A WSJ article written last year by Marc Andreeson entitled “Why Software is Eating the World” simply knocked me over. Mr. Andreeson points out that software companies are disrupting many industries not known historically for software development or innovation. From bookstores to television cable, music to entertainment, photography to telecommunication, recruiting to direct marketing, software companies with household names are disrupting each of them. Other industries including retail, finance, health care, and defense have pivoted over recent decades to be largely software based as well. While this might seem obvious it is still eye opening and sobering to see the list of industries collected in one essay.
Now sitting firmly in 2012, we are seeing a continuation of this trend. Mr. Andreeson stated that he expects more industries to be disrupted by software over the next ten years. Recent government data supports this statement. Projections through 2020 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show a conformation of the growth of the software industry (page 10 specifically). The software publishers industry is expected to be one of the largest growing industries in real output. And the report points out, “As more software services, such as cloud computing, word processing, and entering data into spreadsheets, become available through the Internet and the need grows for a more secure network, so will the demand for services of software publishers.” Projections are for the industry to grow by over $200 billion.
But one major challenge to all this disruption is “the lack of education and skills required to participate in the great new companies coming out of the software revolution.” These companies can’t find enough talent even with high unemployment around the U.S. This is exactly the problem we are trying to address at Start Code. Getting our kids started with hands-on experience programming and creating software is the essential first step. It can unlock doors and put many kids on the path to either creating or taking part in these new software companies.
Mr. Andreeson’s essay was a powerful confirmation for our mission at Start Code. We knew that what we were creating felt right, but this article was a clarion call that Start Code was also necessary. We need to prepare our kids for this future software disruption so they can take part in the creation and innovation of all the new software companies that will result. With the right skills and encouragement they can also join and lead the disruption with confidence.
We have decided to use Scratch and Python as the starter programming languages in our Labs. We recently discussed how we arrived at this decision in our blog. Do you agree? If not, what do you think are the best languages or tools to get started?
Java certainly fits the definition of being free and cross-platform, having a thriving online community, and being fun to use. But Java is also object-oriented and the concepts of classes and objects can get deep really fast. Students can get in over their head before they know it. Personally, I like how Scratch and Python can ease them into the shallow end of the pool before pushing them into the deep end. Not to say that some students couldn’t handle Java from the beginning. We are certainly looking forward to using Java in our Labs with some excellent starting environments that are out there specifically for beginners.
Let us know your thoughts or suggestions. We welcome any input.
Start creating. Start programming. Start Code.