Sorry, but Software is for the Creatives not the Geeks. - Software Cornwall

Cornwall Art and technology Interactive Map

Computer Science Mis-sell

Technology is just amazing. There are so many incredible things that can be done with technology. There are small speakers in our rooms that can answer questions given to them, doorbells enabling us to see who is at the door no matter where we actually are, video calling is possible with friends and family from anywhere to anywhere, for free and there are rockets that land back on the launch pads. Just like the rockets in comic books.

These are incredible achievements but do you honestly think that all these creations came about by geeks wearing hoodies slouched over their basement computers in the dark? So why is it that there is this prevailing attitude that software developers, software engineers and those in technology are all like this?

We heard from a teacher that really talented girls, who could fly in computer science, decide not to take it because they think it is all about gaming. Which it isn’t. Yet boys who were not so able signed up for the course because they thought it was all about gaming. But it isn’t!

Somewhere along the way the industry is being sold the wrong way. This is a very creative industry. It has to be. It’s all about solving problems. It’s about seeing the way through a difficulty, trialling solutions, improving the the responses until the best answer is found. And then making it better still. This takes imagination, collaboration, teamwork and a view of the world far larger than a dim basement.

Attracting a Different Mindset

When visiting schools to enlighten students on the opportunities within the industry you get to see a lot of pupils work displayed in the corridors. The quality of the art can be very impressive. One such exhibition caught our eye. So we asked the teachers what the exhibition actually does for the artwork. The rather candid response was “Gathers dust”.

So this got us thinking. Why should that be? Why should art be static and lifeless? ‘Professional’ artists take pieces of technology with limited understanding of the concepts and produce exhibition grade material for display. I know this sounds like we are knocking the artists work, and to be honest we are, but with some proper training and collaboration it could be so much more impressive. An example are the drone displays in lights used at New Year celebrations. Those were never the work of a single artist. But artists certainly created the form of the required vision for it then to be taken on in the software. That’s the kind of inspiration that is needed in computer science.

Who Should Learn Computer Science?

Back to the schools, why is computer science pushed to the mathematicians? Software is used in all branches of life and yet in schools it’s presumed only a certain few areas are really suitable for teaching it. Geography uses data from the environment, biology utilises virtual modelling of drugs and life systems, history utilises databases from all over the world and even in English version control can be used to keep track of written work.

The art in those corridor exhibitions could have a greater impact and create a far longer impression. It could be made to react to the environment or the observer. It could come to life or be mobile. The paintings can have paint that is reactive to touch. It could react differently if a pupil is there in uniform as opposed to a teacher in plain clothes through computer vision. Servos could move parts, lights could illuminate, speakers provide sound responses, pieces of art could interact with other pieces.

By understanding the use of technology within their own interests artists will naturally engage with it that much better. If there is truly a reason for them to be engaged then they will learn and be encouraged to take ideas further. It will strengthen their abilities, widen their knowledge base and future likelihood of obtaining a rewarding, well paid and secure job.