Young Rewired State is awesome. I’ll back up that statement below, but I encourage you to learn more for yourself about what creates said awesomeness: check out Rewired State, the organization that put “Young” in front of its name and decided to do more for the youngsters – technical geniuses under the age of 19 years; peruse the Young Rewired State 2012 website; and read through the Information Pack that was distributed to all the participants. Be sure to scroll to the bottom or click “What is YRS?” at the top of the Info Pack, for a quick synopsis of the true spirit of this important initiative.
I’ve spent the last three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday GMT) visiting a few of the YRS centers around the UK and meeting the young developers, designers and creatives who are building things, solving problems and discovering the power of technology. At the same time, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the mentors who’ve volunteered their time to provide this opportunity to over 400 kids in 40+ locations.
Day one took me to the fine city of Manchester, UK, where I spent several hours meeting the folks at the Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab) – a very cool space where the local community gathers for lots of different events that promote and support technology and innovation for ages and interests of all types. With awesome mentors/organizers like DJ Adams (hacker at SAP) and Mike Little (co-founder of WordPress) at the helm, it’s no wonder this center has such impressive projects underway, which are being built by hackers as young as 7 years old!
Thanks to everyone @YRSManchester for their hospitality and hard work!
I fell in love with this quaint British town as soon as I walked out of the train station, and our relationship grew with every step toward the city center, where all the startup action occurs. Foursquare explore wisely guided me to the local’s-favorite coffee shop, Small Batch Coffee Roasters, where I was [unknowingly] sitting next to Aral Balkan (a testament to the small-town community vibe). Aral is one of the Brighton mentors and a judge for the YRS Festival of Code finals, so we were able to connect and officially meet a few hours later the YRS centre venue. And on that note, Lighthouse, a digital culture agency, provided a beautiful and inspiring space for the kids to unleash their creativity in code.
After a quick journey through the tube, I found myself in Covent Garden, at one of the newest Mozilla Spaces – Mozilla London; it’s a stunning facility, with fast and open wifi (no surprise there!). John Bevan was our gracious host, and he led a group of us (including friends from Twilio (good to meet finally, James!), the Guardian/n0tice.com and Telefonica) around to meet each team, during which we got a sneak peak at their projects. After the tour, we were all equally excited to see what the groups have to show during their final presentations on Saturday.
Once again, many thanks to John and crew for their time, delicious coffee and blazing internet!
Next Stop: Birmingham!
I’m actually composing this blog post on a train to Birmingham, where the finale of YRS 2012 will take place tonight and tomorrow. Friday evening is somewhat of a welcome party where hackers, mentors, organizers and sponsors from the various centres will gather and meet their peers. We’ll do some fireside chats, during which I’ll be talking to the kids about the importance of communication and social skills for us techy geeks. And everyone will get ready for a full day of showing, telling and celebrating the achievements of some of the brightest, young minds Great Britain has to offer.
I’ve posted a bunch of pictures from the week so far, so head on over there to see the action with your own eyes – if you spot yourself or someone you know, feel free to add a tag and leave a comment!
I’ll follow up with more fun news when it’s all over. While it’s been a long week for all, I think the end will be bittersweet, and everyone will be immediately looking forward to 2013…