Adam Savage Meets Black Girls Code Organizers at The White House

South by South Lawn was a gathering of artists, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and makers at The White House to share ideas, art, and action. And at the event, Adam Savage meets with organizers of Black Girls Code, who work to make progamming more accessible to young women around the country.

Shot by Burke Doeren, Tyson Call, and Duncan Wolfe
Edited by Casey Redmon

Comments (4)

4 thoughts on “Adam Savage Meets Black Girls Code Organizers at The White House

  1. I wonder (aloud) what will draw kids into programming these days. I may have been just a touch too old when “Logo” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logo_(programming_language)) was introduced in schools as a way to introduce children to programming. Was it a success? I don’t know. Is “dumbing down” (simplifying) programming the right approach? Maybe, if there is a tangible reward that follows — like moving a robot turtle, or a robot sphere that is painting, or creating a game…. I think even kids see through it all though and say, “Yeah, but how do I write a ‘World of Warcraft’ mod?”

    I am old enough that when computers were introduced to the general public they booted into the BASIC programming language. Later computers, like my first Macintosh, dispatched with the BASIC prompt and I was left wondering how the hell you write apps for this thing.

    Apple’s Hypercard I think turned on another generation to programming. It didn’t feel dumbed down, I think. In fact, you could make the case that it felt to many like the future of programming. And with object encapsulation, graphical interface editors and all that, maybe it was in some ways.

    I’m a programmer and Adam is right, programmers are generally just normal people but with perhaps an above-average aptitude for math and a desire to consume the information needed to know how to make programming work. I’ve worked with some real genius’s but they are maybe 5% or so of my colleagues. The rest of us make do.

    At least in the U.S., girls have been shown to do better than boys in math up until adolescence — where boys then begin to outpace them. No one can agree on why that is (social pressures, lack of role models?). For my own daughters, they’re very capable at math (my oldest is phenomenal in some ways, in fact), but there is little interest in programming among them. Lord knows, I have tried at various points in their childhood to draw them in.

    It leads me to believe that, and here I’ll use a tired phrase, you can lead a horse to water….

    Why don’t they drink? As you suggest, Adam, they are capable of it. They’re just not interested in it. Perhaps the women in the above video can change that. I hope so, but I’m more skeptical.

    I have a friend that is really fascinated in how capital is created. He is fascinated with how international banks function and how exchange rates follow from market and political shifts. He loves to analyze a company and it’s P/E ratio and determine if it is a “good buy” or not. Would it surprise you if I told you he is a very wealthy man now?

    I am not a rich man, and I suspect some part of it is because I have never been interested in money the way my friend always has been. It is boring to me. Would an introduction to basic market forces as a child have drawn me into investing? If it did, perhaps I would be richer now — having put the extra money I made from working in the pizza restaurant into an index fund and now reaping the gains of compounding interest and the 12% average ROI from the S&P500.

    I’m not so sure though.

  2. great post! i’m with you in that this isn’t likely to magically turn everyone into a code wizard, but on the other hand, i’m not sure that’s necessary. adam says we should think of code like plumbing. erik spiekermann says that designers ought to learn to at least read and appreciate code, because ‘code is what nuts and bolts were a hundred years ago.’

    the way i think of it is that using code is a big spectrum, just like any other skill/craft/trade. some choose it for their job, and a few are the out-of-this-world thinkers that are so intuitively attuned to be able to make a big success out of it. but so many others are choosing it as a hobby, for doing some home-tinkering, fixing small things in their everyday life, for the mental challenge, for relaxation… – and i think the important part is to make available the idea of the possibility of entering this spectrum.

    because the easier that is, and the less encumbrances are on the way, the fewer people get deterred right away. compare, for example, trying your hand at aesthetic photography, and both how available its tools are, and what an everyday understandable thing it is to have an instagram account you put work into, with, say, getting started in 3d printing. or doing machining. i’m thinking less in terms of raising people to be genius wealthy finance persons, but more in terms of making wall street a less opaque and insiders-only concept to everyone. as i’m pretty sure your daughters have a more comprehensive idea of programming, even if it’s not something they chose to practise. it’s something they have an idea about, and know it’s a path one can choose to follow. that’s better (for programming) than people thinking it’s an arcane art that you can’t make head or tail of unless you get initiated into the cult.

  3. I think its more of a mindset thing, learn kids to do things the new way. Don’t forget even though it looks like ICT development has settled down its still changes by the minute. More and more is done by computers and i think in the future you need to know the logic behind programming/coding because more and more will depend on it. So if you have a basic knowledge about programming its easier to troubleshoot and solve problems just because you can back reference whats possible going wrong. Also you will have a lot more options of home-automation etc that needs basic programming.

  4. It’s depressing to me; whenever there’s a video like this, that is viewed as “politically correct” or “social justice-y” or some such nonsense, it gets downvoted like crazy on youtube, I suspect, without people even watching it.

    Watch it and realize there’s nothing to downvote. These people are trying to improve the world, and pave new ways to a more diverse future. If that’s something to downvote, I don’t understand why.

    Great video, great cause.

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