Suppose everyone could program

Suppose everyone could program computers. In other words, suppose computer programming were taught as a basic skill to every child, starting in kindergarten, and continuing on to the senior year of high school.

I’m not suggesting that little children be taught C++ or Javascript. I would imagine that they would first be introduced to the concepts of programming in an age-appropriate way, perhaps through simple play, then progress to a blocks language like Scratch, and eventually move on to something like Python, supported by a well designed user interface.

I am guessing that if we were really to do that, we would think about programming differently. For one thing, it would be used for different purposes than it is now.

Rather than being a specialty craft — akin to being a plumber or an electrician — it would be something done every day by hundreds of millions of people, like cooking. I also suspect that programming languages themselves would evolve to meet the needs of this much broader user population.

Advances in user interfaces to support programming would have a very different flavor, once the ability to program is no longer just an advanced professional skill, but also a basic literacy skill. The kind of programming language that ends up getting used by everybody might look very different from anything we have seen so far.

2 Responses to “Suppose everyone could program”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    Between the late ’70s to the early ’80s, most every “personal” computer turned on with a READY prompt, awaiting programming in Basic.

    We’re sort of back there again with the web browser – you just have to know to hit the F12 key.

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