I know naff all about the internal workings of cars. I drive a 1996 Jaguar Sovereign and when it goes wrong I take it to Noel at Safe’n’Sound in Portslade and thank God he’s an honest mechanic because I have no idea what is going on under that bonnet.
And so it is with computer code. I’m in the dark. I run an audio studio, edit video, live my life through Apple products and use the Internet and my apps all day long. Through necessity I have learned some tricks on how to reset a Macbook Pro when it misbehaves, but ask me how it or my iPhone is programmed and I am lost.
When I need code I go to ‘code experts’ and they quote me for the job, jabbering on about APIs and syncing up with new formats on Facebook. But really I have no idea.
For many of us code runs our lives, driving most – if not all – of the technology we use on a daily basis. As cyber-hack Douglas Rushkoff once wrote: “Code is the stuff that makes computer programs work – the list of commands that tells a word processor, a website, a video game, or an airplane navigation system what to do. That’s all software is: lines of code, written by people.”
Being able to read is considered a life-skill without which deciphering everything from road signs to health warnings would be impossible. Worryingly, understanding code is increasingly becoming a skill without which we are excluded from fully comprehending the mechanisms of the digital world.
The issue has been clocked by governments here and in the US, as code is currently not included in national curricula. Both countries are now on active drives to equip both schoolchildren and adults with basic code skills. This is seen as pivotal to keeping our nations at the cutting-edge of technological advancement, and even potentially keeping us out of recession.
Feeling left out? I was – until along came the genius that is Decoded.co – a one-day crash course in… code. This week I met with Kathryn Parsons, one of the founding owners, and she explained what they offer.
Kathryn explained that having a basic understanding of code allows you to communicate effectively with digital designers and code experts – rather than ﬁling web/app and software construction as a ‘black art’ and the sole responsibility of the IT department. Crucially, it can bridge the growing chasm between creativity, business demands and computer/mobile reality.
No surprise then that movers and shakers from BBC iPlayer, Facebook, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Omnicom and O2 have attended the course, and that Decoded are in such demand that their New York ofﬁce will open later this year.
Not content with empowering media executives, Decoded have an active interest in offering their course to the programmers of tomorrow, having recently run a competition with London’s Stoke Newington School, where the winners got their original concepts for apps turned into reality in two days.
With their motto of ‘leave no one behind’, if you are feeling out of the ‘code-loop;, you now have no excuse not to have a grounding in the language of the future… and what’s more you don’t have to look under any car bonnets to do so.