Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Making code work

Coding is, apparently, the new Latin.  According to the headline of the BBC article, making code appear to be like the ancient language is a step toward making it accessible to the masses and is a good way to encourage the disengaged students of today to fizz with excitement.

The quote that coding is like Latin, stems from the author of the Next Gen report looking at the potential for the industry in the UK.  While the author's credentials certainly stack up, as does the portfolio stacked alongside it, I can't help but think that the tone of the report (over 88 pages) and indeed the article that talks to it, misses the point.

A blog posting isn't going to be much better mind.  However, the two cents from this direction would seem to point the need for evangelising of what the code actually does, by teachers and industry professionals who genuinely get-it.  This isn't the realm of the type of IT teacher I had.  The focus is way too strong on applications and relational databases.  And while that's great, as recent Googlers have pointed out, the UK is lagging behind international competition when it comes to teaching coding.

That's not to say that the state of the industry is in the UK is anything less than impressive, it isn't.  We have a formidable talent pool and some of the best dev folks in the world.  We should be pretty proud of this and really use their expertise to energise the next generation.  This is not like learning French.  You can't stand in front of a classroom and spout best practices; you need to motivate, stimulate and get inside of the students.  And encourage them to do the same with existing systems.  And then get cooking on their own.

Yes, there's a need for maths and physics and yes that attracts a certain type, but with a the energy of inspirational teachers it's possible to reach out to a wider group.

I'm no developer, but I've been lucky enough to work with some of the best in the world and the level of passion is infectious (and at times a little bit worrying!), but it's this passion and joy for what they do, that gets into students.  It's what needed to create truly compelling digital products.  I look forward to seeing what the UK can continue to contribute, but let's keep the enthusiasm for the subject front and centre and really encourage students to get off-piste with their work.  Carpe diem.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Getting Warrington Creating

Hi Careers Eventer!

Welcome to WAcreative
. We just wanted to give you a bit more info about what we do and who's involved.

Firstly, we're a free group based in Warrington setup to develop the creative industries in and around the town and to connect people. If you're interested in working in the creative space, chances are you'll need contacts and experience. This is a good opportunity to find both.

You can use this group in whatever way works for you
If you're just looking to keep on top of industry news and develop contacts, you're very welcome to come along. If you'd like to use the group as an opportunity to showcase (or practice showcasing) your work, you can do. If you'd rather just use the discussion boards to ask questions, go for it.

It's informal.

On a personal note, as a meetup user, I know what it's like going down to one of these things for the first time. WAcreative is about as informal as you can possibly get - so don't worry about not knowing anyone, or that it might not be for you... come along and say hi. It's a very informal bunch that attends and we also like to get sponsorship, so we try to put on a couple of free drinks too.

It's tough to get a break in the creative industries. We've been there and experienced it. Events like this show that you're doing more than just your course, you're engaging with industry. And, like most industries, it's always good to have contacts. Even better when they're more closely formed and formed during an informal event like this.

More info

For more, follow us @wa_creative or if you've got any questions, want to get involved etc, just use the group to get in touch.

Back to the main group

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Episode VI

Sitting down to quickly update this page is a little bit weird every time. There's been countless times since I last wrote here that I thought should really get round to getting this down but then something gets in the way and the update slips away. So, I'll try to delve back through the mists of time in my mind to capture everything!

We just had our first non-Lounge hosted WAc event at the Gallery at Bank Quay House which was a brilliant night and, despite us having arguably the best beer garden weather of the year, the turn-out continued to be high. Thanks all!

We've also seen the launch of Warrington Arts blog which is your place to go to keep an eye on all things creative in the town. This is a great initiative by the folks at the Gallery and links all of the output from their venue, but also the Pyramid and Parr Hall coupled with information about exhibitions and interviews with artists.

There's a real vibe developing in the town at the moment and we're really hoping to continue working with everyone who is doing such a great job or driving it forward - the forthcoming Contemporary Arts festival (sneak peak at the logo here) should prove an awesome proving ground for the scene in town and should ram home the message that it's not all about Liverpool and Manchester, the place that is so often overlooked in the middle, is standing up proud at the moment. Keep an eye out for more about the festival here and on WAc.

Anyway! Back to the main topic, developing WAc as a group. Well, we've managed to rack up five meetups and we've hit 53 members of the group. This is way higher than I thought we'd ever reach by this point so I think it's fair to say, good stuff! The sixth event will be at another venue and we're really excited about this one but we're also looking for your input into what works for you and what you'd like to see more of, so please do leave your thoughts.

And lastly, for the photographers out there, what do you think about this idea? A group for photographers of all abilities where we pick a theme, pick a location and go crazy. Let us know via the discussion board!

See you at the next meetup!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Jog on

Wow, it's really been two months (ish) since the last meetup. That's really flown and we find ourselves on-top of the next one. A lot seems to have happened since the last time I ventured onto the blog. I never really know if there's any point updating this, but then I remind myself that it's one of the only times that I actually get to do some proper writing. I mean, usually, it's an email, or a comment on a Word document. Not some really,... prolonged... writing.

OK, so this isn't quite that, but I'll take it! As we crash into the third month of year we've seen a couple of changes of leadership in a variety of countries and we're in the midst of this Libyan thing. But in terms of overall controversy, we've had the ongoing MediaCity debate, key figures at the BBC opting (or still finding themselves undecided) to stay in their White City castle. March 31st should be an interesting day.

I'm going to allow a little self-indulgence at this point. Having been in London for nearly six years now , I think I'm fairly well qualified to consider myself integrated with this city. And, I have to say, that it's not all that at the moment. Sure, this is where the perceived "it" happens, this is where parliament is based, web firms flock here putting London on a similar pegging as the west coast US firms and increasingly those from Sweden etc etc. But there's something that everyone here seems reluctant to acknowledge, there's things happening up in Manchester. This isn't a back-water somewhere "up north" as the Evening Standard would have you believe.

Note this, the last few times I've been in the north-west, there is a palpable vibe - not just in Manchester, that's been there for years, but everywhere. It's more fresh than the staid agencies of London-town. To simply ignore this, for the short-sighted reason that your belief that London is the centre of the known universe, is fool-hardy. The two can work better together, it doesn't have to be one or the other. So please, stop painting the bleak, coal powered, vision of the north. It's old. It's been old for 25 years. I would strongly encourage those subscribers of WAcreative to take a look at the industry they're working in. It's in good shape!

Anyway! Rant over! The next meetup is on March 10th at the Lounge and we'll have the wonderful Natalie Edwards delivering a concoction of subjects from working with Radio Warrington, running her own business and doing all this through a recession. We'll also have our largest audience yet and a heap of small-businesses and producers - it'll be a good one!

And, lastly, we're cooking up something a little bit different for April - watch this space!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Creativity central?

We've been spending a little bit of time thinking about the creative industries in Warrington and wondering which elements were the strongest? We know that the music scene around the town has always been pretty strong and that there's been a whole heap of IT companies start-up.

But, where do you think the strengths lie? And, also, are there any areas which you think are under-catered for? Do we have a load of web developers and not enough companies to cater for them, resulting in talent-loss from the area?

Oh, and while we're here, remember the next WAc meetup is on Thursday 27th Jan at The Lounge. It is, as always, free to come down and if you're working or studying in the creative industries, stop by and say hi.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A new year brings...

It's the first blog post of 2011 and it's timed, none too coincidentally, to coincide with the scheduling of the January Meetup. For those interested, it's on the 27th January at The Lounge again and if you're working in the creative industries around Warrington, it would be great to see you.

After the "tricky second", and tricky it was owing to -10c temperatures, Christmas and the most snow I've seen in a while, the next instalment should be great. We've got the talk-spot assigned to Alex Kelsey, Interaction Designer at SDG (who bring you Littlewoods and Very amongst other things) and drinks provided by NeverCenter

Anyway, enough self-promotion, this blog is about how we get this group off the ground and the wider digital sphere. It's been an interesting few months since we last posted and there's been increasing interest in WAc, which is great and we've managed to have a couple of excellent meetups, so all going well there! As with all things, it's been tricky to keep the momentum going but there's definite demand for the group! The WAc Jobs twitter stream also continues to go from strength to strength, so if you're interested in looking for jobs in the creative industries, why not follow and see if there's anything of interest going on?

We've also had the wikileaks scandal ongoing, which is impossible to miss and probably something worthy of discussion at the next event, when beer can be deployed. The rights and wrongs of this are beyond probably warrant an entire blog post and is probably covered elsewhere already! Interesting to see that twitter has been subpoenaed by the US government about access to Assange's details. Definitely something to keep an eye on there.

Closer to home, we've seen some changes at NW Vision + Media and the announcement that the NW Fund for Digital and Creative is now open which hints at the growing confidence and output in the creative industry in the north west. I also had the chance to pop down to MediaCity UK over Christmas and have to say, it's looking great! So, 2011 looks like it's going to be a great year with some extremely interesting developments. Look forward to it!