of the Internet is that everyone can contribute something, regardless of their skill level. As more experienced developers, I see it as part of our duty to keep the barrier to entry low.

If you’ve been programing for a while: Go teach! Teaching can look like pretty much anything you want, from making podcasts, to giving talks, to helping people out in community Slack groups (Spec has one!). You’ll be amazed how great it makes you feel, and how much you learn by doing it.

If you’re new to programming: Don’t be afraid to ask! So many people (myself included) learned a lot of what they know by asking questions. There are tons of experienced developers out there who love to lend a hand when they can. That doesn’t mean you’ll get a free pass. It’ll still be lots of hard work, but I guarantee most folks will jump at the chance to help you along the way.