Monthly Archives: February 2014

Next Meeting: March 22, Video and Discussion

Saturday, March 22, 2014, 1-3PM
Rutland Free Library, Fox Room (upstairs)
10 Court Street, Rutland, VT

We will show a video presentation by author Douglas Rushkoff, followed by a discussion.  The presentation is based on Rushkoff’s book “Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age“.

I just finished reading this interesting book.  You don’t need to read his book beforehand (unless you want to).   Just come and enjoy the video.  But if you are interested, the book’s ISBN# is 978-1593764265 (152 pages).

Many of us use smartphones, tablet computers and laptops.  There is more to “computer literacy” than knowing which buttons to press, where to click, or an app’s features.  Mr. Rushkoff is not advocating that we all become computer programmers.  We certainly don’t need to be mechanics to drive a car.  Instead, Mr. Rushkoff makes the distinction between “driving the car” versus merely being a “passenger”.  That analogy can be applied to our use of technology.

Mr. Rushkoff also compares our advancements in technology to past inventions like the written word and the printing press.  He points out how the larger population seems to be one “version” behind in how we use and adapt these advancements.  In other words, we don’t always use them to their full potential.

Rushkoff’s final command and chapter title is “Program or Be Programmed”.  The word “command” (instead of Commandment), is a play on the word used by computer programmers, as in submitting commands to run our computers (as some of you did in the recent “Hour of Code” event).

All ages welcome.  Hope to see you on March 22nd.

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PBS Frontline: Generation Like, with Douglas Rushkoff

Tonight on many PBS stations, the FRONTLINE documentary series will present, “Generation Like“, by Frontline correspondent and author David Rushkoff.

I am “almost” finished reading Rushkoff’s book “Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age” (one more chapter to go).  Douglas Rushkoff is an interesting writer and thinker.  He often explores how we use technology, and how we can sometimes be “used” by technology.

I am of a similar age of Mr. Rushkoff and learned BASIC programming around the time he started to learn programming.  Having traveled a similar journey, from the “command line” to the GUI (Graphical User Interface), I can often relate to Mr. Rushkoff’s insights.  I am looking forward to viewing this FRONTLINE documentary, and hope you are able to view it on cable TV or via streaming video.

Feel free to comment here if you have viewed the documentary.

Stafford STEM Update from Rutland Herald

Today’s Rutland Herald published this update regarding the new STEM program at Stafford Tech, to start in Fall 2014.  You will need an online subscription to read full article.  But here are some excerpts:

Stafford Technical Center is moving full-steam ahead on its plans to create a course of study emphasizing STEM — science, technology, engineering and math.

This week, high school students from around Rutland County are visiting Stafford to explore the many courses of study offered by the school, including STEM Academy, which will begin this fall.

The program will have as many as 16 students during its first year, said STEM Academy coordinator Fieh Chan, who described the prospective class as “the perfect size for students to engage in group projects while still giving them plenty of one-on-one attention.”

Universal Language of CODE

As Americans across the political spectrum argue over Coca-Cola’s Superbowl ad (“America Is Beautiful”), there are people in America and around the world communicating in the universal language known as “Code”.

“Code” is a term for various computer languages and dialects.  Nearly all of them contain subsets of English words, representing human-readable commands that tell our computers what to do.  The first computers were developed in America.  Also, children in many countries learn a second language, English.

In the late 1990s, I worked with five H1-B computer programmers from India.  They were all from different parts of that large country.  They all had different religious backgrounds and spoke different native languages.  Their common language was English.  That’s the only way they could communicate with each other (and me).

Like English, Code is another universal language.  If you can read or write Code, you could get a good paying job in our global economy, or start your own business.

Even if you don’t plan to pursue a tech career, it helps to be aware of some basic concepts about Code.  There is more to “computer literacy” than knowing which buttons to press, where to click, or an app’s features.  I am now reading David Rushkoff’s book, “Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age”.  Mr. Rushkoff is not advocating that we all become computer programmers.  We certainly don’t need to be mechanics to drive a car.  Instead, David Rushkoff makes the distinction between “driving the car” versus merely being a “passenger”.

Rather than arguing about Coke’s Superbowl ad, maybe we could learn a tiny bit about Code.

If you are interested, I invite you to attend our “Hour of Code” event at Rutland Free Library, Saturday, February 8, 1-3PM.  We will learn basic concepts of “coding”, using a fun visual approach.  All ages welcome.  Bring your laptop, tablet or smartphone.  For more info, see event blog post.