Illiteracy 2.0

In this post, I just want to put down a thought I had for the last decade. The new illiteracy will be the one where people don’t know how to script, code or develop in a computer language. Just hear me out if you think I’m going overboard here.Now more than ever, literacy is core requirement to leverage and enhance a country’s human capital and build a sustainable Knowledge Economy.

But as we reach higher levels of literacy in the Western world, we’re slowly getting to see another phenomenon; an increasing ability to read and write, but the an inability to encode an idea or articulate a vision into computer code, design or pseudo-code.

So, if “reading” is decoding data, and “writing” is encoding data, then I think we need to take into account that reading and writing in the 21st Century should include the ability to understand and write computer code as they intrinsically contribute to sharing data, knowledge and information.

Any education ignoring this essential skill-set is simply ignorant of a growing economic problem, what I would refer to as “Knowledge Scalability”.

While Digital Illiteracy often refers more to the simple fact that still a lot of people feel lost amidst a perfect storm of digital devices, I’m more referring to the ability of reading and writing code. I’m just glad to see that more people and institutes share this belief.

So where do these skills come in handy, you might ask? On many levels.  Think about pitching an investor. As an entrepreneur you can be a great storyteller, but if you can’t illustrate this with a demo or mockup, then you’ll quickly lose interest of your angels or investors.

Now, take this situation to an everyday job and think how many times there where misunderstandings, how many meetings were lost to explain or prove your point, …  And then imagine how much easier this could’ve been if you could show what you want to establish, either by tactile or visual means.

My advice? At least, pick up a scripting language. HTML, Java, PHP, Python or Perl are all great languages to start with. Learn how to slice, learn how to build a PSD or PNG design. You don’t need to become an expert, but have the very minimum of skill that allows you to easily explain your vision, set expectations more efficient and communicate better.

Bottom line? If you can’t read or script code by 2020, you will be left behind…

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