Monday, 19 March 2012

What does Justin Bieber, the Mona Lisa and Computing have in Common?

Okay.  I might have made a mistake with Justin Bieber.  Some might consider him a pop sensation with a shed loads of talent.  Others might think he artificial internet media construct created  by Simon Cowell wannabees to sell as much bland insipid music to thoughtless teenagers with no taste in or knowledge of music.  Me.  I couldn't possibly comment, but if you want to see real music made by a real band, check out the video below.

Anyway, wandering off the point. Which is, what do music, art and computing have in common?   The answer is of course, CREATIVITY.

What?  Computing! Creativity! Surely that's all wrong.  Not at all.  You might have been told by teachers and some of them, whisper it quietly, might have been computing teachers, that computing is a technical subject.  And that like all technical subjects such as maths or physics, things are either right or wrong.  Well in computing, the real answer on most occasions may be, Maybe.

Computers and computing software are nothing but tools created by programmers to help us do a job.  And like nearly everything in life, there is more than one way to solve a problem and whether one way is better than another, is often a matter of opinion.  Even programmers will disagree about the best way to write a program to solve a task.  And the best bit is, if there isn't a piece of software to help you, programmers will create one, perhaps even make up a new programming language to help them do it.

If you have any doubts about this, look at the huge number of apps appearing not just for the iPhone/iPad, but also Android and Windows devices.  They're all similar, but different, illustrating the creativity involved in making them and enabling the creativity of those using them.

But what do you think?  Do you think computing is creative?  Have you used software and computers to create something different?

And what about Justin Bieber.  Is he wunderkind and the future of popular music or what?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Is Computing Unique?

In maths, two plus  two has always equalled four; at least in the real world it does.  In history, William has been known as a Conqueror  from 1066, when Harold couldn't see the point and lost at Hastings. And Wellington still gave Napoleon a thrashing at Waterloo in 1815, no matter what the French say.  In Geography, Paris has been where its always been since about 250 BC and plate tectonics has been with us for about 12 billion years.  And, although I'm waiting for the Tarantino version, Romeo and Juliet was still written by Shakespeare in around 1594.  So as you can see most subjects don't change a lot.

ZX Sinclair Spectrum 
Computing on the other hand, changes all the time.  Despite Mr Thomas Watson believing "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." (chairman of IBM, 1943. - Ooops!, got that wrong), computing has gradually taken off and started to move into the home around 1982 with the Sinclair Spectrum, one of the earliest home computers in 1982 which you had to program yourself.

From there, computing has experienced growth like nothing else. Moving from Spectrum, to the desktop, to the laptop, the palm top and now the smart phone and the tablet.  In fact, things are changing so quickly that by   the time any hardware and software hits the shops, its already out of date; the IPad 3 is just about out and people are already talking about what's going to be on the IPad 4.  This inbuilt obsolescence is also true of text books which, by definition can only illuminate past technology not what's happening today.  So, if you want to be part of an exciting rapidly changing subject, leading at the cutting edge of technology and social development, requiring mental flexibility and a problem solving approach to life - we have no problems, only solutions - you've got to choose Computing.

Or do you, prefer the old certainties of other subjects where nothing happens very much?

What do think?  What are your favourite subjects?