Year of Code and its spokeswoman Lottie Dexter got off to a shaky start last week . It also trode on the toes of a few that were already working in this area, notably Emma Mulqueeny (7 reasons why year of code is just AM Dram) and Computing At School.
Ok, so there is entrepreneurial motive behind Year of Code which has precedent for a more market focused goal. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – if handled with empathy toward the initial trail blazers. Competition allied to good causes can affect change quickly. In this case, it’s to provide materials that allow a young generation to exploit the incredible technology they have, literally in their hands. For my part, that’s a good thing.
I wanted to post some additional info on Year Of Code for two reasons.
Firstly, I’ve a vested interest in this area as I’ve just launched a Kickstarter that teaches primary age children computing fundamentals – quick plug, please back and share it 😉 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inpractice/craft-computer-club-a-crafty-way-to-inspire-little/posts
Secondly, I spent a last night swapping tweets with one of its board advisors Dan Crow (uk.linkedin.com/in/dancrow) and Miles Berry who’s chair of NAACE and Principle Lecturer of Computing at Roehampton University (uk.linkedin.com/in/mgberry).
We were nerding out over languages and elegance – I know, engineers are a riot right! – and the topic turned to Apple’s HyperCard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HyperCard). HyperCard, as I’ve written a few times, holds a special place in my development history. It’s also a bit of a shibboleth within software engineering. Turns out Dan was the last engineer manager on Apple’s Hypercard and he also tried to give it a new lease of life when he was at Google:
— Dan Crow (@crowquine) February 11, 2014
HyperCard is an important milestone in Computing languages as it’s one of a few that understood and communicated a clear and relevant ‘metaphor’ through which the user intuitively understood how to interact with it. Something that ‘straight’ languages suffer from. It’s set in a clearly defined context and it’s obvious. Look at some PHP code and it might not be obvious what’s happening – btw, I like PHP a lot!
For me, the fact that Dan was part of that historic project bodes well for the Year of Code team. They have substance behind the PR and if ‘code’ is the poster child that brings Computational Thinking back into the bedrooms of children again, I’m all for it.
Btw, I’m not sure I mentioned my Kickstarter 😉 it’s a craft book that teaches Primary age children Computing fundamentals and you can check it out here. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/inpractice/craft-computer-club-a-crafty-way-to-inspire-little