Young Rewired State 2013

And so, sadly, that is the end of Young Rewired State for another year. Like last year, I was a mentor down in Plymouth, where we had five participants and (overall) three mentors.

Much like last year, this year was also incredible. After going through all of the introductory material, then talking about sources of open data and technology options, we stepped back to give them some time to brainstorm. By the end of the first day, they all had an idea of a project that they wanted to work on together.

This turned into Things2Do, a simple search driven service which collates a combination of different data sources (for places, weather forecasts, movies, etc) and combines these to give a smart result based on your location (and what you wish to do). It looks like this:

Things2Do Homepage and Results
Things2Do Homepage and Results

For now, the area and some of the data is limited to just Birmingham (this was just for testing), but I’m sure they’ll fix that soon. It’s also responsive and well tested across a range of different devices (although, there is a few bugs here and there). I’m really impressed with how far they came in just a week. They have some interesting plans for it in the future, so I’ll be following along closely to see how it develops.

For the whole week, we were almost completely hands off. We did help with some debugging, cross-browser issues, suggestions on approaches & direction, and I got to indulge myself in building a screenscraping tool and API to provide some data that otherwise was unavailable to them, but the outcome was all of the team’s effort.

The Festival of Code was great, too. We arrived at about three in the afternoon after a — long and standing room only — train journey. In the evening, Sam was on stage along with TheraminHero and Pixelh8. Then on Saturday morning, we had the first stage of judging, the “Heats” where the teams from different centres around the country presented their projects. Our group’s and all of the others went extremely well, with only a few technical hitches, it was great.

Unlike last year, the final was kept to the Sunday. This meant everything was far less rushed and as we had the heats in the morning, a free afternoon. Come Sunday, we filed into “Space 2”, ready to see who had made it into the final. Sadly, our team didn’t make it but they seemed more releaved in not having to do another demo! Seeing all of the other projects is always fascinating …the PiBike seemed to be a favourite for many people with whom I spoke with and by the end, it had won the award for Best in Show.

I was hugely impressed by the judging, as I was last year. It’s all well and good having a panel of interesting people handling the judging process, but if they don’t ask the right kind of questions, debunk common fallacies1 and give the presenters the space to get out what they mean to say, it is a huge disservice to the people presenting. The judges handled it marvelously.

After a little bit of time running over, the event wrapped up and we headed for our train. It was an interesting (and hilariously overcrowded) journey back after a great week.

Over the weekend, Chris, Sam and I talked about what we’d like to do with YRS in the South West in the future. We’d like to see more people, over a much greater area of Devon and Cornwall. Currently, the closest centre to us is Bristol — which isn’t really the South West when you are used to being in Plymouth or Exeter. We did hear of people wishing to come but finding Plymouth (in addition to getting to Birmingham) all too expensive for the travel. We’ll be aiming to work out all of these for next year — we have several ideas for each of them.

Anyway, if you’re interested, you can already sign up for next year (as a mentor or as a partipant).

  1. Like Aral did with the rather common: “but we’re not designers!”.