back to article Coding will win you the election, narcissistic techies boasted to Hillary

Can you remember where you were when the Berlin Wall came down, Mrs Thatcher resigned, or – um – David Cameron "learned" some HTML for an hour? Perhaps the first two, but maybe not the third. Yet in Silicon Valley's bubble, the latter signified a "Sputnik moment" for humanity. New disclosures from WikiLeaks highlight Big Tech' …

  1. MSmith

    STEM is a useless term

    I will agree with them that STEM is and probably always has been a useless term. The only people I have ever heard using it are 'educators' and politicians. I have never heard a researcher or engineer use the term unless they were mocking it. It is especially useless in the US now that the government has decided to give in to the social 'scientists' who insisted that they are real scientists. This is the decision that let to an increase in college students majoring in STEM fields to increase from 7 to 24% in just a few years. All it showed was that the total number of engineering, physical sciences, biological science, and math majors combined is less than the number of psychology majors.

    1. cd

      Re: STEM is a useless term

      For Bush-ites it sounds too close to Stem Cells.

      Funny, I sent CodeAcademy an email months ago, asking very simply what they would suggest as the most successful curriculum for me to take to start a new career since I have a lot of time. Never heard back, even after reminders that I was still interested. And now the emails with "free" classes have been dwindling.

      It's easy until someone has to deal with the people variable.

      Anyway, if someone here wants to suggest a path I'm interested.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: STEM is a useless term

      There is certainly a perception that it involves harvesting stem cells from aborted fetuses to make sliicon valley billionaires immortal.

      <trolling, obv.>

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: STEM is a useless term

      Did the same in the UK, grants and bursaries for STEM students willing to go into teaching.

      Massive uptake, everybody happy.

      A few years later schools began asking why they had all these Sports-Science and Domestic-Science teachers but no Physics-science or Chemistry-Science or Maths-Science teachers.

  2. David 132 Silver badge

    They couldn't even proof-read their own slides?

    "differentiate CS from broader the STEM efforts" (sic)

    Nothing shouts "professional organization that has a useful contribution to make" like basic grammatical errors. Sheesh.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Sheesh! These guys are so unhip, it's a wonder their bums don't fall off...

  3. Anonymous Coward

    A bit immaterial now...

    Because Trump is very, very likely to win.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another reason why Hillary can't put Trump away.

    Even though Trump is an offensive buffoon.

    1. Fungus Bob

      Re: Another reason why Hillary can't put Trump away.

      Nah, Trump is a human air horn.

  5. captain_solo

    Not a long term growth market

    Don't these coders realize that soon AI will be birthed by humanity and then all code will be generated by machines? Machines building machines is the way of the future, the dystopian horrific future, sure, but will your STEM (Computer Science) help you when you have joined a commune in the woods in order to survive the human purges?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Not a long term growth market

      You do realise that incompetent programmers are all that separate you from an AI apocalypse?

      Only PHP/Javascript/Goto will save us from the Terminator

  6. jgarry

    It's all PR

    And that's not all bad.

    Education is big business, and it's going to be funded either privately or publicly. Private funding rarely works for the masses, so it's going to be political. It's easy to make PR a whipping boy, but it is necessary to get people on board with funding the education. From our viewpoint (I make some El Reg readership assumptions, of course), these coding stunts are silly. But what really happens?

    I'm in Southern California, which is slightly different politically than bubble-land, but does have things in common, particularly what was called "Proposition 13," a "tax-revolt" from the start of the Reagan era, cutting the increase in property taxes that fund schools. People will argue with me, but I think it is evident that that was a big part of the reason for the decline of California public schools.

    So schools have had to scramble to fund things, and many things have been cut, such as music education. Some places have a variant of STEM called STEAM, where the A is for Arts. Local school boards can convince the public and politicians to fund such things.

    My kids went to what is considered a crappy school district, if you just look at the gross achievement numbers. But those numbers don't tell the whole story, as there is a bifurcated distribution - a whole lot of average kids, and a group of bright kids. The latter often come from children of, say, Qualcomm, Rockstar, Genentech technocrats and so forth who live in the various bedroom communities.

    So the school board can say they are supporting STEAM, and have some excellent preparation to feed into universities for those tracks. They can also leverage magnet school funds, which are to create good schools in low income areas. My kids have gone through magnet schools, and the results have been excellent.

    There is a lot of dependency on individual leadership (ie, optimistic principals) in the schools, so results can be uneven. For example, they built a new STEAM high school, but it was weak on everything except the A, so my older boy went to the older school, where again there was a bifurcation - his peers were all really smart, too. Over the course of several years, the STEAM school switched gears to an actual more technological focus, and now my younger boy is already programming games and learning proper UI's and preparing for AP exams.

    When people ask me, as a decades-long techie, if they should major in CS, I tend to say "no." Most of the real-world work really requires domain expertise elsewhere, the stuff taught in CS programs is useful in only a few. A lot of the programs are moving towards particular frameworks or fads, which is really the opposite of what should be taught, which are the basics of logic and clear thinking. Particular skills will come and go, and only representative skill sets should be taught, so people can adapt to whatever is big when they are actually working.

    So even though we can be haters on individual silly stunts, the STEM concept serves a good purpose and really should be supported. You just never know who will benefit from just one little sparkle on a unicorn.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: It's all PR

      This is an excellent post, deserving of far more upvotes than it has (3 as of mid-afternoon UTC). I do think it leans to overstating the money thing, but still puts most of the emphasis where it belongs - the parents and home environment (para 4), good school managers, not merely teachers (para 6), and focus on the basics (para 7). [I did not count the isolated sentence at the top.]

      Over some 40 years in IT I met quite a few excellent programmers and system designers. Almost none were CS graduates, and few were from "STEM" fields, especially if you take "S" in the older sense of physical sciences. As a Math undergraduate major I was a distinct outlier. Among the best that I recall were a number of musicians, a German major, a History major and one with a PhD in Classics. I suspect things have changed some, but programming is not so hard to learn that intelligent and inquisitive people cannot, and have not, done so when the need or opportunity arises.

      1. jgarry

        Re: It's all PR

        Thanks for your kind words. I've also noted the various majors in similar discussions elsewhere, regarding the more narrow Oracle DBA field. Just off the top of my head, noted guru's are a couple of math majors, a couple of electrical engineering majors, history, priests (!), musicians, biochem...

        Of course, I was in danger of a much longer rant, to explain more of the money and music things, but this is just a comment section, after all.

        I've also gotten people pissed at me elsewhere when I point out how bad self-taught user's code is (where "bad" might be tens of thousands of dollars embezzled from lack of basic accounting controls), and some of the downsides of spoon-fed kid's programming classes.

        It won't make any difference when all our communication devolves to emoticons. :P

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    code wins election

    The BBC web site has a story claiming the headline turned out to be true for the Brexit campaign - apparently they've released the software in question as open source.

  9. a_yank_lurker

    Birds of a feather

    Narcissists supporting a narcissist, how revolting.

    The problem is not learning a programming language such as Python or Ruby but learning to thinking logically and critically. These are skills that are in short supply. Math heavy fields are difficult partly because they require logical and detailed thinking to do well in them. Once that skill is mastered moving from one 'STEM' field is not very difficult. There are many good IT pros who have science or engineering degrees but they learned to think logically with an attention to detail. Skills that go well in IT.

  10. noh1bvisas

    What a load of BS

    Kids aren't going into IT these days because greedy companies will replace you with a cheap foreign guest worker using the h1b or any associated visas. Kids aren't dumb - they see what's happening.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a load of BS

      Good point... but if it's true that young people overwhelmingly favor Clinton, who won't touch H1B, doesn't that make them dumb?

      1. Matthew Taylor

        Re: What a load of BS

        "if it's true that young people overwhelmingly favor Clinton, who won't touch H1B, doesn't that make them dumb?"

        Not necessarily dumb, I think they're just easily led, and haven't looked into the details. Hilary Clinton is a woman, and of the left, so she MUST be the nice candidate, and Trump is a rich businessman, and a bit of a stupid-haired loudmouth so he must be the horrible one.

        Personally I think Trump is a great candidate: he's anti-war, he can't be bought, he'd like to get along with Russia, he wants to penalize H1B hiring and other offshore outsourcing activities to favour American workers, and he supports universal health-care.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality Check

    Here in the US politicians have been pushing coding and "coding boot camps" as a job path for people who can't find other employment or get a college degree.

    Which might help explain the sorry state of government IT projects, non-existent security and on and on.

    Because if any moron can do it, hire a moron, right?

  12. Dr Scrum Master


    If kids don't get coding then who's going to write all the software bugs? They don't write themselves!

  13. Nolveys

    Computer Science is about jobs and equity in every state in America...

    No it isn't.

    ...and it wins elections.

    No it doesn't.

    1. Nunyabiznes

      Coding doesn't win elections

      Sure it does. Look at the issues some of the electronic voting machines are having. There are several videos showing votes getting changed automatically.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Coding doesn't win elections

        As a minor election functionary some years ago (something I undertook precisely because of the risk of monkey business) I concluded that the best solution is what we used before there were voting machines: hand marked printed ballots, hand counted and tallied by a group of people not all of whom belonged to the same political party.

        A machine that operates in ways that cannot be observed directly during operation introduces doubt; and that doubt, manipulated by those interested in the outcome, undermines the perceived legitimacy of the result, and of the official ultimately elected.

        As a polling place official I could ensure that nobody accessed the various ports in a way that might be seen as possible cheating; anything like that had to be witnessed by at least two officials of different (claimed) party affiliation. There was, and is, no effective way to guarantee that the vote by the citizen, displayed on the screen and printed on the visible tape, was correctly written to the memory card used to accumulated results. As far as anyone associated with election operations or voting was concerned, the process involved a lot that was the functional equivalent of magic. The public announcement of support for Republicans by the manufacturer's CEO, and the fact that the Secretary of State who oversaw elections was a Republican led some Democrats to question the results openly well before the election. With any kind of voting machine, or even electromechanical computer driven ballot counting, he chain of required trust in faceless people, some of whom may have (or be perceived to have) an interest in biasing the outcome, simply is too long.

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