Do you have anything planned for this weekend?
Yeah. I’m going to catch a movie and watch a couple of hours of Java programming.
That sounds very unusual, even for geek conversation, but it turns out, that Java programming bit, or live coding, is actually a thing. I was directed to a recent article on Medium that took a close look at the practice (don’t know if you can even call it that) of watching coders code, or to put it in another way, watching programmers as they write code.
A platform called Livecoding.tv was cited as the meeting point and key example of this new phenomenon.
In a lot of ways, live coding resembles the more recognisable concept of YouTube gaming. This is the experience where gamers upload playthroughs or sequences of themselves playing.
Platforms like Twitch (owned by Amazon) have made video game streaming something more than just a geek past time and the practice has made millionaires and internet celebrities out of guys like Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg aka PewDiePie, who has spun a vlogging career and a YouTube channel into one of the better examples of social media entrepreneurship.
So what’s the value point in live coding? Having signed up on Livecoding.tv and taken a virtual tour of the platform, it’s easy to see where the traction is coming from. Firstly there’s the social extension that’s attached to the coding experience, something that hasn’t been done by any other platform before.
There’s also a lot of value being delivered through this platform as a learning channel. While it doesn’t have the usual approach to sharing knowledge on coding like what we’ve seen from treehouse or Udacity, the fact that you can watch someone break down the actual programming elements for a specific language gives a new definition to the term live tutorial.
Whether or not this concept becomes something as big as gaming remains to be seen. That will also depend on the monetisation that will accompany this social-media-meets-gaming-meets-learning experiment. In the meantime, Zimbabwean programmers with the right sort of internet connection (fibre is your best bet, or at least a very good WiMax or ADSL connection) can go to livecoding.tv and give a go.