Monday, June 4, 2012

Coding is the New Literacy

Our world is surrounded by software. Every day teenagers spend more than 10 hours a day on line interfacing through a software layer - texting, facebook, tumblr, TV, movies - all are constructed in software and people use a software layer to interact. Even as a CEO, my day is dominated by software - Office apps, Twitter, Skype and even Words with Friends.

Software is changing our world in as profound a way as the book did starting in 1440. The book, following the invention of the printing press, democratized knowledge. Anyone who could read and write could share ideas and change the way other people thought. By 1500 there were 35,000 book titles in print and over 20MM books printed. 60 years after the invention of the computer the influence of software on our world is still growing exponentially.

And it touches everyone. Poor illiterate women in India running micro businesses through a cellphone. CEOs and bankers. Students at a Palo Alto High School. And so when I was invited to give a TEDx talk at Gunn High School two weeks ago I chose to talk about how being able to code - or at least understand enough structured logic to create software apps - is as important now as being able to read and write.

Technology is now where the jobs are, where the growth is, where the source of the major revolution of the next 100 years starts. It's an exciting place to be and it's a meritocracy. Everyone can learn it, just like everyone can learn to read and write.

Here's my talk:

And the most exciting thing for me giving this talk was that at the end I was surrounded by teenage girls thrilled to have their interest in software and technology endorsed and confirmed by my talk.

1 comment:

lallyr said...

So true, Penny! I just took a very basic html coding class today and I felt so liberated. I've been in tech all my career but today I really felt like I now "belong".

Just discovered your blog and your Huffpo articles. You rock!

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