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

 

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…

 

 

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.

 

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:

Young Rewired State 2014

So this year Young Rewired State (YRS) is six years old, believe it or not! We are still wholly focused on those young people aged 18 and under driven to teach themselves how to code, introducing them to open data and a community of their peers.

Of course the campaigning we at YRS and Rewired State have championed and supported to encourage more people to learn programming has meant that there are many more opportunities for learning now. Kudos to all the many organisations such as Code Club, Apps for Good, Decoded, TeenTech and Coder Dojo (to name the ones we know well and love).

This means that the YRS community has grown at an incredible rate over recent years, as it helps other young people learn from and teach each other. They hone their skills through building apps, websites and games, writing algorithms and parsing data – more often than not, solving real problems and challenges they experience.

This year we are doing three big things…

ONE: YRS/Google assemblies

We have a great community of hundreds of young people, most of whom do not go to the same school. They come alive when they talk about their skills and the community – and so we have teamed with Google to offer every person in YRS a sponsored assembly.

The YRSer will be helped by a dedicated YRS mentor to prepare an assembly, using slide decks, videos and YRS and Google schwag.

The point of these assemblies is for the young people already in the YRS community to tell their peers about what they have done, what they can do, and the support from Google shows how important their talents are to a multi-National brand every child will know (and probably want to work for because of the beanbags, slides and The Internship movie). It also challenges the familiar media view of nerdy, often male, programmers.

The videos I have used in this post are the videos we have made specifically for this project

Two: The Festival of Code will be International & the finale weekend will be held in Plymouth University

Every year we run the Festival of Code in multiple centres across the UK. This year we are including the centres outside the UK. This means that the festival now includes all the young people who have taken part in a Young Rewired State: Everywhere (YRS{e}) weekend around the world, and the community reaches across borders and Nations. This is the point of YRS – to create a networked community of young people worldwide who have grown up with open data and peer-to-peer learning.

Plymouth University have been incredibly generous in their offer to sponsor part of the cost and host the Festival, and house the YRSers over the weekend, meeting their challenging Wifi and power needs – and enabling us to continue to run the Festival now that many hundreds, tipping over a thousand young people, take part. Thank you so much!

(Travel to Plymouth will be arranged!! Planes, trains and automobiles will be activated – maybe holding the finale in Plymouth will encourage the YRSers to invent the flying car we were all assured in the 70s was going to be the vehicle we would be using in the 21st century).

Register as a centre, mentor or young person for the Festival of Code here: https://youngrewiredstate.org/ (it costs nothing to register or attend, it is funded through sponsorship. Feel free to apply to be a sponsor: emma at rewiredstate .org)

Three: YRS Hyperlocal and Rewired State/ly

We also announced that YRS Hyperlocal will happen in centres across the UK post the Festival, where the YRSers will be able to work, in the Festival centres that choose to opt in, with each other and mentors to take their Festival prototypes to product. At which point we will hand them over into the safe hands of partners we trust (morals/ethics).

We also announced Rewired Stately: a free Rewired State event that is happening in the last quarter of 2014 for programmers aged 50 or over, whether these be newly minted programmers or life-long, at which we will introduce them to open data and the rest of the RS/YRS community.

For more information on either of these programmes, email hello@rewiredstate.org

Please note: we do not teach kids to code… we bring together those who can code, from rudimentary knowledge to poly-codal, and take them forward to the next challenge – solving the real world problems