Will the percentage of the population able to computer code be measured like literacy rates are today?

November 24, 2013

When I was a boy my first computer was a Spectrum +2. You could code on it pretty easily using a language which I believe was called BASIC.

I wasn’t massively interested in coding on my Speccy as you couldn’t really make the machine do anything fun (in my opinion!) – so I used it mostly for playing games like Gauntlet.

A few years after that, my younger brother got into coding for a while on our first IBM clone PC and learned html. He was able to do some fun things with websites for a while.

These days I use my PC a lot and I use my smart phone too. But I have never really got into the stuff behind the web pages. So far I havent really needed too – various web site hosts make it possible not to make your own sites – this blog is a WordPress site and I believe somewhere in the user panel I can probably see the raw code, I don’t imagine I would ever do anything with it.

I have been following the progress of the Raspberry Pi device for a while and read an interesting article about it. This article notes the main success of the device has been in getting middle age men to be nostalgic about the coding they did in their youth. Which is nice, but the real aim of the device was to get the current generation of children to code.

I have children and my eldest is currently learning to read in his first year at school. There will be tests at some point and his literacy progress no doubt reported to the Government and then on to international comparisons. All fine and so very expected.

But will he and his sister be able to get away their whole life, as I have, without really being able to code?

Does the Government (or anyone) collect coding literacy rates (and do they break it down by which language people can code in)? Do other countries do this?

Perhaps they should start collecting this data, even if at this stage it is only to benchmark against future progress.

A couple of centuries ago literary rates were much, much lower than they are today. Will coding rates raise in the coming two centuries rise from what I expect are low levels in the general population today to almost every adult being able to do it by 2213?

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