Sunday, February 27, 2011

MadLab: pancake café and the Omniversity of Manchester

Yesterday I dropped into the Manchester Digital Laboratory (aka MadLab) in Edge Street for the MadLab Café Pancake Day, and enjoyed a couple of hours chatting to various friendly people while eating an extremely tasty pancake and drinking cups of tea (one of my favourite pastimes), and at one point even discussing Outkast's back catalogue.

MadLab describes itself as "a community space for people who want to do and make interesting stuff - a place for geeks, artists, designers, illustrators, hackers, tinkerers, innovators and idle dreamers; an autonomous R&D laboratory and a release valve for Manchester's creative communities." I'm not sure precisely where I'd put myself in that list - I've only been there a couple of times before, for the Python Northwest user group meetings - but the folks I met seemed to be a representative cross section of the target community.

There's a packed and eclectic schedule of (mostly free) events hosted there, which is well-worth checking out (see, but their most recent new development is the Omniversity of Manchester - a programme of professional-level training courses that so far have covered experimental film making and physical computing with Arduino, with plans to extend to topics as diverse as web design, Ruby on Rails, writing workshops and urban gardening. These courses won't be free, but the fees will go towards keeping MadLab sustainable and supporting the other free events.

If you're interested in learning more then you can watch out a video, and register the subjects you'd like to see covered by taking a moment to fill in their survey:
Personally I think it's a really exciting idea - I'm generally a fan of courses, and many of the proposed workshops are things that I'd love to learn more about, so it would also be great to see the Omniversity take off and help MadLab expand and flourish as a focal point for Manchester's digital community - the more people who find out about it and get involved the better. And in the meantime I'll be looking forward to the next (undoubtedly tasty) MadLab café event.

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