Bonus Post: A Little Geek Perspective on Learn Hack YOW

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Open Data Ottawa
Yesterday, I stopped by Learn Hack YOW for a couple of hours during the hacking portion in the afternoon. From what I heard, the morning session was pretty fantastic, with speakers educating participants on the benefits of open data and hacking. By the time the afternoon rolled around, the room was buzzing with ideas.

The afternoon session consisted of speed data-ing and working on ideas: participants rotated through the room, stopping to chat with data set owners from the City of Ottawa and then broke off to talk about app ideas. Since I could only attend for part of the day, this was the part that interested me most.

I had brought a surprise visitor with me: The Dude. When I told him about Learn Hack, he insisted that he should come too since he might want to be a developer one day. It turns out he had read about it in a newspaper clipping at school and he was truly interested. So, we agreed that if he came, he would need to participate. He decided that he wanted to write about his experience too, so I lined up an interview with one of the organizers in advance.

When we got there, he completed his interviews and then we eavesdropped on the speed data-ing while I explained the purpose of the different data sets. Then we sat down and I asked him what he would do with the data he heard about and he instantly had an app idea. Not a bad one either. I had him write up a description and he even got some input from a friend, and feedback from the owner of one of the data sets he would use. Overall it was a fantastic experience, one that we both enjoyed. This would be such an easy model to bring into the classrooms, to introduce open data and app design to kids as young elementary students. Stay tuned for a future rant on the topic :)

Below is the Dude's take on the event, and his first guest post on my blog.

To get the idea of an app, i interviewed Robert Giggey and Richard Akerman, two of the organizers. I asked them:
  1. Who is coming?
  2. What is it teaching? and
  3. Why is it happening?
I came up with:
  1. Teachers, city people (government people), people that like technology (geeks), university students, citizens, people from the city and expert speakers.
  2. It teaches the city about what data people want and how there going to use it, about data visualization (beautiful data), how to make the web easier to use.
  3. They do it to learn from each other and help the city work better.
Me and my mom went around listening to interviews between data owners and Learn Hack participants, and my mom would explain what they were talking about. After, I wrote down the types data being presented by the people that we listened to; recreation programs, culture map, sustainability and public works.

All of a sudden, I got the idea of making an app: a culture map OC Transpo app. A culture map for OC Transpo is perfect if you're going to a event and you want to take the bus. When you open the app, in the middle, is a big list of events going on and on the top, there's a box that says Search. Once you type in your event or location, it tells you what bus to take, how much the event costs, where it is, what language it is, who are the organizers, what it's about, where it's happening, why it's happening. You can also search by these and by culture and age range.

I thought the event was very fun and I would want to do it again, because I learned a lot of new things like what a culture map is. I think this event taught me more about what my mom does for her job. It may be something I do when I'm older.

- The Dude

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