This last week (27th July – 2nd August 2015) in the UK saw the Festival of Code 2015 for Young Rewired State, culminating in an awards conference in my home town of Birmingham (the one in the UK not Alabama!). If you weren’t aware of this event, I’d recommend you check out the twitter feed for the event #FoC2015. There is a fantastic article already available reviewing the event that I’d recommend reading over on Tech Crunch.
Young Rewired State is a worldwide community of young coders and digital makers aged 18 and under. I wasn’t there or involved in the event and just saw it second-hand on twitter via some friends who were. The photos and tweets I received really made my weekend. Particularly these photos of the teeniest little girl coders and their digital elephant themed alarm clock (it picks up all kinds of #IoT data on temperature and weather)…
The sheer cuteness of tiny pretty girls giving a big stage PowerPoint keynote, in front of a huge auditorium… stole the show. I feel slightly guilty admitting this, as it’s well-analysed that telling little girls they are cute is just bad and unhelpful (read here). However the other participants were as inspiring and some of the projects these kids had come up with were really commercial and smart. These children had designed better technology and products than most IT companies’ strategic development departments seem to manage!
It was surreal watching the live feed as half the participants couldn’t see over the lectern from which they were presenting! If I’d have seen this collection of apps and solutions at regular trade show I’d be blogging about them as the sheer commercial opportunity and solidity of the business ideas is far higher than I’ve seen in such volume for a long while:
- A team with a product called PUMPS deservedly won best in show. Automatic vehicle recognition to prevent folk filling their cars with the wrong type of fuel! Hugely commercial given the large cost to the insurance industry of this particular human error. One tweeter summed it up perfectly “Too small to see over the podium. Too young to drive. But PUMPS smashes it”
- I also really liked an app that did _safe_ cycle route planning, avoiding congestion and/or choosing the safest route. PedalPlan is online, here. What a good idea! Address the biggest obstacles and concerns to most cyclists!
- There were also a bunch of cool, well-executed, commercial viable apps such as a festival goers app (Features like “FindMyTent”); There is big list of the projects over on Tech Crunch. I liked the yellow rubber duck, powered by Raspberry Pi that collected pollution data on waterways and there was a nice environmental/foodbank like app that co-ordinated surplus food distribution. These kids weren’t making entertaining novelty apps but serious solutions to genuine business and technological gaps! Wow!
IT can be dull, corporate, product based, share-holder analysed and sometimes you need to see images like those from #FoC2105 to raise the soul and remember how cool, exciting and uplifting technology is and how much fun it is to work at. A sheer joy just to see a collection of really good products well-executed!
And you know what the next time I come across a grumpy developer, finance exec or product designer exuding pessimism who says “can’t”, “too hard”, “no scope for new features”…. I’m going to point out that, there are 8-year old little girls …. who “could” and who “can”! I’ve seen some rubbish marketing presentations in my time and this proves what we’ve all long suspected… that yep a bunch of kids can do better! 😀
The organisers of this event have pulled something very special off, running 66 regional centres (loads all over the UK) to support this event, find mentors and somehow managing to fund it so participation is free for the kids. You can get involved, help-crowdfund and watch the live stream from this event on the event website: HERE… if you are having a dull day or are sick of pundits views on Q2 tech results and need your faith restored – I promise you won’t regret it!