Coding as a Part of… Arts, Literature? Why Not.

I’m witnessing a strange phenomenon as I write this. Linda Liukas from Finland must be breaking some speed records on Kickstarter with her Hello Ruby project. She launched it only yesterday, but has already attracted more than $100k in pledges – amazing! What’s the project about? Well, it is a children’s book. Uhm, you think, ok, nice. But there are plenty of kids’ books available so what’s unique about this one? Well, my interpretation is that it is demonstrating a new fresh way to approach coding. The characters on the book are from programming lingo. The main character’s name, Ruby, is based on Ruby on Rails, which Linda has done a great work with her Rails Girls network. Other characters include Android and Snow Leopard, and of course there are bugs under the bed. Linda wants to make it easier for girls and women to get into coding. I think her storytelling approach to this is just great. As far as actual programming skills are concerned, they probably don’t get any better from reading stories about Ruby and her pals. But you have to step back and take a broader look: the benefits of this work are before the actual coding, making the whole geekdom more attractive. There are more direct and conventional connections with Hello Ruby and programming, since Linda is planning to create a workbook to accompany the main storybook. The exercises in the workbook are set to practice logic skills, foundations of knowledge structures, and other aspects essential to coding. For me still the actual storybook with the fun characters is what’s truly unique in this project. If you manage to lower the barrier and make computers, programs, and software less scary, you are more than halfway there. By then children have made this world their own and are open to new things in it. I once discussed with Linda about how programming should be taught in schools. As you might know, my opinion is that we need it both as a separate subject and as a multi-subject activity. But I must admit arts and literature are not the first subjects that come into my mind as benefiting from coding. And that’s exactly where Hello Ruby strikes first. During our discussion Linda also said that she’s not entirely happy about the fact that 20 and 30 something Silicon Valley males basically dictate how web services and apps look and function. That we should have more heterogeneity. Well, now she is about to make a big ol’ dent of her own to advance this. Godspeed!

Pledge status in the second day of the Hello Ruby project

Pledge status in the second day of the Hello Ruby project

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4 thoughts on “Coding as a Part of… Arts, Literature? Why Not.

  1. Lisa DeLuca

    I am so happy for Linda and her success. I have a kickstarter going right now that has a similar goal of getting kids excited about STEM concepts with fun characters, A Robot Story (arobotstory.com). I am so impressed with how fast and popular Linda’s kickstarter has taken off… and maybe a little jealous. 🙂 Kudos to Linda! I backed the project for my twin boys.

    Reply
    1. Santtu Post author

      I think JSON and WiFi should meet Ruby and her gang at some point.

      Reply
  2. Santtu Post author

    Your Robot Story seems great as well, Lisa! I have to check that out.

    Reply

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