Get Started

Welcome to the site! The best place to start is with the video archives for season 1. If you follow along, you’ll quickly pick up some programming basics and be able to write your own games in Java.

Watch Season 1

Everyone can be a programmer

Have you ever finger-painted, noodled around on a guitar, or tried to write a story? Chances are you’ve given at least one of those a try.

But what about writing a computer program? Build Something Awesome is built around the idea that computer programming should be just as accessible as any other art form.

Admittedly, computer programming today still involves a bit of arcane knowledge, but smoothing over the confusing parts is what Build Something Awesome is all about. All of the projects on this website are designed to be able to be completed in less than two hours. So welcome, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you create!
        —Aaron V.

Why you Should Be Excited About Computer Programming (and This Website)

Earlier this week I talked about why I want you to like my website—but what’s in it for you?

If you’ve ever wondered about computer programming

So much of our lives and our culture today depend on computers and the internet that it’s natural to be curious about how it all works. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of motivation in the computer software industry to make things easy to understand. While there are thousands of ways to make computer programs, most are overly complicated (and unnecessarily so, in my opinion). My goal with this website is to combine my experiences from designing computer programs and from teaching to create a resource that will allow anyone to sit down and immediately start enjoying writing computer programs.

If you want to express yourself more creatively

One of the most compelling reasons to learn about computer programming (and certainly the most fun reason) is that it allows you to explore creative ideas in much more varied ways than might otherwise be possible. Graphic design, music, creative writing, robotics, photography, and video can all me generated, analyzed and interacted with using computer programs. In the coming years, 3D printing will make sculpture and all sorts of crafting more programmable as well. And with the growing adoption of smart phones and tablets, creating programs that interact with us in our daily basis becomes increasingly easier. The possibilities of expression are nearly limitless!

If you want to improve your analytical thinking

Not all pursuits in life require analytical thinking, but the ones that do (for example, managing your finances) can make a big impact on your life. Computer programming is the absolute best way to practice analytical thinking, because the problems you solve a completely determined you. If you like cars, you could write a racing game. If you like cooking, you could write a recipe book program. If you like physics, you could write a physics simulation. If you like visual arts or music, you could write programs that draw graphics or produce sound. Through computer programming, any topic that interests you can become a way to trick yourself into enjoying practicing your analytical thinking skills (and I hope to show a wide range of examples of this here on my livestream broadcasts).

Just to try something new

So whatever your interest in computer programming may be, I hope this website will help make it easy for you to try it out. If you want to keep in touch, you can sign up to receive future updates, or tune in to my first livestream on Oct 20th, 2012 at 10am PDT / 1pm EDT. I look forward to seeing what you’ll create!

Why I’m Excited About This Site

I want to explain why I’m starting this website. There are two reasons: a selfish reason and an altruistic one. Today I’ll explain the selfish one.

I’m one of those people who likes to understand how things work. But I don’t just like to know how they work, I want to see how things work with my own eyes. What’s always amazed me about digging through something’s internals is how working things can be complicated and ugly and at the same time simple and elegant. There’s a conflict between good and evil going on within the design of everyday things.

It’s these glimpses of elegant principles battling against messy practicalities that rewards me every time I put in the effort to understand something new. And when I get an insight, I want to tell the story and let everyone know what greater purpose was pitted against what vile perversion—how long did they fight, and on what grounds—and what can we learn for the benefit of the future? This is the fabric of our technological culture. Replacing the stories and myths of the past, today our world is built around understanding, and I love to be immersed in that.

So that’s my motivation for putting all this together. I want to share stories about technology, about computer programs, and about programmers and designers. Of course, there’s an upside for you too, which I’ll talk a bit about in my next post. In the meantime, be sure to mark your calendar for my first livestream broadcast, Saturday, Oct 20th at 10am PDT (1pm EDT).

—Aaron V.