Computer Literacy

What then is computer literacy? It is not learning to manipulate a word processor, a spreadsheet or a modern user interface; those are paper-and-pencil skills. Computer literacy is not even learning to program. That can always be learned, in ways no more uplifting than learning grammar instead of writing. Computer literacy is contact with the activity of computing deep enough to make the computational equivalent of reading and writing fluent and enjoyable. As in all arts, a romance with the material must be well under way. If we value the lifelong learning of arts and letters as a springboard for personal and societal growth, should any less effort be spent to make computing part of our lives?

— Computer Software - Alan Kay

When Andrew Carnegie set up thousands of free public libraries in the US, each one of them had a special room where the librarians taught reading to whomever wished to learn!

— The Real Computer Revolution Hasn't Happened Yet - Alan Kay

If we want computers to be able to compute for us, then we have to accurately extract (...) models from our heads and record them. Writing Python isn't the fundamental skill we need to teach people. Modeling systems is.


Programming as it exists now forces us to model, but it does so in an unnatural way. And while teaching ourselves how to program will help us learn how to break systems down, it does so at the risk of focusing on the wrong things.

We don't want a generation of people forced to care about Unicode and UI toolkits. We want a generation of writers, biologists, and accountants that can leverage computers.

Coding is not the new literacy - Chris Granger

If programming means writing step-by-step recipes as has been done for the past 40 years, however, then for most people it never was relevant and is surely obsolete. Spreadsheets (...) give strong hints that much more powerful styles are in the offing for novices and experts alike. Does this mean that what might be called a driver-education approach to computer literacy is all most people will ever need-that one need only learn how to "drive" applications programs and need never learn to program? Certainly not. Users must be able to tailor a system to their wants. Anything less would be as absurd as requiring essays to be formed out of paragraphs that have already been written

— Computer Software - Alan Kay