OccupyData and TTW13

Evernote Snapshot 20130302 142839Last weekend I was at OccupyData and Theorizing the Web, as I mentioned earlier. Nathan Jurgenson and and PJ Reys put on an impressive conference for work about technology and theory (two things which are apparently difficult to talk about at the same time at conferences, apparently). At the same time, the organizers at OccupyData have done a good job coordinating people working on all sorts of different projects – there was a mixture of pitches and continuing work, and there was a little more structure to begin with this time. Two of the more interesting projects that were Data Anywhere [Day 2 post] and the NoFareHikes map that Ingrid Burrington showed us – I especially liked the later because as Christo said, “there’s a media action agenda inherent in project” which makes it great. I’ve been thinking about how a lot of hackathons propose a sort of data solutionism, or a belief that the technology solution is the solution to whatever the issue is. Continue reading

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Hackathon Research Updates

highres_208510922Yesterday I went to the Code Across NYC hackathon, organized by CodeForAmerica and OpenNYForum. They had a pretty nice event space at the NYU-Poly Varick Street Incubator, and I think it was well put together with civic hackers and open government advocates in mind.  I was there as part of my participant observation for my thesis work on Hackathons, and like before, I had some qualms about how much I’d be able to participate, given the very skill-based nature of the event.

Unlike some of the other events I’ve been to, there were no prizes, and organizers were very clear that you get out what you put into this event. There weren’t any really evidently corporate sponsors – Joel Natividad of Ontonida was there (we had a really good conversation in the breakout group) and talked about OpediaCities as a “Smarter City” platform, for the sort of data-wrangling and resource management that others could build off of. There was also a presentation about Socrata, some talk about NYC Department of Education’s interest in this work, and Big Apps.

Our breakout sessions were really neat – there was a large crowd of beginners, about 17 people, a smaller group of people who knew what they were doing and were there to get something done, and a non-technical group I joined for a policy discussion. Noel Hidalgo (who led the intro and our policy group) explained how OpenNYForum is writing a white paper that will go to good government transparency advocates, and then be fleshed out to a broader paper on open open government and open data advocacy. Continue reading