If coding isn’t the new literacy, what is?
According to Chris Granger, modeling is.
Modeling is creating a representation of a system (or process) that can be explored or used… To put it simply, the next great advance in human ability comes from being able to externalize the mental models we spend our entire lives creating.
Incidentally, this is corroborated by Douglas Rushkoff’s very brief history lesson, Social Control as a Function of Media, in which he predicts that the corporate controllers will only encourage programming skills when the programs of the masses can already be assimilated.
The A=href test
How to spot a model that actually works
at the if:book blog, of the Centre for the Future of the Book, Dan Visel has been reading Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques and noting his link between the invention of writing and improved social control.
Dan’s ‘wish that someone would present a cogent argument against reading’ rang a bell and I remembered Douglas Rushkoff’s argument that ‘text leads to a society of hearers read to by priests’; that by the time the masses have acquired the ability to read, the priests have already become writers, controlling what the masses read. The latest iteration is that anyone can publish (online), an ability until very recently reserved for elites. But now the publishing masses meekly accept the tools they are given to publish with. Every time a literacy skill becomes ubiquitous, the elite moves one step ahead once more. If the latest elite is the coders, it’s incumbent upon all of us, says Rushkoff, to learn a little coding – to program or be programmed. I read at the header to the little box I typed in to leave a comment: ‘you may use HTML tags for style’. This is often seen in comments pages on blogs. It raises the question of the way permission is embedded into the process, almost inconspicuously, mechanically. Who gives or witholds this kind of permission? It also raises a question about how many people can actually use HTML tags, or do any other kind of simple coding. Let’s call it the a href= test.
When you have a moment to spare, check out Douglas Rushkoff’s new book, Life Inc. That’s what I intend to do.
Tom Quirk has an article in right of centre magazine Quadrant pouring cold water on climate change modelling by arguing that, after all, it’s just a model.
I think there’s some sense in this, if only it wasn’t being said by people who are just looking for another reason to tell us climate change mitigation is costly for rich people everyone. Junk in, junk out, right? But let’s take the argument a bit further than that. Indeed, what else could usefully be described as ‘just a model’? Continue reading