I've been focused lately on helping kids learn to code, guiding grade-school students in coding activities at schools and public libraries, as I believe coding skills and experience, as well as an understanding of general computer science concepts, is critical to the success and competitiveness of tomorrow's young professionals. Not just future developers and IT professionals, but nearly all professionals benefit from understanding how technology works and can be applied to given challenges and opportunities. Those who learn to code also build self-confidence and enhance key traits such as persistence and problem-solving skills, and develop computational thinking skills.
“Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior,” notes Jeannette Wing, who popularized the term “computational thinking” in part with her 2006 article in the journal Communications of the ACM. Computational thinking, Wing wrote, "represents a universally applicable attitude and skill set everyone, not just computer scientists, would be eager to learn and use." In other words, Wing wrote, "the use of computational concepts, methods and tools would transform the very conduct of every discipline, profession and sector. Someone with the ability to use computation effectively would have an edge over someone without."
I'd imagine most developerWorks community members already recognize that the value of learning coding, computer science, and computational thinking transcends professions well beyond software developers and even IT professionals. What's encouraging is how this perspective has spread broadly to the general population. Increasingly, parents want -- even demand -- that their children learn such things, and K-12 teachers seek to provide their students with opportunities to learn such things (often despite challenges that mandated curriculum can create, making it difficult to find time amidst all the required lessons and tests to insert coding and computer science learning). As I've proposed launching activities with public and private grade schools and public libraries, I've been met with strong and growing support and appreciation. Just one example: When launching a new coding club this spring at one local school, I received 50% more registration requests than I could accept.
For those of you who want to help kids learn coding and computer science (or help others including teachers and parents do so) -- and for any youngsters who may be reading this themselves, I encourage you to use the following helpful resources:
Scratch-- While Code.org emphasizes learning coding concepts, Scatch focuses on creativity and advancing technology as something kids learn to use as a tool of active creation rather than primarily a means of passive consumption or entertainment. This emphasis is reflected in the Scratch slogan: "“Create stories, games, and animations. Share with others around the world.” In some ways -- the drag-and-drop development environment, as well as some tutorials -- Scratch is similar to Code.org. But Scratch provides more of a free-form, wide open environment vs. a highly structured set of tasks and puzzles, fostering creativity and encourages users to share their creations with others, who can then "remix" the shared apps, modifying, extending, and customizing them as they like. Scratch also lets users download and install an editor so they can work on projects without an internet connection (and whenever site maintenance issues cause the online Scratch editor to be unavailable).
I look forward to sharing more resources and experiences that I hope will help more kids learn to code. Whether they become IT professionals or not, our next generation will benefit greatly from the experience.
This week developerWorks turns 12 years old. As we consider our future and how to best serve our ever-growing community, it also is helpful to take a moment to reflect on the past, and no better time than an anniversary or birthday.
IBM had a much bigger milestone this year -- its 100th birthday. Last week, alluding to the importance of evolution and change, IBM Chairman and CEO Sam Palmisano quoted Tom Watson, Jr., who, when asked a half a century ago how a company can live 50 years, said, "I believe that if an organization is to meet the challenges of a changing world, it must be prepared to change everything about itself but its core beliefs."
In many ways developerWorks has been prepared to change everything, all the while retaining its core beliefs. Changes have included a dramatic broadening and evolving of our topics, the transformation into a social business with an increasingly engaged community members who form groups, share comments and questions, blog, and otherwise interact and communicate, complementing our many how-to articles and tutorials, code, downloads, and other technical resources. We've expanded well beyond text and images to include demos, podcasts, video, and other new media. And at the same time we have reaffirmed our already strong focus on the fundamentals, the core beliefs that remain as critical to our success today as they were 12 years ago: The wants and needs of developers and IT professionals. In short, we know relevance is key. It is a prerequisite to our success in reaching and serving our community.
To help us become even more relevant, we look to guidance from industry analysts, community surveys, trends and web traffic. We talk continuously with our subject matter experts both inside and outside of IBM. We attend conferences and other industry events and talk to more experts. We talk with students and faculty. And we pore over your comments and suggestions on developerWorks.
That's already a robust set of input. Yet, as we consider which topics and technologies to prioritize, I believe we would benefit from even more input from some of you. That's why today I'm inviting you to join a new developerWorks community advisory panel. This is your opportunity to help shape developerWorks and help us be more relevant and valuable for you -- and for millions of your peers in the developer and IT professional community. Panelists will be sent occasional questions and have opportunities to participate in surveys and share your input. Interested? Send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with answers to the following questions:
How does developerWorks help you today? Specific examples are encouraged.
How can developerWorks become even more valuable and relevant for you?
What makes you particularly qualified to be an opinion leader panelist for developerWorks?
What is your developerWorks display name?
I look forward to another year -- and also to your participation in shaping our future.
The opportunity to celebrate a 100-year anniversary doesn't come often. IBM strives to celebrate its 100 years in business (official birthday is today, June 16) properly -- not with lavish parties, but with a focus on IBM giving back to and serving the communities across the globe. Read more about the IBM celebration of service and how IBMers are joining clients, partners and friends to improve communities worldwide.
As I consider this celebration from the perspective of my role as Editor in Chief of developerWorks, I can't help but think about what's technically cool and impressive from IBM that also serves not only the business or the Smarter Planet campaign but also improves communities worldwide, and one thing jumps to my mind: The World Community Grid, whose mission is "to create the world's largest public computing grid to tackle projects that benefit humanity"; it "depends upon individuals collectively contributing their unused computer time to change the world for the better." IBM supports this effort with hardware, software, and technical services. It's a terrific example of how technology supports such key goals as clean water, clean energy, and cures for diseases such as cancer and AIDS. And they're looking for new research projects that can use grid technology to benefit humanity -- so if you have an idea, submit a proposal.
The World Community Grid is but one example of IBM's impressive technology and its efforts to benefit communities worldwide. Beyond the contributions of individuals (such as the developerWorks team members pictured here who were helping feed the hungry yesterday; see also the local press coverage showing how hundreds of IBMers packed 100,000 meals in under two hours), IBM's products and technologies show that the Smarter Planet initiative is more than mere marketing. We're showcasing some of IBM's noteworthy products and activities over the last 100 years as "Icons of Progress." developerWorks newsletter editor John Swanson calls out a few icons that may be particularly of interest to the developerWorks community in his new blog. (Thanks to Daryl Pereira for helping cull that list -- and also thanks to Daryl for his blog encouraging others to share stories and activities from the IBM Centennial.)
Here's to making the next 100 years worth celebrating even more than the first 100.
More than 7,000 of your peers are attending this week's big IBM event: Pulse 2011, a service management conference and expo dedicated to showing how Integrated Service Management (ISM) can help organizations design, deliver, and manage innovative services across business and IT boundaries. The focus includes analytics, systems management, sensors and security -- and how you can use software, hardware and services to integrate your data and systems, automate IT for greater productivity and secure your intelligent IT infrastructures. In other words, it's about helping you adopt, and benefit from, Smarter Computing (Indeed, Smarter Computing is a topic of substantial discussion during Pulse).
Whether you're attending or not, you can tap a wealth of Pulse event resources -- and also join the new developerWorks community dedicated to integrated service management, Service Management Connect, which was announced at Pulse.
For starters, take a look at our collection of live streaming and just-recorded videos from Pulse -- including keynote sessions as well as interviews with IBM leaders, partners and IT experts live from the show floor with Scott Laningham, Producer and Host of the developerWorks podcast show:
SunBay won based on its multifaceted use of developerWorks to improve collaboration with 30 people across IBM Switzerland and IBM France, keeping everyone in the loop to streamline Service Provider Delivery Environment (SPDE) Framework validation. SunBay tapped the broad array of community social features in dW, including message boards, activities, blogs, files, bookmarks, and the iPhone app to support their business. The results included not only being quickly verified as meeting the IBM SPDE Framework requirements, but also a strong pipeline of joint IBM-SunBay customers.
IBM partners -- and all IT businesses and individuals -- can benefit from developerWorks and our community by using our social business tools to better communicate and collaborate, privately as well as publicly. We offer not only a rich collection of how-to articles and tutorials, not only answers to your questions and input from experts via our blogs and discussion forums. Our broad set of community features let you create, communicate, collaborate, innovate -- in short, developerWorks community features are ready to help you embrace social business -- and thus help individuals, groups and partners alike drive business results.
Today developerWorks unveils an update to our design. Key features include a simplified site navigation, via a new masthead and footer on nearly every developerWorks page as well as a much improved search engine -- so that you'll now more easily find all developerWorks materials, including our community materials as well as our professionally developed, award-winning how-to articles and tutorials.
While the masthead and footer stand out as most visible change, the update is much richer, and based on substantial user research.
Now you can also:
Sign in to developerWorks from the masthead on any developerWorks page, and quickly access your personalized dashboard from the masthead menu. (Select your display name and expand to reveal shortcuts to your profile, personalized community homepage, and a summary of any pending colleague requests or recently received notifications.)
Syndicate your favorite developerWorks content or URLs more easily, via persistent share tools in the footer.
Easily follow developerWorks on Facebook or Twitter. (These options are also available in the footer of every page now.)
You'll also see many improvements to some of your favorite developerWorks destinations, such as a simplified developerWorks home page and updates to developerWorks Events, Evaluation software, and Community main pages. We've updated the information in About developerWorks, New to Community, Feeds and syndication and more, and even added a brand new Technical topics landing page to get more info on the IBM product families, IBM solutions and open standards we cover on developerWorks.
With this design, developerWorks also becomes among the first sites within IBM to incorporate elements of the new ibm.com design that marks the company's Centennial anniversary. (To learn more about IBM's 100-year history, see the related IBM Centennial Press kit and the IBM100 site.)
Take a moment to explore our updated web site design -- and please share your feedback via a comment below.
The editors at developerWorks reflected on their work over the past 12 months and selected some of their favorite, most noteworthy content. This small sample of our 2010 how-to content showcases the variety of technical topics and disciplines we cover week after week, as well as the quality of our professionally developed articles and tutorials. Happy Holidays!
Java technology zone technical podcast series, launched this year, lets you listen to insightful conversations with technical experts. Taking the time to read an in-depth, code-heavy article can be difficult, even if it's about a topic that's critical to your day job. This podcast series provides a new way to get information from the sources you trust most.
Build a digital book with EPUB has consistently been among our most popular articles, month after month, and employs an effective step-by-step approach for automating EPUB creation using DocBook and Python.
My sincerest thanks to a great extended team, including the expert authors both inside and outside of IBM -- and including you, the community of millions of developers and IT professionals who rely on developerWorks each month. A special thanks to those who participate in the developerWorks community by posting to our technical discussion forums, rate and comment on articles, bookmarking and tagging content, and using our other community tools.
As noted in the official press release from AMI, the awards were designed "to recognize social media efforts that result in tangible, measurable business value." Winners are chosen according to a systematic methodology that involved analyst reviews, interviews, primary research, optimization surveys and user experience.
These recent social media awards reflect how developerWorks has effectively grown and evolved over our 11-year history to incorporate new technologies and tools so that we can best serve your evolving wants and needs. Whether you're new to developerWorks or a longtime visitor, I encourage all developers and IT professionals who haven't already done so to join and participate in the developerWorks community to tap our rich set forums, blogs, wikis, groups, and more -- and see firsthand why we won the two recent social media awards, as well the many other awards detailed in our virtual trophy case.
Late last week, Forrester announced that developerWorks won its Groundswell 2010 award in the business-to-business "supporting" category. As noted in the official press release from Forrester Research, winners were honored "for excellence in effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational or business goal."
Commenting about the awards, Josh Bernoff, senior vice president of idea development at Forrester and co-author of Groundswell and Empowered, said, "Once again, the entrants and winners for this year's Forrester Groundswell Awards amazed us. We were particularly impressed with the diverse and effective social and mobile strategies that organizations are now using to reach consumers, business companies, and their own employees."
Today at developerWorks we were introduced to our new Director, Alice Chou. Alice is a terrific fit for us, with extensive experience in the industry. Most recently she was the Director of WebSphere Development for Extreme Transaction Processing (XTP), Cloud & Open Source, responsible for bringing emerging technologies to market, including WebSphere Cloudburst Appliance and dynamic caching products. She previously spent time in Silicon Valley working with software companies, including startups, and is no stranger to SOA and open source. Welcome, Alice!