We all make New Year’s Resolutions, but Mayor Bloomberg is going beyond the standard promise to eat better and exercise more. As reported by TPM.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been increasingly vocal about his love for all things tech over the past few years, but now he’s taking it a whole new level. On Thursday, Bloomberg (the real one) tweeted that his new year’s resolution was to learn how to write code using the handy, free, game-like online courses offered by New York’s own Codecademy.
“My New Year’s resolution is to learn to code with Codecademy in 2012! Join me. http://codeyear.com/ #codeyear,” Bloomberg tweeted, instantly moving the hashtag #Codeyear into the top trending terms on Twitter in the New York City area.
I think this is a fascinating project. Computers have moved from big complex machines to a ubiquitous part of our environment. Basic computer skills, like installing programs, using anti-virus software, and setting up a wireless network, are the oil change and handy-man repairs of the 21st century. But going beyond user-friendly interfaces and delving into code, language, syntax, and math means developing whole new ways of thinking. Politicians are frequently derided for having no practical skills-there are only a handful of scientists in Congress, compared to a horde of engineers-,but getting involved with technology is a important part of understanding and becoming comfortable with technology.
Governments today clearly fear the potential of the internet to create chaos more than they value it’s ability to foster creativity. In the US, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act remains a crude attempt to force 19th century standards of intellectual property onto 21st century technology, while privacy protections for emails don’t extend to anything stored on the Cloud (sorry gmail). France can cut a person’s internet access after 3 attempts at privacy, while the UN argues that Internet access should be a basic human right. And this doesn’t even scratch the kind of censorship and surveillance that authoritarian nations like China and Iran are involved in. The whole legal environment is adding up to what Cory Doctorow calls “A war on general purpose computing.”
I’m not an uncritical internet evangelist, but free systems are better than closed systems. Compare all the innovation, growth, and energy around the American ARPAnet with the close (and now-defunct) French Minitel. Hopefully, more computer savvy politicians will also be more computer friendly politicians.