Code Is Currency

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Some background into this book and why I wrote it.

hotel lobby
Tryp hotel lobby (Empty lobby - I didn't have my phone on me when I was writing this chapter)

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I sit here at 2:43pm in the very beautiful and high ceiling hotel lobby of the Tryp hotel in Dubai, UAE. There are currently thirty-seven adults, nine teenagers, three children and one baby in front of me. Of the forty-six adults and teens, there are thirty-one women and fourteen men. Families are checking in for a weekend away, couples on their summer holiday, and businessmen/women in suits, dresses and traditional Arabic clothing.

Of the forty-six people mentioned, six are asleep or dozing on sofas (Dubai is a city of layovers), the remaining forty people, one is holding a baby, and three are at the check-in counters with staff checking in to the hotel. Of the thirty-seven people remaining, thirty-two of them are on their phones, and that would be thirty-three if I wasn’t writing this paragraph with pen and paper.

Wherever you are in the world this is now the norm and for better or worse most of us live our lives through a tiny screen in our pocket, which all runs on code. You may have heard that with the rise of big tech that data is the new oil? Well if that is true then code is the new currency (we aren't talking about cryptocurrency so calm down). Code (all those 0s and 1s) lets data travel across borders from anywhere in the world with an internet connection, think about that for a second, there is a way for you to speak/see almost any person on planet earth via a 13 digit number. Even in 2022 that blows my mind!

I have spent the last twenty-five years writing code with the last nine years focused on mobile and voice technology but as I sit here in this hotel lobby, I sit in awe watching these thirty-two people scrolling, tapping and holding on to these tiny devices in their hands like their first born. The kicker is that when they do finally look up from their phone they will likely then interact with technology and the code that runs it without even realising, from the tablet they are given to sign their covid declaration form, them scanning the QR code to see the hotel food menu, downloading the taxi app to get them to the beach, the maps app to check their route or the login page for the public wifi. It is all around them and 99% don’t see but more importantly 99.99% don't understand that they can take advantage of it.

At the moment during the "end-ish" of a global pandemic, I am travelling the world with my wife and children, what turned out to be a one-year trip has turned into 2 years. During this time I started to write this book and both share my experience of technology but also show how technology is shaping countries, industries and people across the globe.

There is a term in the tech industry "software is eating the world" regardless of what you think of silicon valley VCs or CEO hoodie and flip flop attire this statement is very true. Every company's growth over the last decade and no doubt coming decades has been very much attributed to the companies technological transformation or the creation of a new company that came to disrupt a market and did. Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and X are all companies worth hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars and they don’t create anything but they facilitate our entertainment, travel and lodgings and they do so all through code.

This all sounds great but how can this help me the reader, well getting a glimpse into someone who has lived and contributed to this technology world can change how you see it and interact with it. When I get into an elevator I go through the motions of what happens when buttons are pressed, I understand that a developer created the software which controls how the elevator operates and I know they would have run many scenarios to ensure the code ran successfully. I also know there will be overrides in the code to skip floors or take you back to the ground quickly because that is what I would do (though we will come back to this in a later chapter).

Being able to see the world this way however small, yes can be a little frustrating or annoying at times but is very powerful when seen through the correct lens. When you see a system error on a self-check machine and you know how to reset it but the staff won't let you but instead make you queue in the airport line for 45 minutes. As you wait you watch the self-check-in screen from afar trying to see where the power cable runs to and if you can turn it off and on again or is the USB port showing, and did you pack the foldable keyboard in your rucksack or the checked luggage. I don’t need to understand what code the developer wrote to make the system work or in this case not work but I likely know how they thought about the problem and therefore can use that knowledge to my advantage, and most of the time I get the upperhand.

By the end of this book, I hope you get into an elevator or queue slightly differently or when you see an erroring advertising screen you chuckle because you know, you now know more than 99.99% of the world and that is that the world runs on code and you can use that for your advantage.

If you have got to the end of this chapter and are thinking, I don’t want to learn to code and sit in front of a desk all day then don’t worry it is not that type of book. This book will enable you to get into the mindset of these hoodie-wearing laptop sticker coffee drinkers and let their superpower become something you can see and use, and hopefully make life and work more interesting and you more empowered to do what you want.

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