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Non-Coders As the Face of the Learn-to-Code Movements

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the but-I-play-one-on-tv dept.

Education 158

theodp writes "You wouldn't select Linus Torvalds to be the public face for the 'Year of Basketball.' So, why tap someone who doesn't code to be the face of 'The Year of Code'? Slate's Lily Hay Newman reports on the UK's Year of Code initiative to promote interest in programming and train teachers, which launched last week with a Director who freely admits that she doesn't know how to code. "I'm going to put my cards on the table," Lottie Dexter told Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman on national TV. I've committed this year to learning to code...so over this year I'm going to see exactly what I can achieve. So who knows, I might be the next Zuckerberg." "You can always dream," quipped the curmudgeonly Paxman, who was also unimpressed with Dexter's argument that the national initiative could teach people to make virtual birthday cards, an example straight out of Mark Zuckerberg's Hour of Code playbook (coming soon to the UK). Back in the States, YouTube chief and Hour of Code headliner Susan Wojcicki — one of many non-coder Code.org spokespersons — can be seen on YouTube fumbling for words to answer a little girl's straightforward question, "What is one way you apply Computer Science to your job at Google?". While it's understandable that companies and tech leaders probably couldn't make CS education "an issue like climate change" (for better or worse) without embracing politicians and celebrities, it'd be nice if they'd at least showcase a few more real-life coders in their campaigns."

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Spokespeople? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46204879)

Actually, yes I expect most of them to have nothing to do with the actual endeavor involved.

It's very rare for the President of the Hair Club for men to be in the advertising.

Re: Spokespeople? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205099)

True but you'd expect them to know enough details about the industry they are in to not look like tools answering basic questions. Especially if they are invited onto TV to basic questions

watch the video it is hilarious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206485)

And sad at the same time. She has the looks though, can't argue that.

First Things First (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 9 months ago | (#46204929)

Writing, reading and arithmetic. Then how do you organize a task, a problem. Define what you have, define the goal, investigate what help you can get from tools/people & then define a plan which might get you to the goal. School doesn't tend to teach how to solve problems or tasks early on, but they can do that.

Re:First Things First (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205051)

Coders, in general, aren't media personalities. Their appearance and mannerisms don't appeal to the masses. They especially tend not to be politicians. As such, it makes no sense to make them the public face of an effort intended to get the attention of a general audience.

Coders would only inspire natural-born coders. To inspire people who have never thought about it before, you need people to whom they can relate...specifically, non-coders.

This shines a light on how misguided the approach is. The goal of creating a significant increase in the labor-supply of eager-and-able coders will fail. Coders are very much born rather than made, and anyone who is "made" into a coder will leave the industry once they learn what conditions are really like.

The only way to get talented-but-uninterested people interested is to offer them jobs that treat them well and pay them well. All else is bullshit.

Re:First Things First (5, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | about 9 months ago | (#46205225)

Yeah, there is no such thing as a competent spokesperson who also knows how to write code. Because knowing how to talk to people and knowing how to program computers are mutually fucking exclusive. Basically, all coders are mentally deficient when it comes to interacting with other human beings. I'm sure that's exactly what non-coders fucking need to hear.

Apparently, the campaign was doomed from the beginning.

Re:First Things First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205539)

So, would you consider yourself to be an example of a coder who also has the sort of charisma to appeal-to and inspire non-coders? Or was the irony in your post intentional?

I wonder if you realize that the phrase, "in general," which was used by the OP, is not synonymous with "no such thing?" Your response is a sarcastic attack on a position that the OP didn't present. Even if there are coders who are also great on camera, they could be few and far-between, in which case the OP's point stands.

Ultimately you arrive at the same conclusion as the OP, though you seem to do so for strangely different reasons.

Re:First Things First (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 9 months ago | (#46206141)

Yeah but you don't need "in general" for a spokesperson, you only need that select few.

This is what I HATE! Misunderstood by no-coders (2)

Ghost_75_24 (896143) | about 9 months ago | (#46205309)

The one BIG misunderstanding about coders that we are slave monkeys who only come out from under our rocks to air out. This comes from non-coders who DO NOT understand, not just coding but the science in general. Here's a question for those non-coders out there; who do you think taught US?! QA coder who must know how to talk to people. A coder who must know how to share that knowledge in a classroom context. No every coder is a natural born coder. But, there are those that have the ability to do it, and that can be taught. You know..it's so funny. Einstein was an eccentric, yet he was a superstar to the non-scientific community. Think about that....

Re:This is what I HATE! Misunderstood by no-coders (3, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | about 9 months ago | (#46205645)

I learned almost entirely from books. I've no idea what Kernigan and Ritchie were like in front of a class -- I was in the wrong country to find out -- and for all I know they might have written The C Programming Language in their moms' basements. Ditto Knuth, ditto Booch, and so on. Sure, there's no reason for a programmer not to be a great presenter, but there's no reason they have to be for us to learn from them.

Re:This is what I HATE! Misunderstood by no-coders (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205833)

While I prefer books, live explanation can be useful too.

Internet gives you access to plenty of talks given by all kinds of people, and there are plenty of coders who held/hold a teachers job as well - they are pretty good at giving talks, usually. Check out Simon Peyton-Jones or Martin Odersky's talks, for example.

Re:This is what I HATE! Misunderstood by no-coders (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206319)

>The one BIG misunderstanding about coders that we are slave monkeys who only come out from under our rocks to air out

You mean you're not?

Re:First Things First (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#46205637)

Get over yourself, you were not "born to code" any more than a king is "born to rule".

Re:First Things First (1)

NiteTrip (694597) | about 9 months ago | (#46207345)

And here I always thought it was "And did you exchange a walk on part in the wall, for a negro in a cage"

Re: First Things First (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 9 months ago | (#46206137)

Most big name coders also seem to think this idea of trying to teach coding to non coders is rather idiotic. There are better ways to teach the basic skills and the detailed skills are all going to be silly.

Re: First Things First (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 9 months ago | (#46207429)

I think teaching the concepts - how to think about the common programming tools (variables and then arrays, logic, loops, objects, object oriented vs. proceedure oriented, connecting tovarious data sources, etc) without even really writing any real code.

If someone is still interested in learning how to code after that, then it is time to break out the text editor and compiler/interpreter of choice.

I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205203)

With all due respect, if the folks who made Beta had learned to code, then maybe the world would be a better place. Simple fact is, computers are the machines that run the world today. Those who don't know basically how they work are going to be at a serious disadvantage.

Re:I disagree (3, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 9 months ago | (#46205293)

With all due respect, if the folks who made Beta had learned to code, then maybe the world would be a better place.

Beta is not bad code. It is bad design.

Re:I disagree (2)

andyhhp (1373567) | about 9 months ago | (#46206673)

Beta is not bad code. It is bad design.

It is unknown code and bad design, which is arguably worse.

Re:First Things First (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 9 months ago | (#46205695)

Writing, reading and arithmetic. Then how do you organize a task, a problem. Define what you have, define the goal, investigate what help you can get from tools/people & then define a plan which might get you to the goal. School doesn't tend to teach how to solve problems or tasks early on, but they can do that.

My personal problem solving algorithm goes like this: Step 1: Find out what you want to achieve. Step 2: Find out how to achieve it. Step 3: Do it. But usually what I observe is the headless chicken algorithm: Step 1: Get all flustered and jump from one argument to the next. Step 2: Go back to Step 1.

Am I the only one.. (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 9 months ago | (#46204937)

Of course I'm not.

But seriously, am I the only one who doesn't give a shit?

Look, don't code. Don't encourage your kids or students to code. It'll make those who do more valuable. Do mechanics worry about everyone on the planet knowing how to fix their car? Do carpenters spend countless hours navel-gazing about bringing carpentry to school children and girls and the average CEO? Do HVAC specialists?

Do whatever the hell you want to do. The fewer who want to code, the better for the negotiating power and leverage of coders and technologists going into the future.

No you're not, but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205209)

Have you looked at the human population lately? There are just way too many of us, and not everybody can do something useful like grow food, build and fix cars or houses. What do we do with all the useless people? They still need jobs because our society is setup so everybody must work 40 hours a week.

Coding is one of the jobs that can be done by incompetent people without causing too much damage. Think about it: if you hire an incompetent carpenter they'll get in the way, cut their arm off, or wack someone in the head with some lumber, if you hire an incompetent coder you can always roll back everything they commit and no harm done beyond some cursing.

Re:No you're not, but.. (2)

crashumbc (1221174) | about 9 months ago | (#46205319)

Working in the medical field, coders can be VERY dangerous. Improperly coded shit kills people all the time... Do you want that IV machine's program coded by an idiot?

Re: No you're not, but.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205705)

That is pricesely the reason why we shouldnt invite everyone to learn a litle bit of coding. We dont invite everyone to build a little bit of bridges, just because it s so much fun, do we now?!

Btw, here are the missing symbols, fillem in as desired: 't''' (typing comments on a Galaxy Nexus 10 is no fun on /.)

Re:No you're not, but.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205869)

Oh stop playing dumb. Of course medical instruments won't be programmed by idiots, because their code will not make it to production.

People like you should have their internet connections confiscated. Really, are you telling me you don't understand the whole chain of write code, walkthrough, commit, test, field test, production?! Are you seriously going to tell me that medical instruments can be dangerous because of one incompetent programmer?

Yeah right. You're just pretending to be dumb so you can make a counter-argument. Something's seriously wrong with you mentally, get some help.

Re:No you're not, but.. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 9 months ago | (#46205339)

I'd pay these sorts of concerns more credence, if the problem were universal and a large number of societies weren't punishing employers. But it's not. Instead, the problem of "useless people" really is a problem of the first world and some dysfunctional societies in the poorest parts of the world. Everyone else is hiring like crazy. Similarly, all sorts of costs and regulations have been added to the cost of an employee again in the same sort of societies that IMHO have "useless people".

As I see it, if the cost of employing you is larger than the value you can deliver through your labor, then you just became useless to an employer.

Re: No you're not, but.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205757)

Indeed. Yet curiously with CS and IS jobs people much rather pay an exorbitant amount to a business major to market a crapy product than to hire a competent CS major to create proper product that anyone can sell. After all selling is just a numbers game, put in a hundred to get 2, put in a thousnad to get 20.... Cant do that with coding, where paying one properly typically yields better results than paying ten poorly.

Re:No you're not, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205353)

What do we do with all the useless people?

Firing them from the Slashdot Redesign Team would be a good start.

Re:No you're not, but.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205601)

Incompetent coders cost quite a lot of money. They take longer to get anything done (if they ever get it done), and the bugs they cause cost money for you and your clients, and harm your reputation among your clients, and they cost more money to fix, and so on. A team of incompetent coders will drive their employer right out of business.

So, I disagree that foisting coding skills on to people who aren't good at it will do them or anyone else any good.

As an aside, there are plenty of people who would be very competent food-growers, but who are unemployed, precisely because there is no market for food-growers. We produce so much food, in fact, that the government pays land owners to let their fields lie follow, actively blocking those who would happily work the fields for a wage. This is one example of a broad trend that produces the unemployment you are lamenting: the problem is not that most people can't do anything at all, the problem is that we simply don't need them to do anything.

You won't solve this problem by trying to impose a highly specialized and advanced skill set on to a population of people who have generally average abilities.

Feel free to try, though.

Re:Am I the only one.. (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | about 9 months ago | (#46205325)

Do mechanics worry about everyone on the planet knowing how to fix their car?

Watch the Jeremy Paxman interview. It is hilarious. This isn't about mechanics telling other people to learn how their car works.

This is people who can't tell a piston from a pylon that OTHER people need to learn to be a mechanic.

The woman in that interview said that if she knew how to code then she could have saved money by doing her own graphics for her website (which she would also be building). Look up WordPress! HTML is "code" only in a very broad sense. And a year of learning JavaScript won't do much to teach you Apache/IIS administration.

The problem here is that "code" is being used as a synonym for "computer magic".

Learning more stuff usually does not hurt. Anyone who wants to learn to code should be encouraged to learn to code. Or to learn website administration. Or to learn graphic design. Or to learn to be a mechanic.

But, as Jeremy Paxman pointed out, is it better to put the focus on code or should money be spent getting people to learn Mandarin Chinese?

Re:Am I the only one.. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#46206051)

But, as Jeremy Paxman pointed out, is it better to put the focus on code or should money be spent getting people to learn Mandarin Chinese?

It would be interesting to know how useful each of those will be to a school child in their later life. Of course we can't really know for sure, but based on how many who studied French or German in the past and then went on to use it in a commercial capacity I doubt coding skills are any less valuable.

Of course not everyone will use them, but that's how school works. As well as the core subjects like maths and English you learn a bit of everything else because at age 10 you have little idea what you want to do in later life, or what you are good at.

Re:Am I the only one.. (1)

khasim (1285) | about 9 months ago | (#46206191)

Of course we can't really know for sure, but based on how many who studied French or German in the past and then went on to use it in a commercial capacity I doubt coding skills are any less valuable.

Look at the device that you used to type those words. Whether it was a desktop or laptop or tablet or smartphone or whatever it probably was not manufactured in France or Germany.

It was probably manufactured in China. Then shipped to wherever you are.

Now look around and see how many other items were manufactured in China. For different companies.

Re:Am I the only one.. (5, Interesting)

JackDW (904211) | about 9 months ago | (#46205371)

But Zuckerberg and the other industry leaders don't want programming skills to be valuable. They want programmers to be cheap and easily replaced, like unskilled workers in a factory. The "year of code" is not for the benefit of school children, or programmers in general. It is for the benefit of the upper management of major corporations, who live in hope that good programmers will one day be cheap.

Imagine that instead of the "year of code", it's the "year of football". The government notices that the England soccer team is not very good. The soccer industry finds that good players are really expensive, and wishes that it could recruit a few more good players straight out of school while they are cheap. They get together with this initiative called the "year of football", with the aim of (1) reducing the cost of employing good football players, and (2) improving the performance of the national team.

The immediate result is a massive investment: a soccer coach for every school, extra soccer lessons, one football to be provided to each child and so on.

But of course it achieves nothing, because the children who love playing football are already playing it in their spare time. The impact is only on the children who hate football and don't want to play it. They are forced to take part in this boring activity, developing skills they don't want in order to play a game that they don't enjoy. They come to hate football even more than before.

And, because the children who love it are forced to play with children who hate it, this ruins the subject for everyone. They all hate having to learn about basic stuff like how to pass a ball and how to tell if someone is off side: the good players already know this, and the others don't care. Meanwhile the schools spend less time teaching general subjects that are widely useful. Everyone loses.

Re: Am I the only one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205799)

Thanks for this, I was going to write the same.

Re:Am I the only one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206175)

But Zuckerberg and the other industry leaders don't want programming skills to be valuable. They want programmers to be cheap and easily replaced, like unskilled workers in a factory. The "year of code" is not for the benefit of school children, or programmers in general. It is for the benefit of the upper management of major corporations, who live in hope that good programmers will one day be cheap.

If you have to live in terror of competing with random untalented people who learned a bit of coding in high school, perhaps its time to consider another profession. LOL

Re:Am I the only one.. (3, Insightful)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46206285)

When the hiring is done by an MBA who has an ingrained "go for the cheapest alternative" knee-jerk reflex, you should indeed be terrified.

Re:Am I the only one.. (1)

JackDW (904211) | about 9 months ago | (#46206359)

It's not a worry. A company that would hire cheap, bad "programmers" is not somewhere I would want to work anyway.

Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206379)

Sir - I salute you a very insightful summary.

Re:Am I the only one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205445)

Don't worry, anyone who does come out of the "hour of code" getting a job later on in life to actually code will produce code so bad they'll have to bring me in to fix it. And, supposing they do produce decent code, they'll still have to bring me in because it'll generate more product to interact with and maintain. I don't see more computer science candidates as a necessarily bad thing. The alternative is that companies hire liars from 3rd world countries who have fake degrees. I'd rather they hire locals if they're going to do that.

That's a comforting notion... (1)

reluctantjoiner (2486248) | about 9 months ago | (#46206563)

But the mindset that lead to the poor code being produced in the first place will also be unable see that the solution is to bring in a professional to do it right.

Non coders only see the physical component of coding and can't see anything else; just as if I watch a carpenter work, I won't recognise the skills applied there. Applied to management, they don't know that they don't know, and therefore use the only criteria they understand, which is price.

Re:Am I the only one.. (4, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about 9 months ago | (#46205617)

Don't encourage your kids or students to code. It'll make those who do more valuable.

There it is. Fear.

It's the reason you hear nonsense like programming requires a "special mind" and should be reserved for a select few.

It's pathetic. Writing code is easy. Ridiculously easy. Hell, back in the 80's it was common for kids under 10 to teach themselves how to program. Anyone can learn to write code -- and that terrifies some people.

"Oh, but you need to be special to do it well" you cry, hands trembling, desperate to still believe that you're exceptional. All it takes to be a good programmer is practice. It's no different than any other skill. The more you work at it, the better you become. (Even the thickest trend-following, meme-repeating, slashdotter will improve eventually.)

The fewer who want to code, the better for the negotiating power and leverage of coders and technologists going into the future.

The world doesn't owe you a living. You can also improve your employment prospects by killing anyone better, better educated, and more experienced than you. It's just as stupid. It's much more sensible to diversify your skill-set. You might still be a trembling coward, but at least you won't be a one-trick pony.

Re: Am I the only one.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205865)

You err on this, completely. Coding requires capability to abstract, think in abstract terms, reason logically, progress step by step in minute detail, while making sure it all fits together and makes sense in the grand scheme of things. All of that preferrably in your own head and with a high tolerance for frustration in expectation of little more positive feedback than the feeling that you have just created the f**ing best thing scince sliced bread, but who gives a damn.

Re: Am I the only one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46207287)

Coding requires capability to abstract, think in abstract terms, reason logically, progress step by step in minute detail, while making sure it all fits together and makes sense in the grand scheme of things.

None of this requires any special talent, merely in interest in the end result. A child playing with Legos completes the same steps!

Re: Am I the only one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206571)

You do onow that IBM used to be high reputation because they hired for capability rather than skill - think programmer aptitude test!

Re:Am I the only one.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206577)

All it takes to be a good programmer is practice. It's no different than any other skill.

Thank you for this quote, as it allows those of us who are unfamiliar with code, but skilled in other areas, to see your post for the garbage it is.

Re:Am I the only one.. (5, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 9 months ago | (#46206841)

Writing code is easy. Ridiculously easy.

Um, right. It's so ridiculously easy that after decades of it, doing it even reasonably well is still a sought after and well-compensated skill.

It's so ridiculously easy that people keep proposing these "teach everybody to code" things, and they don't work.

It must be the Illuminati who keep it from working. Or those wascally wepubwicans.

Hell, back in the 80's it was common for kids under 10 to teach themselves how to program.

Um, I was around then. It wasn't "common" - it was only "common" among those who had aptitude for it. Like, you know, today.

Re:Am I the only one.. (1)

narcc (412956) | about 9 months ago | (#46207457)

Sigh... You can't argue with creationists...

Enjoy your fantasy. The rest of us will continue to live without fear here in reality.

Re:Am I the only one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46207117)

write a poly-time SAT solver then you piece of shit

Excess coders are not something I worry about (3, Insightful)

istartedi (132515) | about 9 months ago | (#46205649)

Excess coders are not something I worry about. Why? Same reason performing musicians don't worry about little Timmy tooting on a recorder in 2nd grade. Odds are Timmy will get frustrated just like I did when I tried to play that damned thing. Even if Timmy has "talent", odds are he won't be able to make money at it. Even if he makes money at it, odds are it won't hurt the other players.

I think coding is a lot like music in that regard. Fine, teach "coding appreciation" and have coding classes just like you have music appreciation and music classes. Most people will suck at it, only a few will make money, and of that subset only a few will be noteworthy.

Re:Excess coders are not something I worry about (2)

narcc (412956) | about 9 months ago | (#46206773)

The difference, of course, is that the terrified developers out to improve their future employment prospects are all about the same level as Timmy.

Re:Am I the only one.. (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#46205781)

Believe it or not, a lot of mechanics and carpenters are proud of their skills in the same way programmers are, they do indeed want the basics of nail hammering and tyre changing taught to all school children, and expend considerable effort toward that goal.

Non-Coders As the Face of Beta (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46204961)

n/t

Because it's like Literacy. (5, Insightful)

Erich (151) | about 9 months ago | (#46204971)

Because being able to use logic to write instructions that are correct and unambiguous is a skill that everyone should learn. And basically that's what coding is.

It's like literacy or numeracy or basic understanding of science. You have a problem as a culture if it is culturally acceptable to say "I can't do math" or "I can't understand written language" or "I have no idea about the universe around me or how people go about understanding it" or "I can't read or write logical directions."

Do you expect everyone to be a best-selling novelist (or a writer that is enjoyed for all history?) No.

Do you expect everyone to be the next Ramanujan? No.

Do you expect everyone to be the next Knuth? No.

But it is expected that everyone have basic skills in these kinds of things. It's just necessary to understand the world. If you don't understand these kinds of things -- if you don't have basic skills in language or mathematics or logic -- then you are at a disadvantage in modern society.

I group computer science'logic here separate from Mathematics. Perhaps it shouldn't be. But having a population that doesn't understand things like this shuold be considered as problematic as a population that can not read and write.

Re:Because it's like Literacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205087)

Yet the scary thing is that now a certain number of them call themselves senior engineers and architects.

These "senior engineers", are now growing in number who don't can't even write a method that returns the Nth element in a Fibonacci sequence.

Re: Because it's like Literacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205899)

You silly woman. I DID write that method and mine was working correctly, unlike yours that failed if N was lesser than two or greater than 100. And I have probably written more code in my life than you ever will. And I am a senior engineer not for writing that method but for knowing when oit makes sense to use it in the first place.

Re: Because it's like Literacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206301)

THIS is the reason the industry is so ** broken: every two cents wanna-be-coder THINKS he knows shit. If a real developer needs to write a method to compute the Nth element of the Fibonacci sequence, he should use the ** formula that way is going to be O(1) regardless of the value of N.

Re: Because it's like Literacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206861)

Fn = (B^n - C^n) * D;

A = sqrt(5);
B = ((1 + A) / 2);
C = ((1 - A) / 2);
D = (1 / A);

The closed form might essentially be O(1) when operations like pow() and sqrt() are considered O(1).

It's an exercise to the reader how much precision of A, B, C, D, are required to ensure that Fn can be rounded to the correct integer value for a given maximum n.

Meanwhile, it is somewhat more straightforward to establish the integer size needed to yield exact values up to a given maximum n. (An offline binary search of Fn using the formula above with high-precision arithmetic would yield an estimate which is probably good enough. Alternatively, n(F) = log[base-g](F * sqrt(5) + 1/2), where g=((1 + sqrt(5))/2). Or, given the rate at which Fn increases, computing maximum n for which Fn 2^32 or Fn 2^64, by the recursion method, would be fast.)

Re: Because it's like Literacy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46207137)

Lol, O(1).

There are other ways. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205467)

Because being able to use logic to write instructions that are correct and unambiguous is a skill that everyone should learn.

Coding isn't the only avenue for logical skills. There are off of the top of my head; philosophy, mathematical proofs, writing essays, writing cooking recipes, learning to play chess, and everything in basic sciences..

There are other avenues for intelligent and creative people than coding and coding is a relatively easy skill to pick up. I am unconvinced that coding adds anymore to a kid's education than reading, writing, mathematics and science. And the way things are in the US, teaching basic science should be a MUCH higher priority than computer science; let alone coding. Maybe if we pushed more of the basic sciences, we'd have less ignorant asses like Ken Ham and less people falling for his "beliefs".

What about a PHD for all + no question asked loans (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 9 months ago | (#46204983)

What about a PHD for all with an no questions asked loans that just about the only income they can't get at is your in prison $0.13-$1.00 HR job.

Re:What about a PHD for all + no question asked lo (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 9 months ago | (#46205473)

What about being able to string a coherent sentence together, you fucking thick oaf?

Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205009)

Must be ego deflating for all the coding "gods".

Virtual BDay Cards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205019)

If everyone could program bday cards the world's GDP would rise annually by an additional 5%!!!!

problem solving (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#46205027)

Is someone who does not know calculus unable to state the calculus might be beneficial to high school students? Is a parent who is illiterate not able to look on the work, see the value of reading and writing, and want that value for their kid.

I would hate to live in the world that so many or /. readers seem to live, in which only people who know how to do something can do it, or where coding is a magic that must be protected from the masses. When I learned coding my parents did not know if it would good or bad because few people could do it, but in middle school I was sat down at a teletype machine for an hour a day to learn. I high school I sat down at a terminal and learned to code for real. This taught me problem solving, algebra, trigonometry, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I would haven't learned as well otherwise. Which is beside the point, as coding itself, like reading, writing, and maths has value

I must also mention that I was fortunate because I had teachers who actually knew programming as work skill, one from IBM, so I was not learning it as wrote, but as craft. There were no tests to pass, other than being able to create a product.

And really teaching to code is not that hard, at least if you are not worried about tests and objectives and things that generally ruin the educational environment. A few summers ago I taught a group of kids, 12-17 years old, how to make an online application in Python, using nothing but a terminal application and online account, creating one sub-domain for each student.

So I don't care how is encouraging kids to code. i don't care if they are going to fail every test that comes out. All I would want to do is expose every student to a method of problems solving, let them go through some activities that doesn't involving copying code snippets to make a robot move, and allowing them to have some success and build confidence in them selves. Not a test, not a competition, not a game, just good old fashion legitimate problem solving.

Re:problem solving (1)

khasim (1285) | about 9 months ago | (#46205179)

Is someone who does not know calculus unable to state the calculus might be beneficial to high school students?

Pretty much. Oh they can state that it "might be beneficial". But they cannot state HOW. Or WHY you should spend time learning calc instead of putting those same hours into learning German or another biology class or how to cook.

Is a parent who is illiterate not able to look on the work, see the value of reading and writing, and want that value for their kid.

That's different. You can be literate in English and illiterate in German. Whether it is an issue depends upon whether you can read the material where you live or not.

I would hate to live in the world that so many or /. readers seem to live, in which only people who know how to do something can do it, or where coding is a magic that must be protected from the masses.

No one is saying that people SHOULD NOT learn to code. If that is what they are interested in.

The question is whether there should be a push to get more people to take a pre-intro to programming so they can do ... what?

Re: problem solving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205973)

Plus mediocre coders create more problems than they solve, and i say this with 25 years of experience in all roles and at all hierarchical levels. So it is unwise to make belief someone without the required personality traits that he or she will have a great career with just so much as a bit of basic coding skills. If the initiative would target those with the basic capabilities, namely capacity for abstract, logical thinking, it woulsd be welcomed. What infuritates real 'coders' is the mindless and ignorant belief that everyone can become an expert if only they are shown the tools. Thats utter and complety hogwash.

Re:problem solving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46207323)

First, how do we know if we are interested or not if we are never exposed.

Again, what we are talking about is problem solving. Teaching someone to code does not mean that they are going to get PhD in compute science. All it means is that you are giving them another tool to problem solve. It means that you are teaching them to break up a problem into pieces, and then put the pieces back into a complete solution.

It means that we are teaching them how a computer works on a practical level so when they are learning how to use an application they do not think that it is magic. I can tell you that I have no formal training on MS Office, but it was not a complex task for me to learn because I knew something of how a computer works.

As far as literacy, there is basic literacy and then there is communication. In school we learn how to write a five paragraph essay even though no one every wants to actually read a five paragraph essay. It is a construct, just like a computer program, a formal method to communicate, again just like a computer program. We are going to mostly write one paragaph memos at work. Perhaps we might have a need to whip up a bit of Python to solve a problem.

I see this a lot in schools. Telling kids they don't need to know something because they are not going to college, or not going to be a professional, or not going to do this or that. Why make such a prediction when a kid is 13. Why not teach as much as possible. I would certainly support taking out the fourth year of any core class and replace it with a coding course.

Re:problem solving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205235)

An organization that preaches that calculus is useful and fun to learn but whose director can't put 2 and 2 together wouldn't and shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone who can. Way too many orgs are run by incompetent people, so I don't doubt one like that exists.

Unlike you state, coding isn't being "protected from the masses." There have been hundreds of books on programming for decades (not for free, but there are libraries... for a while anyhow), and we have free compilers since at least GCC (and let's not forget the computers that came with interpreters before that). And then there's the vast knowledge available on the web, all for the apparently too high price of not looking at cats on youtube for five minutes and not twitting every time one eats a sandwich.
People don't learn coding for the same reason they don't learn chemistry, physics, or how to fix a car.

Re:problem solving (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206233)

>I would hate to live in the world that so many or /. readers seem to live, in which only people who know how to do something can do it, or where coding is a magic that must be protected from the masses.

What you see is the anger and fear of third rate "coders" who are desperate to protect their jobs, be it from the next generation or from the big, bad H1-Bs. Pay them no mind.

Not with a bang, but with a beta. (1)

emmagsachs (1024119) | about 9 months ago | (#46205033)

I have visited this website on a near-daily basis for over a decade. I have greatly benefited from its community, whether +5 Insightful or -1 Troll. It thus saddens me to watch Slashdot be changed into a bland, cookie-cutter news site, a la the present incarnations of Engadget and Digg. I am perhaps in the minority in this, but I kindly urge you to read this post, and others like it, and to consider joining the week-long Slashcott [slashcott.com] that begins on Feb 10th. I realize that posting off-topic comments such as this is disrupting the Slashdot experience for many of you, and I do apologize for it. But can you honestly say that the new Beta interface does not already disrupt Slashdot for all of us? These anti-Beta posts can quite rightly be viewed as "a series of shock slogans and mindless token tantrums", to borrow a phrase, but since we feel that we are ignored by Dice, this is the best that I, like many other slashdotters, could come up with.

What company directs 25% of its users to a partially-working, not-ready-for-production website? Please realize that Beta will not have the features that we want, because they interfere with Dice's plans for Slashdot. Dice presents Slashdot to their advertisers as a "Social Media for B2B Technology" [slashdotmedia.com] platform. B2B - that's the reason Beta looks like a generic wordpress-based news site. To be sure, a large precentage of Slashdotters work in IT, but Slashdot is most certainly not a B2B site.

Nevertheless, Dice is desperate to make money off of Slashdot, even at the cost of losing much of its current userbase. Turning Slashdot into a social platform for IT "decision makers" is a Haily Mary attempt to recoup the failed investment Dice made in buying Slashdot. As they have revealed in a press release [diceholdingsinc.com] detailing their performance in 2013, this acquisition has not lived up to their financial expectations:

Slashdot Media was acquired to provide content and services that are important to technology professionals in their everyday work lives and to leverage that reach into the global technology community benefiting user engagement on the Dice.com site. The expected benefits have started to be realized at Dice.com. However, advertising revenue has declined over the past year and there is no improvement expected in the future financial performance of Slashdot Media's underlying advertising business. Therefore, $7.2 million of intangible assets and $6.3 million of goodwill related to Slashdot Media were reduced to zero.

The new Beta interface is not the result of a superficial makeover. Keeping in mind that Dice felt confident enough to present it as the new face of Slashdot to 25% of its visitors, it is safe to say that the new commenting and moderation system is exactly how they intended it to be. It is a new design that deliberately cripples the one thing that makes Slashdot what it is today, viz. thebest commenting and moderation system online today. From the users' perspective, there is nothing wrong with Slashdot that demands gutting its foundations and dumping the one part of Slashdot we exactly like. As others have commented, this is an attempt to monetize /. at any any cost [slashdot.org] , and its users be damned. Dice views its users, the ones who create the site [slashdot.org] , as a passive audience. As such, it is interchangeable with its intended B2B crowd. We, the current users of Slashdot, are an obstacle in Dice's way.

This is why they ignore the detailed feedback we have given them in the months since Beta was first revealed. This is also why they now disregard our grievances and complaints. Their claims of hearing us are a deliberate snow job. It is only pretense, since at the same time they openly admit that Classic will be cancelled soon [slashdot.org] :

"Most importantly, we want you to know that Classic Slashdot isn't going away until we're confident that the new site is ready.

There is a reason [slashdotmedia.com] why "News for Nerds, stuff that matters" no longer appears in the header:

Slashdot Media’s brands include Slashdot and SourceForge. These technology sites provide access to tools, software and forums for enterprise IT professionals working in all industries and companies from the world’s largest to small and medium-sized firms. Slashdot and SourceForge harness the power of social that no other tech site can compete with.

Slashdot Media provides its partners with proven integrated media strategies to effectively influence technology buyers. With over 15 years experience working with the largest and most engaged professional technology communities, Slashdot Media’s expert staff continues to contribute to the success of its partners branding, demand generation, and social media marketing programs.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Dice to fix Beta. Their vision of Slashdot is a crippled shadow of the site as it is today. Don't let them pull the wool over your eyes. Dice doesn't need us. And If you do decide to boycott /. for a week, please resist the urge to visit it just to see how the boycott is doing [slashdot.org] ...

Linus Not Being A Subject Matter Expert (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 9 months ago | (#46205141)

Has never stopped him from being an opinionated (if misinformed) spokesman on subject. Google "Linus Torvalds" and "usability" for examples. So yes, I would expect Linus Torvalds to be a spokesman for NCAA basketball, basing his opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the competing teams CS departments.

Re:Linus Not Being A Subject Matter Expert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205373)

Has never stopped him from being an opinionated (if misinformed) spokesman on subject. Google "Linus Torvalds" and "usability" for examples. So yes, I would expect Linus Torvalds to be a spokesman for NCAA basketball, basing his opinion on the strengths and weaknesses of the competing teams CS departments.

I think Torvalds can be a bit of a twit to be blunt, and I probably disagree with him on a lot of things, but I bet he knows a HELL of a lot more about usability than most!

Re:Linus Not Being A Subject Matter Expert (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205841)

You don't want him being the public face of a learn to code movement either.

uk gov know nothing about coding (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205145)

so expect a load of bollox with nothing whatsoever to do with the subject. they're good at that.

There have been several Year of Code successes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205167)

Even in its short period of existence, we've already seen several large projects come out of the year of code:

1. Affordable Care Act health exchange website
2. Target credit card security infrastructure
3. Slashdot Beta

meh (0)

djupedal (584558) | about 9 months ago | (#46205187)

This 'movement' is just patronizing what it sees as gullible dupes for the following reasons: profit and oh yes, profit. Professionals and SMES are an integral part of the food chain when bringing new blood into the mix. Leaving them out works to stagnate those fresh minds, not help them along.

Been there, done that (4, Insightful)

14erCleaner (745600) | about 9 months ago | (#46205197)

Back around 1980, there were a zillion magazine and newspaper articles around about the shortage of programmers, and about how computer science was the highest-paying thing to go into. The result was a boom in CS enrollment, followed by a glut of incompetent entry-level programmers who really wanted to be rafting guides or something. Once the dust settled there was still somewhat of a shortage, and salaries remained high despite all the telephone-sanitizers who tried to become programmers.

This all has a familiar feel to it.... What the big companies really want right now is cheap programmers, not more programmers. They're clearly hoping that increasing supply will lower their labor costs, whether it's by pushing the "year of code" or by increasing HB-1 visas.

Never give up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205211)

Fuck Beta

So, non-coders think coding is easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205217)

Easy enough to learn it in a year.

Re:So, non-coders think coding is easy. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 9 months ago | (#46205245)

Of course you can learn coding in a year. You'll not become a stellar coder. You might not even get recursion or pointers in that time frame. But you'll learn the fundamentals, and find out if you like it (in which case you'll continue to learn and get better by your own motivation) or don't (in which case you'll probably never achieve anything non-trivial in that field anyway and can safely omit learning more about it).

Re:So, non-coders think coding is easy. (2)

symbolset (646467) | about 9 months ago | (#46205545)

Dong Nguyen did. You don't have to be the next Brin or Linus. Being the next Nguyen would be more than enough for most of us. It certainly was more than enough for him.

managers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205219)

At work I've got a bunch of non-coders that tell me what, when, how, for how long I have to code !

Year of medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205221)

Next year we should commit to getting everyone to learn medicine.

After the "Year of Science" and the "Year of Engineering" everyone will be a genius and all the world's problems will be solved.

Bunch of Nathan Barleys (1)

Bazman (4849) | about 9 months ago | (#46205241)

Someone looked up all the people who were on the committee of this Year of Code thing. Only three of 23 had a geeky coding background. The others were a bunch of entrepreneurs and startup-biz types.

Tom Morris [tommorris.org] blog

How many of them even know what 'github' is? Just a bunch of Nathan Barley types who got lucky. Although it doesn't mean the organisation would be any better if Nathan's programmer sidekick Pingu was on the committee.

See also

Adrian Short [adrianshort.org] blog.

and see also all the episodes of Nathan Barley on YouTube if you've not seen it before.

inb4FuckBeta

Re:Bunch of Nathan Barleys (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 9 months ago | (#46205561)

I think you'd want some one who could set up cvs or other source control system from scratch and not just blindly use some purty precaned solution - hmm should I get my good Friend D to suggest to Ed that I could be a useful member of this quango :-)

I love introducing non-coders to coding (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | about 9 months ago | (#46205247)

Introducing non-coders to coding ... it feels good ... it just does.

L2C (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205251)

Learn to Code has nothing to do about coding or learning to code, its simply a response to the diminishing technical skills in the workforce.

By taking popular figures and adding their face to this programme it makes the coding seem "cool" even if those people have nothing to do with the programme (Like this hasn't been done before and failed before)

I think the real goal is to encourage more people to take up the technical arts but as usual they have bitten off more than they can chew, You can learn to code for your entire life and still never perfect it elegant coding is what we all aim for but few achieve, it would be like starting a programme to teach school children every language in the world.

It's The British Way (1)

residents_parking (1026556) | about 9 months ago | (#46205357)

... I'm afraid. Only certain personal traits (such as good looks and charisma - no pun intended) are socially celebrated, while science and engineering talent are quite frankly milked and abused.

The UK turned its back on science and engineering back in the 1950s and embraced the arts (nothing wrong with that) and the cult of management instead. That tide has not turned; if anything it is getting worse.

When I joined the IEE (now IET) back in 1990 there was an assumption that everyone with an engineering degree would be in management by age 30. That's only 10 years (and not the best years) of engineering usefulness.

Now I see India making the exact same mistakes. We have to deal with 22 year old rookies who don't have the experience (I work in firmware with a strong analog emphasis) to deliver production code.

Hottie Lottie Lol (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205427)

The interview was hilariously bad, but here's something interesting. Lottie is what, late 20s/early 30s? UK schools have had computers since the 1980s (and before for some places) & many schools did 'Computer studies' which included basic programming. On top of that we've had affordable home PCs for the best part of twenty years, broadband Internet for a decade, a 1980s computer literacy campaign, a 1990s Internet campaign, any bookshop full of programming tomes and YET... this lady can't code and clearly knows next to nothing about computers!???

In fact the whole language of this debate is moronic - what do they mean by 'code'? Programming? Putting together web-sites? Knocking up 'apps' using pre-programmed bits? Honestly, its like if we had an English literature promotion campaign and the boss went on TV saying 'Is important to read words'... 'what sort of words?'... 'Am not sure. Get back to me in 2015'...

Because it's not really about anyone learning code (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 9 months ago | (#46205455)

Because it's not really about anyone learning to code. Doesn't seem to be, anyway.

It's about looking (and perhaps feeling) like you care about the "right" things. No need for actual code knowledge for that.

html designers and css guru's... (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 9 months ago | (#46205491)

call themselves coders, so I see no problem with
Linus presenting himself as a basketball player.

Computers Made Simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205535)

I've got a book here, Electronic Computers Made Simple 1968 edition (yeah, you read that right) by Henry Jacobowitz. It's brilliant, there's an 'Introduction to the analogue computer' featuring a bit of calculus, some material on op-amps & servomechanisms, a chapter on number systems, one on Boolean algebra, a clear overview of transistors, digital electronics & how they fit together in gates, a look at programming (which to be fair doesn't feature any actual code though does describe techniques such as branching) and finally an end chapter promising that 'micro-miniaturization' will be the next big thing. It ends with the words 'The computer era has hardly begun'.

The book was aimed at self-learners and could be picked up in any book shop for a hefty 10s or around £7 in today's money.

Hence before most of us were born, and before you could get access to a working computer publishers were printing perfectly good educational guides for the (then) new technology that any working-class kid could study with a bit of effort.

Now we've got airheads on telly & dopy ad campaigns. Grim.

All too common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205565)

Yea, it happens. Here in the US we elected a Chief Executive who had no background as an executive, and very little as a legislator. As least those in the UK can hope that the director of the Year of Code is a reasonably good manager.

Gender politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205583)

Sadly it's all gender politics and nothing to do with programming.

The idea is to get women into programming, not just anyone that feels like it. That's why the public face is always an empowered middle-class woman and not someone like Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds (more presentable but accused of being mysoganist). Not only people that can actually code but who have used their skills to make a difference.

Re:Gender politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206675)

The goal is to cultivate cheap, 'good-enough' labor for the future. Gender politics just provides a safe umbrella to deflect criticism. Crush dissent with the power of Twitter and self-righteous social justice thugs with an existential need to Do Something(TM) . Think of it like pondscum trying to pass toxic bills under the guise of stopping terrorists or pedophiles; are you going to defend pedophiles?

Here it comes: The Slashcott (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205847)

You can fuck yourself to hell, Dice. See you next week.

Isn't the point to show people who have expressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46205979)

I think they are trying to show people that want to learn. I do understand that it might be a good idea to show people that already know how to code, but we don't know what they look like anyway. I have heard of Linus Torvalds, but I don't what he looks like.

Please send this to Lottie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46206795)

Have a look at this from 1971...

http://www.pointlessmuseum.com/museum/howitworkscomputerindex.php

Ladybird books were popular in the UK with kids aged 5-11.

Zuckerberg... (1)

sky770 (2731643) | about 9 months ago | (#46207249)

"I might be the next Zuckerberg."

*pauses* you wouldn't want to do that..

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