This page contains background information for The Raspberry Pi Guy venture.
Computer science has been in a melancholy state for the past decade, especially in this country. In the 1980s the UK was at the cutting edge of developments in computers, microprocessors and everything else in the expansive field of computing. This led to years of prosperity with British companies such as Acorn and Sinclair dominating global business. People of the day were fascinated by the new computing revolution and school children pursued computer knowledge with fervour unlike anything else. Therefore it would make sense that in 2014 the UK should still be leading the world-wide technology charge, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately in recent times this has been far from the case: computer science has fallen out of the hands of the average person. This is visible in all age ranges – from the very young to the older generations. No longer are children exposed to the beauty of programming and logic. No longer do people have the ability to learn about what connects the world together and makes their lives tick. And in addition to this, most sadly of all, we no longer see much home grown technology innovation. But things are changing…
In 2011 the Raspberry Pi set out to change this as the “Little British Computer That Could”. A Cambridge invention that costs under £30, the Pi is a credit-card sized PC that opens the long closed door to computer science. It enables people of all ages to learn and explore important topics such as programming and electronics, as well as discover crucial computing concepts for themselves.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation have provided the base for the recent computer science insurgence but that has only ever been half of what is needed: in order for people to learn about something new you require a place of knowledge, support and education. I am immensely proud to say that I am part of this with my venture: The Raspberry Pi Guy.
The Raspberry Pi Guy is a pioneering educational YouTube channel that provides tutorials, videos and all manner of help for the credit-card sized Raspberry Pi; it empowers, teaches and assists anyone who is new to computing or the Raspberry Pi. If you take a look at my channel (www.youtube.com/theraspberrypiguy) or website (www.theraspberrypiguy.com) you’ll see a wide range of videos covering many topics – do you want to learn about programming? Or learn about how to interface a Wii controller with your Pi? Or perhaps learn how to make a robot? My tutorials and videos provide in-detail help with no prior knowledge assumed; this means that literally anyone can take part in the computer phenomenon that is the Raspberry Pi movement. With close to 2 million views and almost 32,000 subscribers, I have been overwhelmed with my channel’s success. It has snowballed in a spectacular fashion! I am now a prominent figure in the Raspberry Pi community who gives talks all across the country!
I set up my YouTube channel in September 2012, when I had just turned 13. The Pi had been released several months before and I had just managed to get my hands on one. I had no experience whatsoever with computers, programming or anything remotely ‘techie’. Why did I even get a Pi? That was because I was intrigued by the name! Originally there was a huge backlog of orders for the little device and so I had to wait a substantial time before I had mine. I remember the first thing that I thought when I got it – what on earth do I do with this? After looking online I was quickly flooded with a tide of confusing jargon that anyone new to computers knows all too well. Back in the early days there was also a monumental lack of support online – as a 13 year old beginner I could barely understand any of the material available. There was a shortage of useful tutorials as well. This whole escapade made starting out with the Raspberry Pi an incredible challenge for me: but I did it! After several months I had sorted out all of the basics and had great fun learning about programming, computers and electronics. Instantly my passion for computer science was born. I started learning how to program in Python, saving up my pocket money for sensors and making robots.
Sometime in September 2012 I looked back on all of the stuff that I had got up to in my several months with Raspberry Pi, and how far my own understanding had come. I wanted to help people on their journey however I wanted to make sure that I didn’t lose people along the way with the hopeless jargon and confusing topics that is ever present in traditional tutorials! How could I demonstrate the awesome power of the Pi and help people? How could I educate the masses? It hit me:
At that time there were 2 already-existing YouTubers who were doing tutorials on the Raspberry Pi – these were very much in their infancy and as I said I didn’t find their material very helpful. As a result of this I thought that it would be a good hobby to setup my own channel and try to do tutorials and videos from a different perspective: a beginner’s one. I spent half a day getting things straight: coming up with my name, the brand, my goals and before I knew it The Raspberry Pi Guy was born! I uploaded my first video on the 1st of September 2012. After one day it had 50 views – exciting times!
For the past 2 years the support, viewership and reach of The Raspberry Pi Guy has ramped up beyond anything I could have imagined. My new uploads get 1000s of views daily, for example my recent video about the release of the Raspberry Pi A+ acquired 100,000 views in just two days and went viral! It featured on websites such as Wired, The Gadget Show and Engadget! Take a look here: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-11/10/raspberry-pi-even-smaller
On a daily basis I am bombarded by emails from all across the globe: people thanking me for the material, asking new questions; learning. As a result of this I am now a well-known figure in the Raspberry Pi hemisphere. I’ve given talks at the world-wide Raspberry Jamboree; I frequent the Cambridge Raspberry Jam where I have given a plethora of speeches also. As I live in Cambridge I have had the honour of spending time with the Raspberry Pi Foundation – I am now good friends with Eben and Liz Upton as well as the whole team there. I’ve had people wanting me to write books, go abroad and invent things! All whilst I balance my GCSEs and sixth form applications!
Another thing that I am developing currently is my physical outreach. Whilst The Raspberry Pi Guy is mainly an online endeavour, I am also a big advocate of getting ‘stuck in’ – I’ve done a whole plethora of different workshops in a variety of establishments. Everywhere from the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge to my old primary school! These have largely been for children and it is great to see them getting involved with computers and the Raspberry Pi. As I am in the Cambridgeshire area I have worked with several schools, including my own, in regards to how they can reshape their computing curriculums with the new educational reforms. I also volunteer at the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge. All of this work compliments the public speaking that now plays an important role in my work. Here is a link to my second ever speech (you can tell it was nerve-wracking!): http://youtu.be/VpYI95NA4m8
To conclude: The Raspberry Pi Guy is evolving. The avenues that it has taken me down have been astonishing – 2 years ago I wanted to make a few simple videos. Nowadays I do speeches, reviews, tutorials, interviews, anniversary videos and much more. Buzzing around my head I currently have a plentiful scattering of different ideas that I would love to take further. My primary target right now is to focus on getting videos out more often and really trying to give the public what they want. Coupled with that, it is of utmost importance to keep my tutorials detailed, understandable and of a high standard.
The future of this new movement is set to blossom in the coming years. I hope that The Raspberry Pi Guy will remain at the cutting edge of teaching computer science and inspiring the next generation of programmers, electronics tinkerers and scientists.