For those paying close attention to technology news, it’s hard to escape the recent emphasis on coding and education.
Like math, science or even language, coding is a learned skill that has many applications. Most of them involve creating something, which is a foreign expertise as of late. As we’ve seen the collapse of the finance sector, many are rethinking the trends in education. As I studied classics in college, I can attest that my grasp of syntax and semantic range does little to improve daily life (of course, I can make a case for the other side as well).
In the science-math category is coding. This is how everything digital is built and it’s what’s at fault when software doesn’t work.
More and more, computer science classes are popping up in schools. When I was in school, I was always afraid to try the CS classes for fear of negatively affecting my GPA and, it seemed, coding was for the boys….
Well, times are changing. Since coding is like learning a language though it requires no mastery of authentic accent, one can learn simply by sitting in front of a computer. And that’s where Codecademy comes in.
Jumping on the resolution bandwagon, Codecademy started ‘Code Year,’ where participants are sent a weekly course that leads them through the basics (and not so basics) or coding, so by the end of the year they will actually be able to create something.
The program caught on quickly and nearly 350,000 users have signed up to participate (myself included). Reinforcing the importance of keeping coding in America and New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also signed up for Code Year.
This weekend I sat down to do my first lesson, expecting something that wouldn’t force me to flex my muscles for too long. Welp, I was wrong. The first lesson took me over and hour and the LAST exercise has me stumped.
I’m about to embark on Week 2 and look forward to learning more. I am not confident I’ll make it through the whole year (this is hard!), but I’m looking forward to trying.
In today’s world, women are outnumbering men attending college. More and more women are entering the workforce and becoming equals with male counterparts. However, they aren’t rising to the very top.
Our moms worked to break the ‘glass ceiling’ however we aren’t taking advantage of it. I’m not entirely sure why, expect that maybe we are simply wired differently. Little girls aren’t praised for being ruthless and tough, but instead for being nice and quiet.
Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is a woman who is doing things differently. She is brilliant (Google her and be stunned) and is giving Facebook the parental supervision it so needs. More than that, she is speaking out, giving advice to women on how to rise in the ranks. And she’s right.
Hope that helps motivate you to go to work tomorrow after the holiday.
Do you have a favorite website? What website do you visit the most? Are they the same?
I’ve been thinking about what makes a good website recently. Some websites are easy to use, some have great content, some need to be checked frequently – but what does it take to generate traffic? Let’s break it down:
Ease of use: You probably don’t know a good website when you see it. But you definitely know a bad one. User interface is one of those things that goes unrecognized unless it’s done poorly. Navigation, links, aesthetic all are important. To paraphrase Tolstoy, all good websites and alike; all bad ones are bad in its own way. Try it yourself – what’s the best website you’ve used recently? What’s the worst? Which was easier to answer?
Content is king: We visit websites to find something, though that something varies by the site. Many websites (this one included) depends on updated content for visits. I find that when I post, I receive many more views in the following days than relying on SEO for previous posts. We visit news sites daily/weekly/monthly for the new content. Sometimes we stumble upon great sites with old content, but we aren’t likely to continue visiting.
As you might expect, Google is highly trafficed because it’s the aggregate of content and Facebook only receives visitors when YOU update your status or photos. Some sites that I find myself checking frequently for the content, unexpectedly, include my gym’s website as the classes are always changing. Of course, once I am there I find myself playing with the other tools, cataloging my workouts digitally in ways I never knew to do. Content can be the lure, but be sure to give the visitors something to do once they are there.
Frequency: This leads us to the question of how much is enough? How many visitors? How frequently should you update your content? The answer is mostly that it’s always evolving. As I’ve mentioned before, I read blogs religiously on my Reader. Gawker is one of my favorite sites, but I almost never visit the website – I just don’t need to. Luckily for them, the ads in the posts pull through to my Reader, so they can still make a few dollars, but you have to decide what your goals are for the content. Do you want to create the (fleeting) viral video? Where do you expect your readers to read it – mobile? Tablet?
The bottom line is, if you have good content, they will come. But, if you can optimize your content, MORE people will come.
Technology, like any industry in a ‘healthy’ economy is cyclical. Recently, the media has been spilling a lot of ink about technology’s recent upswing, labeling it a bubble. While not unjustified, the language is a bit strong.
Recently, VC’s have been handing out money like it’s water (easy for me to say as an outsider looking in). They seem to be willing to invest in anyone with past successes or a reasonably good idea for a consumer-based technology. This marks a shift from the last boom, where anything related to the internet was considered gold. Now it’s all about users and engagement.
Jonathon Kaplan, the creator of Cisco’s Flip, announced that his grilled cheese scheme has raised $10 million. Now, I like grilled cheese as much as the next person, but it’s hard to believe that it’s worth $10 million no matter how 2.0 it is.
On the bright side of this technology upswing is the number of smart people attracted to technology who may have just turned up their noses at it for dignified finance positions. Similarly organizations are springing up to support the talent and ideas (and to get a slice). In New York we have General Assembly, which is an organization that supports startups by providing business and technology insight as well as precious office space. For us lay people, it also offers seminars on all things tech. Across the country there are groups that bring together smart people with relevant skills to stimulate ideas.
Who knows how long this boom will last, well, maybe Schumpeter and his gale knows, but I am excited to see what comes from these great minds, especially after the funding stops.
Business Week is more eloquent than I: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_17/b4225060960537_page_3.htm