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What are you doing for code year?

7th January 2012

The mayor of New York is learning to program.

Software developers around the world are teaching their kids to program.

What are you doing for 'code year'?

One of the big problems with the latest revolutions in social history (the information revolution and the internet revolution) is that unlike the last two (the agricultural and the industrial) it is very difficult for technologicial outsiders to understand the basic principles of the new technology.

It is hard enough to understand even the benefit (one sceptic told me that computers have saved nobody any time - a fair enough comment on the failed NHS computer system but far from true in every case!).

"Code" (the word programmers use for software) does so many things it's hard to begin to talk about its reach and benefit. 

I was teaching programming many years ago and someone asked me if all the good software hadn't already been written (and why didn't we just used what's been written now?). This was before Windows 95 and XP, Vista and 7, before Android, Google mail, and a million and one things you're probably using and don't know it.

The answer is of course no - there's a vast amount of software being written today for things you haven't yet heard of but will form the basis of how your fridge or car works, not just your desktop computer, tablet or phone.

And when people come out with easier programming models (coding with flowcharts and similar graphical devices), someone still has to write and maintain the code beneath.

Is it essential that everyone knows how these things work? Of course not! But it is certainly useful, interesting, and enlightening.

So the idea behind 'code year' is that people who have never coded (=written software) before are coming together to discover what it's all about, and to write their first computer programs.

Whether it leads to a long career in programming, or the next Android app, or just a program to sort out your mortgage payments, I can assure you it'll be worth it.

What about you? Are you interested? Sign up at!

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