Three reasons for Founding CEOs to go earlier than you think

I wrote earlier this year about how it was time to let go of Rewired and Young Rewired State, that I had reached the limits of my abilities as founding CEO, and that after five years it was time to look ahead, move to the board and let some people better than me come in and take us forward. That was at the end of April 2014, and I gave myself two years to let go.

Well… it’s done! I peaked early and my God it was so the right thing to do. I will tell you why in a minute, but for those who want the detail, here is who is doing what (skip the italics if you couldn’t care about that and just want the reasons why it is so great):

As of next week Dan Bowyer joins us to take over and head up as CEO of Rewired State, I will move to the Board alongside Derek Gannon, with Toby Moores as Chair. The central team in RS is lean with Julia Higginbottom, Kevin Lewis and Gideon Brett taking up the core roles, supported by a bevvy of freelance pools of technical people, hackers, events people, product people and project management. (And a new pa *whoop* inbox management huzzaaaaa….)

Young Rewired State is currently still being managed by me and a new exciting Board made up of Bill Liao, Annika Small and Ian Livingstone – and our brilliant Ambassador: Kathryn Parsons. We also now have project teams made up of Kait Dunning, Kate McDonald and Tanya Leary, with Ruth Nicholls leading on funding/partnership and Jessica Rose leading the community and all supported by two ex-YRSers who have been interning with us this year: Shad Jahingir  and Ben Hayman (both of whom want to work for us full time which I take to be a great endorsement of the stuff they are doing – so this makes me very happy!). In September, after the craziness of the Festival of Code has died down, I will move to YRS chair and the Board will announce the head of Young Rewired State.

Three reasons why it is absolutely right to do this now not in two years:

1. Once I had recognised that I was not the person to take either organisation any further forward, I had already subconsciously allowed myself to let go. From that moment on, nothing I could do was good enough for the business by my own measure(!) this is not good for anyone. I could see where I wanted it to be, I just couldn’t clearly see the steps to get there, so stumbling around became frustrating.

ONCE YOU KNOW YOU NEED TO LEAVE, IT’S TIME TO LEAVE IMMEDIATELY OR YOU WILL FRUSTRATE YOURSELF AND BRING DOWN YOUR TEAM

2. It was only once I had made the decision, and written it down and told everyone, that I really started at looking at what the two organisations needed. It then became so apparent that nothing less than this person was right and I started to look to see if I could see this person, and other people started to look to see if they could find this person. Until I had stepped away mentally, and made it something I was going to do publicly, only then could people become free to look at “my” organisation as if it was theirs.

GOOD PEOPLE WILL ONLY COME KNOCKING WHEN YOU STEP AWAY – AND YOU WILL ONLY BE ABLE TO RECOGNISE THAT PERSON AS YOUR IDEAL REPLACEMENT WHEN YOU HAVE GIVEN UP YOUR FOUNDER/CEO GRIP

3. It is amazing how much it frees up your team! I just did not see how my founder/CEO ethos of: MY WAY and MY WAY and MY WAY only (or if you can do a damn good persuasion job), was stifling the skills, ideas and brilliance of the people I had hired for their skills, ideas and brilliance. As soon as I told them that I was going to go and get someone better than me and that I would move to a more strategic role rather than ops, they were a bit stunned but then over the last few months each and every one has stepped forward and shone. (We have lost a few sadly, but this was less to do with their sadness at me moving away from their daily lives, and more about better offers more quickly <- there’s a lesson). The Rewired State organisation is barely recognisable now, and I am so excited and inspired by it once again, it is like rediscovering its potential all over again. Young Rewired State has developed its own character, shaped by the young (all female except for the interns) team – who in my newly-stepped-away role have taken their pieces of YRS and are loving and whipping them into shapes I had never imagined. Everyone gets what the idea is, I have spent the last six years ramming it down their ever-loving throats. Just now they get to break that better.

YOU NEED TO FREE YOUR TEAM OR YOU WILL LOSE YOUR TEAM

Final word of caution, you cannot do this without a small, engaged board of people who support your move and will help you. If you don’t have a board, choose the people you would most like to be involved to help shape, guide and steer your organisation, with skills that you do not have, and invite them. They too will surprise you with the ways they will help. I am so hugely grateful to the YRS and RS boards, and to the advice and guidance each of them give me.

I gave myself two years, it took three months.

(Thank you realitytvgifs.tumblr for Mariah)

Edit 27th July 2014

Quite a few of you are asking what I am going to be doing next; well: 1. spend more time with my family! (I sound like a politician caught with my pants down and my willy in someone else – not the case here) 2. The boards will also be very active and engaged, so I will still be involved with RS and YRS and 3. I am a Commissioner for the Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy and we publish our report in January 2015; I am so unbelievably passionate about this that I am going to give most of the rest of this year up to focus on this. It is not a paid role, so I will have to work too, but yes – these are the three things I will be doing. xox0

Interactive film to be made by the attendees of the Festival of Code

Those people leading a centre at the Festival of Code this year are about to receive the following message:

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 15.12.59This excellent idea was born by Nat and Julia Higginbottom of Rebel Uncut, who have both been very closely involved with the Festival over the years, and are filming most of it this year. Last year we had Rewired Art in Birmingham, where art students in Birmingham Uni joined the Birmingham Uni centre for the week, to create digital art projects. This was great but we felt too focused on one centre. We wanted to find a way to break this Festival better by including the arts for everyone.

One of our VIP judges and speakers is Yoni Bloch and I am *so excited* that he is coming. (I asked him by scribbling on a napkin and slipping it to him just after he came off the stage in Cannes – he appreciated the analogue approach I believe!)

He has created this insanely brilliant platform called Interlude which is what we will be using. To give you an idea of how it works, here is Yoni’s own song video, put together using the Interlude technology: Pretend to be happy

I am really looking forward to this year’s Arts project, to how the film will turn out, also – inevitably – how the YRSers choose to use the Interlude platform themselves, outside of the scripted film!!

This Festival is just going to be huge amounts of fun, I am sure it will be technically challenged, but it wouldn’t be a Festival of Code if the wifi didn’t fall over and someone rewiring the AV so it doesn’t work on the day of the finale.

If this inspires you or your child to join in on the Festival week, then I know there are a few spaces left in a couple of centres, you can register here. And if you want to mentor, we always need people to swing by and help – all across the UK. Sign up as a mentor here.

Thank you everyone! AM so excited, do watch the action on the Eventifier machine

 

 

 

Five ways to support the Festival of Code

The 6th annual Festival of Code kicks off on the 28th July, with over 1000 young programmers, mostly self taught, building apps, games, websites and writing algorithms using open data and solving real world problems. It is always an insanely high standard of output and the winning entries can be relied upon to really blow the minds of the audience watching.(See the winners from last year here and watch the video of you programmers from 2012).

But that is just the coding activity.

After a week of programming in centres across the UK, these kids (some of whom are flying in from Europe and the US) all gather for a weekend of show and tell, culminating in the Finale on Sunday morning. At this weekend we will also have Bubble Football, a Skate Park, digital graffiti wall, a Photo booth and a night of chiptune artists playing live music – plus acres of food and ice cream.

There are challenges in putting something so fabulous on, not least of which is ensuring that every kid who would really benefit from taking part knows about it and can come. So we make it free to attend but rely on the social networks and physical posters to let every child know about it.]

If you would like to help out there are five practical ways you can do so:

1. Mentor in your local centre (sign up here): if you can do any of the following, you will be handy: code, assist with presentation preparation, ideation, design, research, open data, agile projects, hardware hacking

2. Download and print this poster(1), then put it up (legally!) in all communal areas near your home and work, if you have a notice board at work, please put it up there – parents are the key, if they have a child (aged 18 or under) who they know is glued to their computer and coding, they will love the Festival. (This blog post details where we still have spaces available.)

3. Share the existence of the Festival on your social media, with the hashtag #YRSFoC (Stephen Fry is going to be doing this on twitter tomorrow morning, so we are all set and prepared for the website to stand up to lots of attention – also… Stephen Fry! He is such a great supporter and does this every year – it’s great but we still need your networks too!)

4. We are currently running at a £25k deficit, but have raised enough to make sure we can put it on, we just need a final push and either one big sponsor or several little ones. If you work for an organisation, or own an organisation even(!) that you believe would be completely up for supporting this with cash, then please point them to ruth@rewiredstate.org, our Head of Partnerships and Sponsorships. There are many ways we can deliver ROI for our partners and sponsors and most of the times these are bespoke, so Ruth’s the girl. (see our list of sponsors already on board here)

5. Come and watch the finale on the Sunday. We have secured Plymouth Pavilions for the show and tell this year, so there is masses of room. You will meet the Young Rewired Staters, see the magic and just experience the next generation of creating/making/inventing – something we are so good at in this country. Bring hankies, you will laugh and cry, I guarantee.

That’s it! So exciting

 

Breaking things better at Young Rewired State

It is year six for Young Rewired State (YRS), and it is growing into a great, international community of young people who have taught themselves how to code. We remain relentlessly focused on fostering the peer to peer nature of learning, and solving real world problems through code and community. We like to call this “Breaking things better”.

Earlier this year YRS separated completely from Rewired State, enabling it to focus on community projects and the the local/everywhere programmes. I also announced my intention to step aside as CEO of YRS/RS.

Excitingly, things have moved very fast since then and Young Rewired State has moved naturally into being its own entity, we have hired some great people to manage the YRS community and projects, and soon we will be able to announce the new Head of YRS. I shall share all of this staffing news when everything is all in place. This is us in Buckingham Palace…

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But the headline news is that I have invited an extremely select and active group of people to join me on the Board, and am going to move to Chair of YRS at the beginning of July. The Board members are as follows:

Annika Small:

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Annika is the CEO of Nominet Trust, but I have asked her to join the Board in a personal capacity, as she has been great at monitoring the growth of Young Rewired State, and gently steering us in the right direction and keeping me focused on the right things – in a completely positive way of course! I trust her judgment and know that she understands this space completely, and is far more knowledgeable than I in growing global communities and projects. Annika is the absolute rock YRS needs.

Bill Liao:

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Bill is a successful entrepreneur, VC and is the founder of CoderDojo. He has been invaluable in guiding us through the restructuring of YRS and RS and it is hugely important to me that there is someone on each of our Boards who is experienced in taking social organisations to global communities, and who has serious creds in the Venture market. Not for YRS (that will remain a non-profit organisation) but for the members of the community. We want them to have the aerial cover from Bill. Needless to say, CoderDojo and YRS have much in common.

Ian Livingstone:

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The Legend, as he is known in my house! Ian has long been a great shoulder for me to collapse on over the years of growing YRS. He has either made me laugh, got me drunk, or told me off but he has always got me through whenever I have yelped for help. He is also a towering inspiration for young programmers and has fought a long battle to bring gaming into many peoples’ lives, and took on government in a very serious capacity – fighting for changes in education (and winning). Being a success himself, and also slightly baffled by some of the things that have happened to him, the board is complete by having him shoulder to shoulder with Annika and Bill.

And finally… we have our very own Angelina Jolie, our Ambassador and friend to the Board: Kathryn Parsons.

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Kathryn has been a pal of mine for a while, and she has been hugely successful with her own Decoded adventure. We kind of fell forward in this space together and she and I have learned a lot from each other. So Kathryn is our Ambassador, a very important female role model for the girl entrepreneurs in YRS – but also a successful entrepreneur and actively scaling, a great example for all YRSers. Kathryn is ace.

And that is it.

This is not a passive Board/Ambassador. I will be meeting with them all every month individually, and then we will have quarterly board meetings to make sure we are doing the best we can by this rapidly growing community.

It is exciting.

Calling all bedroom programmers – everywhere!

It is that time again, the beginning of the build up to the 6th Festival of Code!!

MainIt is an unbelievably exciting time for us, and we have really stepped up our game this year – just wait and see. But I can tell you that as well as code and community there will be poetry, art, skateboarding, laser graffiti and list of speakers so fine you will feel dizzy sharing the same space as them. On Saturday we will have heats, semi-finals and then an entire evening of music curated by Pixelh8 before the Grand Finale on Sunday – where the finalists will show and tell to a panel of judges I am just ITCHING to reveal, but we need a few more weeks before they will be completely nailed. You will be delighted, I promise.

For those of you who have never heard of the Festival of Code before, go and check out the site http://festivalofco.de It is a week of coding that takes place across the country where people aged 18 and under, at all levels of digital skill, work with open data and mentors to build websites, apps, games or write algorithms. On Friday 1st August they all come together in Plymouth for a weekend of talks, show and tells, music and festivities, celebrating their skills and encouraging them to learn more.

Here is the story from one of our centres from last year in Manchester Digital Laboratory

This year we have young people taking part from around the world: the US, Singapore and Europe and we are really looking forward to bringing you all together and seeing what you are up to.

As ever, we run this all through sponsorship and it is all totally free, thank you sponsors!! But I have one ask left…

It is notoriously difficult to reach some of the young people who would benefit most from coming along to this. Many of whom are teaching themselves how to code in their bedrooms, who might not know that this exists. So we have this wish:

Please could every reader of this blog post download this poster from the Festival of Code website and print at least ten copies out. Then put them up in your work, your school, your local library or community centre, anywhere really. Parents, friends and family members may see the poster and pass it on to their bedroom programmer and completely change their lives. Tell everyone, and they can change the world.

 

I have two years to let go

Many of you have become my friends and kept up with me throughout my journey in Rewired and Young Rewired State. Through me doing it in my spare time in 2009, through running it from The Guardian part-time to taking the leap into it being my full time job in 2011. Since then it has grown and we have slowly managed to hire staff members and find the right space for both Young and Rewired State.

This is our sixth year, and I have been blessed with the guidance and advice from Toby Moores and Derek Gannon as we look to the next few years, and how we might grow.

So I have three pieces of news for you all:

1. We have separated Rewired State and Young Rewired State structurally and financially.

2. Rewired State will grow commercially as a social enterprise, still with the same ethos and retaining regular open and social hacks, but also delivering more of the modding series: taking ideas and prototypes through to products that solve given challenges. We will also be developing and delivering a few products of our own.

Young Rewired State will continue is its mission to find and foster every child driven to teach themselves how to code, introduce them to each other and open data. It will extend the projects it works on, for example the Peer to Peer challenge, the Duke of York awards and YRS Google assemblies; as well as YRS Hyperlocal and Everywhere. It remains a not for profit.

3. In two years time I will step down as CEO. Founder CEOs can be lethal to an organisation as it grows up, and I am not so stupid to think that I alone can take RS and YRS forward and manage the direction they go in. I feel so passionately about what we do that if I can see that I will become the blocker to its growth and cause it to wither – I will remove myself. And this is what I will be doing by the end of 2016.

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed  and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.

Morpheus, The Matrix

I will still have a role to play from the Board, but what this is will be decided as we roll out the next stage and see how everything starts to shape around the revised split structure.

It will be hard, very hard indeed – but I have two years to talk myself down!

So, please do continue your wonderful support – this has helped so much over the last few years! I mean look how well it is doing now, largely thanks to all the community love and action from you lot. Please help me continue to take it through the next two years so that I can hand my babies over in robust health and ready for whatever a new CEO might choose to bring.

We will be advertising a few new roles over the next few weeks, starting with a Marketing Manager role and a Head of YRS Community position. If you think you might be interested in taking a look at either of these, dm me on twitter/FB or message me here (don’t bother with email) – we will be publishing the job descriptions soon. And of course, a CEO role in 2016 :)

Onwards

*Update July 2014 – since I wrote this blog post, it started a domino effect I could not and would not stop. The upshot is on this blog post here http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/three-reasons-for-founding-ceos-to-go-earlier-than-you-think/

7 reasons why the Year of Code is just Am Dram…

Right, this Lottie Dexter, Rohan Silva, Year of Code thing is being a massive pain in the arse. I swear to god I *knew* this would happen… Here’s where we are:

1. I knew nothing about this until last week when I sought out Rohan after one too many (press) people (I actually like) saying: WTF? Why are the Young Rewired Staters not on this list?
2. Was introduced to Lottie Dexter by Rohan, (who begged to be excused for not speaking to me before – pleas of busy-ness in getting this all set up (and his final million for his Index Ventures) but I know that other brands and people cited in this PR push had NO IDEA what was going on – but actually Rohan ignored every opp we had to chat throughout his time influencing Number Ten, I clearly get on his nerves but I honestly have no idea why: maybe it is the girl thing, probably just the JFDI thing (that is about to bite me in the bum!))
3. Frustrated attempts to have a conversation with Lottie ended in an actual chat last Sunday afternoon, then discovery that this was all being announced and launched on Tuesday and a belated invitation to join the advisory panel, (this involved no advising they were clear to point out).

My

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is not ego, this is just “sorry whut? and you are doing this when? oh Tuesday, *next Tuesday* – right 8-0… ” I was actually trying to do a real thing here and invest my life since 2009 in working out what we could really do to meet the needs of the self-taught programmers, fill more jobs, include more kids, assist with  learning and have a load of fun on the way with a worldwide community of young people
4. Embarrassed as clearly so *last year* – emphasised by being sidelined at launch, come for drinks but don’t stay for dinner, styled this out by getting twatted at Blacks with my sister
5. Become conspiracy theorist overnight: gov pledge to spend £500k on skilling up teachers to ‘teach coding’ is a bs sum and a bs strategy, with a young (beautiful) PR girl hurled out to slaughter by a couple of men: Saul and Rohan (amazingly silent throughout PR and soc med catastrophe) in Newsnight and R4 etc..

6. “Lottie is an enthusiastic 24 year old PR girl, “you will love her”, and she is going to learn to code this year yay!”  <- Rohan to me on Wednesday… “yay” I say, I love any young people, espesh girls getting involved in this, then I realised… hang on, my own daughter (16) is as divorced from relating to Lottie as I am and amazingly enough, the whole digital movement becomes public laughing stock
7. I get cross emails, dms, tweets, calls from people saying why did I not include them… not me, I just called Rohan out after I caught wind of this, under a week before it happened. I cannot do anything

Conclusion:

I want nothing to do with this.

In Young Rewired State we are doing stuff this year, and for the last six years I have tested and re-tested, modelled and re-modelled what works with the young people who are already coding, to encourage them to stay and explore the subject and their talent.

Also, to inform my own understanding of what is going on – obviously beyond the current theory that you can learn to code in an hour/day/week – although Decoded do a very good job in the advertising industry – WTF are they doing influencing government policy? I know Kathryn Parsons, she would be equally as surprised at being dragged out as govvy heroine of programming nazi-ism in schools.

IMHO this is damaging two very important movements:

  • girls and tech: a PR girl who has no idea
  • computational skills for young people

So I just do not want to know, and if the Year of Code becomes the *thing* that pivots this whole movement – I will celebrate its success obo the next gen, my daughters and yours (and sons too :))

And I do not support this government policy

I have made huge mistakes, learned many, many lessons. And yes you can call me out on things I riffed on three years ago, that I fundamentally do not believe in today. But I took you on that journey and never pretended I knew the answers!

I do not affect government policy, I do not even formally lobby government. I discover, get worked up about, share then explore things. Recently it has been this digital movement. I am not an academic. I am not a lobbyist. But I am an enthusiastic serial dater of this subject and I am learning a lot.

FWIW I do not believe every child has to learn coding as a mandatory subject from 7. But I think if you want to encourage girls into coding: Year 8 is too Late and you need to introduce them to the subject before they hit senior school. Teachers and schools should teach computational thinking as a mandatory subject. The flipped classroom should be embraced.

I also think £500k is a balls amount of money, matched with a 24 year old PR girl sent out to “mauling by media”  XFactor style, is this government’s way of kicking this subject into the long grass for good.

Clever move… (if a bit ****tardy) of the government

PS If I have sent you to this post:

1. It was not my idea and had nothing to do with me

2. I may be an adviser in name, but my name was published on their site at launch as Emma McQueeny Founder: Revision App, <- incognito… now I am apparently Emma MulqueenEy, founder YRS <- less incognito but enough to make it all a bit whatever…

Late edit: I have since written about what *can* be done by the Year of Code, should they so desire

The 97ers and Identity

I have worked with self-taught young programmers (aged 18 and under) in Young Rewired State since 2009; and in 1997 I gave birth to my own little digital native, and in 2002, another. My passion for learning, observing and being amongst networked communities in various forms, means that I have begun to see some interesting trends and patterns that are fascinating, and I am going to write a series of things about this. Here is the second (the first is here) and in this series I refer to the 97er. By this I mean child born in 1997 OR LATER: The true digital natives.

Identity

Communication in whatever form relies on some form of individual identity. One person identifying themselves to another. In networked online communities this can range from the man masquerading as a young child in a games forum through to a person identifying as an expert in brain surgery or Brahms in associated expert communities. One thing that unites online communities and the digital space, is communication. And so identity becomes interesting.

Who are you?

who-are-you-1Identifying yourself offline is easy, there are legal documents that you can produce to prove who you are. It is nigh on impossible to incorporate offline identifiers to the online space – as I am sure many a public sector organisation can tell you!

There can not be one notion or verifiable method of identifying that anyone is who they say they are in an unseen online world, and the 97ers know this. Your name, who you say you are, means nothing. You have to prove you are who you say you are.

And so the 97ers instinctively use story-telling and detective work/collaboration to verify you are who you say you are. To take Facebook as a very crude example of this (it has become much more sophisticated but the same identifying rules apply).

  • You say you are someone, a name.
  • Not always your given name, maybe an online name, maybe a descriptive name, but a name none-the-less.
  • You verify who you are with photographs.
  • No passport or driving agency can verify these photographs in this maverick world, so you are visually identified by being seen in photographs with people other people in your chosen network will know.
  • You tell stories through posts about what you are doing and with whom.
  • You share photographs to verify these stories and tag people with you, who can untag or publicly deny you if you are lying.
  • You join groups and networks of people with shared interests, using your FB persona to verify your identity.

I hope this Facebook example makes sense, but to translate how this affects the way a 97er secures identity let me tell a story…

Two years ago we ran a hack weekend for Refugees United. This was a charity who had charged themselves with the challenge to help reunite Somalian refugees in camps across Kenya. The problem they faced was that the best hope any refugee had of securing a space in a camp was to enter as an individual, so families and tribes shattered as they crossed the Kenyan borders. Reuniting these refugees was an issue because they were hard to identify, they had common names, they were reluctant to give any identifying papers and so the dedicated and passionate Refugees United team were frustrated.

They believed they were frustrated by technology. By cr*p phones. They wanted an app to magically make it all happen.

The 97ers and Rewired State devs, acknowledged the problem as a digital one, but started again…

The first question that had to be answered to solve this re-unification problem: how do these people identify themselves and recognise each other?

By the end of the weekend they had discovered:

  • Name counts for nothing, often a ‘name’ changes depending on a person’s role in the group; be that family or tribe
  • Many people could not read languages recognised by computers, so the visual identifiers for members of the family were important, visually identifying girls and boys with traditional western imagery sucked, because effectively boys wore ‘dresses’
  • The tradition of sharing familial or traditional stories was the only unifying quantum
  • No one trusted anyone, as a refugee – giving away your identity might betray you to authorities, so you select very carefully who you reveal your true self to

Sound familiar? Unsurprising that the beautiful balance of 97ers and other RS developers created a number of solutions, all story-based (and open-sourced of course) here…

I was hugely comforted by watching this process. I knew that my daughters and the YRSers were digitally savvy enough to cross check facts and verify a person. I knew they did not *want* to be fooled by someone masquerading as someone else – in the same way none of us do in any walk of life. And so I began to trust that these young people were more equipped than I was at protecting their own real life selves, but also, calling out the pretenders.

But the thing that intrigues me about this is:

When the 97ers come to power in industry, government and society (five years+ from now) how will they translate digital identity from the online world to the offline?

From 16 to seven

In the offline world we accept that our identity is a linear thing, we go from child to adult. As children from 0-16 we are required by law (in the UK) to partake in full time education, and are bound by the authority of parent/s as well as the State rule of law. We are just ‘child’. From 16+ we become categorised and segmented for various marketing and public service needs – increasingly multi-faceted, we become more complex with age.

Where we would traditionally be known to graduate from child to sophisticated consumer of targeted information as, for example: teacher, mother, fighter, socialist, artist, shoe fetishist, fitness fanatic, online dater and so on. The multiple personality we are gifted at 16 along with our National Insurance Number suddenly becomes our new identifier as an…

Online you cannot do this. The web is a community woven and choreographed by the 97ers and we must accept this. Identity is integral to community, and community is based around topical interests. What we must not do is try to police it, because then you start to play with identity.

Let me try to illustrate this. Until now a child below 16 years of age was identified as ‘child’.  The gatekeepers were the teachers and parents.

I believe that the child becomes a multi-faceted character at a much earlier age. Seven year olds are teaching their parents how to use software products, (software products not built for the 7 year old, but built with the parent in mind). 14 year olds are learning CSS and java from 10 year olds in YRS. 10 year olds are learning their third computing language form a 14 year old and an 9 year old. They will also teach their peers.

At the same time the median nine year old is rubbish at maths and her sister is helping her finally nut those tables.

Then together they make a YouTube video on making meringue for every person with access to a search engine to know how to make the perfect meringue.

97ers are split personality teachers and consumers from as early as seven years old, if not earlier. I can only vouch for the seven year olds.

Moving forward

For a society looking at sustainability, I suggest we look at the multi-faceted personality of the 97ers. Re-assess your methodology for targeted messaging because it is irrelevant to the digital natives. Sustainability depends on the networked web of people learning, sharing and testing across boundaries, borders and time. The seven year olds matter as much as the 70 year olds. If they are in that 97er verified network, all you need to know is that they are a part of that network.

Moral

Age and name matter not. Can you verify your story?

To read the original post about 97ers go here

And to read the next one in the series, which tackles social activism and the 97er, go here

For those used to assuming that this applies to GenY, or The Millennials, here is a clarification

Why young people are choosing to run YRS & Google assemblies

Yesterday we launched all the projects for Young Rewired State 2014 (YRS2014), this included our YRS Google assemblies initiative. We are inviting all of the young coders to run an assembly in their school, with the dedicated support of a YRS mentor, slide decks, videos, Google and YRS schwag for their mates. The point of this being to showcase their talents and encourage take up of programming by their peers as a fun thing to do; de-nerdifying it if you like!

The response has been incredible, and I wanted to share with you some of the reasons why these children are saying they want to run an assembly. (These are selected comments from the applications 50:50 girls:boys)

I would like to host an assembly at my school because, as a young person with special needs, I have been told by many people that I wouldn’t be able to have a career in technology (or anything for that matter) purely because I have special needs and this was the thing which demoralised me from persuing technology and any other career choice… My reason for wanting to host an assembly at my school is to combat the reputation people have of those who work in technology particularly programming, as there are some really cool people who program however they get ignored by the media in favour of the stereotype. Overall, I want to host the assembly to talk about something I love and a community who I will defend against those who bash ‘nerds’ and ‘geeks’.

Not enough students at my school understand the benefits of coding, and don’t even know about programs like Young Rewired State and I want to prove to them that coding isn’t nerdy and it is lots of fun.

I would like to have a YRS assembly because I want to share my experiences of programming and the two YRS events I have attended. Since I am in year twelve, our year group is being encouraged to think about which subjects we enjoy for university applications. I know many students in my school who are thinking about taking Computer Science at university but have no real knowledge of programming. By educating them about YRS and aiding them with resources to learn how to code, I believe people will be more interested in programming and consider computer science as a strong university choice. Furthermore, I am very passionate about getting people involved in YRS and telling them how they can make a positive change by creating useful apps from open data.

I think that everyone should be made aware of coding and how awesome it is. It would be great to have the help of Google and YRS! My school has around 700 students, 700 more coders hopefully!

Because we have started a code club in the last 12 months, which I love (we are starting to move from Scratch to Python), and while I will leave the school this summer to move to big school, I would love to tell all the younger girls why they should learn to code before I leave

Because I’d like to show that kids can have a say about things and this can be broadcast to the whole world with websites and coding!!

I have started a code club for my school but I’m not getting a good amount of pupils, only a couple of friends. I tried to get more but they just either forget or just don’t care. A lot don’t even know how to code and makes me really upset as teaching all the pupils in my school is more difficult if people don’t know what you can do with coding!!! I would love to have an assembly at my school to help boost the interest in coding or a related subject. But what upsets me the most is that people don’t believe that coding is one of our ‘super powers’…….. So please I would like help to make an assembly to see how it goes and use my club to teach people with a goal of everyone learning a bit of code or become complete experts!

These are just a few of the reasons given, but you can feel the passion and I am so pleased that we are able to run this programme. If you would like to run one in your school, then let us know through the sign up form here: https://youngrewiredstate.org/yrs-google-assemblies If you are not a member of the Young Rewired State community yet, then register for the Festival of Code and afterwards you will be able to run your own assembly.

Finally, here are the videos we made to be shown:

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