When you tumble down the programming rabbit hole, you will notice the effort taken to encourage others to begin their journey into the programmatic arts.
You will see boot camps, offering to turn you into a developer of mythological proportions in just six weeks. You will see thousands of people cruise through the first steps in Codecademy, or Khan Academy.
Stack Overflow, community Slacks, and IRC channels will be loaded with new comers seeking wisdom. They will all be driven by the voice booming: Anyone can program!
You can do it, your Mom can do it — your Gramps and Kitten too! We should teach it to our children, it should be required in school, and all shall apply this useful, lucrative talent. All it takes is practice.
Anyone can program but does that mean everyone should? Pixar's Ratatouille helps us answer this question.
This article contains spoilers for Pixar's Ratatouille.
Chef Auguste Gusteau. The youngest chef to ever receive a 5 star rating. An undisputed wunderkind in the Kitchen. Auguste, with his unbelievable talent and charismatic flair insists that: Anyone can cook.
Beautiful, inspiring words. But as Ted Lucas would croon: It’s so easy when you know what you’re doing.
Enter Anton Ego. The sharpest, most vociferous food critic in the industry. Years of being subject to over-confident upstarts and complacent Iron Chefs, he looks down on Gusteau’s philosophy with disgust, bluntly stating that: I, on the other hand take cooking seriously, and — no, I don’t think anyone can do it.
Our hero, Remy is a gifted creature. A rat, yes, but you should not hold that against him — he is a gastronomic genius. With an over-developed sense of smell, taste and love for food, he has the right tools to pursue culinary greatness.
Tools are no good without the right toolbox, and luckily Remy is passionate, driven, and courageous — just the right adjectives for success in the kitchen.
In contrast to Remy is Linguini, the films …other… hero. Youthful, gangling, uncoordinated, a bit dull, with no natural aptitude for cooking or anything else terribly useful, except for — in his words — “appearing human”.
That’s strangely involuntary…!
The two of them concoct a plan, realizing that with Remy’s gift and Linguini’s ability to not look like a rat, they could form a dangerous duo. Only, they would need to learn to perform in concert.
And so they train. With Remy pulling the strings, Linguini is able to master the basics of chopping, pan flipping, food handling, wine pouring — all the mechanical, muscle-memory skill one needs to perform in a Kitchen.
With Remy and his brilliance at the helm of his human vehicle Linguini, they rescue Gusteau’s ailing restaurant from the brink of selling out to the disgraceful world of frozen, microwavable dinners. They return the restaurant back to the ranks of popularity in the Paris fine-dining circuit. No small feat.
Pixar, in typically brilliant fashion, has flipped the usual narrative found in popular Western media. It is clear that the harmless and lighthearted Linguini lacks the talent, confidence, and general life skill required to be successful in an industry as demanding and meritocratic as fine-dining. Remy, the rat from the sewer, is the diamond in the rough.
After receiving a dish from the rat Chef so delightful that his perspective shatters to pieces, the magic point is delivered with precise, heartfelt words by the movie’s Antagonist:
In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: 'Anyone can cook', but I realize only now do I truly understand what he means… Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.
Just as the Kitchen is not a place for Linguini, the web development team may not be a place for the average Joe. While he tries his hardest and is able to master the simple steps, looping through common Kitchen routines, he lacks the broad creative vision and intuitive spontaneity that Remy seasons into tasty dish after tasty dish.
While the fire in the Web Development Kitchen might not be for everyone, remember:
No matter where you are or who you might be, if you have an internet connection, patience, drive, and the right mental ingredients, you too can invent the delicious recipes seen in today’s most popular applications.
Only, you should not expect the same thing out of everyone.