While struggling to write a paper about how technology entrepreneurs came up as celebrities in our data, I’ve become fascinated by coding. Coding, or computer programming, is currently being pushed by a range of national and transnational bodies and corporations. The UK has declared 2014 The Year of Code and introduced coding into the primary and secondary school curriculum. In 2013, The European Commission set up an annual Europe Code Week with events across the continent. US-based code.org presents itself as a global campaign with its website proclaiming that it has led to over 1.5 billion lines of coding by students. Within these campaigns coding is presented as a vital skill both for individual and national competitiveness. However, while many, if not most, of the early programmers were female, computing has since become a male-dominated field. Indeed as research shows, media representations of technological workers, like those who work with science and mathematics, predominantly feature white, middle-class, geeky men. This raises questions about who has access to these powerful coding knowledges and who can identify with the technological futures invoked by these campaigns and initiatives. In this blogpost I begin the task of addressing these questions by identifying a key tension in the calls to coding: coding as a challenging and elite skill vs coding as easy and accessible to all.
Posts Tagged ‘geeks’
Before we started our data collection, we anticipated some of the celebrities who might come up – from entrepreneur and Reality TV star Kim Kardashian to Olympic diver and TV presenter Tom Daley. But we never expected Bill Gates. Yet he came up unprompted in nine of the 24 group interviews and across five of the six schools in which we collected data, He was the most popular of a large number of ‘geek celebrities’. There were some regional variations, suggesting a more business-oriented metropolis: Gates came up least in the two rural schools (in only one group in Merlin School and not at all in Hardy) and most in the London schools (in three groups in Jackson School and two in Jordan). His charitable giving was the most common reason for his inclusion, being mentioned in eight of the nine groups where his name was mentioned. In this blog post I explore some patterns in young people’s talk about Bill Gates.
After an intense first year on the project, data collection is now complete. As Heather has discussed elsewhere, we’ve started the initial analysis on some of the group interview data by developing a set of thematic codes to cut into the data which spoke to the research aims and questions, as well as unexpected themes and concerns that came up in young people’s talk about celebrity culture (for example: ‘routes to fame’ and different ‘genres’ of celebrity). Having coded the transcripts, we’ve started to take on individual sub-codes and develop summaries of their content, making initial observations about the patterns and themes within these. While this only represents the beginning of our analysis, this process of immersing ourselves in the data has allowed us to get a handle on some interesting patterns in how celebrity culture relates to young people’s classed and gendered aspirations. In this blog post, Kim discusses some of the themes and patterns that emerged from one of her coding summaries: young people’s talk about celebrities associated with ‘technology and enterprise’.