Imagine a world where everyone knows how to code. A world where “programming ninja” finally exits the zeitgeist because, well… that’s all of us now. A world where we can all squash bugs (if we want), automate our most annoying tasks, and build the future with our lightning-fast fingertips. Welcome to Quincy Larson’s world. Though it hasn’t fully materialized yet, he’s building it every day.
As the founder of freeCodeCamp, a community where anyone can learn to program, Quincy is the central node in a growing network of aspiring developers scattered across the world. The program is free, open-source, and self-paced. To inspire Campers, Quincy writes Medium posts blending futurism, technology, and tips for the aspiring programming wizard. How true are the doomsday rumors about automation stealing our jobs? Ever wanted to encrypt your entire life in less than an hour? Quincy’s got some ideas (and, often, some questions).
Raised in Oklahoma City, Quincy never intended to be a programmer. Before learning to program, he worked in schools — first as a teacher, then as a principal. In a sort of proto-hack, Quincy automated teachers’ basic tasks (attendance and other headaches). Aha, he thought: tech + education = impact. A code camp was born, and Quincy has hardly taken a day off since.
In one of his most popular stories, Quincy sounds a (thoughtful) warning about the future of net neutrality. The internet “is a Cambrian Explosion of ideas and execution,” he argues, and it’s at risk of becoming just another maze of walled gardens (think: cable TV). The solution? Education. Read, contact your representatives, and — better yet — learn to code. The story encapsulates Quincy’s passion to ensure the internet stays as free as it was born. With over 100 responses, it’s clearly making people think.
Why is this conversation so important, especially today? “Technology helps people have a voice,” believes Quincy. It’s our digital megaphone, the place where we go to cut out the middleman. Access to tech, and our ability to shape its development, has the potential to solve some of humanity’s trickiest problems. (Of which there seem to be a lot lately.) Luckily, Quincy knows “there are already a tremendous number of developers out there who care, who have an itch to scratch and create their own tools.” The key is giving them the skills to do it.
Watch our short film to hear Quincy’s vision for programming and beyond, in his own words.
Now, Quincy has moved back in Oklahoma City from San Francisco, splitting his time between code, words, and family. What does the future hold — not just for programmers, but for tech writ large? “I think technology has always made things better,” he laughs, “I would never criticize someone for trying to make things more efficient. When they make the chips that just interface with your brain (if they’re secure), I’ll probably get one, you know?”
While we wait on that chip, Quincy continues to connect people, ideas, and code. And not just for himself, or for us, but for his daughter, who turns two in just a few months. Eventually, she’ll learn to play with code. But for now, blocks will suffice. Either way, the real motivation, for Quincy, is that ”she will grow up in the America I seek to make.”
Check out some of Quincy’s most Noteworthy stories and series:
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