Young Programmers

Where are the young programmers? Tong and I were just talking yesterday, asking ourselves “Where are all the young programmers?”. When we were starting out, it was cheap/easy to write Mac and DOS apps — programming tools were available for <$100, the machines were readily available. Nowadays if you want to target Windows, tools are more expensive, or you have to bury yourself in .Net which is an overwhelming amount of stuff to learn (and is quite expensive). The Java platform has been hijacked by IBM and turned into a corporate thing, it is also expensive (time and costwise) to embrace. So if you are a young poor geek these days, what do you cut your teeth on? Building your own blog/website is surely one answer. Cheap to get started, tools are cheap too. Game Mods are another vibrant community. Skin development for Windows, Winamp, etc. is another hotbed. What is the growth path for these developers? What are they going to do in their late 20s, in their 30s? They aren't really on a path to become .Net developers or EJB developers. What platform is going to grow up with them? They don't want to use "their father's platform". We don't know but we are fascinated by the issue. (BTW, my own programming start was an Apple II disk/hex editor. I was driven to get all the strings off my Wizardry floppy so I could solve a puzzle that was holding me up in the game.)