It is perhaps indicative of the pervasive nature of the internet that Eric Schmidt, the Google chairman, was the first non-television MacTaggart lecture speaker to address the Edinburgh International Television Festival yesterday. As one would expect much of his speech was directed at the challenges facing the British television industry and it’s relationship with the Web and, of course, Google.
A surprise to many, however, may have been his criticism of the UK education system. Schmidt announced that he was “flabbergasted to learn that computer science is not taught as standard in UK schools”. He suggests that rather than just learning to use software in IT classes the understanding of computer programming and writing code should be given a much higher priority.
This has a wider implication that impacts on digital literacy. It’s a subject that is raised in Douglas Rushkoff ‘s book Program or Be Programmed, in which he argues that in using modern technology we have a choice: “choose the former and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make” (p:7-8). This quote might seem rather dramatic in it’s sentiment but it illustrates Schmidt’s worry over the future of our young people’s ability to gain critical and technical understanding in an increasing ubiquitous digital world.
The discussion begins a 68:31