Is it possible to learn the basics of computer programming in one year? That's the hope of the more than 281,000 (and counting) people who have signed up to participate in Code Year, a New Year's resolution challenge that promises to teach users enough code to build their own apps and websites by the end of 2012.
The effort is a project of Codecademy, a New York City-based startup launched last August by two young tech gurus, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski. With demand for STEM professionals outpacing supply, the duo believe basic programming skills are as essential to 21st-century life as being literate. But in a world where tech-savvy people are deemed nerds, it's not easy to convince the average person they can learn programming.
"Hey! Let's get to know each other. What's your name?" the prompt asks, instructing you to type your name with quotation marks around it, then press enter. Within a minute, you've learned enough code to ask the program to tell you how many letters are in your name and do basic math problems. The program even awards badges to keep participants motivated and allows you to tweet your coding achievements.
Following the #codeyear hashtag on Twitter reveals that people are eager to make 2012 the year they learn basic programming skills. The first lesson has already been sent out, but it's not too late to join. If you stick with it, Code Year promises that within a month you'll learn enough to start building your own game.