Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Coding:Programmer as Typing:Secretary

Back in the 1970 the old Bell Telephone Companies were under pressure to have more women in management. The solution was simple. Make them programmers. Take them out of the typing pool and make them Cobol programmers.

Silicon Valley types are too young to remember Cobol but it was the business language of the 60s. Fortran was scientific. C was just starting to be thought of. I first learned FAP, Fortran Assembly Programming where we loaded registers with bits.

Now the wizards of Silicon Valley have a new Trojan Horse. Instead of training young folks in typing and shorthand, we will train them in coding. See the trend? Katherine Gibbs graduates of the new millennium.

Thus the NY Times notes:

Computer science is also essential to American tech companies, which have become heavily reliant on foreign engineers. Mr. Trump’s efforts to limit immigration make’s teach-Americans-to-code agenda even more attractive to the industry. In a few short years, has raised more than $60 million ..., along with individual tech executives and foundations. It has helped to persuade two dozen states to change their education policies and laws... while creating free introductory coding lessons, called Hour of Code, which more than 100 million students worldwide have tried. Along the way, has emerged as a new prototype for Silicon Valley education reform: a social-media-savvy entity that pushes for education policy changes, develops curriculums, offers online coding lessons and trains teachers — touching nearly every facet of the education supply chain.

Is this just a Trojan Horse for the "training" of cheap labor. Or is it just another way for the NY Times to insert Trump in every paragraph? 

But really, the algorithm to optimize train flow into and out of Penn Station is NOT programming and those being trained to "code" will not have the skills to develop such optimization. They will become the typists of the 21st century. The more we have the cheaper they become. 

I always remember the NYNEX VP of MIS, a tough Irish woman, who when hearing Bob Kahn speak of the Internet and its potential in 1990 told me that I and Bob were fools, and why did we waste her time! That was an example of "training".