Tag Archives: coding

The Daily View: Teaching Kids to Code; Pinterest & Web 2.0; GOP Debate

From AVC: Computer Science For All

Yesterday Mayor de Blasio announced Computer Science For All which is a ten year effort to train 4,775 NYC public school teachers on the fundamentals of computer science and how to teach it to their students. The goal of Computer Science For All is to have computer science teachers and classes in every one of the 1,700 NYC public schools within ten years.

The average public school teacher has an IQ around 100. Good luck bringing them up to speed on the intricacies of computer science. Failure to understand the limitations imposed by biological reality leads to unrealistic expectations.

And on a related note, again from AVC: What Is Coding?

Coding involves the use of syntax. Turning on a machine is not coding. By AVC’s definition, putting a key in an ignition is ‘coding’. It’s nice to see some commenters calling Fred out on his sloppy terminology.

The point of teaching kids to code is that machines are becoming an ever more important part of our lives and an ever more important part of society and the economy.

Those who are good at instructing machines will have an easier time navigating the life that is in our future.

That’s why we should teach kids to code.

More specifically, teach coding to the kids who are smart enough. It’s hard enough teaching algebra, let alone coding, which is many magnitudes harder.

From MarketWatch: Pinterest hits 100 million monthly users in bid for ad-search dollars

Pinterest Inc. said on Thursday that it has hit 100 million monthly active users worldwide, sharing for the first time the heft of its user base as observers question whether the image-sharing site is worth the $11 billion valuation investors bestowed on it earlier this year.

Valuations for leading web 2.0 companies like Uber, Snapchat, and Pinterest will keep rising, as much the left wishes it were a bubble like 2000 all over again.

Earnings are not important right now for web 2.0 companies with huge userbases, like Pinterest and Snapchat, as I explain here. The reason is two-fold:

Despite the left’s predictions that Facebook would be another Myspace, Facebook has demonstrated runaway success monetizing its over billion users on both the mobile and desktop platform. It’s reasonable to assume that Pinterest and Snapchat, which have similar demographics as Facebook, will also also be hugely successful at monetizing its users. Investors are patient, knowing that the cash ‘switch’ can be flipped at any time, but for now Pinterest is intentionally delaying monetization to grow its userbase, similar to Amazon’s strategy.

Given that Pinterest only started generating meaningful revenue this year, one crude way to compare the company with its peers is to look at its equity value per monthly active user. Earlier this year, investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and Goldman Sachs valued the company at $11 billion, more than doubling its previous valuation of less than a year ago.

Pinterest will be worth $30 billion within a few years. Air BNB will be worth $70 billion and Uber $100 billion. Snapchat: $60 billion. Part of what makes Pinterest so appealing to advertisers is that its demographic is mostly women, who spend more money shopping online than men:

These valuation forecasts may seem obscene, but we’re in a situation where there is a lot of money chasing a handful of very successful, rapidly growing companies. In 2012, following Facebook’s disappointing IPO and subsequent decline in share price, I predicted Facebook stock would rocket higher; it has since surged 300% from the $20′s to as high as $95, and, in 2014, predictions about about Uber and Snapchat were also correct. In early 2014, when Snapchat was worth ‘only’ $3.5 billion, I predicted it would be worth over $10 billion, and now it is. I also predicted in early 2014 that Uber would be worth $100 billion, and it’s almost there.

The rise of Web 2.0 is about IQ being more important than ever, of smart people being rewarded in the marketplace for the value they bring to society and the overall economy.

There was also another GOP debate last night, which I was unaware of until I saw a headline about it this morning. Too early to know what will happen, and too early to get excited when Hillary will likely win unless the GOP gets its act together – or – unemployment surges. Like the crisis of 2007-2008 that put Obama in the White House, the GOP needs things to get worse in time for the election. It may seem ‘wrong’ to want the economy to worsen in order for Hillary to lose, but it’s for the long-term good of the economy that the GOP win.

The Writer and the Coder

I imagine the IQ required to get a short story published in the journal Asimov’s Fiction excludes 98% of the educated* population, but the pay of 7-8 cents a word (around $700 for a 10,000 word short story) is not so great. The same for ‘mid list‘ writers, who are published and have sales, but make a low-middle class income from their work. According to the IQ/profession conversion table, if graduating college requires an IQ of around 115, I imagine the threshold be a successful author is much higher, which agrees with this data that shows that doctors, writers, and graduate engineers have a the second-highest IQs by profession (108-129), bested only by professors and CEOs. So to become a published** fiction author probably requires an IQ >130, which would exclude 98% of the population.

By contrast, a job that requires only average intelligence and pays $12 an hour nets around $1,900 a month, so the sci-fi writer would need to churn out three masterpieces a month to equal the income of a pencil pusher. Making matter worse for the writer, he has to keep coming up with new stuff whereas the pencil pusher just performs the required work to get paid – and no more.

The other extreme is coding, which requires a high IQ but pays very well. In either case – from the writer to the coder – personal fulfillment comes from the recognition and respect that comes from doing something few people are smart enough to do. Income for the sake of income also garners respect, but only if it’s a lot of money and the person lives a minimalist lifestyle instead of flaunting the wealth. Also, having a unique personal story that conveys authenticity helps a lot, too. Narratives and stories – stories of student loan debt to major in something smart, living hand-to-mouth as a published writer, the insufferable encounters with dumb people that inevitably arise when you’re smarter than average, the trials and tribulations of being a coder – is the conduit for which respect and recognition flows. A sort of Machiavellian rationalism in millennials whereby the ends (wealth, recognition) justifies the means.

* How we define ‘education’ is pretty much obsolete. A 4.0 high school GPA and AP courses doesn’t get you very far these days. Now you need professional degrees, and that’s often not good enough. Too many people who graduate college don’t have any marketable skills and can barely write a cogent sentence.

** By published I mean by a publishing house, not the trash heap that is Amazon self-publishing.