Anything that you build and give away is a success even if nobody wants it or it doesn’t work. You win just by doing something, learning from it and having the guts to show your work to the world, imo. Prior to the internet, certainly in the commercial world, coding was a pretty solitary affair and it was hard to get feedback. I was always convinced that my code sucked. When Open Source came along it was like joining a great big dev team that seemed to like answering questions and giving you their code, unheard of before then. If only it were available to me when I was starting out I might not have experienced so much angst about my abilities!
Loads of ‘Open Source projects’ on Github are nothing more than developer doodles. An Open Source project might only have a single line of code but if its a line of code that is useful to anyone even just yourself then it is a successful project. Regex patterns are a good example of that.
A couple of weeks ago I was mentoring 10 kids over 3 days at a digital bootcamp, ages 9-15. There were prizes for best projects but none of them were in the slightest bit interested in competition, they were completely absorbed in their work and in what others were doing. Certainly as far as the youngest were concerned getting their projects online was the main prize and the whole judging/prize-giving thing was boring and irrelevent. Likewise my Code Club kids completely forget that there are certificates after each stage is completed, for most of them success is simply having fun. A couple of them feel successful enough to announce that “today I’m not doing a project I’m going to help the others” – serious!
Projects such as OpenGen and Code Club give us an opportunity to change perceptions surrounding success, achievement, failure, competition and co-operation in the next generation. Would love to see competition and prize-giving disappear from hackathons, bootcamps, classes, clubs etc. Seems to me it is adults not kids who feel the need, I was told by the organiser that the bootcamp was a competition because ‘life is a competition’. Perhaps, but is that a good thing? Should it always be thus?