It's widely recognized that human beings have long considered French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Romanian to be the five basic languages of love. That said, as someone who has spent much of her career embedded in both the technology and writing industries, I would argue that there are numerous other languages of love whose collective emergence and seemingly impersonal origin have done little to discredit their pertinence to humankind, nor their widespread adoption or passionate usage to date. "Programming" languages might seem devoid of heart when standing on their own, but put them together with the human heart and the outpouring of love that will arise is unquantifiable.
Daily evidence of this continues to clutter my "inbox" as I learn of new concepts, grounded in early-learning programming and unique programs purposely derived from a heartfelt desire to help others, specifically children, whose eagerness to learn, create and grow through code is outmatched only by their desire to "fit in." No doubt, the shared similarities we all experienced throughout our childhoods are clearly laying the groundwork to meet those very same similarities in our children today... and in ways that definitely speak to the times. It is amazing how "some things change while others stay the same," isn't it?
In speaking with Scott Lininger and Aiden Chopra, founders of bitsbox, I couldn't help but be reminded of this as each of them shared the reasons and personal tales that would bring these two (now "former") Google employees and dads together and set them out on their own. Although they grew up in vastly different economic circumstances and locations, both shared a love for computers and programming which each discovered at age seven -- the age when each boy received his first computer. Aidan was given a MAC whereas Scott was not. Scott was given a TRS-80 computer from Radio Shack by his father whose love for his son compelled him to find the means to do so despite already stretched family finances. Twenty years later, Scott would go on to sell his first company to Google. He attributes his current entrepreneurial success to "winning the parent lottery." Now a dad himself to a seven-year-old daughter who also loves computers, Scott realized the dearth in the marketplace for early learning "programming" products. One extremely successful KickStarter effort later, bitsbox has help 300,000 kids build over 1.1 million apps in the last few months alone. "My goal is to provide all children with the means and opportunity to learn to program regardless of age or economic level," says Scott. No one can convince this writer that, that's not love.
The same holds true for Josh Bryan, CEO and Founder of HeroMe LLC, whose own little brother showed him a thing or two about overcoming a serious learning challenge posed by a weakness in math aptitude and skills, one which would eventually spark and idea in Josh.
I watched my 'little brother' create MathMan, a superhero that helped him conquer multiplication, division, and other math problems. By tapping into his imagination, my brother approached a difficult subject with increased confidence while strengthening his critical thinking skills and having fun in the process. This sparked the idea behind HeroMe, a toy designed by children online, which inspires them to be creative.
Kids literally make their own superheroes through the HeroMe online site, which they can later purchase alongside capes, posters, and t-shirts. As we all know, the emotional consequences that occur when faced with our personal limitations (especially at young ages), Josh took his little brother's experience and created an innovative way to help other children deal with their own. If you ask me, there's a whole lotta love goin' on here too.
Adriana Gascoigne has spread her love worldwide as well -- intent to inspire girls to fill the void the global technology industry continues to experience in convincing girls to jump on board and assume programming degrees and careers. Launching Girls in Tech in 2007, Adriana has brought her dream to life, establishing 45 chapters of the international non-profit which currently spans North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Through the creation of a groundbreaking program which acts as a global classroom to girls living as far away as Pakistan and as close as the United Kingdom, girls are learning programming as readily as they are learning leadership skills... and they are doing so as a community.
In Adriana's own words, "Our girls in Pakistan are now a part of something bigger than themselves and in a community of women who are there to give them the support they need to advance in their education and professional goals. Despite whatever adversity and odds they might be facing at home, they are no longer alone. This is why we are so committed to this organization. The remarkable opportunity to be an agent for change, one person at a time is not only incredibly rewarding but life changing."
And by "we," Adriana means the countless other women who presently dedicate their time and talents to making this organization work on a wholly 'unpaid' volunteer basis while juggling lives, families, and full-time jobs of their own. Seems like love to me.
Suffice it to say, programming languages might not be grounded in as much history as their five previously mentioned counterparts, but the love, meaning and intent they are carrying forth and igniting in others is no less powerful, memorable or inspiring. Keep this in mind, the next time your little tyke asks to play on your computer. Instead of frowning at his or her request out of sheer concern that you might just be laying the stage for little Johnny or Sally to become antisocial, realize that there is a lot of love that is going into some of these computer programs and like initiatives. The fact is... even though you may prefer to have "love" whispered in your ear in Italian, your kids may very well not.
All I can say is, "Take Heart...love is love, after all." Something to remember at Valentine's Day and every day.