The Trauma of Coding

April 24, 2021

I’m looking back at different projects I’ve worked on over the years and I thought it is worth addressing how working with technology can have an element of trauma to it, and how that trauma affects your ability to work as you move forward.

I am most familiar with two types of technology camps, the first being in music and by extension some creative coding, and the other is in web development. Music tech in general seems to be ok for me these days. It’s really just a matter of managing harddrive space for your sound libraries, and almost always needing an external drive connected when working on music with the computer.

Creative coding, I did some interesting projects with arduino and raspberry pi, and some of those were definitely traumatic working with such emerging technology. But they were fun to do. I just don’t gravitate towards those platforms these days. Not unless I’m absolutely inspired by a weird idea will I get my soldering iron out again.

In the area of web development, I remember there were times when you could easily wipe out a WordPress site or whatever, so I’m used to walking on eggshells in this area. I am getting to know some more modern platforms such as Gatsby which has systems in place for double-checking your work and not launching sites that missing files, but overall I am starting to see the benefits of just sticking with something like Squarespace or WordPress.com for your sites.

However if you only use these out-of-the-box systems, you might always feel like something is missing. If your Squarespace needs a robust events calendar for an arts organization, you’re going to have to embed something from somewhere else. And that’s why some people can never escape learning web development. I’m probably one of those people, when I think about wanting features like my own custom audio player on a website.

I would say the path forward is to use systems that break, but play with them in sandboxes so that you can blow them up without the panic of doing it to a live website. For creative coding projects you really need to give yourself lots of time before a performance or art installation to make sure your DIY system is rock solid.

If you want systems that are reliable and bring you no stress, then that’s fine, but you will likely miss out on the most exciting parts of working with technology: Doing it yourself and cooking with computers.

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