Interactivism Recap!


Dominic Campbell

Fri 2 Mar 2012

Stellar ideas, cunning coding, savvy social innovation, dynamite design, and some truly impressive young people came together at last week’s Interactivism Young People’s Hack Weekend to work on 10 ideas (out of a whopping 81 that were submitted!) to help young people get into the work, education, and training that is right for them.

Making our temporary home at Ravensbourne College the 17th and 18th of February, 2012, over 130 developers, designers, students, social innovations, and young people joined us to get stuck into the challenge.
After some intros from Dominic Campbell (FutureGov) and Andrew Eland (Google), we were lucky enough to have three brilliant speakers to help get those innovative cogs turning. Bruno Taylor, co-founder of FlipJobs, told the story of taking his idea for an alternative CV platform from hack event to functioning beta site. Next up, Sam Conniff, chairman at Livity, spoke of the importance of testing innovation (with an amusing anecdote involving a toothpaste dispensing toothbrush) with the wise words,
“Iterate your ideas. Keep changing and challenging yourself. Always relate back to the young people.”
Paul Massey, of MentorWell, finished things off by pitching his mentoring platform as a way to help support the Interactivism ideas and participants after the weekend was over. With some inspiring words and our 10 teams divided, they were off to develop, build and design their ideas for the rest of the day.

The room quickly fell into a hum of ideas, with flip charts out and post-it notes flying up on the wall. In the late afternoon, the idea owners met for an early show and tell feedback session with members of the judging panel. Some teams had focussed in on delivering one clear product, while others were talking about their idea in a very broad sense. It was obvious from the energy levels of the group that the focused ideas were easier to understand and therefore more interesting and the judges encouraged all of the teams to distil their vision into something simple, distintive and tangible.

By dinner time, our teams were ravenous and fully embedded in their projects, eating, developing and designing their way into the night!
Day two brought sleepy faces to the breakfast table, but most were quickly re-energised and getting stuck into preparing their prototypes and presentations ready for 2.30pm.
Mid-way through the morning on day two, we gathered our glorious group of young people together for a chat to find out their frank and honest opinions on how they use the internet in their own lives – with Twitter ranking very low on the popularity spectrum, and BBM near the top, while Facebook caused mixed responses with concerns around privacy and personal interactions. We asked them how they use the web to find work and education, promote themselves and find opportunities, and heard about using Facebook for self promotion, sites like IdeasTap to find projects, Google to research businesses, and Twitter to network directly. Mobile phones (particularly Blackberry) were the preferred method of using the web, and the most common methods of contact between friends bounced between BBM, phone calls and Facebook.
It was so refreshing and insightful to sit down with all of these young people and hear what they really thought, and how their input into the hack event is ensuring that these projects were headed in the right direction.
Almost 36 hours after we started, it was time for our teams to show off what they’d created in front of their Interactivism peers and our esteemed judging panel, which included, Andrew Eland (Google), Naomi Brown (Livity), Carrie Bishop (FutureGov), Julian Thompson (the RSA) and Mark O’Neill, Head of Innovation and Delivery at Government Digital Service.

Interactive CV Timeline, renamed TreeVee, opened the presentations with their platform, born out of the desire for an online space that helps people display their CV in a way that does their experience and skills justice. Based around the rings of the tree, they designed an interactive CV format that allows users to plot official and unofficial experience (things like tweeting, blogging, ad hoc work) in a non-linear, multi-media way.

Next, Re:Skilled, who also made a name switch to OneUp, created a web app to help young people develop their soft skills, such as how to conduct an interview, by connecting them with local opportunities and staging online challenges and activities. They tested their challenges with the young people within the team, iterating based on their feedback.

GamePlan wants to help young people “play their way to success.” They pinpointed that while many young people know what they want to do, it is the journey to get there that is the real challenge. They developed a service supported by mentors and sponsored by businesses to help young people find and design the path they need to get into their desired field.

Job Story wants to make young people better aware of what jobs are out there and available to them through a simple, intuitive website. In the same way you link through a string of different yet related videos on Youtube, Job Story uses videos and profiles of jobs to give users more information on a particular career, coupled with suggested related careers, allowing people to zigzag and browse through jobs they may have never seen before.

Cloud Gaming looks to aggregate a person’s information that exists on other sites to help form a profile, which then helps find the jobs that will get young people where they want to be in life, rather than simply suggesting “the ten jobs you think you want.” It then uses games and online challenges to help users develop skills and figure out how to achieve their goals.

Meet Market is an idea to teach young people enterprise skills by supporting them to set up market stall businesses.  The activities would mix young people with different levels of engagement and direction, and the face-to-face interactions would be used to build a sense of excitement. The team behind the idea have already secured £9000 funding and are hoping to pilot the project soon. The technical solution would support the offline activities.

FutureBuilder is a site where young people can identify what skill gaps they have and are then directed to courses or other sources of support that will help them fill these gaps. The programme that the team developed also used strong graphics to show whether a person’s skills match those required for a job that they are interested in doing. Each person has their own profile on the site and this tracks jobs applied for, training done and the development of their skills.

Mesh is a solution to young people not getting jobs because they have not developed the right networks. The site that Mesh have designed gives users their own Mesh page where they can arrange Mesh Days – or networking opportunities where they get personalised tasters of their future careers. Universities, colleges and employers can become Mesh Day providers.

Gamification transformed into Slurker (the name is derived from a combination of slacking and working) during Interactivism. Slurker is designed to exploit people’s online procrastination habits to help them gain insights into suitable future careers, or in their words: “Putting your slacking to work to find the right job for you.” The idea would take the form of a Facebook application and would make career searching social. By tracking what you are already liking online, Slurker would suggest career options that might be suitable for you.

InspireTree is an intelligence based application that helps you explore career opportunities. The tree itself shows the roots, branches and leaves of various career options, showing what various training or experience could lead to in the future, or what would be needed for a given career choice. The team were questioned by the judges about whether this would result in too linear a depiction of career paths, which are often much more fluid and unplanned. They responded that the full version would provide many more examples, but obviously could not capture every option.
The judges had quite a tough decision to make when it came to choosing a winner, but as stated in our previous blog post, the judges selected FutureBuilder as the winning team, each receiving a Google Chromebook, and the Young People’s Choice went to Interactive ‘CV’ Timeline. Congrats!
If you want to see even more about the event, check out our photos on the Simpl Facebook page and these brilliant photos by our resident photographer Murtz.  If you attended on the day and want to keep your conversations and connections going, we’ve created a Facebook group for just that!
For a more well-rounded view of the day, check out these blog posts from Paul Massey, Angelica Robinson, and one of our judges, Mark O’Neill of their own experiences of the event.
We were very honoured to have so many young people joining us for Interactivism and we’d like to share with you some of their feedback on their experience of the hack weekend:
Trim Lamba @trimlamba (Future Builder): “I was expecting a weekend slumped in a chair, listening to adults speak.  Instead I was stood up speaking whilst they listened. It was a brilliant weekend, and our team winning made it even better- I took away new knowledge, new friends contact details and a Chromebook.
Stephen Isaac Wilson @stepheniw (Future Builder): “ My brain was officially fried by the Saturday but it had all been worth it.  I worked with some insanely talented and creative people; so talented that I actually was a member of the winning team!  The best bit was realising that we had come up with something that may actually help young people regain their confidence and find future employment.  The whole event was simply mind blowing.”

Raphael @raphaelblake (Inspire Tree): “I didn’t know what to expect, with a name such as Google involved it was possible that we wouldn’t get the chance to actually do much because google knows how to do everything already. But I was surprised by how much I was able to contribute to the project I was working on and how much we were listened to. It was soo inspiring to be surrounded by other like minded creative people of all ages, backgrounds and professions.”
We want to thank everyone who helped out and took part in the day, and are over the moon with the feedback we’ve gotten so far. We cannot wait to see how all of these stellar ideas develop in the future, and hope that they continue to use Simpl to keep those ideas going!