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Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact?

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the whatever-works dept.

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theodp writes "By trotting out politicians (Bill Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, Al Gore) and celebrities (Chris Bosh, will.i.am, Ashton Kutcher), Tuesday's Code.org launch certainly was a home run with the media. But will it actually strike a chord with kids and inspire them to code? Dave Winer has his doubts, and explains why — as someone who truly loves programming — code.org rubbed him the wrong way. 'I don't like who is doing the pitching,' says Winer, 'and who isn't. Out of the 83 people they quote, I doubt if many of them have written code recently, and most of them have never done it, and have no idea what they're talking about.' Code.org's because-you-can-make-a-lot of-money-doing-it pitch also leaves Dave cold. So, why should one code, Dave? 'Primarily you should do it because you love it, because it's fun — because it's wonderful to create machines with your mind. Hugely empowering. Emotionally gratifying. Software is math-in-motion. It's a miracle of the mind. And if you can do it, really well, there's absolutely nothing like it.' Nice. So, could Code.org use less soulless prattle from 'leaders and trendsetters' and more genuine passion from programmers?" Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word.

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lol (5, Funny)

dingen (958134) | about a year and a half ago | (#43037983)

Ok, this is going to burn karma like crazy... but an article about a guy named Dave Winer who is complaining? Seriously?

Re:lol (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038409)

I'd rather not think about what the *other* article with him could be about ?

Lol (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038021)

Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word.

Yes, because there are just so many companies looking for people good with Scheme.
Oh wait, no, that's right, companies keep asking for people who know how to use MS Office products.

Re:Lol (5, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038687)

Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word.

Yes, because there are just so many companies looking for people good with Scheme.

Oh wait, no, that's right, companies keep asking for people who know how to use MS Office products.

Teach a ninth grader to use Microsoft Word, and he'll be able to use Microsoft Word.
Teach a ninth grader Scheme, and he'll be able to create the successor to Microsoft Word.

Where does this mentality of "only use the tools people use to make money to teach concepts" come from?

Does a ninth grader really need to know how to hold down an office job? Why not go a step further and give all first graders a calculator and stop teaching them basic math? After all, when you get a job, you're expected to know how to use a calculator, not do polynomial division in your head.

Can't agree (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038899)

I like where you're going, but can't hop on that bus.

Learning how to use a wordprocessor. Learning how to make professional looking documents that communicate well to people is a valuable skill. I'm not a fan of Word, but whether it's Word or Libre Office, 90% of the kids will directly benefit from being able to compose their thoughts on the computer.

I love programming, but the percentage of people that would have their lives improved in some significant way by a 9th grade course in Scheme seems unlikely to be 90%, where for Libre Office that number seems conservative.

Re:Lol (4, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038793)

Not to mention the beautiful expressiveness and readability of things like [neu.edu] :

(and (or (= (string-length "hello world") (string->number "11"))
(string=? "hello world" "good morning"))
(>= (+ (string-length "hello world") 60) 80))

Especially for the average 9th grader.

They want wage slaves (0, Offtopic)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038025)

To squeeze out more profits for their dying capitalist system.

Look at what these clowns are trying to do to the teaching profession. Do you "coders" think you are any different?

There is only one solution: communism! We need workers revolution to smash the capitalist state and establish a Soviet world.

Re:They want wage slaves (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038079)

Just out of curiosity, how many -1s do you need before you do us all a favor and abandon that novelty account?

Re:They want wage slaves (1)

sarysa (1089739) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038275)

FWIW, the first thing that popped into my libertarian head is that they want to increase the supply of programmers, thus decreasing their value. You lost me after that.

Dear Slashdort commenter Sarysa: (-1, Flamebait)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038367)

I have some friendly advice for you!

Would that you don't go around announcing to the world that you are a "libertarian," because people tend to dislike total moronic idiot fools. Why make life harder for yourself?

Re:They want wage slaves (2, Insightful)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038785)

the system that's dying in the united states is not capitalism

because capitalism is where the government stays out of the way and stops fucking the economy up more (an economy supported by government is closer to communism than capitalism)

"capitalist state" is an oxymoron

Oh god no (1)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038059)

You're not going to entice a kid to do anything with the promise of "math in motion".

Re:Oh god no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038297)

"Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word" --- while you're at it, you can force them to invent a flying car that runs on water. Really, force force force all the way.

Coding??????? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038067)

I am more interested in the learning to read above the 6th grade level.

Re:Coding??????? (2)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038081)

You could just wait a few years for seventh grade.

Not for a lack of soul (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038069)

It's not soulless, it's condescending. Grabbing a bunch of random celebrities and pretending they have anything to do with learning to code is ridiculous.

If there's one thing academia doesn't need, it's crass marketing with celebrity spokespeople.

Re:Not for a lack of soul (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038197)

Well, if only they used people famous for their coding. such as Linus . . .

Re:Not for a lack of soul (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038427)

And The Woz.

Re:Not for a lack of soul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038353)

Oh, c'mon. Does Kobe Bryant drink Sprite? Did Robert Wagner get a reverse mortgage? Does Danica Patrick buy godaddy.com domains?

Re:Not for a lack of soul (1, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038647)

Oh, c'mon. Does Kobe Bryant drink Sprite? Did Robert Wagner get a reverse mortgage? Does Danica Patrick buy godaddy.com domains?

More to the point, does Kobe Bryant entice ME to drink sprite? Ah, No.

And yes, Danica Patrick (or someone claiming to be her official site) does indeed buy (get for free?) a domain from Go Daddy. [who.is]

For a lot of us, having Al Gore or Clinton or Ashton Kutcher or similar clueless people pimping for a coding site is a clear signal to run away like our hair is on fire.
Who pulled their strings to get them to jump on that bandwagon? It costs money to even get their attention. Where is that coming from, and what is their motivation?

Re:Not for a lack of soul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038665)

And were a single one of those advertisements successful?

The answer to all these questions is a big fat no.

Re:Not for a lack of soul (4, Funny)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038375)

Um, Al Gore invented the freaking internet. What exactly have *you* done recently?

Re:Not for a lack of soul (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038385)

I agree.
In the same vein, who are these politicians and celebrities who keep telling us about the importance of our kids learning science and math? How dare they endorse something that they recognize the importance of but aren't actively involved in themselves.

it's both (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038779)

chris bosh prolly never coded 1 line is his life..

well maybe when he worked for the GNAA, but still.. I think he was just a fluffer

Scheme and beyond (4, Funny)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038075)

Scheme and Lisp all the way! Just start off playing with the run environment in emacs and build your way up. Play with the Scheme interpreter com-ponent of GAP. You should program to learn how to accomplish things, even silly things like temperature conversions (F->C, C->F, F->C->K, K->F, et cetera) so a kid feels like they're getting shortcuts for homework. Pretty soon they're actually learning things for each new thing they want to accomplish. Programming rote exercises feels meaningless to me. But there's that subjectivity again.
.
What's motivational to me may be crap to you. What motivates someone else to program may be crap-tastic to me. To each their own. But I strongly agree with teaching programming (not just coding a small small subprogram or subroutine, but actually understanding a project from beginning to end, even the temperature conversion programs can have a lot of UI trickery even if it's designed just for text mode).
.
My recommendations:
1 - play inside emacs
2 - Dr.Scheme
3 - autocad if you can get your hands on it and autolistp

Re:Scheme and beyond (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038257)

You mean in VIM. Teaching kids emacs is just wrong

Re:Scheme and beyond (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038531)

DrScheme (or any other program that makes it trivial to "click and run" what you wrote), is ideal. A nice next step would be a simple text editor (notepad++, sublime2, or whatever you fancy). Having children use an editor like emacs or vim is adding a learning curve that doesn't need to be there. If the goal is to find the fun in programming and inspire passion, you want to remove superfluous obstacles. Learning to really make effective use of more advanced editors is a worthwhile task, but it is not one I'd place in front of learning to program.

Re:Scheme and beyond (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038839)

Hell, I say make them use ED.

Kids need to learn the value of hard work. Get off my lawn. I have to go yell at clouds now.

Re:Scheme and beyond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038555)

You mean in Notepad. Teaching kids Lunix is hella crazy, yo.

Re:Scheme and beyond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038573)

You mean in VIM. Teaching kids emacs is just wrong

Teaching children Emacs is tantamount to abuse while vi/vim will expand their minds as they learn to think.

Their first mistake (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038085)

"...trotting out politicians (Bill Clinton, Mike Bloomberg, Marco Rubio, Al Gore) and celebrities (Chris Bosh, will.i.am, Ashton Kutcher)..."

Why not trot out someone famous who knows something about the subject, like Bill Gates or Steve Wozniak?

Re:Their first mistake (2)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038125)

My guess is that making coding look "cool" is their top priority, and so they avoid bringing out anyone who looks overly "geeky".

Re:Their first mistake (1)

logjon (1411219) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038169)

Gates and Woz are each more respectable than the knuckleheads they did trot out combined.

Re:Their first mistake (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038469)

Gates and Woz are each more respectable than the knuckleheads they did trot out combined.

Absolutely. I'm not defending them, I'm simply trying to understand their thinking.

(Well, maybe with the exception of Clinton. I have a lot of respect for him. That doesn't change the fact that I doubt he could print something to the screen in BASIC.)

Re:Their first mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038601)

(Well, maybe with the exception of Clinton. I have a lot of respect for him. That doesn't change the fact that I doubt he could print something to the screen in BASIC.)

He did programme Monica Lewinsky to perform certain actions which could be termed wetware programming versus traditional hardware programming. Sorry I could not resist.

Too many freedom haters on that list (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038089)

I don't give a damn what those clowns happen to think. They're scum. End of story.

It's about generating initial interest. (0)

frivolous_taco (2834339) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038135)

I first became interested in computers after watching the movie "Hackers". I believe the main point here is to get people interested enough to have a look into the career, and then they can figure out their own reasons for staying. Stating things like "To be clear, you should learn to code if you love writing and debugging and refining and documenting and supporting code." is a bit ridiculous, since it's hard to know if I like to write & debug code if I haven't even tried to write it in the first place.

Re:It's about generating initial interest. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038199)

I first became interested in computers after watching the movie "Hackers".

Please get off of my internet.

Re:It's about generating initial interest. (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038247)

Some of us had absolutely no exposure to Phreaks at all, until that movie. Dont be too judgy.

Re:It's about generating initial interest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038319)

Or boobies. I was maybe 10 when that movie came out, and I am proud to admit that Angelina Jolie's boobies made me want to become a programmer.

Re:It's about generating initial interest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038563)

and you got yourself a nice pair of manboobs as a result?

Re:It's about generating initial interest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038661)

Or boobies. I was maybe 10 when that movie came out, and I am proud to admit that Angelina Jolie's boobies made me want to become a programmer.

Hint: You should have been playing with the boobies of twenty-year old college students and when next years models are available move to them instead. Rinse and repeat until the day you die. You cannot programme a woman over the age of twenty-one; they throw ABENDS constantly.

Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038461)

I first became interested in computers after watching the movie "Hackers".

Please get off of my internet.

Indeed.

I first became interested in programming because I needed a computer to help solve a problem and I liked the problem and the solution (like using computers: PDP-11-something that I can't remember) not be cool, not because some celecrities with backing from people with questionable motives.

I did it because I was intrinsically motivated to do it. I just did it for fun.

The fun wore off when I had to code for a living - coding for some of the folks backing this "movement".

Why I hate coding now? Because I was basically coding the same problems over and over again but different platforms.

I never had enough time to think of the best solution.

There was never enough time. Long hours. No life. And - here's the fucking kicker - I was on a job were I got my projects done AHEAD of time and decided to take some time off ( I was paid hourly so who cares, right?). Folks got in my face saying, "I guess you don't have enough to do!"

Fuck you.

I think those assholes in those videos are just trying to convince the powers that be - "Hey Look! We created an ad!" - to allow more technical immigrants so that the can push wages down more.

Look it - back in 1999 a C++ coder could make $122,000 a year - easily outside of Silicon Valley (SV is in their own land out there.)-and that's writing business programs. And now?

Re:Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038815)

And now.....they still can.

I make $125k plus bonuses with between 15 and 20 years experience. Before this job, I was making around $100k but had bigger bonuses. And yes, it's business apps.

Re:It's about generating initial interest. (1)

dclozier (1002772) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038885)

I first became interested in computers after watching the movie "Hackers".

Conversely - this is when I first became interested in Angelina Jolie.

scheme? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038173)

Just force all ninth graders to learn Scheme instead of Microsoft Word.

... and make sure they'll never want to code another single line for the rest of their lives. Seriously, wtf?

Keep Programming Soulless (2)

happy_place (632005) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038177)

The problem with encouraging a person to program for the sheer joy of it is that they start to adopt useful/fun programming languages that managers don't know... like Perl... and that's just too dangerous. It's best to keep programming soulless... :)

Re:Keep Programming Soulless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038637)

Perl is fun? PERL IS FUN? Well, your post surely is funny enough but.. Perl?

I am not at all sure this makes sense. (5, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038191)

I've never seen a programmer who had to be encouraged to program. Mostly, I'm interested in the people you can't get to stop programming.

Re:I am not at all sure this makes sense. (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038467)

Exactly. People will like to do what they like to do. My one daughter loves to watch hockey. We almost never watched hockey until she said she wanted to watch it. I really don't know where her love of watching hockey came from. I have another daughter, and she could care less about watching the hockey game (except when she found out I was taking her sister to a game, then she suddenly feigned interest) There was plenty of encouragement for me to like team sports when I was a kid, but to this day I don't really care so much for any of them.

Despite all that, I think it would be much more beneficial for kids to focus more on intellectual skills than on physical skills. If you aren't in the top 1000 in whatever sport you choose, then there's basically no way to make money from playing the sport. Even if you count coaches, trainers, and a bunch of ancillary jobs, there just aren't that many jobs out there in sports. Compare that with programming, where there are literally millions of people making money by writing code. Also, it's conceivable that coding skills would come up in many other non-coding jobs (creating a spreadsheet for example) whereas skills from a sport would almost never be of any use in any job, except for basic strength and co-ordination skills, which aren't really specific to any sport, but just being in shape in general, which is important, but you don't really have to excel at any sport to do that.

Re:I am not at all sure this makes sense. (2)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038729)

Exactly. People will like to do what they like to do

For a lot of people this is sit on their couch, watch TV, and get fat. It's not completely bad to suggest better ideas for people.

Re:I am not at all sure this makes sense. (2)

Dan Hayes (212400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038753)

People also sometimes don't know that there are things they might like because they haven't tried them! This isn't a revolutionary concept in human understanding.

Crocodile tears to get rid of H1b limits (3, Interesting)

echtertyp (1094605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038209)

I've worked in California in the past, so I'm sure my U.S. colleagues would agree: this is all just part of the show to get unlimited visas for large companies. Rather like the Wall Street banks pleading for a bailout...poor us... then making records profit$ the following years. It's all part of the game boys. Learning to lie convincingly is how you get to the top.

Re:Crocodile tears to get rid of H1b limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038279)

Bingo.

Re:Crocodile tears to get rid of H1b limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038719)

Or not necessarily H1b, just the pool in general. If you can replace a great coder with two polo-shirted brogrammers and save money, why wouldn't you? And as they keep telling me, computer time is cheap, programmer time is expensive.

You are a poor judge (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038217)

I don't think anyone on slashdot is in their target market. I looked at the site and it was meh, but perhaps a neophyt would get excited about having simple options layed out for them.

I have to laugh at this article becuase I think Unix geeks and many on slashdot are secretly the alt music scene kids of old that hated a band a soon as they got popular. I think the truth is many of us want to keep geekdom a private club and so we come down on things like this.

Re:You are a poor judge (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038823)

We come down on things like this for the same reason classically trained musicians come down on someone who teaches "how to make music" by bringing in a bunch of people who say "I like music! It could be a great career for you!" and then offering a site where people can take the recording tracks of a few top 40 songs and mash them up themselves.

The big issue is that you then get a bunch of people who say "I know all about how to make music!" who were never actually taught the underpinnings, theory, or skill behind creating original music.

You're right about the "private club" aspect -- the concern though is about people saying "I'm part of your private club too!" who have never even been to a meeting, but just read the minutes.

As long as there's some level of transparency about what's being hyped, I see nothing wrong with it. But we don't want to limit kids' vision of what they can do by putting them in a strictly defined and limited box and tell them it's the whole world.

Looks like a mix of people to me (2, Informative)

joelsherrill (132624) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038219)

Look at the people at http://www.code.org/quotes [code.org] . Some are politicians but many are from the computing industry. Quit whining and actually look.

Re:Looks like a mix of people to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038371)

Not to mention "loving coding and documentation, blah blah". Gimme a friggin break.

Coding is like laying bricks 99% of the time when it's a job. Unless you're doing your own likely to fail project, you're moving bits across a network to display some typically boring information to an end user.

Coding is a result of using the tools, the product is generally more compelling.

Re:Looks like a mix of people to me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038393)

I see Snoop Dogg and Enrique Iglesias and Will-I-Am. There goes any credibility right out the door with those jokers.

Dan's initial criticism that there are no active coders on there is true. A majority of the tech execs I see probably haven't written real code in the last decade if ever. The last time I saw a suit code was... never. They sure did like to talk about the glory days of it when they were college grads because coding is a young man's career (ie, young people are willing to work in sweatshop environments for peanuts).

Re:Looks like a mix of people to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038501)

Of course CEOs of computer information corporations want more programers. More programers means lower wages which means more profit for them.

Re:Looks like a mix of people to me (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038529)

Yes, but if at the big PR events the stars and politicians are the only ones being trotted out, what message does that really send to kids about being a programmer?

Re:Looks like a mix of people to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038651)

Anybody else burst out laughing when they saw Snoop Dogg in the list?

Re:Looks like a mix of people to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038863)

I was just thinking these are the people I would like to see in a video about coding, or on the website.

Linus, RMS, James Gosling, Guido, Bjarne, Anders, Matsumoto, Brad Cox, Blake Ross. Robert McCool, Micheal Widenius, Brendan Eich, Rasmus Lerdorf, Brad Fitzpatrick, Avinash Lakshman, Doug Cutting, Greg Kroah-Hartman, Ben Hutchings

These are the people who created the software that these same companies use every day to make large profits. Until these people are the focus, every young kid will want to be the business man/woman, politician, music pop star, athlete that they seem to focus on. Code.org is only making things worst.

code.org - no forums, astroturfing job (2)

Animats (122034) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038229)

This is an astroturfing job. At "code.org", you can sign up to support what they want, but you can't vote against it, or even comment on it.

Re:code.org - no forums, astroturfing job (1)

Dan Hayes (212400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038783)

Why would they provide you the means to whine about them on their own site? I haven't seen forums or "tick here to say we're shit" on 99% of corporate, charity or personal sites I've ever visited. If you don't like it, ignore it, or do your complaining elsewhere.

You can make a lot of money? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038237)

Sure you can make a decent income, but nothing like what those folks make. On top of that the politicians want to make sure this job no longer pays a good wage. What jobs they cannot export they will import cheaper workers for.

This tells kids who are paying attention that they should become politicians or celebrities. Since you never see famous coders like Carmack endorsing the latest Kutcher movie or whatever this will.i.am person does.

Re:You can make a lot of money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038741)

Making money is the American Dream.

To quote Snoop Dogg, “support tha american dream n make coding available to EVERYONE!!“

The What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038289)

For Cowboy Neil's sake, can someone please briefly describe what the hell code.org is so I don't have to read TFA?

Teach it like any other skill: as a magic power. (5, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038293)

Especially for kids, but also for people with souls, "it makes money" is not a sufficient justification. Lots of things make money; anal prostitution and being a hired killer also make money.

However, you can usually get traction by pitching it as a skill that is worthy in its own right as it bestows power upon those who yield it. Like learning to play an instrument, it is fun for its own sake and also useful in isolation. It allows you to create things and have a certain type of power.

The point of coding for those who will have the "coder mentality" is that you can fix things, make them do what you need, and accommodate needs outside the generic functions that most people use. It's the same reason you learn to play a guitar, so you can write the songs you like, or learn woodworking, electronics, etc.

I don't think this appeal will ever go wrong, while the sanitized and denatured "but it's a great job!" approach will sound like more manipulative, submissive, obedient and conformist adult-logic to kids.

Re:Teach it like any other skill: as a magic power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038771)

I've never heard anyone compare learning to plan an instrument to anal prostitution without the pay, but I hear what you are saying.

Programming Requires Dissatisfaction (5, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038299)

People who are satisfied with the status quo -- people who see a picture of Bill Clinton or Will.I.Am and think, "yeah, we're celebrating the right things" -- are not the kind of people who become passionate programmers. The best programmers the world has known have all looked at what we have and said, "This is lame, and I'm going to fix it no matter how many times my computer says, 'You coded it wrong.'" A dystopian view of the present is what drives people to run the compiler one more time, one more time, one more time, one more time, until at 3 AM they say, "FUCK YEAH, BITCH, I WIN!"

So unless that front page is trying to inspire kids by making them think, "I am going to learn enough so I can destroy asshat hairstyles like this," I think they've missed the mark.

Re:Programming Requires Dissatisfaction (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038825)

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him... The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself... All progress depends on the unreasonable man."

--- George Bernard Shaw

It's the wrong way to promote an art. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038301)

Since when was coding and programming anything other than being someone who had the ability to manipulate and create programs, on computers, that would enable us to be creative. The whole idea of teaching programming in schools with many of these testimonials we hear "I'd like to advocate for computer coding to be an institution in the public school systems right next to biology, chemistry, physics, etc. If we want to spur job growth in the US we have to educate ourselves in the disciplines where jobs are available and where economic growth is feasible." This used to be a special skill, but the moment everyone can do this, is the moment what we have today becomes no longer unique. Programmers create these unique new ideas because they can and no one else has that ability. If everyone can program we lose that innovation, that community, it's suddenly an overflow of the same redundancy we'll end up teaching. Programming cannot be taught in schools today, because there is no significant demand for teachers with this skill with a salary that will pay. While programming is something that could be beneficial to students, why would a programmer go and teach at a school, when he could actually develop at a higher salary. All programming teachers I've experienced, are not programmers, they don't have the skills to be teaching children how to code, because they never saw it as an outlet for creativity. Copying code snippets from a book, will never be enough to teach the next generations the skills and creativity they need to be the fantastic developers they need to be for the kind of programming that would benefit our communities. The way code.org is running the testimonials feels like they're going in, knowing nothing about programming, and using as a quick fix for an injured economy, and that's not what programming is about. It's a trade, it's a skill, it's not something that should be hijacked by corporate bodies and used to breed the next generation of code monkeys. We should instead encourage projects like the raspberry pi, teaching kids who are interested to take their own initiative, and teach themselves something they find cool, instead of being used as something just to get a job. That's not what it is.

Really? (1)

TheCorporal (306071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038311)

Come on guys, lets be honest, think about who they are marketing to, kids under the age of 18. This is the message that will most strongly resonate with that group. Trotting out genuinely passionate programmers probably wont carry the same weight as a name or face they can recognize. Think of this as PR for coding in general not a call to inspiration or something.

Kids need to be open to the idea and know that a life of programming does not mean a life stuck in the dungeon of nerd hell but can mean a profitable productive and meaningful existence. The video does all of these things IMO.

Right for the wrong reasons (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038333)

The launch video [youtube.com] I saw was a bit different from the one described in TFS. I think it was delivering the right message, just for the wrong reasons. It's not about being a rock star, it's about learning how computers work. I think it's a great idea to encourage more people to learn how to write programs. It doesn't have to be C or Scheme or Java, just something that helps them understand how computers work. Computers shouldn't be scary technology; anyone can learn to write a simple computer program. And I think once you learn how to write that simple program, you start to understand how computers do the things that they do. Computers become less mysterious.

Cheap Labor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038339)

It's Industry leaders trying to convince more people to learn a key trade so they can bring costs down.

Kids have no concept of money (1)

KalvinB (205500) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038373)

They actually did a study in which kids were paid for good grades. There was zero positive impact. It simply isn't a motivating factor.

Kids need problems to solve. Hobbies. And if they see that a computer can be used to solve their problem, they'll use it.

I didn't learn programming because it was "fun" when I was 8 or so. I learned programming because it solved problems I was interested in. Namely, making games and creating animation. I made some pretty lengthy ASCII animations back in the day. I was interested in animation and computers were a way to solve the problem since I didn't have an 8mm camera and money to spend on developing film as would be required if I tried to use stop motion as the means to solve the problem.

I still use programming primarily to solve problems. I just solve different problems and get paid more to do it now.

Simply Politics (1)

vinn (4370) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038417)

Holy crap! They can link to Khan Academy! That'll fix everything.

If there was a severe shortage of programmers, every programmer you know would be making $100k +.

This smells like a ploy simply to get Congress to pass legislation to allow more visas and drive down salaries. This smells like a trick to justify offshoring more jobs. This smells like some kind of crap to get Congress to approve tax incentives to companies that have programmers most likely already on staff - not actually hiring more. In other words, this whole thing seems like a way simply for businesses to make more money - not to provide more jobs and certainly not to educate/train people.

Watch - there will be a ton of marketing events and a lot of face time on major news networks. What you won't actually see is any education, any grants for students studying CE/CS, or any job creation.

Guess what, Zuck: if you want to offer me $150k for a mid-level programming job because there's a lack of programmers on the market, I'll dig into my closet and dust off my old programming hat. Until then, quit whining.

You Want Genuine Passion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038465)

"So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life."

Sorry, but scheme looks like garbage (3, Insightful)

Marrow (195242) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038485)

Did you even look at that link for scheme?

(define (area-of-ring outer inner)
    (- (area-of-disk outer)
          (area-of-disk inner)))
(define (area-of-ring outer inner)
    (- (* 3.14 (* outer outer))
          (* 3.14 (* inner inner))))

The first example looks like mush and is just going to turn them off. Teach them python or java or something that wont turn them off to programming for the rest of their lives. I am sure you LISP guys can do wonders. But maybe its not so good for a first language. It looks like garbage.
Yeah, I know I suck. blah blah blah

The problem lies within you (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038711)

It only looks like garbage to your eye because you've been trained in a different mode of expression.

To people who have been trained to value explicit hierarchical structure, it is extremely clear and unambiguous syntax.

No doubt you think Chinese "looks like garbage" too. Funny how the Chinese don't think so. You really need to be less small-town.

Programming being an "in-demand" job is motivating (1)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038487)

Yea, I'll believe that. When I started programming at age 13 the only thing I had in mind was my future job prospects. I didn't care if I enjoyed solving problems or creating stuff. The only thing I cared about was getting a head start on the career ladder and the future money I'd make, typical I think of all teenagers. I mean, every kid in school gets good grades and plans for college so they can make money right?

Yea, if you don't detect the sarcasm in the above, you shouldn't be here. Oddly enough, I started programming at 13, but it wasn't until I was 16 and someone asked me what kind of career I wanted that it actually clicked that I could do this as a job. Also, didn't finish college, but at an entry level programming job (a junior, but every other junior is a college graduate), less than $1000 in debt, making decent money, and only 21 years old.... Oh, and I wake up every morning happy that I actually am doing something interesting.

IT'S A TRAP (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038503)

Most coding the commercial world wants is boring. Your home projects may be fun but most of the work out there is not. It doesn't pay that well now and it sure as hell won't pay better if a bunch of kids are tricked into pursuing it, further increasing the labor surplus in a professions you could teach yourself with nothing but a computer and an Internet connection.

Re:IT'S A TRAP (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038583)

It's like those commercials about how soon enough, you too could be making video games. A friend of mine fell for that and now he wishes that he hasn't. Sure the guys at the top get to do all the cool stuff, but the guys at the bottom don't. So he spends 10+ hour days doing the shitty low level stuff with animation. He was thinking about switching to QA, but a guy he knew there warned him away because it was even longer hours playing the exact same parts of the exact same buggy games.

Re:IT'S A TRAP (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038689)

I have a a friend who fell for it too - I came close to falling for it myself.

He has his own graphic design business now but he's still paying off the student debt and credit card debt he rung up.

Getting into programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038541)

I taught myself to code because it was interesting in itself. All the fun one could have with 5-15 line programs on a c64! Eventually I learned assembly, and could duplicate every cool effect I saw in games on that machine. And wrote code to control and avoid crashes on a model railway. Later, I went to university and got a master in programming.

I used to read magazines about programming. But celebrities were never involved in my interest. I probably know a lot less celebrities than most people. I like music and movies, but rarely notice who is playing. Well, maybe now. But not when I was young, I couldn't care less about names.

To learn kids programming, give them something that is almost instantly fun. An arduino and some LEDs, perhaps.

Spectators get off the field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038595)

Soulless? At least they are doing something... Anything... It is rediculous that #STEM jobs pay 2-3x of non-STEM jobs, the demand is up 3x in the last decade, yet the number of graduating students in the field are flat... When you do something meaningful to actually coach and mentor K-20 students to pursue computer science then I'll listen.

Ashton Kutcher (2)

Westwood0720 (2688917) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038597)

Anything promoted by Ashton Kutcher turns me away immediately. ack

Coding was not gratifying. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038607)

Looking back, I hated coding. I had so many ideas and games I wanted to create that I bought programming books and tried to read/ understand them as much as I could. I tried Pascal, then Java. I found it infuriating that it took so much time and effort just to write a "hello world" - I had to download drivers, compilers, start some kind of server, setup the drivers etc etc. I hated it. At most, I wrote a calendar app. I hated it, especially when there were thousands of other calendar apps out there which were much better and looked nicer.

Later in life, I picked up 3d software (thanks to Maya educational version). I fell in love with it. The scripting was a bit tough, creating a simple sphere was much more gratifying. I could procedurally create a matrix of spheres and randomize its colors - in short, I could visually create an if-then loop. I loved it.Coding was cool and it felt powerful. It sure beats creating 1,000 spheres and trying to align them by hand. Now I go back to my math textbooks. I am fascinated by physics formulas and actually understand them. I can't get enough of coding and manipulating visual assets/ data that way was enlightening.

I don't agree with the PSA and it kind of turns me off too. I agree with the OP that motivation has to come from within. If I had high hopes to say, make big bucks, a "hello world" would be infuriating (I understand is a necessary step though). But what sent me into a path of disillusionment was the notion of how much a single coder can accomplish vs. a team of coders - assuming you're an average guy. I'm no Bill Gates or Zuckerberg. I'm not a gifted coder at all. I had my own assumptions of what I could do as a coder vs. what movies and media seems to imply what an individual (and average) coder can accomplish.

A ploy to drive down software engineering wages? (1)

doctor woot (2779597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038617)

Not saying this is the case, but I've heard a few people mention that the attempt here is to make programming skills much more common and thus, less valuable. If anyone has any insight on it I'd be glad to hear it.

Either way, though, I just wouldn't trust the American public school system to give students a good feeling for programming of any sort. If it ends up like any other subject being taught, all of which could be said to be interesting, then they'll reduce it not to a series of critical thinking challenges but a tedious exercise in memorizing and regurgitating information weekly, to then just forget it entirely by the time summer rolls around. As I've never attended school anywhere else, I couldn't say how well it'd work for the rest of the world, so the program might fare better elsewhere. But I can't see it generating anything other than disinterest in the subjects among students as has been the case with math, history, science, literature, etc. etc.

I can't believe they got that domain name! (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038641)

And... oh... whois says it's registration is private, that's odd. Are we sure this is real and not just a way to harvest email address?

Passion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038655)

If you love coding, code. It can be a very rewarding career.

If you don't, you'll be competing with those who do as well as outsourcing (which erodes salaries and morale). Either way you have to be good and put in very long hours on a frequent basis to not only prove yourself but obtain the mad skills necessary to survive in the first place.

Choose wisely.

/. is not the target audience, unsurprisingly (1)

Dan Hayes (212400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038703)

The video I watched a few days ago had mostly computing people - Bill Gates and Gabe Newell are the ones I can remember, but there were several others, all talking about coding and what they love about it. It seemed quite decent at appealing to their target audience, unlike most of the suggestions I've read so far on this story... I mean, Scheme? Maybe we should have RMS talking about it while eating his own toe cheese [youtube.com] ?

Linky to code.org video [youtube.com]

The last time (1)

Kataire (592050) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038713)

The last time we had people getting into programming because of the glamor was the dot-com boom, which lead to the dot-com bust, which lead to thousands of good programmers getting tossed out with the millions of bad. I want to work in an office that looks like one of those Stepford models, but some consulting gigs I get, I'm lucky to get a whole cube to myself. I have much better equipment, accommodations, and connectivity at home. All I think this video does is poorly try to raise the barrier to entry on small shops getting talented developers.

Evolve Humanity (1)

erik.erikson (1821660) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038759)

Coding is about evolving the activities of humanity and by so doing, directly making the world better.

Where the work of persons can be automated we do so with code in order to allow the attention and creativity that would otherwise be avoided or consumed to be redirected to solve bigger, harder, and more interesting problems to more effectively accomplish our goals, whatever they might be.

Caveats about our lack of understanding about what better might be, et cetera, aside: at least we can provide ourselves more free resources with which to solve and consider such problems.

At least, that is why I code...

stray thoughts (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038817)

Gabe Newell's "wizard" comment struck me as the right thing to say. You can make cool stuff that does cool things and it doesn't require millions of dollars worth of equipment or special friends in high places or fame or whatever. Generally you just need time and effort and with the right idea you can do something pretty amazing.

Pics of offices with people playing rock music, ping pong and video games are, on the other hand, probably not a great idea.

I remember when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038881)

I remember when being a nerd meant something. Remember when the big scary computer that no one knew how to use was brought into class. How everyone shunned it and were repulsed for fear of damaging it or learning it's strange ways but not for me it was like it was calling to me. It didn't make fun of me, it didn't hit me, it didn't say one thing only to draw you into a situation so everyone would be able to make fun of you. It could be trusted. It was a world that I could escape into without fear. Yes the machines were expensive and everyone was afraid of them and wanted to escape from them so they let the dopey kid use it since they could blame him if it broke and cost a lot of money to fix. I didn't care I just knew as if by instinct that it was my home. A place that I knew the rules wouldn't change, it would be their for me and remember exactly where we left off in our friendship.
But now a days people treat my old friend with disrespect. Thinking that everyone should and could know how to create the beautiful art work of not only the program interface but the streamlining of code to do so.

That's all for now.

Can I disagree a little with everyone? (1)

f0rdpr3fect42 (1866122) | about a year and a half ago | (#43038895)

I understand where Dave's coming from, and I agree that "because you'll make tons of money doing it" argument might not be the most effective, but I also disagree with his reasons why you should learn to code. I think we're missing the ball with this all or nothing thing. There seems to be a focus in both Code.org and Dave's arguments on learning to code to eventually work as a programming. Kids should learn to code in school because it's a useful tool and it helps them learn to solve problems. They should learn to code because computers surround us and everyone could benefit from being able to use them more effectively.

No one's arguing that English should continue to be required because it's going to get me a lucrative English degree down the road. English classes instead teach us how to express ourselves clearly and help expose us to different ideas and viewpoints through the assigned reading. We require all sorts of classes because it results in well rounded students who can go out into the world and make better decisions based on this knowledge. Integrating programming into our curricula is just a logical step towards helping our children adapt to an increasingly technological world. If it convinces more of them to check out CS or programming jobs down the road, fantastic. This argument that you should only learn things you're passionate about and want to work in is crap, though. We're talking about middle and high schoolers, here. We should be exposing them to all sorts of fields so they can learn and develop their passions.

Teachers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43038897)

How are we going to get good teachers to teach programming, when no programmer wants a teacher's salary? And could make much more doing what they love in comparrison with teaching what they love?

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