See geek.com’s full article on David Braben’s Raspberry Pi £15 PC here
This caught my eye today; the co-author of 80′s ground breaking game Elite has come up with a brilliant idea. Invent a tiny USB-stick like PC that can sell for only £15. Make it so that schoolchildren can plug it into a standard TV set using an HDMI lead. Make it so they can tinker around by plugging in modules – such as a tiny 12 megapixel camera – and gasp! create original software!
Yes – make something where the kids can code.
Why this matters
I particularly liked Mr. Braben’s analysis of the state of ICT teaching (Information and Communications Technology) in UK schools today. My primary school daughter comes home able to do amazing things, like create slideshows, animated powerpoints, and super whizzy WordArt templates. These are great skills that will help her get ahead in the business world.
But … how would she go about creating the software that we know and love as ‘Microsoft Word’ in the first place? It’s a significant question.
The sole reason I am able to help create the (if I may boast) awesome business tool called ‘Yuuguu’ is that when I was 12, I had access to a simple computer. There was no Facebook and Farmville to distract me. No console to fire up an XBox game on. So I had to code my own simple Galaxians clone. I had to figure out how you did cartoon animation with graphics on a primitive computer; how you found out what a player wanted to do; how you knew when two things had bumped into each other; how you made an ‘explosion’ sound (*).
I had to tinker. But it was tinkering with totally different skills – learning how to think like a computer. Learning to live with – and work round – limitations. This aspect, as Mr. Braben notes, is missing in UK education today. And it is a great shame – with the mobile, location-based, video-dominated internet just around the corner, the best software applications have yet to be written.
But if no-one knows how …
I wish the Raspberry Pi project every success. One thing is clear to me: the Future of Work will involve more – not less – IT. And that needs software to be created that we have never even thought of.
Tell you what, though: I would have loved to have the power of the Raspberry Pi when I was learning this stuff. Oh my word – I wonder what I might have dreamt up?
(*) Turns out with a 1-bit speaker output, you create a pseudo random number generator by using a simple linear congruential generator algorithm, then let the output of that, scaled, control when you toggle the speaker bit on or off. Gives a pretty good pink noise kind of ‘kssshhhh’ sound. Just sayin’ – in case anyone is thinking of tinkering
See you soon
Al ‘talking of raspberry pi reminds me its lunch’ Mellor