Raspberry Pi on Newsnight tonight

Providing nothing spectacularly newsworthy happens between now and 10.30pm in the UK, tonight’s Newsnight on BBC2 will be talking about computing in schools. David Braben, one of our trustees, has been interviewed by the program, and some other friends of the Raspberry Pi foundation have been talking to them too (including Alex Evans of Media Molecule, who is one of the giant brains behind Little Big Planet, and was directly responsible for Eben and me meeting each other back when we were all at university together – although I doubt he mentions that on camera).

Updated to add: here’s the whole clip, along with the studio discussion that bookends it, on YouTube so folks outside the UK can watch it.

There’s some lovely footage of the Raspberry Pi running Scratch, which I hope gives you a feel for the sort of educational application we’re excited about putting on the device!


Thunder__X avatar

Awesome, can’t wait to have a watch!

davr avatar

What rasberry pi needs is fewer media appearances and more boards shipping!

liz avatar

I can happily assure you that media appearances (of which there have been very few indeed – where have you seen others, besides what the BBC showed in May?) and the shipping of the boards are not correlated. David’s not making the boards. The developers who *are* making the boards are not going to be on television any time soon (handsome and lovely as they are).

jamesh avatar

That last bit is very true.

LinuxBoi avatar

What a rude Pumpkin!

davr avatar

Sorry…didn’t mean to be rude. i’m just subscribed to this blog to hear news about when the boards will be available, since I am very interested in them, and all I see is demo after demo, so I got a little impatient.

jamesh avatar

Sadly, all you are going to see until the boards are ready is demo after demo. As Liz said, demos and board manufacture are not related. What demos do provide is the view of what the device is capable of. It’s demos or, er, nothing..

Shane Hudson avatar

You need to remember that R-Pi is being made to get children that currently do not program to start programming… this means it needs to be broadcast to people that would not normally be looking for it! So the more media coverage the better!

Martin avatar

I’m watching Newsnight, and I’m not seeing anything about computing in schools :( although i did miss the 1st 5 minutes

James Robson avatar

At the beginning of Newsnight it was mentioned that they were going to be discussing programming.

Though the actual talking about it hasn’t aired yet.

ukscone avatar

just got a tweet from someone i follow. says newsnight showing a program in scratch so i suspect the piece aired

Jongoleur avatar

Scratch was on screen while David Braben was talking about (and showing) the Raspberry Pi.

liz avatar

Brilliant – really glad it finally aired! There should be a BBC link to the whole segment by tomorrow, so people outside the country will be able to see it.

matt avatar

Or at least one relevant link that isn’t the iPlayer one.

matt avatar
Daniel avatar

My high school ict class were a joke, they really were secretary training beyond anything else. Perhaps the only real benefits I got out of them besides inflated grades, were the typing portions. My typing speed did increase dramatically.

I’m really looking forward to the raspberry pi, a computer so cheap my brother need not worry about breaking it. If I had something like that I would have been much freer trying out linux.

Jason Tigg avatar

I went off Rory Cellan-Jones went he wrote this (imho) extremely poor review of Ubuntu http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/10/24_hours_with_ubuntu.html which I found shocking for a BBC technology “expert”

Rubus avatar

Wow, how can the “BBC’s technology correspondent” be someone who is so clueless.

The review was essentially “hurr durr itz not windoes”. I’d figure MS slipped him a tidy wad of cash for writing that, but then I remember Hanlon’s razor: never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

liz avatar

I think it’s impossible for anyone, even a technology consultant, to have complete knowledge of absolutely everything in a sector. Rory’s a very, very good guy, and he’s been responsible for a lot of the BBC coverage of the Raspberry Pi and later uptake by other media organisations. I think we can safely say we wouldn’t be in the position we’re in now, vis a vis the buzz that’s going on around the project, if it wasn’t for Rory’s first report back in May and his continuing interest in us. We’re very grateful to him.

Jason Tigg avatar

Well that is good to hear. The BBC coverage of the Raspberry Pi has certainly been very positive, so if he is the force behind that as you say then I revise my opinion.

Steve Roberts avatar

I watched RCJ’s GNU/Linux review a couple of years ago (or read it – can’t remember now!) It was very disappointing. It was just as I was getting into Linux too. To dismiss so much was shocking to me.

I guess it was intended as one of those “pragmatic” viewpoints – the result of his Linux/Ubuntu review was that every time he appears on TV I simply tune out anything he has to say. Mind you, I avoid BBC News now (besides Newsnight) for various reasons so I won’t really come across his “musings” too much anymore. (except when I want to read anything on the BBC site that’s about “technology”…)

BBC News is not gospel.

And I really don’t want to write negative stuff on this site; it’s not negative towards RasPi though! I am VERY excited about the Pi!

The reason I’m reading this site is that I am really interested in the way this will go; also thinking about a way that myself as a parent (to two very computer literate, young children) and as a newly qualified teacher (IT/post-compulsory sector) can get involved with this..

PS Maybe RCJ can re-review Ubuntu or whatever and get up to speed with the reality of GNU/Linux and other open source projects (Haiku OS for example..). I think a cool way of reviewing/introducing Linux is to show just “Live CDs” (and live USB sticks). You could review Ubuntu Studio or AV Linux for Music/multimedia, System Rescue CD for fixing stuff, Porteus/Slax for a portable OS, Puppy Arcade for Games Emulators. Or just wheel on Virtual Box..

jamesh avatar

Two years ago Linux wasn’t as good as it is now – hopefully if he takes another look he will change his opinion (Unity, Gone 3 etc – not everyone’s taste but certainly shiny). It also helps to have someone hand hold when using a new OS, because you can easily miss stuff.

DaVince avatar

I was sure you were overreacting. Then I read the short review. It’s not extremely poor, he does seem to know what he’s talking about, but at the same time it’s obvious he doesn’t know about a few core concepts in Ubuntu (and similar distros) that make it more pleasant to use. The most prominent one being the fact that he apparently didn’t use the package manager but went straight to the websites to get the software from there instead. (Which is more of a bother than installing Wine, funnily enough.)

Anyway, that little piece of opinion is from 2009, anyway. I suppose it does take some time and just the right amount of tips to get working with a system you’re not used to. (That, and not having rabid fans on your back probably helps too. It gives him an immediate bias.)

MartyPG13 avatar
jacklang avatar

Now on YouTube

DB avatar

Hi liz,
since you are going to use Debian for your project, why don’t advertise this project? http://debian-handbook.info/
I think it is worth it since RasPi is targeted for students and this would be a great manual to attach to it.

Alice Jackson avatar

Is Rasberry Pi actively trying to get the BBC to adopt it as the new BBC Micro?

MH avatar

This video and current education system makes me so very, very sad…

corona27 avatar

That was a fantastic report. I just hope that the R-Pi gets more coverage in the states. Everyone i talk to doesn’t really know about the R-Pi so I am more then happy to enlighten them. I can’t wait for the final product to be released it’s going to be amazing the capabilities we will soon have.

liz avatar

Word of mouth is really important to us, alongside media coverage – thanks, and keep up the good work! (I think we’re arranging some CNN coverage at the moment – as usual, watch this space!)

electrodacus avatar

There is a huge demand for programmers and it will continue to increase since the amount of hardware produce is almost exponential.
Everything is now using a processor or a microcontroller.
So I think programing skills need to start as soon as you are able to read and must be the most important part of the curriculum.
Hope the Raspberry Pi will come with good documentation, software and examples.
Games where not the best example even they are productive they are for entertainment same as music and video.
There will be almost no job in the near future since almost everything can be done much cheaper and better by machine.
So understanding how the “machine” works is extremely important.
I did not had the chance to start with 8bit processors and basic. I did start with a summer curs in MS-DOS and then a bit later Turbo Pascal.
The most exiting part for me was not to add numbers or draw on the display but have access to the outside world using the parallel port 378h :)

Adrian avatar

I think this is a really great product and will have a large impact on children wanting to and being able to learn programming. However I don’t agree with the apparent push of the article for programming to be taught in schools to all students. Reading writing and arithmetic are vital for everyone, using a computer is pretty much a necessity now as well, but programming is not.
Computers in reality are relatively cheap, so most people who are interested in programming would already have access to something to code on. The Raspberry Pi just opens the flood gates and brings that possibility to everyone.
The UK needs to increase the number of good programmers, but putting a computer in the hands of everyone will likely flood the market with mediocre programmers and make it more difficult for companies to discover the good ones.
I have seen the destruction that weaker coders can bring to code bases, and while modern coding techniques largely mitigate the issues, I think that this move will have a positive impact on ‘better’ software houses and a detrimental impact on the rest of the industry.

jamesh avatar

I think you need to teach it to a limited extent, to find out those who have an aptitude. Then those people know what they are good at – I think there are lot of good programmers out there who have never tried programming, and a lot of bad ones who decided to do it without knowing they didn’t have the aptitude.

Hopefully getting more people to try it means more good programmers, not more mediocre ones, by winnowing out the chaff.

That said, there are always going to be mediocre programmers who think they are the bees knees!

DaVince avatar

“Reading writing and arithmetic are vital for everyone, using a computer is pretty much a necessity now as well, but programming is not.”

That’s pretty much what the one guy says in the end. The problem is that ICT courses teach using a computer, instead of teaching actual ICT stuff, and this needs to be separated into two different courses.

Albert Hickey avatar

Congratulation on the Raspberry Pi and I love the logo.

My thoughts are: Do it in secondary school with a short 4-6 week introduction early in the school year, supported by an after school club. Possibly a subset of the current ICT curriculum.
The school buys a bunch of Raspberry Pis.
Kids can bring their own SD card or buy 1 pre-configured and use the schools Raspberry Pi’s. Or pay a deposit (equaling the cost of a Raspberry Pi) and they can take it home and work on it in their own time. If they want to keep it they just let the school know and a replacement is bought with the deposit.

In this way the kids who get it and love it can try before they buy and then can keep going in their own time and in the after school club.

When I was in school (in the 80’s) the teacher who was in charge of the computer group knew nothing. He basically held the keys to the room. We thought each other because we wanted to. The 1 thing he did was set the rule that you could only play games if you programmed them yourself. Now there’s motivation for you.
Who doesn’t want to play games on school time.

Darrell Taylor avatar

Not just this video, but the whole concept of Raspberry Pi and what your trying to achieve is one of the most refreshing things I’ve seen in ages. I really hope that schools will take this up, but fear that the lack of programming experience/skills of the teaching staff will hold it back somewhat. Are there any plans to package this for home educational use, something along the lines of Lego Mindstorms?

Either way I’m buying a couple of these for myself once there out, one to be the core of my Z-Wave home brew burglar alarm system, and one as an HD streaming device for the TV. Will be installing the QEmu stuff over the weekend in anticipation :)

Tony avatar

If everyone who’s going to buy one also buys a couple extra and donates them to a local school, it potentially gives local children a chance to learn something that isn’t just how to use Word.

Plus, More R-Pi sold and more chance of future development of the Raspberry Archimedes :p

eicristian avatar

nice to see the Raspi getting publicity on a tv show :) i think it deserves a lot more attention

max1zzz avatar

Wow, this video actually showed everything that is wrong with how computing is taught to my age range. Out of interest anyone else here doing BTEC? that is the most utterly pointless course ever derived (and that’s being nice), at least 5 weeks into the course now and we are yet to do anything remotely to do with computing, at any level. But i think it could (and should) go further, what about networking, computer hardware, alternative os’s, i could go on and on and on, what is taught in IT at schools in the UK these days is utterly pointless, the only reason i know anything about IT is because i have had the incentive to go and find t out for myself, if i had never had a single lesson of ICT i would know no less than i do now

I sincerely hope that the rpi can become the new BBC micro, and that schools will at least take up the task of distributing them.

Josh avatar

Totally agree with this video. All we learn is the basic Microsoft Office tools. That’s it.
I think I’m the only person in my ICT class (or in my School) who knows…
– What Linux is;
– What “C++” is;
– How to create a website – without Adobe’s crappy Dreamweaver;
– What Databases are mainly used for (MySQL);
– How to put a PC together;
… I could go on.
ICT in Britain… More like Secretary Training.

On a high note though, it’s nice to see the RPi running Chromium :)

Charlie Smurthwaite avatar

How embarrassing for the reporter: “There are ten types of people, those who understand binary and those who don’t”

I think you’ll find that’s two types…

max1zzz avatar

you don’t understand binary then? ill think you’ll find it is 10 types…

DaVince avatar

I have a random question not related to this blogpost at all… (Sorry!)

I live in the Netherlands, so obviously I have a different power socket here. Will the Raspi be shipped with non-English plugs too? Or will I have to get me a converter? Or is the power plug some standard component I can get anywhere?

[…] launching by Christmas. There’s been press interest from Ukraine to Brazil; we’ve been on the TV and in the papers in the UK, have spent a few weeks on the conference circuit in America, and seem […]

[…] in a modern office environment, they do not empower school, college or university leavers with the raw computer science skills that are required for a modern 21st Century information age. This is where the Raspberry Pi […]

[…] in a modern office environment, they do not empower school, college or university leavers with the raw computer science skills that are required for a modern 21st Century information age. This is where the Raspberry Pi […]

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