MozFest: What the heck is a hack?

This year’s MozFest offered a session titled Jumping between Hacks and Hackers Communities, so as one of the newly appointed organizers of the Chicago Hacks Hackers I decided to attend and meet some people in the same ship.

OK, really I just wanted to ask them for some pointers since I have found it to be a challenge getting Chicagoans in consistent enough attendance to build a community. Mariano from Buenos Aires showed us a lovely time lapsed video of one of their big hackathons—even noticed a familiar beard in attendance, Mr. Dan Sinker. Then Mariano gave a presentation of Hacks Hackers beginnings and talked about some of the projects that came out of the hackathon.

We soon realized we had organizers from London, Brighton, Chile, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Buenos Aires all around one table. Each chapter is facing similar issues of building and maintaining their communities, and with varying ratios of hacks to hackers is trying to plan their activities accordingly.

This session had also inspired a random hacker to attend based upon his curiosity; he ended up being the outside perspective we all needed.

He raised the point of how nobody knows what the heck a hack is. It’s journalism jargon and definitely not a word other countries may be familiar with; so to help clarify we need to make sure we include a tagline when we can. He also asked, “What’s in it for the hackers? Why do the same thing I always do, but with journalists present?”

Buenos Aires integrated journalists into their hackathon by having them handle the data, work with hackers to solve the problem, and then having hackers build the tools.

This might require a certain kind of hacker—one who has a desire for public service perhaps and wants to use their powers for good. So what’s in it for the hackers?

Actually, quite a lot.

Thanks to programs like OpenNews Code Sprints and the Knight News Challenge, hackers can receive funding to make their prototypes, solve problems, gain notoriety, and make a great career for themselves. We need to make sure to promote the incentives to being a member of Hacks Hackers.

It was a blast to meet face to face with kindred spirits from around the globe, and brainstorm ways to better organize Hacks Hackers. We plan to work together to create a constant communication internationally, and to craft strategies to fully utilize journalists’ and hackers’ arsenals within each chapter.

About the author

Jordan Young

Operations and Project Manager, 2011-2015

Latest Posts

  • With the 25th CAR Conference upon us, let’s recall the first oneWhen the Web was young, data journalism pioneers gathered in Raleigh

    For a few days in October 1993, if you were interested in journalism and technology, Raleigh, North Carolina was the place you had to be. The first Computer-Assisted Reporting Conference offered by Investigative Reporters & Editors brought more than 400 journalists to Raleigh for 3½ days of panels, demos and hands-on lessons in how to use computers to find stories in data. That seminal event will be commemorated this week at the 25th CAR Conference, which...

    Continue Reading

  • Prototyping Augmented Reality

    Something that really frustrates me is that, while I’m excited about the potential AR has for storytelling, I don’t feel like I have really great AR experiences that I can point people to. We know that AR is great for taking a selfie with a Pikachu and it’s pretty good at measuring spaces (as long as your room is really well lit and your phone is fully charged) but beyond that, we’re really still figuring...

    Continue Reading

  • Capturing the Soundfield: Recording Ambisonics for VR

    When building experiences in virtual reality we’re confronted with the challenge of mimicking how sounds hit us in the real world from all directions. One useful tool for us to attempt this mimicry is called a soundfield microphone. We tested one of these microphones to explore how audio plays into building immersive experiences for virtual reality. Approaching ambisonics with the soundfield microphone has become popular in development for VR particularly for 360 videos. With it,...

    Continue Reading

  • Prototyping Spatial Audio for Movement Art

    One of Oscillations’ technical goals for this quarter’s Knight Lab Studio class was an exploration of spatial audio. Spatial audio is sound that exists in three dimensions. It is a perfect complement to 360 video, because sound sources can be localized to certain parts of the video. Oscillations is especially interested in using spatial audio to enhance the neuroscientific principles of audiovisual synchrony that they aim to emphasize in their productions. Existing work in spatial......

    Continue Reading

  • Oscillations Audience Engagement Research Findings

    During the Winter 2018 quarter, the Oscillations Knight Lab team was tasked in exploring the question: what constitutes an engaging live movement arts performance for audiences? Oscillations’ Chief Technology Officer, Ilya Fomin, told the team at quarter’s start that the startup aims to create performing arts experiences that are “better than reality.” In response, our team spent the quarter seeking to understand what is reality with qualitative research. Three members of the team interviewed more......

    Continue Reading

  • How to translate live-spoken human words into computer “truth”

    Our Knight Lab team spent three months in Winter 2018 exploring how to combine various technologies to capture, interpret, and fact check live broadcasts from television news stations, using Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant device as a low-friction way to initiate the process. The ultimate goal was to build an Alexa skill that could be its own form of live, automated fact-checking: cross-referencing a statement from a politician or otherwise newsworthy figure against previously fact-checked statements......

    Continue Reading

Storytelling Tools

We build easy-to-use tools that can help you tell better stories.

View More