Can we keep advancing?

I found these readings especially illuminating, since my understanding of how the internet was invented was informed by primarily by this informative masterpiece. But after reading Tim Berners-Lee’ s piece about the World Wide Web and Ted Nelson’s vision for hypertext, I was glad to finally gain some firsthand perspective from the pioneers who built the infrastructure for web as we experience it today.

The thing that struck me most was how critical these pioneers were of the programming conventions of their time. Ted Nelson, in 1965, was already envisioning ways to transcend standard hypertext into useful media platforms for an interconnected world. Vannevar Bush, in 1945, could recognize the value a networked computer could bring to consumers following advances in photographic technology.

Obviously, retrospect only complements the credibility of these men because the web we experience today fits Nelson’s and Bush’s visions in some way. Innovation in technology have made computers more vital to our lives than they probably even imagined. But I wonder if a lack of innovation in programming itself has held us back from unleashing any more potential.

What I mean to say is, advances in consumer technology has brought what was once only considered a mathematical machine into the hands of babies and baby boomers. But writing code still resides in the obscure and unapproachable part of most people’s brains. And although you could point to numerous tools (like Codecademy and Bootstrap) that have made it incredibly easy to get over that first hump, I would say that there have not been adequate advancements to bring programming to the public at large.

I first tried my hand at HTML/CSS in my high school computer graphics class, where I learned the basic syntax and forgot it shortly after that. I picked it up again two years ago and have slowly been trying to keep up with HTML5 and dabbling in javascript. It takes a lot of effort to really feel comfortable with the language and I still end up using references and snippets from around the internet to put something together.

But given the sheer level of daily interaction we have with our devices, it astounds me that so few people are knowledgable about what’s under the hood of the internet. I suppose that could be said about what’s under the hood of an actual car or the inner workings of the 112th US Congress, but still, I think about it.

We grew up with internet. I’ve been around computers long enough to remember dial-up, Y2K, AOL, and the first iPod Mini. But the next generation is growing up in a world where iPads, YouTube, and Netflix already exist. What’s crazy is if these kids wanted to pick up coding, they’d have to learn the same languages and conventions that people were using close to two decades ago. The whole idea remains as obscure as ever and I feel that, by finding a way to make it easier to pick up coding, we could tap into a whole new wealth of potential.


~ by ab3628 on September 11, 2013.

4 Responses to “Can we keep advancing?”

  1. The question ‘Can we keep advancing?’ is one that has been discussed in many of my classes. In fact, it is a question that I feel every generation feels of the next. We have so much amazing technology that it does appear as though we cannot continue. However, as the famous adage goes, when Henry Ford asked in the 20’s what they wanted, the people said ‘A faster horse’ Ford of course gave them a car. The point is, we cannot foresee the innovations our successors will bring. They’ll innovate in ways we can never dream of. And they too, will question if those that follow them can advance further.


  2. I found that your post inspired me to think about everything we can achieve if we were truly literate in coding and technology. Just knowing how to operate and iPhone and send a text message isn’t enough these days. Coding and truly mastering what is behind the colorful webpages and apps is going to be a skill that we will all have to obtain within the future. If we are ever to succeed or grow in this field, we need to learn the basics- just like you would need to learn biology and anatomy before you apply for Med school.

    Not becoming literate very well could hinder our growth in the long run. How embarrassing would that be if our hinderance to growing as a society was as a result of something HUMANS initially made to make life easier?


  3. This post hit the nail on the head with problems many face in technology. This isn’t just a problem with new generations who have always had technology, but this is especially a problem with the older generation. A lot of people have trouble understanding basic computer programs, let alone coding. Making coding easier to pick up would open up so many new doors.
    -Ashley Flor

  4. I agree that it seems odd that although we live in the so called “tech-age” that so few people understand the language or even the basis of which this technology derives from. Reading articles such as Galloway’s Physical Media about protocols and Berner-Lee’s description of how filing systems operate on the world wide web reveals to me how little we as a society understand how computers even work let alone the internet. I agree that we need to push for more coding education in schools due the tech age we live in or we are doomed to be reliant on the experiences of only a few educated individuals.

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