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Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact? 384

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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Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact?

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  • lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by dingen ( 958134 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @03:33PM (#43037983)

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

  • by girlinatrainingbra ( 2738457 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @03:40PM (#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
  • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @04:06PM (#43038375)
    Um, Al Gore invented the freaking internet. What exactly have *you* done recently?
  • Re:Lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Un pobre guey ( 593801 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @04:39PM (#43038793) Homepage

    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.

  • by rgbrenner ( 317308 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @04:51PM (#43038949)

    They just need different quotes from these same people:

    "Think Metro is shit? Learn to code and create your own damn interface" -- Bill Gates

    "I'm going to keep selling your information. If you learn to code, you can create the next facebook that doesn't." -- Mark Zuckerberg

    "I know many of your hate my terrible music. If you learn how to code, you can make your computer mute your speakers every time it hears my voice." -- Will.I.Am

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @05:14PM (#43039231) Journal
    Plenty of comments have pointed out that those of us who do code do it because we enjoy it rather than for money or career prospects or some other capitalism-inspired reason. Absolutely true, but that misses the real issue here.

    To be blunt, most people can't learn to code beyond a painfully basic level. Yes, you can teach most people to write "hello world". You can get them up to the level of writing simple macros, simple queries, simple shell scripts. And after a decade of doing it, they'll still make total newbie mistakes - Uninitialized variables (nothing in that cell to grab, Dave!), randomly mixed booleans in their non-fully-parenthesized WHERE clause, failure to escape nested variable substitutions, etc.

    Going further, even if significantly more people could eventually learn to code at a passable level, the vast majority of people hate everything about the mode of thinking programming requires, from the sustained alpha state to thinking in equations to iteratively breaking big problems into smaller ones. Describe how you code to someone - really get into it and express your zeal - and watch them squirm.

    Or to put it another way - If everyone could (stand to) write code, we wouldn't have a massive shortage of a highly-paid and in-demand profession after four years of massive unemployment. If anything, we'd have a glut of programmers. And yet... That has not happened
  • by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Thursday February 28, 2013 @08:54PM (#43041269) Homepage Journal

    I was the Time Person of the Year in 2006.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato