After logging hours and hours of footage from the event, KING 5 finally broadcast the story of the hackathon yesterday. Kudos to Joe Fryer and crew for capturing the spirit of the event.
by Evonne Benedict
You see them in coffee shops, in libraries, on the bus. Men and women intently bent over their laptops, ear buds in, staring at screens full of letters, numbers, symbols.
They are using the same computers we do but they are speaking an entirely different language.
This is the mysterious world of the geek, the hacker, the coder, the developer, the designer.
Our event – Hacking Seattle News – brought together several of the best and brightest of these people who speak this other language most of us will never understand.
But here is what we can understand – if not for people like them you wouldn’t be reading this right now. I’m writing this on an iPad, developed by a bunch of geeks. I will post it on the Internet where it will be available for anyone in the world to see, thanks to the magic work of developers and designers.
Maybe you will find the link to this through Facebook or Twitter, the brainchilds of people who had an idea, and then made that idea usable to us through the mysterious language of geeks.
Everyday in hundreds of ways we benefit from the work of these people who speak this mysterious language.
Our hope is that you will benefit from the work of the Hacking Seattle News geeks as they develop different ways for you to find, learn from, and share the local online news and information that is important to you.
Next time you see one of these men or women staring intently at a computer, speaking this mysterious language, thank them (at least silently).
They are doing this for us, to make our lives better in so many ways.
A quick look at six of the projects currently in development at the Seattle News Hackathon, as reported by Shauna Causey:
Local on Local
Since we will have to vacate Adobe around 10 p.m., here are some locations that offer free wifi if you would like to continue your hacking:
In addition, there are a bunch of spots in nearby heighborhoods:
Our panel of distinguished judges will be using the following criteria to judge the final presentations on Sunday:
- Ease of Use: 20%
- Social integration: 20%
- Mobile accessibility: 20%
- Consistency with the goals of the challenge: 20%
- Overall Impression: 10%
- Creativity / innovative concept: 10%
Each judge will have a scoresheet and enter a numeric total for each category on each presentation. The numbers will be added up and the winner will be the team with the most points.
An essential part of Hacking Seattle News will be the documentary that KING 5 is producing airing in conjunction with the event. The focus will be on the hackathon phenomenon and the story will be about the passionate tech community that thrives on such events.
Most of the mainstream public knows very little, if anything, about the people who dedicate weekends to work on projects for “fun” or to solve complex problems that are just cool to tackle. The goal is to tell the story of these people, through the lens of one event, while including testimonials from those who have benefited from other events, such as Startup Weekend.
It’s a fascinating piece of Seattle culture that, we think, will make for great TV. Plus, it will help shine a brighter light on the vibrant local tech community and the passion around innovation that permeates our local community.
Awarding $10,000 to a team who has a mere 48 hours to produce a version of the future of news will not be easy. So we asked some really smart people to help us out.
Thankfully, we have a great lineup of judges to help us decide which project is the most promising. (Judging criteria coming soon.) The judges for Hacking Seattle News are:
- Shauna Causey (@ShaunaCausey)
- Ben Huh (@benhuh)
- Vanessa Fox (@vanessafox)
- Cory Bergman (@corybe)
- Mike Davidson (@mikeindustries)
- Evonne Benedict (@evonnebenedict)
- Mark Briggs (@markbriggs)
We’re all looking forward to the innovation that happens this weekend. There are still a few slots available so register today.
“Why are we still consuming news like it’s 1899?”
That’s the question Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh has been wrestling with lately and is one that we hope to tackle with Hacking Seattle News. Huh is a journalism grad from Northwestern, one of the best J-schools in the U.S., and although he didn’t follow a traditional journalism career path (okay, not even close), he still has a passion for the presentation and consumption of news in the digital age.
“Even though it’s been more than 15 years since the Internet became a news destination, journalists and editors are still trapped in the print and TV world of message delivery,” Huh wrote in a blog post that went on to list three big problems with news now that it’s gone digital.
Huh is taking action on this problem, too, forming Project Moby Dick to develop a new way to present and deliver news. He convened a summit in July at Stanford to gather big thinkers around the problem and has a handful of people working on prototypes of new systems of news publishing more in line with the way that we consume news content today. The problem that Huh and Moby Dick are trying to solve is more global and national than what we are trying to do with Hacking Seattle News, which is locally focused. But there are many similarities.
Relying on editors serving general interests instead of using technology to serve relevant news is the main problem. News sites should know what you are interested in, know what you have read already and know “your people” who find good stuff and what they have found interesting. Think of Techmeme for tech news or Reddit for items of interest. Applying it to a local level is what we aim to do with Hacking Seattle News.
We will be asking everyone who participates in Hacking Seattle News to build on open source platforms with open source software. As I told Todd Bishop of GeekWire today, we think it’s important to make this a “for-the-community, by-the-community” event / project.
The underlying code will be released back into the open source community so that others can use it to develop similar projects. We are working with Davis Wright Tremaine to craft a document that each participant will sign in advance of the event. The agreement will require participants to use only open source platforms and only code that they have personally developed.
Frankly, it’s been quite a process. But in the end we think it will be worth it. And we hope that operating in this open mode will help inspire some developers who are leery of corporate-sponsored hackathons to consider coming out next Friday and at least checking out the event.