Code Club at OHM 2013

What happens when 2,500 people turn up in a field to talk to each other about technology? Lasers, Smoke Machines, Art, Music, Craft, and of course, Hacking. Did I mention the Lasers?

Opening Talk, with Extra Lasers.
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OHM2013 is the latest in the long line of Dutch Hacking Festivals, running every four years since 1997. Each year it’s grown, included more, and achieved more. The hacking community at its heart is about enthusiasm for technology, and sharing it–OHM was no different.

A sign for Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe
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Less about the hacking in movies and newspapers, and more about taking things apart to find out how they work. During the four day event, multiple workshops happened—DIY music instruments, make your own titanium spork, and molecular gastronomy to only mention a few. It wasn’t just for adults, as Child Node did a marvelous job of making technology accessible to the younger generation, including many workshops on Scratch.

(A button attached to a railing, with the warning
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Along side the plethora of workshops, there were five or six tracks of talks running every afternoon—Code Club members Linda and tef both gave talks. Linda’s talk focused on the history and goals of Code Club, meanwhile tef’s talk was a more personal account of the social problems in computer programming, and what we can do to change them.

tef and Linda being recorded, enthusing about Code Club
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The reaction was amazing, we were overwhelmed with support for what we’ve been doing—we found new volunteers, offers of sponsorship, and hopefully a few more Code Clubs across Europe. One person in particular stood out—@puckipedia—It was energizing to talk to someone who got what Code Club was about. It isn’t just about getting kids to explore their own ideas on computers, or simply learn through play, but to help build a computer literate society. Puck noted that if Judges and Politicians (amongst others), knew more about computers, then we’d have more effective laws in the interests of society. One thing to note, Puck is thirteen and already changing the world.

Kimiko Ishizaka performing on piano.
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What opened with Lasers, ended with Bach, and of course more lasers (this time, Laser Harps). In four years time we’re hoping to visit the next festival, and see a talk about how Code Clubs are taking over the Netherlands. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to EMF camp next year.