Tag Archives: Program or Be Programmed

Programming People to Program

The “What most schools don’t teach” video on Youtube has gone viral fairly quickly, having amassed 8,711,609 views (as of Monday, March 4 at 12:34 AM). Anecdotally, I’ve seen it shared on Facebook by programmer and non programmer alike,and influence a few people to take up learning how to code in their spare time. Featuring a diverse cast of Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Chris Bosh to name a few, it seems to make a compelling case for getting people interested in programming.

While I fully endorse the message, it however made me think of another person who asked us all to learn programming: Doug Rushkoff. He is the author of the book Program or Be Programmed, and frequent speaker on how important it is to learn coding in the 21st Century. Yet, I’ve heard of only 1 person who was inspired to program from Rushkoff’s message even though it’s been around much longer:

This got me thinking about why saying things one way resonates with us and why it saying it another does not. Code.org’s mission is more optimistic in tone, and features celebrities and people from industry espousing what is great about programming. Rushkoff, however, seems more pessimistic and anti-industry, revealing the hidden subroutines of the code we use everyday. Both methods carry the same message and yet the more optimistic video seems to be the one that is clearly winning people over to learning to program. It doesn’t mean Rushkoff’s message is any less important, but it reminds us that perhaps a hopeful message gets through better than a scary one.