Reddit’s ‘Watch People Code’ May Be The Next Big Thing In Live Streaming Video

Live streamed video gaming is huge right now but could watching people code be the next big internet trend?
Live streamed video gaming is huge right now but could watching people code be the next big internet trend? YouTube

Live streamed video gaming is huge right now but could watching people code be the next big internet trend?

Thanks to TwitchTV, live gaming has quickly become a huge trend in internet video streaming as millions of gamers daily log in to play or watch other people game online. But if watching people play video games has become so popular, then what other kinds of tech related spectator sports might take off? The answer could be, coding.

That’s right. A new trend in live internet video streams centers around people watching other people code. The trend seems to have started at the subreddit /r/watchpeoplecode, and as it gained popularity, it was soon turned into a website called The website has embedded all the live coding streams which are happening online at a given time, along with a listing of past streams and recordings for visitors to access if they so choose. In their first month, thousands of people have subscribed and tuned into these live coding streams, pointing to a trend that, with luck, may become as popular as live gaming streams.

In the streams, people can watch and learn all kinds of coding tasks, from how to build compilers, Minecraft servers and search engines, to coding in specific languages such as Ruby, Python and C. The streams are informal and don’t require any kind of membership to view but serve as a great resource for many.

“It’s interesting to see how other people approach problems – often differently than yourself,” Will (@squiffy), a security researcher and coder of 7 years, who tunes into various live coding streams throughout the week told iDigitalTimes. “It’s a great way for developers to learn and teach one another different strategies and workflows for a variety of projects.”

“I enjoy seeing how other coders work,” said Alvara software engineer, Marcus Vorwaller. “I like to see what tools they use, what their debugging process is, how fast or slowly they work. Generally it's hard to stand over someone's shoulder and watch them work without it being a little uncomfortable. If someone's willing to share their work online though, it's fun to watch.”

But what about the coders themselves? Why do they choose to run these lives streams, often free of cost? For Adam Wulf, developer of Loose Leaf, a gesture driven notes and sketch app, the decision to run live coding streams came as a result of difficulties he had while developing his latest app.

“I had been working on Looseleaf for quite a while and a lot of the code I was using to build it was just difficult to work out," Wolf told iDigi. There weren’t a lot of tutorials and there wasn’t much open source code out there to do a lot of the math or other things I wanted to be able to do, so there were different places I struggled with as I built it. Since I’ve launched I’ve wanted to open source those pieces so developers struggling with those same problems can have a better starting point than I did. I had heard about people doing live stream coding and thought maybe it would be interesting for people to see what it’s like to actually work on this code, think through it and solve some of these issues in person.”

Meanwhile, David Whitney, a Technologist and Coding architect who streams his live ‘Cuting Code’ sessions in a show format, says he developed his stream as a natural extension of the work he does every day.

“As part of my day job, I often train programmers by ‘ping-pong-pairing'," Whitney shared with iDigi. "I sit with another developer at their workstation, and we build software together, writing a test for a piece of functionality, and passing the keyboard to the pair, who makes the test pass by implementing the functionality. The pair then writes a test, and passes it back. It's a really productive way of working and ensuring bug free software, but it's often quite a culture shift.

In order to soften the learning curve, I started lunchtime ‘code dojos’ - it's a little bit like playing programming games. I'll show up with a puzzle, bring snacks, and get developers who don't normally work together to pair up. These pairs then work through the coding challenge, learning from each other on the way, then at the end of the hour long session, we all share our solutions and discuss them.

People react really well to these sessions -- they like the fact we get to work on esoteric programming problems that they might have never considered attempting before, and that it's in a safe place out of the context of regular work.

A couple of months ago, someone asked if they could watch the session remotely, because they couldn’t come and participate, but would love to see ‘how it worked.’ Since ‘seeing how it works’ is half the point of the sessions, I suddenly had a lightbulb moment. I realized that a paired programming web-cast could make a really fun format for a show, and would avoid some of the boring dryness of ‘just coding with a webcam on’. The conversation between the participants would push the format forwards, forcing the programmers to vocalize their train of thought to the viewer.

Then, by an absolute fluke (literally the next week), Scott Hanselman posted a piece called, 'Where is for Programmers', which served as a serendipitous catalyst to 'just do it.' I contacted a few other consultants I know who just love to code, and we decided to give it a go. About a week later, the /r/watchpeoplecode subreddit appeared and it all snowballed from there. I've only run three sessions through /r/watchpeoplecode, but the response is significantly more interesting than just broadcasting into the ether.”

To learn more about the live stream coding sessions available, visit or follow @watchpeoplecode on Twitter.

Cammy Harbison Writer/Reporter For iDigitalTimes For More OSX, iOS, Jailbreak And Infosec News Follow Cammy on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus
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