“Blue sky thinking” to popularise the Year of Code with today’s youth

The Government’s Year of Code is off to a mixed start, to say the least. But it is possible that increasing the next generation’s knowledge of these valuable tools could be key to increasing our country’s future prosperity. So what are we to do?

Drawing on my own childhood computing interest and some classic ‘blue sky thinking’, here are a few suggestions to get things moving.

1. Turn off the App Stores

It can be done. Egypt has done it, Syria has done it — isn’t it about time someone used filtering of communications as a force for good? With access to the exciting and useful array of apps now gone, the App Store home pages can be replaced with a guide to writing your first programme. Or the source code for Flappy Bird and Snapchat. Today’s industrious youth will have hacked together an alternative in no time — I mean, what else are they going to do, read a book?

2. Give the project to Reddit to run instead

Loading up the home page and seeing George Osborne grinning back at you is enough to put anyone off. Seriously though, the Government is not cool, school is the biggest institution you ignore the advice of, and men in suits who work at Google are not aspirational figures. Reddit is an online community founded by young guys who had no idea what they were doing and smashed their way to success. And if nothing else, the community gets things done.

3. Bring back TV storylines where kids hack computers to change their grades

This used to happen in literally every children’s TV show when I was young and they made it look easy enough to try. Given the state of most Government IT, they probably stand a good chance at success.

Joking aside, if you want to learn more about the Year of Code and get a more optimistic view on the subject, you could do worse than read this analysis by Benjamin Southworth. Ben was previously in the belly of the beast as Deputy CEO of the Tech City project so his perspective is not your average Joe’s.

But hopefully, if all else fails, my suggestions above can remain a solid Plan B. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments.

March 4th, 2014


Free Speech Has Turned a Corner

Last weekend, we’d nothing planned for the Sunday so the girlfriend and I decided to head over to Hyde Park to deride the Winter Wonderland then find something to do on Foursquare.

Eventually we settled on some epic burgers but before heading to the restaurant, 4sq. showed a historical curiosity nearby that I’d wanted to visit for some time – Speaker’s Corner.

For the uninitiated, this historical “landmark” was established in 1880 to provide a forum for those without access to their own private printing press (or that of a rich friend.) When you picture that time, you can imagine the importance of this.
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January 3rd, 2012


Knowledge and Power

This is as close to a ‘reblog’ as I’m likely to get- advice from a chap called Daniel Ellsberg to a young Henry Kissinger upon him receiving his first top secret clearances.

I think it’s one of the most important things you could ever remember when scrutinising the behaviours of Government and other large organisations.  Often if there’s a situation that you can’t make sense of or there appears to be a simple and satisfying explanation, the truth is much more complicated.

From Ellsberg’s book Secrets and found on the brilliant Kottke blog.

“Henry, there’s something I would like to tell you, for what it’s worth, something I wish I had been told years ago. You’ve been a consultant for a long time, and you’ve dealt a great deal with top secret information. But you’re about to receive a whole slew of special clearances, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, that are higher than top secret.

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July 31st, 2010


Griffin vs the Chimera of Society

ngLike many of you, I was sucked in by the #bbcqt activity last night in a manner that 2 Screen would surely be proud of.  However, I couldn’t help but think this.

Tweetminster measured 12.49 #bbcqt tweets per second by the end of the programme, a phenomenal volume hailed by many as a beacon of popular desire to confront a repugnant political contingent. But underneath it all, there were tones of a more sinister element to what was happening.

Both on the programme and via social media, people were using the security of the self-affirming mob to indulge their righteousness.

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October 23rd, 2009


Why didn’t The Sun switch to the Lib Dems instead?

sunflame_soho_bigImaginatively, The Sun today declared their support for the Conservative Party after 12 years of backing Labour.

But is this a mature approach in modern times?  Does a publication have to declare its support for a particular party, drawing their lines and wearing hearts on their sleeve?

Many would argue that all publications will have their slant so it may as well be explicit.  However, something about this doesn’t seem right to me.  Why should it be about parties rather than policies and ideas?

After all, Parliament provides an arena where policy may be proffered by anyone, to then be considered for the country and iterated via gladiatorial debate.

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September 30th, 2009