The Guardian has just produced an article with the rather depressing title “Britain's computer science courses failing to give workers digital skills”. You can read it here. The gist of the text is that ‘poor quality training’ and ‘sausage factory’ courses are not providing the skilled and useful people that industry needs.
Oh dear. I always feel a bit nervous when I read these things. I start to wonder if what we do at Hull gives our students a good experience and teaches them skills that make our graduates properly useful. I cheer up a bit when I consider that we actually do a pretty good job for our students with things like Three Thing Game and Evil Squash to get their teeth into and a taught Masters that puts them out into industry. Plus lots of other things I haven’t got space to mention here. And then I remember how our students actually end up doing quite well in industry.
However, I also wonder a little bit about the place of Computer Science in the world. Some time back The Guardian (same paper) did a big feature called “Top Artists reveal how to find Creative Inspiration”. I found this really annoying. Not because the folks that were there weren’t creative, or that their tips were silly. No, the reason this made me cross was the unspoken assumption that only arty types can be creative. I reckon that Computer Science is the most creative thing you can do. A writer can produce a book about an idea. A composer can create a song about it. A playwright can write a play about it. But a Computer Scientist can bring the idea to life. Which would you rather have, a song about Facebook or Facebook?
Computer Science is the most creative thing you can do. One of the few things we know for certain about the future is that it will be built using digital technology. Everything around us is being converted into patterns of bits and connected to everything else. Of course there are some bad Computer Science courses out there and of course there is confusion about what the subject is actually about. But what it is really about is building the future. And you can’t get more creative than that.