In recent years computer makers have strived to make interfaces more “user friendly” but they have in fact been trying to hide the workings behind the facade. With this change has also come a change in learning as the emphasis has been on teaching the use of the software, the assumption being that skills in spreadsheets and wordprocessing, email etc being the valuable skills.
As a report by the BBC shows software is now part of the architecture of modern life and as with spoken languages understanding the underlying concepts is important, as they put it, being able to write in computer (creating) as well as reading it (by using it). In order to be able to innovate you need to be able to fit concepts into the the way computers work and to do this you need to understand more than the vocabulary of the language.
The misunderstanding of how computers work is often the reason for many people’s frustration with things that don’t work as they expect them to no matter how hard developers try to simplify things. As the article says our world is ‘computer assisted’ and the more we live with computers and their innate complexity the more people should understand how they work in the same way that some knowledge of how a car works can make someone a better driver and less likely to exceed the limits of what it can do.