Hacker Schools show results. Duh.

How Etsy Attracted More Female Engineers

The key, says Elliott-McCrea, was partnering with other companies to fund a training program that would attract candidates ready to learn. Etsy, together with 37Signals and Yammer, kicked in for $7,000 per student in grants to cover women’s living expenses for a Hacker School session held at Etsy’s offices in the summer of 2012. (For the uninitiated, Hacker School is a three-month intensive free coding training program in New York that trades on its culture of mutual respect.) Over 600 women applied, which Hacker School narrowed down to 23 attendees, or nearly half of the session for that semester.

The solution seems obvious in retrospect, which means it’s innovative. If women are being burned by a male-dominated culture, then you have to grow them differently. To be fair, I don’t see male-culture as inherently bad, but it’s easy to see how male monocultures become increasingly self-absorbed, even selfish in nature. They work to perpetuate themselves by providing fertile grounds for the same (sometimes obnoxious) behaviours.

Provide an environment not polluted by male monoculture and females excel. This is no surprise to many of us. It’s never really been about gender per se, it’s always been about toxic monocultures.

I guess the question is:-

If this process works then why would a nation-state-city not provide it by default? Are we not accelerating towards a future where knowledge workers are dominant? And if we are, why is your government not seeding the future now?

Culture Arts & Leisure Committee Report on the Creative Industries

Clear branding, leadership and collaboration will help to provide a boost to the Creative Industries in Northern Ireland. That is the message from the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure in its report that will be published today on maximising the potential of the Creative Industries.

Culture Arts & Leisure Committee Report on the Creative Industries from NI Assembly on Vimeo.

To be honest, I’m not sure I want to take advice on branding from a group of Northern Ireland politicians.

We know about the leadership and collaboration issues. But you’d really need to examine the causes here. We are providing leadership, we are contriving collaboration. And we’re being stopped from doing it more.

Thinkers: an endangered species

Stewart Lee at the Guardian:

In the 1970s, even ITV, which is today a Galápagos of McGuinnesses, had some thinkers on its payroll, like the windmill-armed celebrity egghead Magnus Pyke. When I got a university place in 1986, Pyke was used by my anxious grandfather as an example of the dangers of education. “Be careful you don’t learn so much that you send yourself mad like all these professors,” he said, pointing at Pyke dancing about in a Thomas Dolby video.

Today the thinker is an endangered species.

It’s not just on the television either. Finding conversation is hard. Finding a place to reasonably debate something is difficult in a world where everything seems to have to have a point to it. My days of talking to smart people is taken up with blue sky European research, obscure clauses in the Frascati Manual and how to workaround the petty insecurities of a nation suffering from acute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My days are packed.

Lean Zines

Marco on the Magazine

The Magazine isn’t a Newsstand publication just for fun — it’s a Newsstand publication because I wanted to fund magazine-quality content without ads, and iOS makes payments easy enough to make that possible.

I think we’re just on the cusp of doing ‘lean zines’ properly. They will have deeper, higher quality content, they may not have advertisements (but I wouldn’t rule them out) and they may have other social and interactive features.

We’re right on the cusp of something.

Microtransactions: our free range days are over

Cliff Bleszinski writes an excellent post about how we should chill out about F2P/microtransactions.

And he’s absolutely right. But people forget.

People forget that in the 1970s, games were very different. You had to go to an arcade (which seemed much less sleazy than modern arcades) and you had to turn paper money into coins.

For your coin (when I was a child in the 70s, it was 10p, now it’s £1) you commonly got three lives. You had the game for a limited amount of time and when you were dead, you had to pump another coin in. We were being assaulted by the outrage of microtransactions from the very beginning!

It’s particularly odd when software developers debate over Twitter that the latest Real Racing game is poor value. It’s free to play but makes you play to get back in the race quicker. Some people are loving it, some people are hating it but the bottom line is – what is the game actually worth?

If Real Racing 3 was a pay up front game, how much would it be worth? The visuals seem to suggest that it would be almost a £40 console game. It should be commanding a great price on tablets as well but they give a different option. Or 18.

My theory is that being nickel’n’dimed isn’t the problem. I don’t believe that microtransactions are the issue. I believe the real issue is the impression there is no upper limit. The fact that you can spend $1700 on a ‘free’ game is not a good thing. The fact that some game developers refer to their most profitable customers as ‘whales’ reinforces a type of predator mentality. They’re gleeful that they have hooked a whale. Delighted to start carving up the blubber.

Whalers, like Captain Ahab, get a lot of bad press.

There’s nothing wrong with microtransactions, for anything, from any company. If Blizzard can sell a picture of a pony, then EA can sell you stickers for your race car. You don’t have to buy. But creating a ‘Buy Everything’ in-app purchase would remove many of the issues people have with these new business models.