TITLE: You Shouldn't Need a License to Program AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 25, 2014 2:03 PM DESC: ----- BODY: In Generation Liminal, Dorian Taylor recalls how the World Wide Web arrived at the perfect time in his life:
It's difficult to appreciate this tiny window of opportunity unless you were present for it. It was the World-Wild West, and it taught me one essential idea: that I can do things. I don't need a license, and I don't need credentials. I certainly don't need anybody telling me what to do. I just need the operating manual and some time to read it. And with that, I can bring some amazing -- and valuable -- creations to life.
I predate the birth of the web. But when we turned on the computers at my high school, BASIC was there. We could program, and it seemed the natural thing to do. These days, the dominant devices are smart phones and iPads and tablets. Users begin their experience far away from the magic of creating. It is a user experience for consumers. One day many years ago, my older daughter needed to know how many words she had written for a school assignment. I showed her Terminal.app and wc. She was amazed by its simplicity; it looked like nothing else she'd ever seen. She still uses it occasionally. I spent several days last week watching middle schoolers -- play. They consumed other people's creations, including some tools my colleagues set up for them. They have creative minds, but for the most part it doesn't occur to them that they can create things, too. We need to let them know they don't need our permission to start, or credentials defined by anyone else. We need to give them the tools they need, and the time to play with them. And, sometimes, we need to give them a little push to get started. -----