Category: business

Computer science — literacy for the 21st century

The moment a guy says, “I love reading books,” and then gives an example like, “Have you read the latest book by Junot Diaz?” I have to try to walk away and try calm my faster-beating heart. I have a similar reaction when any of the guys in my office have black screens of code open on two monitors.

Strange attractions and (sort of) jokes aside, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to require all public schools to offer computer science to all students. I admire the trend toward increasing emphasis on code as a fundamental literacy.  Whatever amateur coding skills I honed in the past are definitely obsolete by now, but my background has allowed me to at least understand code that other people have written. It’s been immensely helpful, not just in tech but in other areas of life (including writing!). On broadening the application of computer science:

But let’s back up a step: What if learning to code weren’t actually the most important thing? It turns out that rather than increasing the number of kids who can crank out thousands of lines of JavaScript, we first need to boost the number who understand what code can do. As the cities that have hosted Code for America teams will tell you, the greatest contribution the young programmers bring isn’t the software they write. It’s the way they think. It’s a principle called “computational thinking,” and knowing all of the Java syntax in the world won’t help if you can’t think of good ways to apply it.

Unfortunately, the way computer science is currently taught in high school tends to throw students into the programming deep end, reinforcing the notion that code is just for coders, not artists or doctors or librarians. But there is good news: Researchers have been experimenting with new ways of teaching computer science, with intriguing results. For one thing, they’ve seen that leading with computational thinking instead of code itself, and helping students imagine how being computer savvy could help them in any career, boosts the number of girls and kids of color taking—and sticking with—computer science. Upending our notions of what it means to interface with computers could help democratize the biggest engine of wealth since the Industrial Revolution.

— From “We Can Code It: Why Computer Literacy is Key To Winning The 21st Century” via MotherJones

It may not be requisite for everyone to deftly write enough code to become a lead developer, but I agree with the Mayor’s statement that “a computer science education is literacy for the 21st century.”

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busyness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy- very busy- without being very effective. 

People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them. People from every walk of life- doctors, academicians, actors, politicians, business professionals, athletes, and plumbers- often struggle to achieve a higher income, more recognition of a certian degree of professional competence, only to find that their drive to achieve their goal blinded them to the things that really mattered most and now are gone. 
– 7 habits of highly effective people

People make fun of me because I don’t carry Louis Vuitton or Coach or any designer leather handbags to work. I carry handmade canvas bags to work. Most of the time, people in the corporate world assess how I dress and the accessories I carry and assume that I’m an art-loving bohemian hippie, and I think I am okay with that assessment. I’m also okay with blowing their expectations out of the water when I open my mouth to speak about technology and business and streamlining work processes.

The handmade bags that I carry are made by Moop, which is a small business run by a lovely woman named Wendy. She started making these incredibly sturdy and useful bags, and I fell in love. I own more Moop bags than I care to admit. The only ones I’ve had to replace are the ones I have lost. I tell all my friends about Moop.

Today, Wendy wrote a post about her “breakup” with AdWords. It describes everything I feel about doing business and living life. And how the whirlwind pace of online technology can affect all of that, if you’re not careful.

I did not start Moop to master the art of SEO.  Someone else can take that on as their life’s passion.  For me, I’ll take everything listed prior to that.  The truth is, somewhere along the line, I lost sight of the most important things that make me love the business I have built.  At the very core, I am interested in relationships.  I value more than anything the relationships I have with everyone around me.

Thanks, Wendy, for reminding us of what matters.

I used to be very confused about my objective for blogging. Did I want to increase my pageviews? Did I want to encourage people to comment? Did I want to ask people to link to my blog?

In the end, I realized that what I cared about for this space here was freedom. Freedom to be myself, freedom to be thoughtful, freedom to take notes on the things I find important in life. I didn’t want to erect any boundaries around the writing I did in this particular forum. Later down the line, I found avenues for other trains of thought. The mediums to express yourself now seem endless, and I think it is worth it to look back and start revisiting how each medium helps you realize your goals and dreams. I think it’s okay to reinvent yourself. I think it’s okay to express different sides of your personality in the places you’ve set aside for that expression. And, like Wendy, I think most of all, I am interested in keeping sight of the most important things that make me love doing the things I have created. I am interested in the relationships that are borne from that love.

To this day, I don’t talk much about my writing here. I don’t advertise it, because that’s not the point for this particular blog. The reason why I feel like I can exercise my freedom here daily is because this is my sanctuary. Once I went back to find that sentiment that I had lost along the way (when I started counting pageviews or simultaneously hoping and fearing an increase of readership), I felt free.