Strata Conference – Data Journalism and Coding

Code“The programmers of tomorrow are the wizards of the future. You’re going to look like you have magic powers compared to everybody else.” – Gabe Newell

A friend today raised the valid question of why should everybody be able to learn to code. It is a matter of competitiveness, I think. I sat today at a fascinating presentation with the Guardian Data team at the Strata Conference and it is clear that the immense data and data analysis and visualization tools available today are enabling the type of journalism that a few years ago would have been impossible, ignored, or in the best scenario stumbled upon by luck. Moreover, as my professor of global business used to joke: nowadays only your local barbershop is truly local, and even this might be disputed (the ladies who cut my hair are all Vietnamese). So, put globalization and data overflow together, and you arrive at a world that is inherently more complex than the one inhabited by our grandparents. For that reason, the basic skills of pattern recognition (which my daughters study in elementary school) should be augmented by the equally basic skill of algorithm building and programming – logical process, as my friend rightly noted. I see it also in the context of consuming vs. co-creating. A few years ago not many people would consider having computer skills as essential – now it is the norm. But we should not stop at using the computers to consume only — once the kids learn how to co-create using computers, many of the current challenges will meet their, undoubtedly unexpected, solutions.