Only 5% of the US population is capable enough to "schedule a meeting room in a scheduling application, using information contained in several email messages."


Remember in the 90s, when teens were more tech savvy than adults, and everyone assumed that the savviest would just keep getting younger? Now it's 2017, and the people who were teens in the 90s are the most tech savvy generation and probably will be until they die.

Kids don't grow up with computers any more, they grow up with iPhones. If it's possible to learn to code on an iPhone, it's despite Apple's best efforts.

@mogwai_poet that's a really interesting perspective. never thought about it that way.

@mogwai_poet I talk about this all the time. These little handhelds are appliances. Heck, even the Mac is basically an appliance. Apparently Mac users don't want an actual computer, they want something to do the internet on. It's sad.

@mogwai_poet Well, I'm born in 1998 and the fact that I'm here is probably the best proof I'm not a iphone fan.
Stop thinking your past was better, it wasn't see all the kool things we can do with technology naow ? :D

@mogwai_poet Back in our day, you had to have at least a very basic understanding of how computers and software worked to do more than the most basic of tasks. Things have advanced to the point that one no longer needs any real understanding of the backend to make things work. This is probably better, but it does mean people are less tech savvy even as we use tech more regularly – a seemingly counterintuitive outcome.

@mogwai_poet Very well put. Thank you! I've been saying this for a while.

Although, I don't think there are less young, tech-savvy people now then there were in the 90s. But there are certaintly not more.

But nobody believes me, of course.

@mogwai_poet I just started playing around with Pico-8 and it reminded me so much of playing around on an Apple ][ only even cooler - I have to believe there are kids out there who will be inspired by access to tools like that!

@rafial Yeah I really like Pico-8 and I'm curious how good it is as a didactic tool

@mogwai_poet @rafial This is a good tip! When my eldest was small the best experience giving him programming skills I had was actually dusting off a Spectrum 48K and going through some BASIC with him.

The layers of abstraction in modern programming get in the way. I assume they're peeled away in PICO-8?

@insom precisely! Start it up, start typing in draw commands at the command line and see immediate feedback. It provides a simple, intentionally limited machine model with direct access to the hardware. The language is Lua, but it's still as approachable as BASIC was.

@insom I meant to put "hardware" in scare quotes when talking about direct access :P You are working with an emulated imaginary machine, not the real hardware on which it is hosted.

@mogwai_poet @nydel "The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what's going on."

@mogwai_poet I disagree with that. It will surely be a smaller subset of the generation that is tech savy but that group is also going to be extremely specialized in that case.

@mogwai_poet The vast, vast majority of us are not tech savvy.

Way more kids code in the younger demo. I'm saying this as a kid who was the right age for Flight of the Navigator and also learned how to code in C before I could recite a multiplication table.

I think "kids these days" are very very adept at navigating tech. It's just with so many more doing it the power law distribution is more visible.

@mogwai_poet My father, who was carpenter/woodcraftsman, got us a micro computer back in the 80s. Instead of getting the usual C-64 with tons of games, he got SVI-728 and one game. That pretty much forced me to learn programming if I wanted to do anything else but play that game over and over again (I did that too though).

Later on he told me that it was his plan all along, to teach me to create something, instead of just consuming what others create. He's wise like that.

@tuturto @mogwai_poet I discovered that GORRILAS.BAS did collision detection with colors the hard way.

@mogwai_poet @tuturto I wanted to make the game prettier, so I changed the code so that the Windows and buildings had random colors. However, sometimes a gorilla would spontaneously combust whenever the banana hit the building. It took a long time to figure out that it only happens when the building is gorilla-colored.

@mogwai_poet I'm constantly mystified how Googlers don't seem to recognize that Chromebooks are pretty much the worst possible thing you can give a kid if you want them to learn anything.

@ocdtrekkie @mogwai_poet have you not noticed the schmorgasboard of available outlets for learning and doing coding online? pretty much the only coding you can't do on a Chromebook is Minecraft.

then we have no choice. we must use our tech savvy to extend our lifespans and teach the next generation to be the sages after us.

@mogwai_poet while "tech = computer technology", you're probably right.

But new revolutionary tech *will* come, bio-stuff, nano-stuff, whatever, and then kids born in the next decades will become the "tech ninjas" of their time, while millennials will become the new tech unsavvy people well before they die.

@mogwai_poet Having started to work with kids about half a year ago, i was shocked at how little they know, even those that have their own desktop computer.

The tendencies of GUIs to abstract away internals of the machine is part of the problem. iPhones are just another step in that trend.

The real Problem IMHO is lack of education. It isn't enough to have information available online, it needs to be taught.

@mogwai_poet Oui, je m'en rend compte chez jour : les digital natives sont juste des pousseurs de boutons, ils ne savent pas du tout comment leurs outils fonctionnent.

@mogwai_poet @monolecte Aren't Apple's todays engineers the 80/90s tech savvy generation? :-)

@mogwai_poet I think what makes an important difference between the 90s and now is that back then it was harder for kids to passively consume electronic content. As a result, we were more motivated to pursue creative use of our machines, be it coding, graphics etc. I do find it frustrating that great hardware products these days are better geared towards consumption than production. This is very much felt on iOS, especially if you also try not to rely on cloud services.

@mogwai_poet Richard Stallman's short story "Right to Read" touched on this (the intersection of DRM and disallowing low level access making it impossible to get "unauthorized" access required to learn the underlying technology).

@mogwai_poet As a 90s kid I would be inclined to agree, but I feel like there's a bit of "kids these days" elitism in that sentiment as well. More people are coding now than ever.

@mogwai_poet there are still many younger folk trying to learn to code (and better initiatives to teach them such as the Raspberry PI foundation in UK and BBC Micro Bit) but not only do proprietary systems and cultura; barriers raise the barrier or entry for younger hackers to start; there's a another wider issue that in nations with traditionally high tech skill levels, the populations are declining..

@mogwai_poet I wonder about this. I was the tech-savvy 90's teen (like a lot of folks on here) and I was in a group of 4-5 technophiles in my 800 child school.

I think the media loved "wunderkind" stories and a narrative got built around it. I know a small number of scarily-brilliant teens and university students, but enough to make me feel the ratio is probably similar now.

We wouldn't need "Hour of Code" workshops everywhere if more kids were naturally drawn to coding.

@insom @mogwai_poet Husband and I were the tech-savvy 80's kids, and now we're raising a tech-savvy-ish kid and seeing some differences. I hand-decompiled my Color Computer's ROM because BASIC wasn't adequate to write a flight sim. Kid wants to code, but can play eleventy-million flight sims just in the browser - so the pressure to learn things is taken away *and* obstructed with "play this shiny object!"

@mogwai_poet I also find it interesting (and good) that coding is now becoming a "blue collar" job. Even displaced coal miners are becoming coders.

@mogwai_poet I remember seeing programming kits from Apple last ... whatever that Apple event is called. But there was a sweet spot for us 90s teens where the new tech hit just as we were ready to understand it each time.

It will really hurt when that stops being true: probably the next tech wave after Blockchain/Deep Learning. I can't wait, though 😁🤓

@mogwai_poet And this little thought is one symptom of a bigger issue in the world: people doesn't want to learn any more. They feed on media and preferably on ones that does not require thinking :-(

@mogwai_poet This is exactly what I've been saying! My college students don't understand what "uploading" and "downloading" actually are, can't touch-type, etc. (Anecdotally, I heard similar tales from Japanese friends about the 90s there--they said everyone expected young people in high-tech Japan to be computer savvy, but they really only knew how to use their phones. Then they graduated, got jobs, and had to learn to use PCs.)

@wintersweet @mogwai_poet Chatting in IRC is what got me away from looking at my hands in a way that writing papers or those typing tutors never did.

@mogwai_poet i agree with most of this. Kids these days (makes me sound old) won't build their own computer, won't know IRQ ports or anything of that stuff. Everything will come together in a way that can't be built or upgraded, etc.

@mogwai_poet I'm encouraged by the rise of educational computers like the RaspPi, and fantasy emulators like the PICO-8.
They provide that manageable computer learning experience that we had. At least to those who want it.

@mogwai_poet Not quite true!! I thought about this a lot but since getting a job in the education sector I'm a lot more optimistic. Some of our 15 year olds just... casually made an android app... like, in their spare time. they thought it was easy. "StitchMIT and programming lego robots is for elementary schoolers. Of course we used real code"

And these aren't kids in fancy private schools they're from the most underfunded public school districts in our state.

@mogwai_poet Keep in mind they didn't learn any of this stuff in school; they learned it at our org's programs for them outside of school, but we're far from the only organization giving kids in underfunded school districts a free supplementary education.

@mogwai_poet that is an interesting view. I remember I had to go out of my way to learn my chops online just to interact. Forums (and of course 4chan) back then would eat you alive if you showed a hint of technical weakness. Computer illiteracy invalidated arguments, and self-doxxing was akin to a death sentance.

Nowadays taking the less-traveled path of interacting with others is considered excentric at best and antisocial at the worse. An ironic trait for socializing, no?

@mogwai_poet Admittedly I understand you were referencing utilization of more "hard" computer skills, but your musing gave me a striking tangent. It is both amazing, and incredibly disappointing to me how integral centralized services like fb/insta/snapchat have become in our lives. Would never have dreamed this when I was in highschool.

@mogwai_poet As a science/stats lecturer, I have definitely noticed that the "digital native" idea is BS. Students aren't innately better at using Word, or using a computer to solve a problem with code, they don't have better information literacy or the ability to use databases to find what they want. It's just that they use their phones/laptops a lot. And yeah they're allowed to use phones the way our grandparents used newspapers/letters. But that doesn't teach computing skills.

@mogwai_poet Kids today use computer-based tools as something being part of the environments as people in earlier times used light switches, cars, candles, books, clocks, scores…

Most people don't understand how a car engine works, but drive, and that's ok. Problem with computers/phones is there is a power structure below: you get yourself dependent on a network you do not understand.
People need to deal with this, and it may not be necessary to learn programming for this.

@mogwai_poet any sources for this "it used to be better/this generation!" stuff?

@mogwai_poet Yeah, it used to be that the kids were the ones who had to help with the computers.

I think that the total number of kids that truly enjoy programming is the same as it was back in the 80's. It's just that so many more people use computers, so you can't assume that "computer user" means that the person understand programming anymore.

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