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I might point out to the vast majority of commenters that similar sentiments were all the rage during the first 'home computer' boom. 30 years ago. Machines like the Atari 400/800, Commodore 64, etc. made computers cheap enough that everyone would have them in their homes. Everyone would learn how to program and control this magical beast. The general public would benefit from learning critical thinking and logical reasoning skills, etc., etc., etc... Programming books were 'aimed' at the general public, even to the extent of a series where Sherlock Holmes was co-opted to use the Difference Engine (programming it in your choice of language!) to demonstrate how programming worked. And, like most utopian ideas, it pretty much came to nothing. I got hooked a couple of years before this, when a grade school teacher brought in her TRS-80 Model I a few times for us to play with; by time this movement started rolling along, I was reading every computing magazine I could get my hands on, and enthusiastically embraced the idea. When I got to college in '86, I volunteered as a monitor for the CS labs because I was on fire with the need to spread the gospel by helping out all the students taking their first 'introduction to computing' courses. (Many majors at this state university required the CS 200 'Introduction to Programming' course. I think it's instructive that within a year or two, the CS department came out with a CS 100 'Introduction to Computers' course for these students, that focused on things like basic computer literacy and how to use Microsoft Works.) So what happened? The same thing that happened when "In the Beginning was the Command Line" was released 15 years later. A few people caught the excitement of tinkering with the system; the vast majority reacted with indifference at best, active pushback at worst. Because most people are more interested in using tech to do cool things, not in tinkering with the tech. Doesn't matter if it's computers, cars (how many people like to hot-rod their cars compared to the driving public?), home stereo systems (remember how important assembling your own component system used to be?), home theater (though here there's still a significant overlap between the hard-core hobbyist and the general public)... off the top of my head, I'm having trouble thinking of a tech-related field that hasn't followed this general pattern. I'm sure the latest 'Learn to Code' initiative will follow the same basic course. A few people (relatively speaking) will try it, find out they like it, and learn more about how the machine works. A very few will actually find a calling and get good enough to work at a professional level. A lot of people won't be able to make that mental leap into thinking algorithmically, get frustrated, and drop it. And the majority of people just won't care.
Commented May 15, 2012 on
Please Don't Learn to Code
Please Don't Learn to Code
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