Hobbyists (continued)

A while back I riffed on a Chris Dixon post on hobbyists and I was taken back to that topic this past week by the young people I have met who are doing Girls Who Code and CodeNow summer programs.

They ask me for advice on where to go with this new found skill. And this is what I tell them (taken from an email I just sent a young women I met on Tuesday):

My advice is to treat coding as a hobby like some people treat photography, painting or knitting

Make stuff and keep making stuff. You will get better, have fun, and, who knows, you might make the next Tumblr!

The more that society understands coding as a learned and honed skill like sculpting or painting, the easier it is going to be to get young people interested and excited about it. And by making it into a hobby as opposed to homework, good things can and will happen. As Chris says in his post:

Business people vote with their dollars, and are mostly trying to create near-term financial returns. Engineers vote with their time, and are mostly trying to invent interesting new things. Hobbies are what the smartest people spend their time on when they aren’t constrained by near-term financial goals.

So my hope is that all these young kids who are learning to code this summer keep coding when they go back to school this fall and treat it like playing the guitar, something they want to do when they get home after school, because its fun and because you can make awesome things with it.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. John Revay

    Great advice

    1. JamesHRH

      I have not interest or intention of ever coding again (I did a bit @ university).Yet, this still resonates as really sound advice.

  2. JimHirshfield

    So true! Tinker away.I used to have a bazillion hobbies. What happened?I was watching the movie Hook with my kids last night, and the theme of “not growing up” stuck with me throughout the film. πŸ˜‰

    1. William Mougayar

      You mean Tynker?Turn your kids to learn programming in a fun way (4-8th Grade)http://www.tynker.com/

      1. JimHirshfield


  3. Scott Barnett

    This is so on the money. When I took my first programming class in high school in the early 80’s, I was so excited by it that I would do exactly as you said – go home after school and do my flow diagrams and chart out the code I could type into punchcards the next morning (which I would do before school started because my Dad was a teacher at my high school and I’d go in with him to get early and exclusive access to the ONE hole-card punch machine in the computer lab :-)This was instead of my normal after school ritual of playing football with my buddies. I was THAT jazzed about programming. If any of these girls feel the same way, that is awesome.

  4. Dave W Baldwin

    Great advice and well put!

  5. Tracey Jackson

    It’s been proven that with new work paradigm, people living longer, many careers not paying as much, so many people being part-time, many of the old time companies downsizing and tech being the big growth sector, plus most people end up doing two to five different things in their lives as opposed to one, turning a hobby into a career is one of the key things to having a plan B when plan A drifts away or does not come to pass.

    1. awaldstein

      Turning personal passions into part of how you define yourself pays even w/o it turning into a biz.i launched my marketing and wine blogs the exact day and just made them two tabs on my URL.60+% of most initial business conversations that turn into work start with talk about something I wrote or a Q about wine. Ties into travel, culture and more and more environmental issues and artisanal businesses and the web.

      1. LE

        “Ties into travel”And since you can earn a dollar from that you can deduct your travel expenses against that dollar earned. Not to mention the cost of the wine you buy as well. Or other entertainment expenses. Within reason of course.

    2. ShanaC

      i wish the economy was more flexible. a lot more flexible. careers expect more in less time and less money

      1. Tracey Jackson

        Ain’t that the truth.

    3. JLM

      .Your observation is extremely astute. Well played.The baseline for all folks is that they have 5-7 real careers in their lifetimes if they will just let them come to them.Not every one has to be a long career.JLM.

      1. Tracey Jackson

        It’s so true – but it freaks many people out. They still think they should work away at something for decades and then retire. The thought of having to be flexible and move on in another direction often makes them feel like they failed at the first career. Hopefully over time this will change. “Coming to them” is big. Right you are

  6. falicon

    This was my approach for many years and it served me very well.They key for me was to always be thinking of new, fun projects to hack that would push my skills and experience…but be warned, programming can be a *very* addictive power…use it with caution and only for good. πŸ™‚

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      like that ‘Achtung’ label you put.

  7. John Best

    Good advice. Hobbyists will plug away at what’s possible long after businesses would have written a project off.

  8. jason wright

    i’ve always liked the word amateur, because of its origin and meaning as a word, amour in French, for the love of something, the passion of doing something, and not for the money.

    1. Lucas Dailey

      Totally. It’s one of the words I try to use literally to reclaim a valuable meaning (similarly: ambivalent). English spent a few hundred years collecting great meanings, gotta keep them alive and and our communication potential rich.

      1. jason wright

        it’s literally a word encoded with absolute meaning and value. everyone should have the right to at least try to find that thing that they love to do. some people manage to do that, but most don’t, and many of those are denied the opportunity to even try. It’s been like that for much of the last 200 hundred years. That needs to change, and the world would then be a better place for it.the web gives a glimmer of an opportunity for that change to happen. it’s worth fighting for.the word amateur has been degraded. it’s generally used in a way to suggest an inferior ability, but i would rather be an amateur in love with something that i do not quite as well as someone who does it only for money, and i don’t think that money drives people to be better or the best.

    2. fredwilson

      me too

  9. eli

    If you think it’s fun, why wouldn’t you do that yourself?! Coding is just boring labor work.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      That is probably true for most people but as the reusables of Mobile-App sensing, data, and process-behaviours coalesce into more accessible high level process assemblers, for the rest of us, that will change.Before desktop publishing and then automated blogging and website building tools like Tumblr appeared you could have made the same claim about publishing in general.In the late 70’s I worked on a Word-Processing system where the WP and testing code were all written in assembler with no reusable OS framework. Then along came OS’s like C/PM quickly followed by the UCSD-Pascal as shockingly high-level simplifications.I just assume that that evolutionary march towards simplification by hiding the computing variable will continue.At some point building networked-process-assemblages will be universally accessible to the rest of us as hobby material?

    2. ShanaC

      i don’t think it is fun as in yay, fun. I think it is enjoyable in terms of yay – solving pproblems is fun, and this is a path to do it

  10. LIAD

    Top of Hacker News last week was the story of Jennifer Dewalt a 20(?) something women who decided to learn to code.Her method? Develop 180 websites in 180 days.No fanfare. No expensive courses. No nothing.She committed to a gargantuan amount of work. Rolled her sleeves up, and got down to business.Today is day 129. Her progress is pretty impressive.Go and give her a high five – http://blog.jenniferdewalt….List of websites built each day: http://jenniferdewalt.com/

    1. Nick Grossman

      that is really cool

    2. ShanaC

      Does anyone beyond me see this and wonder how she is affording it? (though the work itself is cool)

      1. LIAD

        What’s to afford? Coding’s currency is time. Get up a bit earlier. Go to bed a bit later. Cut out some junk. #simple

        1. ShanaC

          she mentions she works in a coworking space all day doing this.

      2. Chris Mack

        Bet you wouldn’t ask that if she said she was going to University for a year, even though that would be far more expensive (no tuition her way) and her skillset will be far more marketable than your average uni grad.

      3. jason wright

        i wonder this often about many in the web tech scene. how are they paying the bills?there can’t be THAT many uncle moneybags out there.

        1. falicon


        2. kidmercury

          small businesses and freelancers have a vastly different approach than what is typically discussed in the VC world and on tech blogs that are aligned with the VC world. the small business/freelance route is still fraught with typical entrepreneurial risk, but the odds are not so drastic as they are with the VC type stuff, and the odds of getting to ramen profitablity are not so bad for those willing to work long hours for little money.

      4. PeterisP

        It’s more useful and far more affordable than spending a semester in college – I wonder how people can afford *that* πŸ™‚ but millions do.

  11. Dave Pinsen

    How many kids are rushing home to sculpt, paint, or learn to play guitar these days? Has the pursuit of hobbies declined with the rise of ubiquitous electronic connectivity?

    1. awaldstein

      Don’t know but for certain writing as a skill is (or should be) increasing. And it is a skill that can certainly be learned.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Is it really increasing or do you just have access to more skilled writers via social media?

        1. awaldstein

          Don’t know if that Q matters.Everyone is online. Many post. I can only gage by what I see.But–forget social media. With emails as the tip of most conversations and comments to a lesser extent, the written word is more than ever, a common language.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Texting is probably the dominant communications medium for young folks these days, and it sort of dumbs down the written word.

          2. awaldstein

            dumb down…don’t know.lianna’s clients and customers are all about text and instagram. that’s their world. it’s shorthand but not ‘dumb’ in my opinion. more long form than a tweet actually.but–everyone emails! it’s business communications at its core, a petri dish of some really crazy stuff.writing is communications is a skill that the self aware learn to master.

          3. ShanaC

            even the not self aware should learn to master – pen is mightier than the sword, including the data sword

          4. awaldstein

            So many just don’t get how to do this.

          5. kidmercury

            texting will breed efficiency…..ain’t no one gonna pull parker on you via text (or at least it’s harder)

          6. SubstrateUndertow

            Especially if you visualize the texting conversation stream as a holistic unit.

          7. LE

            parker and 140 characters are two sides of the bell curve. Doesn’t have to be one or the other.Best perhaps a modified parker/suster. Summary at the top and then more detail like a journal article with an abstract.

          8. kidmercury

            i’m mainly interested in finding opportunities where i can use the expression “pulling a parker” or “going parker on us.” the actual underlying conversation is only of secondary importance.

          9. LE

            Agree. It’s like commenting without providing any support for what you are saying in long form or without details or explanation.More or less the way less educated people react to things. Everything on the surface as an emotion and easily swayed without thinking any levels behind what has happened.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Moving forward, what possible set overlaps will emerge between Apps and Hobbies ?”Vine” the App can be hobby like and today I see the release of the MixBit.com App takes that much further.Come to think about it, building dedicated topical blogs on Tumblr is certainly hobby like behaviour.Maybe the definition of hobby is just expanding?

    3. andyidsinga

      I think the pendulum is swinging back – bits, electrons and your real world are all getting mashed up.see also, the game Ingress : http://en.wikipedia.org/wik

    4. Dave W Baldwin

      Hard to say. I am asked advice on many fronts from tech to music. If those that are distracted by texting would be distracted by something else that usually leads to trying to get it with opposite sex.

    5. Kirsten Lambertsen

      They’re rushing home to make robots πŸ™‚

    6. ShanaC

      plenty, mostly because college applications love that sort of stuff

    7. LE

      Absolutely positively yes to that.(Can’t speak for the guitar actually though).As far as the typical hobbies that kids did in the 70’s I can’t really think of one that is still as big today as it was back then. To many other things to occupy kids today.As far as the rushing home kids are also caught up in many more after school activities (many of dubious value).

    8. kidmercury

      it’s easier than ever to learn to play guitar thanks to the internet. check youtube, there are a bazillion videos on learning to play guitar, many of which are amazingly well done.

    9. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      they are left with no-time after their daily FB updates and twitterring….well …they may come back to sculpt,paint,guitar in their mid-30’s.

  12. whitneymcn

    I’ve treated coding this way for quite a while now, and the approach works really well for me. It’s what I learn from coding (relatively poorly) that’s the return on investment, rather than the code itself.While I’m proud of some of the things I’ve coded — I think that @lotd and kisttr.com were actually good from a functional perspective — what I really get out of it is perspective on how things can work on the internet. The stuff that I work on where other people code is better for my having done these little projects.

    1. ShanaC

      I treat is similarly. Though I think i’ve learned more about math in the process

  13. Nick Grossman

    This is exactly how I learned to code, about 12 years ago now, and it’s how I’ve learned every new skill since. It’s just so fun to have little projects going. The terminal is the new garage, maybe.Coding seems uniquely suited to this kind of learning, because the outputs are useful and fun things, and because people are so generous with their knowledge (and their questions!) online.

  14. pointsnfigures

    Someday coding might be like reading. A lot of us will do it for pleasure and some of us will be authors

  15. andyidsinga

    everything worth doing should probably be done as a hobby/pastime – or at least looked at through that lens.codingknittinginvestingbrewing

  16. Kirsten Lambertsen


  17. vruz

    Even better advice: join an open source project.You don’t have to be an expert coder, some projects need testers, some need technical writing, others need graphic or web design.You can slowly gain confidence about your skills as you gain experience together with others, chances are that your skills will be complementary.If you’re a bit of an introverted person, you may need to gather some confidence to join a meatspace group, which can be intimidating at first. No worries, there are Linux User Groups (LUGs) even in most small-to-medium sized cities. (in most of the western world afaik). They generally hold gatherings and meetups to help newcomers catch up to speed. Many of them are also programmers.In many cities there are Ruby Users Groups and Python Users Groups.Some places to start (in very biased order of preference :-)ruby-lang.org python.orgfreepascal.orggolang.orgnodejs.comCoding is no longer exclusively an individual activity, the Internet has transformed it into a predominantly social discipline, and you’re no longer alone no matter how far you live or what your skills are.Create a [tumblr.com | github.com | twitter.com | about.me] accounts to let others know what you’re interested in and learn about what others are doing.Or better, hang out in freenode.net, where thousands of coders from around the world active in thousands of projects hang out at any given time around the clock.Remember all those guys were exactly like you in the beginning, they’re there to help, they’re just paying back the help they got from those who preceded them when they were clueless and lost. In time, you’ll do the same for those who succeed you.And read code, lots of code, learn how things *really* work, break things, report bugs, fix bugs. Be a pest :-)Gaining confidence to do all those things is really the most important step, the rest will just emerge naturally from those activities.Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions. Don’t ask to ask. Give yourself permission to be awesome.

  18. TiOluwa Olarewaju

    This post is great. It’s absolutely worthwhile to love what you do. And it’s amazing when what you love is to code, or build things for people. I’m 20 and I was coding before I knew it could make any money.I wrote a short post on getting people to love coding the other day. http://www.dormroomdreams.c…Give it a look Fred!

    1. LE

      Similarly, I can sit at a computer for months trying to build something I think people could love. Why? Fun is absolutely sustainable.Sustainable fun. Absolutely true. I’ve used a computer every day for the past perhaps 30 to 35 years.It’s not something I ever get tired of doing and this was way before GUI interface and color.Nothing comes close to that in longevity. Even sex every day would get boring (and certainly for the number of hours of computer time).Eating at nice restaurants is fun but I don’t desire to do that every day.Going skiing is fun but I don’t desire to do that every day. I sold my boat and even when I had it it was only fun perhaps 1 or 2 days per week (and when the weather is nice). A nice car is nice but you don’t look forward to it like you think you would if you don’t have one. Down the shore? I get off the beach and go to Starbucks and pull out the laptop. Rc Helicopter flying? Did it all the time then stopped for many years and recently started again (got a bit boring even with the gas models.) Probably the only thing that comes close in giving me excitement everyday is making a deal – that’s always fun even if no money or financial gain is involved.But here’s the thing. I like it so it has this effect on me. Not everyone gets the same thrill. It has nothing to do with whether I am good at it or not (I’m not a programmer by any means). Something about it just clicks. And it did from the very start. I was drawn to it the first time I heard the teletype and saw the print head. Later the look of the green Wyse terminal and Okidata printer. Later shopping for books about it. Didn’t ever matter what anyone else thought either. Nobody cared at all what I was doing (with the exception of the things I did for my company at the time obviously when it made someone’s job easier).The idea is to identify and expose people who would get the same joy from using a computer. And hope that they have at least the basic abilities to keep interested in it. I would love to play guitar or piano (and took lessons a long time ago) but it’s just not my thing and I’m not good enough (what I would call “above the line”) to get any measurable progress that would lead to an enjoyable sustaining state.

      1. TiOluwa Olarewaju

        Exactly. Couldn’t have said it better. And I think people actually take pride in doing “fun” well sometimes. Ex. practicing guitar to get better. Loving what you do obsoletes things like “work-life balance”. But like you said, it’s hard to come by and definitely different for everyone.

  19. Rick Bullotta

    Hi Fred. Here’s a curious question/twist on the role of the hobbyist in the entrepreneurial ecosystem : while no doubt many hobbyists represent the best and the brightest, I think there’s a question whether a business of scale (and reasonable profitability) can be built that *targets* hobbyists. Long tail/niche businesses for sure, but not sure if they’re a great consumer/customer in any big way. They tend to be outliers in many respects.

    1. PeterisP

      Both Microsoft and Apple were targeting hobbyists in their first years.Businesses and consumers came much later; their initial development, scaling and profitability came from hobbyists.

      1. Rick Bullotta

        Excellent point. However, neither was able to build a sustainable business targeting just hobbyists. Companies that tried to often had to abandon or tweak their business model (e.g. RadioShack). It remains to be seen whether “coding” and “hacking hardware” will ever go mainstream…

        1. PeterisP

          How about sports gear and music gear industries? I’d say that all of them thrive on hobbyists – I’m not an industry expert but I’d guess that they sell x skis or guitars to professionals but 100x of them to hobbyists.

          1. Rick Bullotta

            Yup. Great examples. I was referring to the type of products and applications Chris Dixon discussed in his original post at http://cdixon.org/2013/03/0

    2. fredwilson

      tumblr and etsy started out that way

  20. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    What I love about coding is that increasingly it interfaces to the real world.The hardware control industry used to be highly inaccessible (real time is tougher) but as robotics, mobile, raspberry pi, 3D printing, quadricopter drones with hackable interfaces are becoming commodities it changing everything.Makers and Hackers are reaching into a connected commonality

  21. William Mougayar

    Someone said: “Hobbies of any kind are boring except to people who have the same hobby.”So, there’s a bit of Network Effect going on. The more they see their friends doing it, the more it will rub off, and it becomes a self-fulfilling motivation.

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Was searching for who said that … landed on an interesting page …Off topic … found another new entry to hobbies list πŸ™‚ … really lol’able definition.Believing that stamps exist isn’t a hobby. Hobbies involve activities, such as “stamp collecting”.Believing that a god exists isn’t a hobby. Religious practices are hobbies. They are not yet in lists of hobbies, but no list of hobbies claims to be complete.

  22. ShanaC

    I’ve found the following to be an issue with coding – unless i need it to solve a problem (which oftentimes I don’t) I don’t code.Coding doesn’t keep my houseplants alive, for example.It might solve my long term problem about what is the weight difference for different baking products (I need to remember what 1 cup is by weight for different kinds of flower, for example)

    1. LE

      “unless i need it to solve a problem”Could also be the reason men are more attracted to it as men tend to want to solve problems and in fact might actually make up problems just in order to solve them.Nothing feels better than automating a process or becoming more efficient by using a computer to solve a problem in business. Along those lines you can do that just by learning shell scripting and running things from the command line.

  23. Paul Sanwald

    I go back and forth on the word “hobby”. I’m both a professional musician and a software engineer, and it used to really grind my gears when people would refer to music as a “hobby”, as I take it very seriously and practiced 3-8 hours a day in my twenties in addition to having a fulltime job and working as a musician.now that I am older the distinction doesn’t bother me nearly as much and I pretty much let it slide; plus I have other things like boxing which are truly hobbies.I wonder how other folks feel about this? especially those who do two things seriously, like being a novelist and a professor, for example.

    1. LE

      People are always making fun of what they can’t do or what they don’t understand or are jealous of. [1]I did some videos for a relative for their wedding and they made some comment about me “putting all my sparkles” on them which I found was really insulting. (All I did was some preroll lettering and transitions and I gave so much thought to making the video look good for them editing wise.) In contrast I made a video of a music presentation at the elementary school (without being asked I like making videos of music) and the music teachers were all appreciative and thanked me and want me to do it again next year. They said “we never get to hear how we sound thank you so much that was great”. So now I am going to buy a good mic and run several cameras if I can.People used to constantly make snitty comments about me doing photography “he’s down in his basement in the darkroom” or “he’s flying his helicopter” or “he’s playing with computers” etc.My dad supported the photography because he saw I could make money from it (I was able to do catalog photography in my basement) but didn’t support the heli hobby even though doing that was mechanical (something he supported) and helped me in a business where mechanical skills were necessary. He thought it was a “toy” (which it most definitely wasn’t it was like $2000 in 1980’s dollars).In the end I think some of this is good actually because you end up developing a “I don’t give a shit what anyone thinks” attitude and just do what you want to do and expect that nobody is going to agree with you and it doesn’t matter. (All my hobbies have helped me and lead to earning money in one way or another so in a sense I was right I guess.)That said I would love to be able to play a musical instrument (piano or guitar) and wish I had taken that up when I was younger.

      1. Paul Sanwald

        it truly is never too late to learn an instrument. start now, buy a cheap guitar and get a good teacher, take lessons once a week. 10 years will go by, you’ll be better than you think.

    2. falicon

      I try not to let labels define or bother me…the only ones that really get under my skin are the self-inflicted ones (how I view the level/approach of my skills and interests)…

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      Just be the inspiration and tell the kid how much practice it takes to become pro… BUT, always have fun!

  24. kenberger

    my current fav hobbyist obsession is flying quadcopters, and it remains very clear to me that by viewing it as just a hobby and watching others do that too, amazing things (both good and horrible) are going to come up.here’s a video i just did using a GoPro + DJI Phantom. it has a couple awesome shots of manhattan skylines, but just might only be appreciated by other hobbyists, as @wmoug:disqus says:https://www.youtube.com/wat

    1. LE

      You got me totally started on buying one of those (with a comment you made before at least I think it was you) and then I saw this from a vendor that I deal with for RC Helis:http://www.helipal.com/stor…(They also make a much less expensive model).I think with this you can also adapt and have a video monitor showing real time video feedback on the remote control.What’s your opinion of this vs. what you are flying now?One thing with all the electronics that are available today is they take much of the fun out of the hobby [1]. I learned rc helis in the days before gyros when you had to control the tail on liftoff to counter the rotating action of the blades (not to mention you had to build the chopper from scratch and you got only a few flights before crashing and rebuilding). Not to mention the exhaust and smell of a running engine coming from the muffler. There was also the fear of crashing which heightened the pleasure.[1] I’m sure there is a similarity with playing a musical instrument where the fun is directly related to the challenge.

      1. kenberger

        that’s great! it’s a very zen excercise, yoga-like break to fly, even indoors for 15 minutes. forces you to concentrate but remain cool and calm.the 1 you link to is excellent and hardcore. Phantom has its uses but is really for out of the box, non-enthusiast types; you might do better with such options on helipal (the 1 i’m flying in the video is a demo i’ll return, the other guy shown w/ the same copter is a well-known filmmaker w/ a clearer purpose).I actually have a lot more fun with the tiny ones, easily flown in an apartment:http://microdrone.co.uk/, andhttp://www.hubsan.com/produ…There are a couple places in Brooklyn totally like what CDixon was talking about, w/ people who spend most wkends year-round outside flying. Here’s 1: an RC airport you can actually see on Gmaps! http://goo.gl/maps/9D4e9FPV is the term for flying the craft by using its own birdseye, looking at the viewer or putting goggles on, rather than by line of sight. Let’s talk offline to help you get into this.

    2. JLM

      .Everything that you say here and subsequently is true of the pure joy of flying an airplane.I remember when I first got my pilot’s license — which was a tense exercise — and taking my plane up and simply soaring over the landscape out toward the lakes around Austin.It was like discovering sex.JLM.

      1. kenberger


    3. William Mougayar

      Cool video. I didn’t realize how noisy these little buggers are.

  25. Chris Mack

    I think development environments, frameworks and languages still have some maturing to do before they’re ‘fun’. I can get into a total groove and pump out some amazing stuff in a day – until I hit some crazily literal bottleneck which can set me back hours and results in far more frustration than I’ve encountered in any hobby, except maybe surfing.

  26. theschnaz

    I agree.However, there is a big difference between coding as a hobby and writing/photography/knitting/etc. Once you build something (web service/app) you usually need some sort of legal structure to release it (sole proprietor/llc/X-corp).It would be nice if one really could release software like a hobby.

    1. falicon

      legal structures really only apply if/when/once there is money involved…and even then you would be surprised at how long you can get away with putting it off…no one really cares or puts attention/effort into what you are doing until it becomes clear there is money in it for them (or, more likely in the legal sense, that it’s taking significant money away from them).

      1. theschnaz

        Yea, that makes sense.I think the fact that web services/apps can be distributed far and wide raises this concern. For example, if I’m selling paintings as a hobby, I’ll sell them to friends and family. There is almost 0% chance that there would be legal issues in the future.If I release an app and I get 5,000 downloads, the chance of problems must go up.I wonder how many people release web services/apps as sole proprietors.

        1. falicon

          The apple store takes care of a lot of this on their end (because the process to get an app in the store in the 1st place is a pretty good barrier to doing something in the legally ‘gray’ area).Android makes it easier to push things through, but they also require a small fee and some details/information to get stuff into their app stores (at least the app stores that matter like google play and amazon’s mobile store).I’m sure there are a large % set up as individuals or pass through corps (my apps are currently in those stores that way)…But again, I think it’s more about how disruptive you are being to an incumbents cash flow than how many people you do or don’t reach…if those paintings you are selling to friends are black market Van Gogh’s you are likely going to have serious legal concerns…if they are self portraits, I’m sure no one will be going after you…apps are just a (disruptive) distribution option, not really the disruption themselves…



    3. fredwilson

      yes, that is a big issue and several of the entrepreneurs we have backed found out that they had to build a company because of something they built as a hobby

  27. awaldstein

    Talking about hobbies. This was posted to my Facebook page this morning.Nice little ditty that makes me feel good that I thought I’d share. And all about hobbies that touch other people.(Kelly worked with me 10+ years ago as part of a marketing team.)

    1. JLM

      .The first mark of fame is groupies.Well played.JLM.

  28. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Coding as it is in ‘just coding’ is not and never will be a winner (either breadwinner or other)Mix it with your Engineering and Math skills…then it makes a lot of difference … It is like tasting that Philly’s Cheese Steak with some extra salt and spice…enjoy it.

  29. robertdesideri

    Changing behavior is tough. The reward is too far in the distance, like compound interest. Most people prefer a new TV today over a pot of value for retirement or other investment.The reward from learning [coding] is not ‘nearby enough’ for most. Sacrificing FB time, a TV serial, an hour of pocket pool, etc. is not in the cards.I love the idea of kids learning logic and having a means for implementing logic. The world needs more logical thinkers. Helping more learn to code is one means for increasing the size of the population slice that has capacity for logic. It’s functional for society on several levels, as well as for the individual directly.I’m wondering though if we’re not making a mistake. Is the possibility of being the next Tumblr, the fame and fortune, the ‘best’ means for behavior mod? Is a carrot, the hope of a carrot in reality, _correct_ for kids today? Why is there so much disillusionment out there, where are we failing? It has something to do with money but I can’t quite put my finger on why such carrots are less powerful today.



  30. JLM

    .The most powerful driver is often just raw evangelism and the notion that something is both cool and challenging.The US Marine Corps advertising is a perfect example of this done very well. It sells emotion meanwhile the Army was selling becoming an air traffic controller.What you are personally doing is a perfect example of evangelism. Putting your personal capital on “coding” and spinning the wheel to let others extract and savor the joy of success.Well played.JLM.

    1. fredwilson

      you are on to me JLM

      1. JLM

        .See, Fred, everyone else is looking for the deep explanation.I see the sharp edge of Occam’s Razor at work here.You, like me, are just a pimp dog. Woof, woof!Is this a great country or what?Keep it up because you are, in fact, making a difference one person at a time.Great weekend to you.JLM.

        1. fredwilson

          you and @kirklove both like to call me a pimp. since you are friends, i accept it and wear it with pride.

          1. JLM

            .Of course, as you well know, there is a huge difference between being just a pimp and being a pimp dog.A pimp dog barks out his wares hawking their virtues without shame.It is, in fact, a badge of honor.JLM.

  31. Joshua Sortino

    The key is, you must love your hobby. When you love something, you want to learn more about it. In the example of coding, you want to learn how it works, why it works, etc … If you don’t love something, it’s much harder to stay interested.

  32. Esayas Gebremedhin

    funny enough, there are some hobbyists out-there trying to make the currency issue obsolete, so that they can truly follow their hearts. at the end of the day; regardless if you become a billion dollar company or not, everything comes from the heart and goes back to the heart. here is another source encouraging heartists: http://www.ted.com/talks/ch



    1. cjwesterberg

      Check out A Mathematician’s Lament by Paul Lockhart. He takes that metaphor to another level – http://bit.ly/134AuOI

  34. cjwesterberg

    “Children are born passionately eager to make as much sense as they can of things around them. If we attempt to control, manipulate, or divert this process…the independent scientist in the child disappears.” ~ John HoltCompletely agree with coding presented as hobby vs. what could happen with schools making it another β€œsoul-sucking exercise.” My experience with it here: http://www.thedailyriff.com

  35. Isaac G

    I completely agree with this. I’m still a newb but having projects I want to complete motivates me to learn since I’m making something I really want to make.

  36. leigh

    LOL no one in my company wants me to learn how to code. They apparently believe i’m controlling enough πŸ™‚

    1. William Mougayar


  37. Sean Hull

    Great post. Engineers vote with their time. Hadn’t though of it like that before, but yes.

  38. Ricardo Diz

    “My advice is to treat coding as a hobby like some people treat photography, painting or knitting”. Love that sentence.