Scratch 2017 Bordeaux – Chapter 4 of 6: unconference and extracurricular activities
This conference was rich in ‘unconference’ activities, most of which took place in a very unique and gorgeous venue, a community centre, called Marché Des Douves, run by Kirtin and her team. Joek and Samir, the organisers advance team scouts, had literally cycled into by chance last winter when scoping out city venues. Lucky for us all that they did – it became what Joek named ‘our living room’ for the week of the conference.
Cynthia Solomon started the evening with a lecture and slide show celebrating Logo 50. Cynthia’s style is what we’d call in Ireland a ‘seanchaí’ – a fireside storyteller; the audience thouroughly enjoyed this insider view from beginning to end.
Then we untidied the chairs and got going with the TeachMeet – Drew Buddie as MC, Richard Millwood as technical director, me as ‘green room’ liaison and analog random name picker, and the new member of the team – the foundling Caterpillar of Doom. This was an unusual TeachMeet, beginning late and ending almost in the dark, lending it the atmosphere of cabaret. Kudos to the volunteers who did Nanopresentations and Soap Box corners, the variety was just what a good TeachMeet thrives on! The age profile of presenters was wider in range than I’ve met before – teenagers to seniors – and it made for a lovely positive finish to the day.
Special thanks to Micro:bit Foundation for the BBC micro:bit that Drew awarded to each presenter as they finished – a surprise reward welcomed by each recipient.
Marie Duflot and company presented a short drama, Mary’s Removal, full of fun and irony, during which Mary’s friends help her to move her boxes of stuff to her new flat, and in return she teaches them and the audience some central principles of computer science. It culminates in a whole group activity to demonstrate how semantic sorting works – there was 55 of us in the sort, and we did it!!
Then Zoe Philpott as Ada Lovelace took to the stage wowed the auditorium. Zoe did the pre-show ‘dressing’ on stage – this was a rare treat, seeing the electronics explained as stage manager KD put everything in place. Both the medium and the message are seriously intertwined, and Zoe’s delivery is fluid and fearless. Judging by the reaction, the audience won’t forget this show for a while.
This took ‘unconferencing’ to infinity and beyond. We gathered at the iBoat which is docked in tidal basin of Bordeaux, and were treated to a full monty algorave with Sam Aaron live coding. I suspect no one who was there will forget the atmosphere. Of all the outside-box off-wall ideas that took shape in Joek Von Monfort’s head while imagining this, or any, conference, this one took the Scratch philosophy “imagine program share” to the limit in a way few could have predicted.
[To up-end a Fr Ted call: Up With This Sort Of Thing!]
Back to Douves we went on Saturday morning. There was a series of activities on offer for the local community, and any conference attendees still in town. Marie Duflot was again walking folk through unplugged activities, Brian Harvey offered a short class on recursion in Snap! before Yoshiki Ohshimi (who gave my fave statement of the week – I’m 45, but inside I’m 15) and Jens Monig assisted John Maloney as he walked an eager class though a morning workshop using his new language GP. And John demonstrated that if he ever ends his career writing computer programs, he will get a job as an impromptu sign writer.
The real excitement of the day was in the auditorium upstairs, transformed for this morning into a dance and recording studio. This workshop put the ‘extra’ in extracurricular. Choregrapher and data scientist Genevieve Smith-Nunes walked the participants thru the data capture procedure she was going to use – we would each dance for one minute to some music, live coded by Sam again, albeit in a more sedate morning-after-night-before ambience; the movement would be recorded digitally; Genevieve will in time process us each into sprite form for use in her VR productions. Cyber-Fame at last!
This was a delightful process. Susan Ettenheim did a warm up with us using some of her dance class moves, we practiced as a group, then danced through our recording. Can’t wait to see the result – eh, no pressure, Gen!
It was eventually time to leave and wander away to dinner and final goodbyes – and for my squeaky chicken to say ‘pieu-pieu’ to her new friend…
Series of posts posted post Scratch Conference in Bordeaux, France, July 2017:
Chapter 4 of 6: Scroll up ^