November 2, 2013 at 8:03 PM
Maybe you’ve heard of the “digital divide.”
It’s a term coined in the ’90s to refer to the mostly socioeconomic gap between people who can access information technologies and those who can’t. The concept gave thinkers and policymakers a grasp on a new problem: For more people to prosper, the digital divide would need to be closed.
I’ve been thinking about digital divides a lot lately, but rarely in this traditional sense. Tech has come a long way in 20 years, and it’s raised all kinds of sticky new issues. It’s made me think: If we take a fresh look at what divides us in our use of tech, we might get a better grip on whether we’re headed somewhere we want to be.
So here goes: I think there are four digital divides that matter. As we consider them, ask yourself: Where am i on these divides? And do they all demand to be resolved, or in some ways, protected?
September 11, 2013 at 11:58 AM
Seattle entrepreneur Dan Shapiro thought parents might dig a board game that taught pre-schoolers the basics of coding, and boy was he right. He put it on Kickstarter Sept. 3, and it hit its funding goal in five hours.
Shapiro designed the game, Robot Turtles, for his 4-year-old twins, and took time off his job as CEO of Google Comparison to share it with the world.
“Teaching [my kids] to program a computer is the single greatest superpower I can give them,” Shapiro wrote. “I made Robot Turtles so that my kids could learn programming basics without needing a computer. In fact, they don’t even need to be able to read.”
Shapiro first told me about the game last month, and nothing about its success surprises me. More and more of our world is built in code, and parents, particularly those who work in tech themselves, want their kids to get an early introduction. Shapiro’s game came at just the right time.
September 3, 2013 at 2:08 PM
In middle school in Bremerton, Will Little programmed a computer to play Fairview Junior High’s fight song just for fun. He didn’t use code much again until years later, when his wife was pregnant and he Googled the phrase “make money.”
Today, Little is a software engineer, an investor and a startup advisor, and the co-founder and CEO of CodeFellows, an organization so confident its coding bootcamps can help people find a $60,000-per-year job that it refunds their tuition if they don’t.
In this week’s column I looked at the case for coding, not for students or people looking for new jobs, but for everyone. Code makes up more and more of our world. To thrive in that world, we should understand its new, digital building blocks by knowing something about how to build with them ourselves.
August 31, 2013 at 8:07 PM
“Fill in the blank with the biggest thing you feel is true,” I asked Hadi Partovi, reading off my notebook in a small downtown conference room. “ ‘Learning how to code is as important as learning … ’”
Partovi put his head in his hands and thought for a long moment.
“I would say it’s as important as learning the basics of science,” he said. “Anything you learn in sixth grade, learning to code is as important as that.”
Partovi, a Seattle investor and entrepreneur who’s sold companies to Microsoft and MySpace, is easily the strongest, most passionate advocate anywhere for the importance of learning how to code. In eight months his nonprofit, Code.org, has ignited a push from its small Second Avenue office to see coding taught in every American school. In China, students must learn code to graduate.
Here, 90 percent of schools don’t teach it. And in most states, taking a coding class doesn’t even count toward graduation.
But to me the most compelling argument for learning how to code is not about schools or even jobs, mighty as those motivators are, and should be. It’s about these basics. On Earth, atoms make things up, and gravity makes things fall. On digital, instructions code behaviors that build systems that every day run more and more of our lives. How we talk. How we move. How we exchange goods and services and information.
Code isn’t how a world works. It’s how the world works.