Two years ago over an August weekend at Google’s London Victoria offices, young developers (under the age of 19) were brought together to see what they could create given 48 hours and access to open government data. The result was around 20 high quality, innovative applications and ideas that could better serve the public. The weekend was called Young Rewired State and next week it’s taking place again. This time Young Rewired State is on a national scale with centres for young developers to work from up and down the country; before they all descend on Microsoft’s London HQ on Friday to show their peers, the world and an esteemed panel of judges, what they’ve managed to build given one week and open government data. Young Rewired State calls itself a hack week, on the front it’s all about young developers honing their skills, learning new ones and building cool stuff; but it’s so much more than that. For the past two years I’ve been an observer of Young Rewired State, always attending their presentation afternoons to see what’s been created. For the past two years I’ve been blown away by what I’ve seen and experienced. The applications that come out of this event are outstanding and often have commercial viability. From natural language parsers (Wolfram Alpha for your local government statistics) to location aware public transport journey planners; Young Rewired State has churned out some truly amazing applications, some of which have gone on to be adopted by the government and commercial organisations since.
Building things, honing your skills and learning new ones are all well and good but a vital part of what Young Rewired State offers its young developers is often overlooked. Young Rewired State offers a community, a place for these young developers to get together, meet new people, share experiences and build long lasting friendships and potential business partnerships. Young Rewired State isn’t JUST about building cool stuff, it’s about helping these young people to build better relationships with their peers and those who share common interests. Participants at Young Rewired State aren’t just hacking cool apps together, their hacking friendships together and, as a supporter of this programme over the past few years, that’s the most important and unique part of Young Rewired State that stands out for me.
I encourage all young developers, designers or even those with cool ideas, to get involved in Young Rewired State 2011. There are centres based all over the UK, you can even work at home if you can’t find your own centre and YRS will make sure that you can get to the presentation ceremony on the Friday (last year they even flew someone down from Scotland). More information can be found at Young Rewired State’s official website for Under 18 year olds (http://youngrewiredstate.org/yrs2011/18-or-under/). Now isn’t too late to get involved, but leave it a few more days and you might miss out.