The Conversation

I went out with my family for dinner tonight. I started talking with my daugher who turns 11 next week.

If you had any super power in the world, what would it be?

I’d be the strongest person in the world.

What would you do with all that strength?

I’d save puppies.

Oh yeah? Are there that many monsters in the world, hurting puppies?

There are fires. And cars hit them. I’d save puppies from cars.

If you had the most amazing imagination in the world, what would you do?

I’d make art.

Oh? What kind of art?

Inspiring art, more beautiful than anything you’ve ever seen.

Wow. If you could remember anything in the world, what would you remember?

Umm…I dont know what I’d want to remember.

I start thinking about the blessing it is to be able to forget. Then she asks me, “if you were the most powerful programmer, what would you build?”

The List

She’s been coding lately. She actually helps me with some of my current work. She can understand loops and data structures I’m working on. She helps me think about them more simply.

We came up with a list over dinner. Here are the things I think make the most powerful coders in the world:

  • Understand how the world works
  • Imagine what makes the world better
  • See how some things are the same
  • Make the things you imagine
  • Design things that are are easy to maintain
  • Deliver partial solutions (and keep delivering)
  • Verify that code works in reasonable conditions

The Consequences

If I know what makes a great coder, and I can do all of those things to some degree, what puppies would I save?

It turns out, I’d want to make the Internet a safer place. I’ve been working for a few weeks with some amazing Swedes. I’m actually working tonight on some demos for our Internet security solutions. Safety, I think, is something I can help create. The ability to know that at least some threats to my family and regular users on the Internet can be at least a little more distant, a little less scary. I’ll share more on that in some less-cryptic way soon.

As I work with and train more coders, I try and keep in mind that there really can be amazing new opportunities if we stay focused and use our powers for good.