Should creativity be an essential part of our learning process? Or does creativity have no other purpose than fun and entertainment? What are the possible benefits of taking a more creative approach to learning programming?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for software engineers is expected to see a 26% increase by the end of 2028. Coding bootcamps have seen a rapid expansion, from producing a mere 2,000 graduates in 2013 to over 20,000 graduates in 2018 .[Read: How the Dutch government uses data to predict the weather and prepare for natural disasters]
For a passionate technologist like me, these numbers bring little comfort. As we focus more and more on the advantages of learning programming for monetary reasons, the essence of our curiosity towards technology seems to be lost.
To help me answer all these questions and gain some perspective, I met with senior software developer Panos Pandis for a friendly conversation on creative coding and its possible benefits for us as a society.
A personal perspective on the place of technology and creativity in our world today
What do you think about the statement: “the world needs more programmers”?
It might be a fact but I don’t like to just accept facts. Why do we need more programmers? Because more people are trying to make a profit out of computing, and out of technology in general.
That’s not a natural need, it’s a phenomenon that we, as a society, created and that we’re feeding very quickly, at a rate we can’t support. That’s why we “need more programmers.”
If it’s about having the giant tech companies become even bigger then I feel it’s wrong. If the motivation came from a need for research, for finding solutions to bigger problems like alternative energy sources or environmental issues, then I could accept that we need more programmers.
But that’s not where this general need for programmers comes from: it comes from big companies and the whole startup/entrepreneur hype. No one is thinking of the impact on resources all this is creating.
Digitalization brought solutions but also made our lives faster and faster. It’s putting more demand on us instead of realizing the sci-fi dream of solving all our production problems so we can be on a constant holiday.
Reflections on our relationship with technology and creativity
Despite my grief about how we use technology, I don’t believe there’s any turning back. Because of that, I think we should learn to use technology properly, for our own profit. For example: to safeguard our rights, privacy, and democracy.
We shouldn’t just let ourselves be carried away by people and businesses controlling it. We need to remember that even though our reality is different now with the internet, we’re still using the same old business models, only with a different kind of product.
In many ways, it’s still the same story: people in control of power trying to manipulate others by artificial restrictions on knowledge, production, and copyrights.
We need to be more clever, more alert, more informed.
At the same time, we can’t constantly be ready for a revolution to happen. We also need to relax and live our lives… but staying informed is very important. People shouldn’t be lazy when it comes to understanding their devices and understanding their power.
I think we need more people that love programming for what it is. If you love programming, you see it more like a form of magic, you don’t see it only as building blocks. Even though, in its core concept, it’s completely the opposite. There’s no magic in programming, it’s all 1s and 0s.
On the creative side of things, I believe as a society we should reclaim public art. Art should be spread out, people should be craving for beauty and for art.
Beauty is gone, it’s been replaced by advertisement. Everyone recognizes a Coca Cola bottle or an iPhone. I believe these things should be replaced by things we own, popular art that we produce and want to spread out because it means something to all of us, as a community.
Creative coding: understanding the magic behind science and technology
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