Earlier today I came across another reason why basic computer literacy is a necessary skill. It’s not just about knowing to code or understanding how computers work but getting access to a slew of tools that are orders of magnitude better than what you’d find on a sketchy site.
My realization came when I was trying to download some YouTube videos that could be watched without internet access. Doing a quick Google search I found dozens of sites with each one trying to force me to download some additional software to “speed up” my experience. I’m positive most, if not all, of these would fall into the malware category so I decided instead to do a simple search on GitHub for “youtube download.” Lo and behold the first result was the wonderful youtube-dl library. Within two minutes I kicked off a script that proceeded to download a dozen videos.
I can only imagine what someone without access to GitHub would have done - either given up or downloaded some ridiculous malware that may have worked but would have left their computer in a sorry state. Learning to code is one thing but having a little bit of familiarity with the command line and reading technical documentation would do wonders in helping people solve their problems, avoid malware, and even encourage them to learn more.
Replacing Google with GitHub for any computer related “how to” search may be overkill but I’m going to start doing it. The side benefit of GitHub is that it even comes with a built in review system due to the star and fork system which hasn’t yet been gamed.