Sunday, April 1, 2012

Can a 57-year-old artist learn to code?

Now that I'm interested in creating apps, I find I cannot get past the art creation and design stage to actually publish one if I'm not competent in coding in a relevant computer language. I would need to hire someone to do so, but I don't even have the competency to decide who is competent enough to program my design of a children's app. Alternatively, I would need to enrol with one to the DIY companies that offer templates for you to plug in your art and interactions. (My favourite of these is Kwiksher.)

Enter Bill Martin, a fellow Vancouverite I met at Dust or Magic's App Camp. He is willing to team up with me on the creation and publication of my design for The King Has Goat Ears, based on the wonderful book by Katarina Jovanovich and Philippe Beha.

But all this hunting around for the means and knowledge to publish an app has made me realize that I need to have at least a passing acquaintance with the subject of coding. A search for a format (book, course, online tutorial?) that my brain will take in has led me back, unsurprisingly, to and Simon Allardice's Foundations of Programming video course. I am actually understanding his teaching, surprising because, to quote Adrian Mole, "I'm an intellectual, but I'm not very bright." Or, like most people, I'm smart in some ways, but thick in others.

But to return to the clever and amiable Bill Martin: he's started a Vancouver meetup for anyone interested in children's apps, and that includes parents, librarians, illustrators, authors, programmers, publishers, designers, teachers - anyone interested in this topic. The first meet and greet is scheduled for April 26, 2012. So check out Northwest Apps for Kids if you'd like to join the discussion.

Why Kids should learn to code

Today's guardian online has a stunningly well-written article on why kids should learn to code, and the key concepts they should understand.

" if they don't have a deeper understanding of this stuff then they will effectively be intellectually crippled. They will grow up as passive consumers of closed devices and services, leading lives that are increasingly circumscribed by technologies created by elites working for huge corporations such as Google, Facebook and the like. We will, in effect, be breeding generations of hamsters for the glittering wheels of cages built by Mark Zuckerberg [creator of Facebook] and his kind."

I am not surprised that this has come up in the British press first. When I was creating my show of mechanical interactive fairy tale art for the Burnaby Art Gallery

and was trying to learn basic mechanical concepts, I discovered that British schools include the technology of how to make simple machines in their art courses. Sheesh! I could have used that.