As we observe the undercurrents in technology, we see elements of the Digital Divide of the 1990s repeating itself in the next couple of years. In the words of Mark Twain: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes".
The Digital Divide of the 1990s
In July 1995, the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) published Falling Through The Net, in which they highlighted widespread inequalities among Americans that is reinforced by access to Information Technology (IT). In a nutshell, the "haves" who possess the skills to use computers and the internet gained a significant advantage over the "have nots" resulting in a digital divide across society.
This landmark research spurred countries globally to launch various programs such as the Dot-Com People Initiative here in Singapore to bridge the digital divide for a more digitally inclusive society.
Singapore's response to the digital divide in the 2000s
Under the Dot-Com People Initiative, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), launched a suite of programs to help Singaporeans breach the digital divide:
Singapore@Work - TV program showcasing productivity and efficiency offered by technology
Skills Redevelopment Program - NTUC launched a training program to equip workers with IT skills
FastTrack@School - Deploy broadband content and solutions for teaching and learning
e-Ambassador Program - Volunteer program to encourage digital adoption amongst Singaporeans
Partnerships with Corporates - Corporate partners to provide access to computing hardware
Under these programs, Internet penetration rate rose from 3% in 1995 to more than 88% by 2018. It is no wonder that the program rolled out in Singapore won international recognition from the World Information Technology and Services Alliance.
The coming "coding divide" of the 2020s
As we look into the future, we noticed that the ability to code is fast becoming a divide within society. We see 3 similarities between the digital divide of the 1990s and the coding divide of the 2020s:
Being able to code enhances ones productivity in workforce
Digitization of the workplace favors the "haves" and disadvantages the "have nots"
Individuals who are able to code are more equipped to deal with future changes
Imagine a task to be performed in a spreadsheet software. It is obvious that a person who is able to utilize the functions effectively will be much more efficient. Scenarios like these were the driving force behind the socio-economic differences observed in the digital divide of the 1990s. It does not take any stretch of imagination to see how being able to code will play out in a similar way in the near future.
This "coding divide" was a trend we saw coming for a while. However, it is the rise of no-code platforms, that made us realize the speed at which it is happening. We see the next generation of enterprise software requiring users to be well versed in coding logic. (Read our previous article: Is learning drag and drop coding useless?)
As parents, we have a window of opportunity, to get our children ready for that future.
The Logic Coders is a coding school for kids aged 6-16 located at City Square Mall #06-05 (Singapore)
We offer term-time and holiday programs using the Lego EV3 Robotics platform and Python
Learn more at: https://www.thelogiccoders.com.sg/