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YOUNG REWIRED STATE

CODING A BETTER COUNTRY


A scalable, sustainable answer to fostering young British programmers, a White Paper
11/2012

Written by Dominic Falco, 2012

CONTENTS
Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................................................... 3 The UK .............................................................................................................................................................................. 3 YRS ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 3 Changing perspectives ............................................................................................................................................... 3 Computing ........................................................................................................................................................................... 5 The importance of Computing ................................................................................................................................. 5 Technology and Inequality ........................................................................................................................................ 6 Solutions ............................................................................................................................................................................... 7 The major bottleneck to long-term change ........................................................................................................ 7 Fixing Education ........................................................................................................................................................... 8 Fixing education is not sufficient ............................................................................................................................ 9 Young Rewired State (YRS) ....................................................................................................................................... 12 What is Young Rewired State? .............................................................................................................................. 13 Why is YRS a good solution? .................................................................................................................................. 14 What are the individual benefits of Coding? .................................................................................................... 17 The Model and Mechanics of YRS ........................................................................................................................... 18 How do you find Kids? .............................................................................................................................................. 18 What does it cost to run a YRS Hack Day? ........................................................................................................ 19 How is YRS funded? ................................................................................................................................................... 20 What happens to the apps? .................................................................................................................................... 21 The future how is YRS growing? ....................................................................................................................... 22 YRS in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales ................................................................................................ 23 YRS Everywhere ......................................................................................................................................................... 23 What else needs to be done? A change of focus. A change of direction. ................................................. 24 A change in government attitude ........................................................................................................................ 25 A change in Business attitude ............................................................................................................................... 26 Post Script ................................................................................................................................................................... 28

Are we really going to allow our kids to blindly stumble into a future so utterly dependent on digital tools and products, without giving them the chance to be the demi-Gods who sit behind these things, telling them what to do, and thereby telling us what to think?1 -EM

EM = Emma Mulqueeny, founder of Rewired State and Young Rewired State (YRS), CS= Computer Science http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/teach-our-kids-to-code-e-petition/
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
THE UK
Future-proof the UK: Computing is a crucial driver and facilitator of innovation, and thus of long-term, high-growth industry. Computing underlies the growth of almost every contemporary sphere of business. Technology impacts inequality: making computing skills available to the poorest is a key part of social mobility. We need to refocus on making software as well as using it. ICT education in the UK is a toxic brand2 that urgently needs revolutionizing. Education is the long-term solution: it therefore overlooks the possibility of an immediate improvement in the situation: working with the young British programmers who have taught themselves to code in spite of the hostile and unhelpful environment that they find themselves in.

YRS
Builds communities of self-taught programmers aged 18 and under at local, national and international levels through Hack Days. The YRS model is the most organic and scalable way to access and nurture this delicate talent. YRS is bridging the generational talent gap as talented youth succumb to the stigma and lack of support around programming: stemming the outsource culture that is currently draining money from the economy as regards software development. YRS rescues self-taught programmers from the isolation of the Status Quo. Initiatives like YRS are essential to flourishing creative possibility at the beginning of the most fertile era for human ingenuity the internet era.

CHANGING PERSPECTIVES
Why not build it here? We need a shift in focus from stimulating enterprise alone: without developers, the ideas generated will go nowhere. We need a shift in business culture towards openness: open data and open software are the most efficient and forward thinking way to exploit our burgeoning data resources. We need a shift in business culture towards nurturing local talent in place of outsourcing to avoid talent flight and talent stagnation.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/mar/31/why-kids-should-be-taught-code

Coding in Context Economy and the state of UK Innovation


You cant just have politicians pointing at a part of the country and saying lets invent something from scratch: that hasnt worked in the past, it wont work in the future. This is about building on something good and making it great. Were not doing enough to teach the next generation of programmers... I dont just want people who are literate in technology: I want people who want to create programmes3 David Cameron

No Growth and falling innovation in the UK require a change of focus

Everybody demands growth, investment, jobs. The UK struggles to remain competitive in the modern globalised economy: manufacture is cheaper in developing countries and technology is done more effectively in others who have already begun to specialise. Sweden is green. Germany is automobile. The US is aerospace, Web 2.0. South Korea is mobile telecoms and shipping. India and China are engineering, manufacture in general and are becoming developer hubs too. The UK is a service economy with a dwindling number of services over which it can offer a competitive edge. One day we will finally admit that, but for global warmings prospects of turning the Devonshire Riviera into a quasi-Mediterranean paradise, we have very few reasons to bet on our tourist industry as the future saviour of the British economy. It is widely suggested that changing the way we think about innovation must be central in addressing this issue: innovation accounted for 63% of economic growth between 2000 and 20084. Thus, with arguably the best higher education system in the world, it should be concerning learning to read Nestas report: Investment in innovation by UK businesses started slowing in 2000, and decreased slowly but steadily as a percentage of output all through the last decade. Fixed asset investment was increasingly dominated by bricks and mortar, with less and less being invested in high tech kit... The shortfall in 2011 was as much as 24 billion, four or five times what the UK government spends on scientific and technological research in a year.5 There are many suggested reasons for this decline. Nesta point to talent drains: to higher salaried, more stable career paths such as Finance and Real Estate; to the vicious circle of less UK talent leading to less businesses choosing to locate in the UK, less businesses leading to less jobs; less applicants for cutting-edge courses because job prospects in those careers have dwindled etc.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15682850 http://www.nesta.org.uk/areas_of_work/economic_growth/assets/features/plan_i 5 http://www.nesta.org.uk/home1/assets/blog_entries/plan_i


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COMPUTING
THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPUTING
What is computing? Computing is the study of how computers and computer systems work, and how they are constructed and programmed, and the foundations of information and computation. It is a discipline, like mathematics or physics, that explores foundational principles and ideas (such as techniques for searching the Web), rather than artefacts (such as particular computer programs), although it may use the latter to illuminate the former. Its aspects of design, theory and experimentation are drawn from Engineering, Mathematics and Science respectively. 1

Computational thinking is a general skill; its applicable to many elements of science and the training of our kids today. Its not only programming, its the ability to abstract, to think about problems at multiple levels thats important to teach our kids. If were only users, well be unable to contribute to the digital economy. -Professor Jeff Magee, Department of Computing - Imperial College London

Its the most creative thing you can do: its purely of the mind. -Dan Crow, CTO of Songkick, a London tech start-up

Computing is a huge, yet rapidly declining British and European employer and producer The UK and Europe will require many more highly-skilled computing technicians than we are currently forecast to produce, and we will lose substantial growth prospects if provision to meet this shortfall is not made Technology is proving one of the drivers of inequality: we pay high skills premiums for technology literacy, but technology literacy is contingent on starting family income

Certainly, one of the clearest bottlenecks for making the UK a prime destination for innovative business, and one of the most commented issues, has been the total under-provision and irrelevance of computing education in the UK, despite the fact that computing has, by all accounts, become a truly integral part of innovation. 25% of all EU business R&D spend in 2007 (excluding State funding) was on ICT, twice as much as any other industrial sector.6 The importance of computing and computer science in all of the sciences, for advances in engineering and manufacture, in journalism and film and even in the execution of every day transactions for small businesses is a simple and inescapable fact of 2012 and of any future we can predict from this horizon.

http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/data/uploads/BCS_Computing_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Computing at Schools supplies the following evidence to support the economic centrality of computing: The UKs IT industry alone produces an annual GVA of 30.6 billion, 3% of the total UK economy, with the continued adoption and exploitation of ICT having the capacity to generate an additional 35 billion of GVA to the UK economy over the next five to seven years.

Employment: Another 150,000 IT professionals in the UK would add 44 billion in national GVA. 70,000 computer programming jobs were offshored in the US between 1999-2003. Over the same period 115,000 more highly paid computer software engineering jobs were created in the US. The European Commission predicts the UK will need an additional 500,000 IT professionals by 2015. The CBI annual skills survey shows the percentage of UK employers dissatisfied with basic IT skills in their workforce has increased year on year for the last three years, in 2008 - 55% dissatisfied, in 2010 - 66% dissatisfied.

TECHNOLOGY AND INEQUALITY


Technology has been a key battleground for arguments about inequality. Globalisation, exposure of our unskilled workers to competition from countries without minimum wage restrictions or proper regulation of working conditions has meant fewer jobs for the unskilled. Simultaneously, the rapid pace of technological change and our increasing reliance on these breakthroughs has meant the development of a much greater skills premium: scientists and engineers have seen their incomes increase rapidly.7 A recent OECD report puts it like this: Globalisation... went hand-in-hand with the rapid adoption of new technologies which may penalise those workers who do not have the necessary skills. Technological progress is therefore often seen as inherently skill-biased.8 In terms of computing, for those who are subjected to the current, absurd curriculums and grow up in low income households, developing these high premium skills is incredibly difficult: without access to up to date technology it is hard to see how they could even teach themselves.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jul/16/technology-inequality-policychange 8 www.oecd.org/els/socialpoliciesanddata/47723414.pdf p.10


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SOLUTIONS
ICT education is un-engaging and unfit for purpose The generation in schools now ought to be the most highly skilled, technologydriven cohort ever, yet it is held back by the state of the current course This has ramifications for GCSE and university uptake of Computing, which in turns will mean massive under-provision of these skills

THE MAJOR BOTTLENECK TO LONG-TERM CHANGE


Uptake of Computing courses in the UK is on the decline: between 2003 and 2011, UCAS applications fell almost 12%: the percentage of students looking to study the subject has fallen from 5% to 3% of all applicants.9 And whilst organisations such as the Royal Society, individuals such as Eric Schmidt and David Cameron, have remarked upon the inadequacy of the status quo in education, it is often young people who are able to put the point most succinctly: We need to ensure that the IT which we are teaching is useful for us. In the course I did from 2008-2009, I was given 2 As and 2 A*s for doing silly, simple and rather patronising tasks, like opening and formatting word docs, etc. And [we can encourage more kids to start coding by] Scrapping the secretary-training ICT curriculum, replacing it with one which teaches more about how technologies work and how to manipulate them. (Young Rewired State attendees, 2012) There is a sense of frantic urgency and fatalism in these remarks: it is already too late for many students whose lives will rely and revolve around these technologies. This skills deficit holds up the entire system. Without skilled workers and young people enthused by the technology needed to push the economy forward, businesses will not develop their technologies here, will not invest here, small businesses will be left behind by better equipped international competitors and young people will lack the tools needed to innovate for themselves. This damages the United Kingdoms long-term prospects for growth significantly. Computing solutions and ideas are increasingly outsourced, bypassing the small but incredibly high calibre community of native programmers and developers here. Moreover, this deficit cannot be solved by any one organisation or thought leader it requires an expert and committed community, self-driven and focused on specialist areas... This is very much a community thing10. Whilst disagreement on what exactly is to be done is rife, it appears that there is a consensus that singular, isolated government intervention is more likely to damage and disrupt the protean technology infrastructure developing in the UK than to help solve the challenges that it faces.
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15916677

Emma Mulqueeny - http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/codingforkids-eveningbarcamp/


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FIXING EDUCATION
Inject funds into sources of innovation: places of education, schemes providing skills beyond school curriculums Public-Private partnerships identifying the exact syllabus that is needed: raising money and investing together ICT as part of compulsory primary school syllabus

It is clear that the solution must be multilayered. At the macroeconomic level, Nesta points to lack luster financial architecture; the difficulty of hiring talented, specialist staff both in the UK and from overseas (due to complex and intractable Visa laws), the governments lack of commitment to funding innovation through public funds and its propensity to invest in infrastructure for short-term political benefits rather than long-term, sustainable economic growth. At the level of computing, the NextGen, Royal Society and BCS reports made it clear that computing must become part of the national curriculum. This is underway following The Ofsted report on ICT, 2011, the scrapping of ICT as a compulsory subject from 2014 and the recognition by Michael Gove that: Computer Science is a rigorous, fascinating and intellectually challenging subject... and is merging with other scientific fields into new hybrid research subjects like computational biology... We will certainly consider including Computer Science as an option in the English Baccalaureate11. A further development in the form of Behind the Screen, a partnership between government and industry, is an effort to augment this push with the objective of creating a new curriculum and delivery methodology which will put the UK ahead of its international rivals in the education of young people for success in the e-enabled future economy12.

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12

Michael Goves speech at BETT January 2012


http://www.behindthescreen.org.uk/about-bts/

FIXING EDUCATION IS NOT SUFFICIENT

While you have your day tomorrow, and every day from then on, remember that we are living through the greatest revolution ever seen in the potential for human achievement and human connection. We can ruin it at birth, or we can nurture it. And one day, in decades to come, well be asked about these years, and what we did at the birth of the internet era.13 -Ben Hammersley

Senior schools are not the most malleable of organisations to effect immediate and effective change, regardless of good intent and recognition of a problem14 -EM

Trying to solve this problem with a top-down, managerial (half-hearted) cry to throw open the digital doors in Year 8 and force change in education and interest is going to be a long and bloody process. If this is the way we choose to go, then accept that it will take time, money (lots of money) and that it will affect the whole of the education system, not just ICT reform.15 -EM

I see you and your consultancy revenue based organisations, and I raise you a network of 100s of kids through YRS who will not be fooled16 -EM

The current strategy is a long-term, top-level approach Failure to effect immediate action will lose an entire generation of programmers, designers and technology-literate scientists and business people

http://www.benhammersley.com/2011/09/my-speech-to-the-iaac/ http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/open-education-and-freedom-to-teach-computing/ 15 ibid 16 http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2011/09/15/paragraph-seven/


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The completion of the revolution in computing education is clearly a long way off. There are multiple major obstacles to establishing an adequate curriculum nationwide. 1. Examinations. The construction of examinations that can cope with creativity and a supporting set of people capable of marking the results are required. 2. Teachers. Ideally, IT and computing would be taught by Computer Science graduates; teachers with a sufficiently specific and deep expertise in computing to allow them to keep abreast of advancements in a rapidly changing field. a. If immediate action was taken, the current generation of CS graduates might be incentivised to teach, and experts in the field brought into schools. b. However, with the diminutive number of CS graduates currently in stock, this would be at best a small influx. c. A full cycle of graduates would be required, with teacher training included: we cannot expect to have sufficient teachers for a new course at anything higher than the English Baccalaureate within 5 years. 3. Course texts and course resources. An effective syllabus will be inherently laconic, requiring frequent updating for anything less specific than general principles. 4. Stigma, prejudice and inequality. This is perhaps the longest-term issue that Computing faces. a. A brilliant computing course that is optional will attract only those already converted to the charms of the subject. Whilst traditional subjects such as English, Maths and Sciences are widely endorsed by corporations, universities, the media and parents, Computing faces under-exposure and a lack of role models and champions. b. Computing is widely and increasingly perceived as a male subject. This is unacceptable if programming is to play a major role in the future of the UK economy. What is more, many of these problems are chicken and egg type problems: they cannot be solved with a single reform, but are held back by collective action dilemmas and other circularities. For instance: 1. Stigma will not start to dissolve until there is a more widespread awareness of what it entails. 2. Yet society will only come to this understanding piecemeal without its members being educated about it and exposed to the truths of the discipline. 3. However, this kind of education requires, at least in part, that the stigma surrounding Computing is dissolved, so that its basic principles can be instituted as part of compulsory education and can be considered with an open mind. 4. Yet, the stigma will not start to dissolve until... (and so on) Similarly with teachers: 1. In order to inspire a new generation of developers and creators, we need more people who are better qualified in IT to teach and propound the strengths of the subject. 2. In order to get more specialist teachers, we need more people to first study Computer Science, and an accompanying set of incentives to train to become a specialist IT teacher. 3. In order to inspire more people to study Computer Science, we need specialist teachers in schools to inspire students...

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All of this is not to say that these problems are beyond solution, but rather, that some intermediate solution is required in order to effect significant change. This paper posits that one possible, immediate solution: the model demonstrated by Young Rewired State, is to employ grass roots virality that can spread from the existing kernel of people who are passionate about their skill and counteract the decline in interest in programming that occurs because of the existing lack of support in schools. We put forward that this model ought to enjoy wider support: should be more extensively adopted and replicated.

More Kids Coding


Better Heroes Don't even try; they'll come to it themselves It's Art, not Maths

Teach in school & younger Teach game design

Better Resources

Clubs and Taster Sessions

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YRS 2012 internal survey

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YOUNG REWIRED STATE (YRS)

I think the most inspiring thing that Ive seen is how giving kids, or anyone for that matter, the space, the opportunity to create things: what that generates, just getting people in the same room and giving them the resources they need. -Aral Balkin Young Rewired State Judge.

There is an urgent and immediate lack of resources and support for young programmers. They will stop programming without support Schools can expand knowledge and awareness, but you still need people to have the resources and motivation to use that knowledge YRS creates an environment and finds the developers to put in it: the developers do the rest YRS particularly helps those from least advantaged backgrounds, providing the highest caliber of mentoring and software: it is these young people who would otherwise most lose out due to skills premiums for technology

Young Rewired State is an easily replicated and lean intermediate answer to the lack of support that young programmers in the UK experience. The project aims at those who have taught themselves to code, driven by pure curiosity and the desire to create. It is completely unthinkable that these people, the ones who have had the wherewithal and ingenuity to teach themselves entire esoteric languages in their own time, are either ignored or abused by the mechanics of the economy. These are the most creative and entrepreneurial thinkers of the current era: pioneers who are capable of breaking the front-line systems of the technological age and building something new. These individuals are marooned; maltreated by their peers and their distinctive talents unrecognised by teachers. For the last four years, YRS has begun the painstaking task of seeking them out, uncovering every self-taught coder from their various hiding places and providing them with a support network, a viable route to develop their abilities and fashion them into CV-ready entities, to actually meet and learn from like-minded individuals and to start their own businesses and careers in computing.

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WHAT IS YOUNG REWIRED STATE?


Under 18 year olds who have taught themselves how to program Brought together for a week to create things with extensive local, national and global guidance Welded into a dynamic community that spans the area that they live in, the country and the world

It works like this. Several hundred young people scattered across the country are challenged to build digital products for mobile and web, using at least one piece of open data. For example, previous hack days have focused on using at least one piece of open data: such as UK pupil data temporarily released by the UK government for the purpose of the event. They go to centers, spaces with WiFi and the necessary equipment, along with YRS mentors and alumni, equally disparately littered across the country, identify the problems they will attempt to solve and start building. These centers each host a team for a week and help stimulate the ideation and creation processes, sharing their expertise and guidance. On the climactic Friday of the week, everyone heads towards a single location in the UK. This is the Festival of Code: presentations in front of a panel of esteemed judges and the awarding of prizes. The festival involves food, drink and speeches from genuine thought-leaders before some of the YRSers go to sleep and others spend the night finishing their projects. Prizes are awarded after two rounds of presentations and have included such mischievous categories such as most likely to annoy a government official as well as code a better country and best in show.

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WHY IS YRS A GOOD SOLUTION?

(Diagram demonstrating YRS as an intermediate facilitator of peer-to-peer learning (P2P))

YRS facilitates five key channels of interaction. Communities. It rapidly and sustainably synthesises virtual and physical communities of young programmers both where they live and across the country. Sustainable and scalable. It thereby reveals young people to their local professional programming community, creating organic, sustainable and ultimately scalable foundations for British programming. Role models. Through judges and mentors, keynote speeches and centers, a layer of role models is gradually created. Global. It allows young people to tap into a global pool of expertise through the #YRSHelp Twitter hashtag, creating an internationally competitive level of quality and showing those watching exactly what under 18s in the UK are capable of. Data. Lastly, it shows those in possession of data the potential of their data and begins the process of transforming it into something genuinely useful for society.

These five channels each play slightly different roles, though there is some crossover. 1. Firstly, the networks of young people allow peer-to-peer learning and development: they make learning how to code and create: an explosive and collaborative process. This happens on both a hyper-local scale: through the centers, and at a national level: when they converge at the Festival of Code.

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The type of bonding that occurs in both the local centers and the national finale cannot be replicated through virtual networks, cannot be recreated in the classroom. It is a 7-day process of intrepid discovery: from isolation to the realisation that there are people where you live who think in the same way and are passionate about the same sorts of things. This is one of the particularly odd things about coding to an outsider: some forms of plagiarism are seen in a positive light1. This is perhaps one of the reasons that open source software has come to be seen as morally normal most software is made up of at least some elements that have been explicitly and proudly borrowed from other constructions. This necessary facet of the nature of programming is perhaps a core reason for YRSs success and its intuitive appeal to many who work in the industry. This is a unique and highly scalable way of creating lasting and solidified relationships: relationships that are crucial to the type of innovation and development that has come to make Hack Days a revered research and development method, and that are crucial to keeping these kids coding. 2. Secondly, through the attendance of alumni, mentors and professional developers at each centre frustrations are coached out of the picture and the talent of the YRSers is best realised. Furthermore, the groups forged under these pressurised circumstances often stay in contact, linking young networks to more developed ones and creating a sustainable and local chain of support that will survive beyond the event. Less obviously, exposing mentors and companies to the energy and unrelenting creativity; the sheer and compelling ambition of YRS, reminds them of the un-realised potential vested in nascent programmers and gives them a reason to involve themselves in revitalising and reinvigorating this base. 3. Thirdly, by assembling talented panels of judges, by collecting enthusiastic professionals and bringing back YRS alumni as mentors who are eloquent in support of programming, YRS curates an answer to the mainstream medias lack of attention to the very people who should be role models to subsequent generations of programmers. This is a crucial part of reversing the stigma that clouds computing: of creating a culture of innovation and high-tech enterprise. 4. Fourthly, the convergence of creative minds and determination to make things that manifests at these events is further stoked and stimulated by the input of the hundreds of experts worldwide who follow the #YRSHelp hashtag on Twitter and inject parts of solutions into the process; both developers at transnational companies and genius individuals silently coding for themselves. 5. Lastly, the inexorable rise of open data requires a similarly substantial growth of the community available needed to use that data to its full potential. Raw data on its own is virtually useless to the vast majority of people; it requires creative minds and problem-solvers to mine in and carve useful solutions out of this information. Open data is arguably the thing that triggered the creation of YRS abundant data but scarce young developers. Open Data is now the thing that inspires and feeds the creations of the under 18 year olds who take part in this event.

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Examples of Apps created through YRS See below examples of apps that have been created through YRS: Humap, a human direction map app. An intuitive directions application that gives you directions based on specific landmarks rather than street names. Why Waste a Vote, a site aimed at teenagers and new voters, educating them about the political system and the use of voting. Way to Go. The web app uses crowd-sourced data from wheelchair users to figure out the best places that are readily accessible. Smart Move. The website lets you search for areas of London you may move to, according to specific criteria. Depending on what criteria are more important to you, it will reorganise your results to match. Wheres my Train. Uses data about train arrivals, top speed and delays to estimate the position of a train to be plotted on a Google map. Norwich Blocks. Maps broadband connectivity in a more accessible and detailed way using a three dimensional, interactive map based on software by the Games company, Mojang. UniMatch Helps find a university that is right for the user, using distance, fees, UCAS points, night life etc. Urbani A pedestrian heat map, showing the busiest pedestrian areas in London. myNHS Connects patients to the NHS on the basis of four criteria: location, GPs, prescriptions and bookings. Lifestyle An app that quickly informs you about your neighborhood by postcode in terms of Education, Crime & Lifestyle. Food for Thought An app that uses data from the Food Standards Agency to allow users to find out the hygiene ratings of food outlets.

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WHAT ARE THE INDIVIDUAL BENEFITS OF CODING?

The Challenge

What do you like most about coding?


Logicality Art & self expression Profit Social

Curiosity understanding how things work

Creating and accomplishment

Freedom

Problem Solving

Coding is creation. This appeals to different people for different reasons: some see it as a mode of self-expression. It is an artistic and changeable medium, clearly analogous to architecture: solving problems in the most elegant, efficient and robust manner possible. And yet it offers a greater degree of freedom than architecture because the solutions that are sought can be to problems that the creators themselves devise. Others enjoy the challenging flavour of thought that coding requires, citing its deep requirements upon the coders logical faculties. Where mathematics allows also elicits these thought processes, coding combines them with the satisfaction and lasting products of unique, personalised solution. Moreover, perhaps ironically for something so stereotypically artificial, the allure of coding also comes in part from its appeal to intrinsic human curiosity many people are drawn to code simply because they feel compelled to understand what processes and structures underlie the furniture of modern existence. There are other, less unexpected drivers to code: the drive for friendship, for job prospects, for profit. Coding is a way of creating a business from scratch. Hack Days and forums link each coder to a like-minded community. These communities are completely crucial to the survival of coding in the UK; they are fed by selfless hours of contribution and co-operation, mentoring and development.

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THE MODEL AND MECHANICS OF YRS


HOW DO YOU FIND KIDS?

Participants

800

423

50 2009

100 2010

100 2011 2012 2013 (projected)

Without a significant budget to spend on publicity, and without a reputation to build on, finding people who have taught themselves to code is a challenging place to start. In spite of this, 2012 has seen a promising increase in awareness of the issue, in part thanks to the success of previous Hack Days and PR work by Emma Mulqueeny and her team, but also due to high-profile communications from OFSTED, The Royal Society, BCS, CaS, Behind the Screen, Michael Gove, David Cameron, Eric Schmidt, Stephen Fry and the British press especially the Guardian. YRS has been able to gain momentum through recommendations and the burgeoning number of centers who participate. Yet, this is simply not high profile enough and fails to give the issues involved due sincerity. What is required is a change in focus, a change in direction.

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WHAT DOES IT COST TO RUN A YRS HACK DAY?

Cost

200,000

120,000

23,000 2009

20,000 2010

9,000 2011 2012 2013 (projected)

In the first year, the majority of attendees came from highly disadvantaged backgrounds and throughout the development of the event; this has continued to be a fact of YRS. For this reason, a large percentage of the costs are hardship funds; helping get YRSers to the events. The first event proved to be the most expensive per child: the money went towards paying for train tickets, food and places to stay over the weekend. The cost of the event increased significantly between 2011 and 2012 due to the increased length of the finale: from one day to an entire weekend and the additional fact that 400 people was too many to rely on the donated spaces for the final weekend; it became necessary hire a venue and equipment for the weekend. Other consistent, essential costs include food (pizza LOTS of pizza), prizes and travel.

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HOW IS YRS FUNDED?

The idea is that this thing will be built and will grow and grow and grow, goodness knows where it will take us all but I would still like to be doing this when I am 90 -EM

YRS is a not-for-profit, philanthropic project It is largely supported by the generous involvement of sponsors: this varies from offering their buildings for the Festival of Code to providing their software and data free for the participants to use. Sponsors gain brand advocates by supplying software and familiarizing key users. In the past, sponsors have included: SAP Google Mozilla Independence and freedom is crucial the organization will never be for profit and needs to flexible enough to supply what is needed most in this area of society and the economy. Therefore, venture capital can never be an option The aim is to find a single, main partner sponsor Funds from Rewired State profits from the company Rewired State, of which YRS is the philanthropic arm, support the event Community funding www.peoplefund.it So as much as peer-to-peer learning is key right now, so it seems is peer-to-peer funding18 Grants (e.g. Shuttleworth Foundation Flash Grant )

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http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/get-in-funded-by-the-people/

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WHAT HAPPENS TO THE APPS?


It is not about the development of apps, its about the development of the participants Monetizing the products of Hack Days would be complicated, morally dubious and counter-productive

It is crucial to note that the actual prototypes of YRS Hack Days are not the most important outcome: the most important outcomes are the learning and community building to which app building is simply a means. As you might expect, it is particularly problematic to monetize software created through the joint efforts of a group of under 18 year olds of mixed abilities. Despite this, some projects survive through the continuing individual efforts of the participants; some are taken forward through partnerships with government and other socially-minded organizations. All of the code endures on the internet as a testament to the creative efforts of their creators. Even if commercial exits existed for the prototypes created, introducing a profit motive would betray the tagline Coding a better country. The motivation for each and every app is problembased rather than profit-based. YRSers learn how, faced with a specific problem, it is most productive to go about building a solution. This broad framework can be mapped onto commercially viable problems too, however, with the general aim of developing the talents of programmers, this would be unnecessarily restrictive and more importantly, a morally dubious activity to involve children as young as 7 in.

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THE FUTURE HOW IS YRS GROWING?

Centres

50 42

14 1 2009 4 2010 2011 2012 2013 (projected)

The idea has always been to find and foster every kid who is driven to teach themselves how to code, and this does not limit us to the UK. - EM

A longer weekend the Festival of Code More Participants More Centers More UK Countries: Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales More international countries: Estonia, Berlin, New York, Amsterdam, Kenya A Global community of young programmers

Every subsequent year has seen the number of centers involved increase. 2013 will see the first cap on centers imposed at 50, with the size of the event tending towards the limit of the organizational capacity of the YRS team. As this limit is approached, the current fund-raising process becomes increasingly strained, even as the importance and success of the event itself increases. The length of the final weekend was increased between 2011 and 2012 to properly allow the different centers to coalesce, to give that crucial community-building that occurs when everyone comes together to compete and present their ideas, two entire days instead of two hours. The mission to find every British self-taught coder may be a self-defeating prophecy as YRS grows, inspiring young people to evangelize programming, so therefore does the number of British coders teaching themselves to code. 22

Nevertheless, this model can and should be replicated abroad. For YRS, global barriers make no sense. Rapid advances in collaborative software and platforms mean that YRS will eventually be able to effectively transcend national barriers and physical locations, leading to the emergence of a globally connected community of young programmers, mentored by worldwide community of experts in all fields. This is a goal that governments worldwide should strive towards, as it marks the only sustainable way of properly utilizing the data that they generate, the most forward-thinking way of ensuring that programmers and computing in general advance without restriction. Global YRS would mean a global focus on the problems that are considered with international data to back the process up. Young people working across borders to solve worldwide problems is an admirable and realistic goal.

YRS IN SCOTLAND, NORTHERN IRELAND AND WALES


It is all about awareness. There are young people silently teaching themselves to code in these countries, they just do not know we exist. The countries of the UK are an intuitive first step. The first of these is: Aberdeen, Scotland December 2012 Held at The University of Aberdeen, over the weekend of December 1 & 2 2012: 50 young Scottish coders, aged 18 or under, to attend and build digital tools: apps, widgets, games and websites - using open government data from Scotland. The weekend will be a traditional Rewired State hack weekend, with coding continuing across two days and presentations of prototypes on Sunday afternoon to a panel of judges.

YRS EVERYWHERE
2013 witnesses the birth of YRS Everywhere, the worldwide expansion of YRS, starting off with Amtersdam 2013 in April or May, and looking to run Hack weekends on the UK model, using local open government data) in the following places: Estonia Berlin New York Kenya

This will be the genuine beginning of YRS as a global community.

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WHAT ELSE NEEDS TO BE DONE? A CHANGE OF FOCUS. A CHANGE OF DIRECTION.

Code is at the heart of everything we do in the digital world in which we exist. Its not just about video games and visual effects, its also about designing the next jet propulsion engine, or fighting cybercrime, or running financial services. Coding is essential to everything, and with traditional manufacturing in decline and financial services in disarray, if the government wants the economy to succeed, you have to empower our creative nation with the skills necessary to serve digital content to global audiences via high-speed broadband, and code is absolutely essential to that19. -Author, entrepreneur and government-appointed skills champion, Ian Livingstone Stem the outward flow of talent and outsourcing: use and develop British programming talent: build up execution to supplement ideation Problems that cannot be solved without making profit are still problems

One of the biggest problems for developing a competent and vibrant population of programmers and developers in the UK is the false and anachronistic dichotomy between ideas and execution that seems to be at the forefront of both business and government mentality in the UK. The discordant reality is that virtually all new businesses are unequivocally dependent on developers to progress from the idea stage. Developers tell them what is possible and impossible, what are efficient and inefficient solutions: the very boundaries and details of the fuzzy blueprint that entrepreneurs lay upon their tables. Developers then actually build these solutions. And yet government encourages and invests in entrepreneurs to the detriment of this essential element: a class of business people who are utterly impotent without good developers, completely incapable of otherwise moving forwards. What YRS shows, through the hundreds of unique prototypes it creates every year is that developers themselves, given space and equipment can squash that dichotomy: they are problem-oriented, design-thinkers, capable of taking embryonic ideation to rapid, lean execution in weeks, rather than months. Proper investment in this talent sector would very clearly be a more fertile destination for investment in terms of UK innovative production and growth: YRS is solid and unquestionable evidence of this.

http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/interview/2199109/sowing-the-seeds-of-digital-success-aninterview-with-skills-champion-ian-livingstone#ixzz265CcGjGR
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A CHANGE IN GOVERNMENT ATTITUDE


Hack events in the UK have always played a vital role in helping government be open and transparent about what it is doing, and it is essential that this extends to what Parliament is doing too. 20 -EM

1. The public good rather than profit. Organisations such as YRS produce content and shape individuals to focus on the public good rather than on the creation of profit. This too is the remit of government: to focus on the public good rather than the creation of profit. You put money and data into YRS, and out of it, you get individuals who have been stimulated and oriented to concentrate on how to make other peoples lives better, regardless of whether their solutions are commercially viable. 2. Social Mobility. Many of the individuals that YRS supports are from disadvantaged backgrounds. Moreover, coding is, inexplicably, highly stigmatised and so young programmers often suffer from peer-abuse and ridicule. This is not the kind of culture in which the most creative minds of this generation ought to experience their childhood. To transition from being an isolated programming teenager in your bedroom to an employable and self-confident adult is a tumultuous journey. In the case of the children involved in YRS, more is at stake than for the average individual, for both the individual themselves (without adequate educational options, with peer-pressure rife, many are likely to simply give up on this valuable talent), and the country (if we admit that ICT is without use, who will be inspired to teach the new Computing Ebacc if not the current generation going through YRS?) 3. Openness, accountability, involvement. In recent years, we have seen the government open up sections of its data to feed hack days: this is brilliant and it is crucial that this becomes a trend that extends throughout government departments, rather than a oneoff experiment. The proper manipulation of the data held by government is a brilliant way to improve accountability, to identify inefficiency, to extend democracy through technology: that young people can directly influence government through the creative use of their skills is a panacea to apathy: a sure way to increase participation.

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http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/parly-hack-2012/

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A CHANGE IN BUSINESS ATTITUDE


Developers are a talent to be nurtured in our open data and open society world.21 -EM We can make it here. Why outsource? Coding entrepreneurs: the lean alternative to pure ideation We live in an open society: closed businesses will suffocate

1. Outsource less: develop local talent. This is part of the chicken-egg dilemma. Without more developers, companies will continue to look abroad. Unless more companies use local developers (and pay them properly) job prospects will falter and less people will aspire to careers as developers. Yet YRS allows British companies to break that cycle by concentrating their efforts on those who have taught themselves to code in the UK, deepening this national resource for future prosperity. 2. The developer is central, not secondary. Truly lean startups - building without funding the traditional model is dead. YRS Shows that developers are more than just workhorses; a means to someone elses dream. It shows that given freedom and resources that they are capable of building the most incredible and sophisticated products in a matter of days. This should mark the beginning of the end for the traditional: idea funding development: cycle that is the foundation of the current business hegemony. Firstly, it should push wannabe entrepreneurs to teach themselves how to code so that they can genuinely understand how their own products work, the frameworks upon which their businesses rely. This will open their eyes to the depth of expertise that they tap when they hire developers, will lead them to respect their developers and pay them appropriately. It will also mean that they are able to appreciate the limits and possibilities of their business for themselves. Lastly, it will even the communication gradient between entrepreneurs and developers and allow faster innovation, less misunderstandings. Secondly, it should lead to more entrepreneurs teaching themselves to code and building their own products. The entrepreneur is supposedly the all-rounder and yet this is a realm which most have not conquered. The programmer-entrepreneur a la Zuckerberg is the rightful role-model for the UK tech industry. Learning to code is not an impossible challenge.

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http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/whats-the-point-of-a-hack-day/

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3. Open software, Open data, Open business

Where would you like to work?


50

26 13 2 2 3 3 3 4 16 20 21

Closed-doors software development is the method of a past era. Most people want to work for companies who have allowed anyone to familiarize and modify their software, advocates of open: 22 Mojang and Google rightfully claim places in the top three as companies who allow anyone access to the bones of their software. If developers are introduced to your software from an early age and find it yields to their touch, they will more readily become advocates of your brand; will more readily consider employment at your firm. Give your software to these promising minds, let them test it and in exchange it will be home to them. But it goes deeper than this. The fact that we live in a time when data is too abundant to be properly utilized should point to Open Data as the progressive and most profitable route for society. If you open your data to programmers you will learn infinitely more about that information than if you restrict access to the few developers you can afford to permanently staff.

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YRS 2012 survey N.B. Some individuals gave multiple answers to this question.

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Post Script23
I know I am in it for life and I am going to dedicate myself to making it great and worldwide. Young developers will take the network and make friends for life, build businesses, create the next bazillion dollar thing. Mentors will become worldwide mentors helping young people from all backgrounds, maybe even working with them to create something world-changing. Centers will find their own local coding youth and will hold the ability to shape that relationship and hone those skills for the greater good, or for their own. The Rewired State team work together to boldly go wherever, to try stuff, test and be brave, with a small cushion (a very small cushion) of financial stability. It is what we all make of it. -EM

http://mulqueeny.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/young-rewired-state-year-5-everywhere-andhyperlocal/
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