“Blue sky thinking” to popularise the Year of Code with today’s youth

The Government’s Year of Code is off to a mixed start, to say the least. But it is possible that increasing the next generation’s knowledge of these valuable tools could be key to increasing our country’s future prosperity. So what are we to do?

Drawing on my own childhood computing interest and some classic ‘blue sky thinking’, here are a few suggestions to get things moving.

1. Turn off the App Stores

It can be done. Egypt has done it, Syria has done it — isn’t it about time someone used filtering of communications as a force for good? With access to the exciting and useful array of apps now gone, the App Store home pages can be replaced with a guide to writing your first programme. Or the source code for Flappy Bird and Snapchat. Today’s industrious youth will have hacked together an alternative in no time — I mean, what else are they going to do, read a book?

2. Give the project to Reddit to run instead

Loading up the home page and seeing George Osborne grinning back at you is enough to put anyone off. Seriously though, the Government is not cool, school is the biggest institution you ignore the advice of, and men in suits who work at Google are not aspirational figures. Reddit is an online community founded by young guys who had no idea what they were doing and smashed their way to success. And if nothing else, the community gets things done.

3. Bring back TV storylines where kids hack computers to change their grades

This used to happen in literally every children’s TV show when I was young and they made it look easy enough to try. Given the state of most Government IT, they probably stand a good chance at success.

Joking aside, if you want to learn more about the Year of Code and get a more optimistic view on the subject, you could do worse than read this analysis by Benjamin Southworth. Ben was previously in the belly of the beast as Deputy CEO of the Tech City project so his perspective is not your average Joe’s.

But hopefully, if all else fails, my suggestions above can remain a solid Plan B. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.

- Max Tatton-Brown

March 4th, 2014