Should we be teaching more people to code? That’s a question I ponder, especially after re-reading an old view against the idea, a newer one, and a pro-code piece. At the end of the day, I think that coding is a basic skill, similar to reading and writing because so many of us, perhaps most of us in the developed world, will need to work with computers.
I don’t mean to imply that everyone should be able to write an MVC application or produce a graphical application. I also don’t expect most people to understand calculus or produce a thesis. However, I do want a core competency that allows them to work effectively with a checkbook and communicate a point effectively. I want them to understand enough coding to appreciate the logical and methodical way in which computers process instructions. I’d like to have most people appreciate how to create, store, shuffle, and retrieve a digital deck of cards.
Certainly I think that those people who continue to learn and advance in many industries can benefit from an understanding of what a database is, how to write a query that might logically fetch information. Even if you use a tool such as Excel, Power BI, Tableau, etc., knowing the ways in which we store information and need to process it can help you better work with the computing machines in your life.
Perhaps seeing how easy it can be to produce bugs will help people also appreciate the need for better security. I’d hope this would also have them demanding that professional software developers produce better work. Quality matters, and while I might be able to build a car, I would expect that one produced by professionals would be of a much higher quality, and much more reliable than my own efforts.
Having a basic understanding of how computers think will not only help us understand our systems better (or the people that design them), but can also help us develop thoughts and views on how we should reconcile the digital with analog world. I strongly feel that our understanding of, and the expectations we have in the analog world are very much inadequate for assessing a digital world that can accomplish things many people would have viewed as magic a few years ago. Certainly our legal structures aren’t well equipped to work in a digital era. To help us move forward, I’d like more people to understand computing.