On January 5, 2012, Michael Bloomberg, then the mayor of New York City, tweeted: “My New Year’s resolution is to learn to code with Codecademy in 2012! Join me.” Codecademy, a startup that offers coding lessons to millions of users, is doing a remarkable job of making useful knowledge available for free. But why is learning how to code, of all things, among Bloomberg’s top personal priorities?

It is probably not the case that Mr. Bloomberg aspires to an entry-level job at Google. His tweet reflects his sense of the new credentials for informed citizenship and economic participation in a society transformed by the Internet and technology in general. These ubiquitous forces have revolutionized how we conduct ...

Get How to Speak Tech: The Non-Techie's Guide to Technology Basics in Business now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.