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

 

 

 

“Basically a lot of people have to die…”

The final words of Marketa Mach on Digital Democracy, spoken at an informal tea and cake chat I held at my house one muggy Sunday morning. The recording of the whole thing can be heard here:

Why was I having tea and cake and talking Digital Democracy at 11am on a Sunday in Guildford?

Because I am a Commissioner on the Speaker’s Commission for Digital Democracy and I wanted my social media friends, who share my passion and value democracy, to have their say, and to be heard by everyone as well as the Commission. Cake seemed a great enabler! And the informality of my house on a Sunday I hope encourages relaxed chat, where the truth will out.

What was discussed?

Well, I seeded the conversation by putting up these two things on the wall, one is a list of bullet points the Commission is officially focusing on, the other is the list of topics we seem to return to time after time as a Commission:

photo(4)photo(3)I would recommend listening to the SoundCloud if you are keen to know what was discussed, as everyone will hear different things, and there was a LOT in there.

Why does anyone have to die?

Well, there was a topic that ran throughout the chat that was whether MPs should be trained in use of social media, or empowered, or whether there should be a job description with competencies for those who represent us, or whether there should be mentoring of MPs by social media literati, or whether there should be champions etc etc. But at the same time we know that this really is a temporary issue, and by the time the 97ers (my own coined phrase referring to those born in 1997 or after who have grown up with social media) are in office, eg the Prime Minister, and their 97er peers are engaging as citizens, that much of this will become a non-conversation. So we are looking at an interim issue that has to be addressed… and Marketa just stated: “basically a lot of people have to die” … so, yes, they don’t really, we don’t make politicians represent us until they die, so more a political death – their death as our representative. Still, a great soundbite to finish this discussion on!

If you too are mad about this stuff, here’s how you can formally engage with the Commission

This website https://www.citizenspace.com/app/parliament/speakers-commission-on-digital-democracy is your route directly to the Commission, Commissioners and the Speaker. PLEASE USE IT!

Am I having any more tea and cake sessions at my house? Can you come? Can you host one?

I am having one more in August on the 19th, but I already have a full house, so no to anyone else joining us, and we have people skyping in too, but as today proved, more than three and one person at least gets to see nothing – which is bad.

But!! Anyone can have a tea and cake session, invite friends and what have you. All that I would ask, is that you please use the website to let the Commission know the outcomes. Also, please record it and share it on the hashtag #DDCEngage on social media platforms. It is so important that this is something as many people as possible take part in. And it is equally important that the Commission hears your voices.

I am all for democracy tea parties with cake. (My recipes for todays ones are here: Chocolate and Ginger cake with Orange icing and here Victoria Sponge)

Who was at this one, and how did I choose them?

They are listed below and just responded to my invitation that was open to all on Twitter and Facebook. It was an open invitation and the dates were agreed by Doodle as to who attended which session

Mar Dixon

Dr Sue Black

Marketa Mach

Jonathan Elmer

Jon Harman

Nik Butler

Are there any further outputs?

Not from me, from the Commission yes there is a report due to be published in January 2015. But I have asked all of those who attended today to write up their own thoughts and publish their thoughts on the hashtag #DDCEngage – so look out for that, and if you too do a tea party, please ask your attendees to do the same.

As they write, I will link them to the bottom of this post in the comments section.

What’s that hashtag again?

#DDCEngage

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

 

How to have edgy creds in five minutes, no money required

The Festival of Code is happening for the 6th year running on the beautiful, sunny UK coast this Summer. We are pretty much all ready and this year (in addition to over 1000 young coders creating insanely excellent digital stuff out of open data) we have bubble football, photobooth, skate park, graffiti wall, robotics, chiptune artists, 3d printing, wearable tech, George the Poet, Avid Larizadeh and Yoni Bloch.

So how does this give you edgy creds? I hear you cry. Well, we need help, so you can get to be a part of it too, and trust me – it’s amazing.

If you are not familiar with the Festival, the way it works is that we have 60 centres and centre leads across the UK who volunteer their time and space for the week to host their local coding kids. Kids sign up from the UK and overseas and we assign them to these centres. Mentors then also volunteer spots of time during the week to help shape, craft and prepare for the weekend of show and tell.

Inevitably, there is imbalance in a few of our centres and we have devised a poster campaign to fill those spots. (These young people tend to be super-hard to find, it depends on someone realising that this is going on and letting them, their mates or their parents know about it).

So! Here goes, this is how you get your edgy creds, and become an active member of the Festival of Code…

1. Check the list below for spaces available for kids and where we need mentors (mentors in public speaking, products, marketing, open data)

2. Identify the areas where you know you can put posters up in local shops, libraries, offices, schools

3. Use your social media profile to raise awareness of the Festival, using the hashtag #YRSFoC and link http://festivalofco.de

The following centres have spaces for kids and need mentors:

Comic Relief London can take 6 more kids (Comic Relief is based in Vauxhall)
Red, Yellow, Green Dorking needs 2 more mentors
Firstsite Colchester still has space for 15 kids and 1 more mentor
AIR Falmouth Uni Cornwall has room for 8 more kids and needs 3 more mentors
A Fund, West Midlands has room for 9 more kids and needs 1 more mentor
Social Breakfast Birmingham has room for 9 more kids and needs 2 more mentors
Instil Belfast has room for 6 more kids
Metaswitch, Enfield  has room for 8 more kids and needs 1 more mentor
Queen Mary Uni London has room for 5 more kids
Raspberry Pi Cambridge has room for 12 more kids and needs 3 more mentors
Think Big Hub London has room for 10 more kids and needs 2 more mentors
Aberystwyth Wales centre has room for 5 more kids and needs 1 more mentor
Solent Cathedral Southampton has room for 10 more kids and needs 3 more mentors
Met Office Exeter has room for 10 more kids
Superthinkers Romford needs 1 more mentor
STFC Daresbury Warrington has room for 10 more kids and needs 2 more mentors
Dundee Uni has room for 10 kids and needs 2 more mentors
Birmingham City Uni needs 2 more mentors
KWMC Bristol needs 2 more mentors
Freerange Carlisle has room for 5 more kids

Information for kids and for mentors can be found here for kids and here for mentors.

Here is the poster for you to download, print and put up, put in your car, put anywhere – these young people are insanely hard to find, and the mentors are also. We know from previous years that the poster campaign works. Stephen Fry will also be tweeting out about us when he feels the timing is right. So./.. all hands on deck! If you can help out with any of the above, email kait@rewiredstate.org and let her know, and point every child and mentor at the registration points on the Festival website. All of you can officially name check yourself as a volunteer for the Festival of Code, so long as Kait has logged you as helping out! And we will verify your assistance, and thank you whilst lying prostrate on the ground, usually. Also, it is just cool…

 

 

“… for a girl”

I had a sickening realisation recently about an ex. When I first met him (in an iphone queue for the next amazing iteration) we did the “What do you do” convo and I was working in gov then, at the Home Office in *quite a senior* role and he said: “oh a real job”… I fell in love with him on the spot because I thought he meant compared to his – in banking. But time would teach me he meant: for a girl

June 2014

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…

Image

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:

Image

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:

Image

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.

D-Day and Edward Snowden – Democracy, Freedom and Banishment

Today this happened:

  • I watched Edward Snowden speak on stage at the Personal Democracy Forum 2014 conference (via Google+)
  • I saw the standing ovation he received (twice) but could not see – if you are my Facebook friend you will see the video I made of his last seven brilliant minutes
  • I heard him pause the applause time and time again to add *just one more thing*
  • I had to look up from my phone this evening (google maps helping me navigate new bits of NYC) to wait for a New York fire truck reverse back into the station, as it did (and the firemen got out and took their clothes off) I saw this

IMG_8794 IMG_8795

  • I read this http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-27700479 and remembered being on Omaha beach with my O/H last week, and seeing the beaches, wheat fields, cafes and farms involved in that heroic Allied determination to right injustice
  • I saw Parliamentary people photographed during the Queen’s speech with whom I had spoken at length about digital democracy
  • I also saw many people, working, living, sharing, eating, drinking, dating – first dating even! (I overheard a very awkward drawn out convo about where to have a drink before supper – but to be fair it is a challenge in New York to make such decisions)

But today was not an unusual day really. I go to conferences or speak at them fairly regularly, in cities across the world. My bag is democracy – so I get to hear a lot about it. But today I felt like New York had shown me something new.

Agreed it was just the host city for the Personal Democracy Forum conference, but that (amazing though the speakers were) was not it.

There is passion and healing, and a determination that is in so many ways similar to the French Resistance during the second world war. But not against the terrorism attacks it has faced and potentially still faces; to be honest they just say: “Life goes on” and flaunt their breathtaking buildings…

IMG_8797 IMG_8722No, this is a city hosting a conference that is about resisting surveillance, surveillance undertaken in the name of security and protection and only the most pretendy asleep person could ever really believe (I forgot to tell you the thing I learned today from John Perry Barlow, one time lyricist for the Grateful Dead, today interviewing Snowden)

There is passion about freedom of speech in America that is possibly unrivalled anywhere else in the world, granted; but with that passion there is responsibility, and what I heard today many times over, was that this is important, even if you think you do not have any worries yourself about someone reading your emails or metadata – you have a responsibility to everyone else you interact with. That is the deal-maker here.

Edward Snowden is banished from the Obama-dom of the US, and with typical aplomb, people are funding his gargantuan legal fees with their $10s and $20s, and auctioning his lanyard to raise funds for when he is attending in person on stage (God help the dude), standing to cheer him on …

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 00.37.05{Douglas Rushkoff is also a flipping legend, by the way}

… this man who sat at his desk and just could not morally carry on knowing what he knew and facing his fellow citizens day after day. His response to the crowd-funding announced today? Not everyone can afford to give money, so please help each other, finish the conversation he started, take the time to look up the Reset the Net campaign – encrypt encrypt encrypt

It is not for us. It is for those we know and have yet to meet, the next generations and to take away the temptation from future governments.

This brings me back to the present day, with my own role as a Commissioner on the Speaker’s Commission for Digital Democracy.

The last meeting I had was with those people in Parliament paraded out for the Queen’s Speech. They too were passionate, and they too had concerns – albeit in a very British way, the common cry was something along the lines of: It cannot be a democracy if we give all of the data we could gather on every citizen to an MP. Because if we do so, when they are next campaigning, they will take that information and target *say* Cynthia at number 23 who likes cycling and sheep with a special leaflet, covered in sheep, about cycle lanes. That is not democracy, that way the same person or party gets elected time after time, and this is unfair and terrifying.

It may well be that our elected representatives need to know what we really give a toss about, and that we are able to engage in game-changing Parliamentary decisions about those things without having to flick out of Facebook; but if this is done by data, by digital information mining, it cannot be undone.

Democracy is hard. Democracy in a digital and socially digital world is harder.

I want a conference in the UK, like PDF – that relentlessly addresses these challenges. Not just highlighting them, not just giving them air and sunshine, how do we actually do this? It is going to change, what are we going to do? Every single year, putting our democratic toes to the flames. Our Democracy-Day…

Democracy is my passion. Banishment is archaic. Freedom has a price.

The Speaker’s Commission on Digital Democracy is important (UK people) and we have this year to set good things in motion, here is how to engage (please do join in, everyone around the world).

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