I was in a dreary workshop earlier this week and my eyes drifted off the task and onto a whiteboard saying but one word Coderdojo (yes, in red) and suddenly I was alert. Because CoderDojo is the coolest, possibly the most important innovation to come out of Ireland this decade. The brain-child of James Whelton when he was a schoolkid in Cork and midwifed into a global phenomenon by global phenomenon Bill Liao, CoderDojo is a forum to encourage young people to write computer code rather than coat-tail on the millions of person hours that other people have put into writing computer code for you. I'm not saying that young fellers aren't "active" as they steer Lara Croft by the hips through a labyrinth filled with Uzi-toting heavies; their brains (and other parts) are engaged in the process with problem-solving, planning, and imagination necessary for many of the games they while away the hours at. It's not the same as TV, which is utterly passive. But the quality of the graphics and the complexity of plotting must make an aspirant coder feel like s/he's at the foot of Mount Unsurpassable. CoderDojo is billed at the antidote to that sense of disempowerment.
CoderDojo the template, the concept, the dream has spread to more than 75 places in Ireland (not to mention Burundi, Slovenia and Sweden) and one of them is The Institute every Saturday morning.
More next week!