I can hold my own and do what I need to do when I’m working with a number of languages, but coding skills are something that I would really like to work on.
The New York Times has published a series about coding. Calling the rising number of coding students “Computer Science’s Sputnik Moment,” there are a few interesting articles to mull over in the series. But one of them struck me more deeply than the others. That is the article by Jeanette Wing who is the head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon. The article is entitled Software as Self – Expression.
In it she says:
“Today’s students have grown-up tech savvy. They live in a world of exploring the Web and of personalizing their devices. Cyberspace is the anytime, anywhere laboratory where you can design and run your own experiments by writing just a little software. It’s affordable by anyone with access to the Internet. And each piece of software is an individual’s expression of creativity, much like poetry or music. Computer science can be fun and empowering.”
“When people talk about the smart grid, smart vehicles, and smart buildings — what makes them “smart”? Computer science. When people talk about personalized medicine and personalized learning, how do you think personalization is possible? Computer science”
Software as self expression. Coding as an art form.
While we’ve heard this before, after all, something similar is WordPress‘ motto: “Code is Poetry,” I think professor Wing does a particularly good job of putting this thought out there in this article.
John Davitt and I once had a conversation about “struggleware.” This is software that allows people (forces people) to experiment, to think, to solve problems in order to make things. There is getting to be more and more good examples of software floating around that does this.
- Lego Mindstorms
- The Powder Toy
on and on.
I would even throw software like WordPress on to this list. WordPress is free and open source. It can be hacked open and customized in countless ways, allowing people to make something they are interested in. This is the creativity, the self expression, the art form that coding skills give you access to. While I don’t believe everyone needs to be a high level programmer, I think everyone needs at least a basic understanding of how to work with, control, and create using technology.
I can’t draw or paint. I don’t know how to sing and I don’t play an instrument. But I can write some code. Even having a few skills gives me a chance to express myself.
How many kids out there are the same way?