Showing posts with label hackfest. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hackfest. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

THIS WEEKEND: Hack Migration at Datafest Ottawa (April 12-13)

Datafest Ottawa logo
How do you foster and inform conversations about migration and immigration?
Why, you hold a hackfest!

Wait. What?

This weekend is Datafest Ottawa, billed as "a two-day creative, collaborative blitz." (Love that) Here's a bit more:
We’re bringing diverse expertise together to brainstorm ways for technology to shed light on challenges in migration, whether through practical tools for newcomers, innovative visualizations or crunching data to tell essential stories.
I don't think I would have ever put immigration and hacking together, but that is why I love all things hacking, freedom of information and open data: by bringing together people from multiple disciplines, you can look at an issue from so many different perspectives and generate solutions that you might not have otherwise. In this case, the organizer, Louisa Taylor, is coming at the problem with a journalist's perspective. She is working with Open Data Ottawa to put together an event that will come up with solutions to help tell compelling stories and enable the better use of technology to address immigration and migration issues:
I’m not tech savvy at all, but I know a bit about what data can do for journalists, and what it can do for non-profits and researchers. I also know that while the field of immigrant settlement and research in Canada is huge, the sector is way behind when it comes to embracing digital design, social media and all the amazing new tools technology is creating every day... 
I saw the hackathon as a way to start conversations and connecting at the grassroots, and to bring together people who don’t normally sit down and talk about their work and passions.... what has been most exciting, seeing the positive energy build as the switches flip and people start to see what open data, tech and migration might be able to do together.
Datafest is running over Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and will consist of the usual hackfest format: pitches, forming of groups around ideas, working on ideas, developing pitches and presenting to a panel of judges. And there are prizes (including my new fave toy, Wipebook :)

If you don't get a chance to head to the event, follow along on Twitter via #datafestott.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Launch Some Good: A Weekend Jam to Foster Social Entrepreneurs

Invest Ottawa Logo
How do you build a generation of social entrepreneurs? You get them hacking.

What is Launch Some Good?

This weekend, at Hub Ottawa, a group of participants and mentors will get together to develop start-up ideas for social good. Developers, designers, communicators, and generally anyone with "a social impact itch that isn't being scratched in their work or schooling. People who are action oriented and want to start doing something," according to David Rust-Smith of SME (Socially Minded Endeavours) who is hosting the event in hopes of encouraging the next generation to come up with, and action, business ideas with a positive social or environmental impact.

A Design Jam? How does it work?

The event kicks off tonight with networking, idea pitches and team creation. Then teams will spend the weekend working feverishly to put together 10 minute pitches, to be presented to a panel of judges on Sunday. Mentors will be on-hand all weekend to answer questions and assist them throughout the process. Teams have the opportunity to win prizes to turn their ideas into reality, including $200-400 toward implementation and Hub memberships. It's extremely similar to other jams like StartUp Weekend, but I have to admit that I totally love the social and environmental spin on this one.

The Importance of Jamming (& hacking!)

As of this morning, the event was sold out; even the pitch session audience tickets are all gone. IMHO, not only is it wonderful to see groups like Invest Ottawa take interest in fostering socially-minded entrepreneurship, but to do so using a business design jam approach is even better. I've written about design jams (and hackfests) before including StartUp Weekend, WxT Codefest, Royal Ontario MuseumUXCamp Ottawa and LearnHack YOW. Getting people from a variety of disciplines to collaborate on a problem is a fantastic way to create a more rounded holistic solution. And jams create intense environments that focus people's energies to get right to work. (Plus the competitive aspect heightens the urgency of forming a complete idea before time is up.)

Good luck to all the teams this weekend. Enjoy every minute!

Monday, January 28, 2013

StartupBus: The Incubator That Goes 60mph

StartupBus logo
What do you get when you gather a group of complete strangers, put them on a bus going 60 miles an hour for 3 days? Hopefully, a startup.

Yes, a startup.

At least, that's what the folks behind Startupbus hope will happen. And after two successful years running the program, the odds are pretty much in their favour.

According to the StartupBus website, the idea started off as a joke:
"a roadtrip starting in San Francisco with friends, but with the twist of launching a startup on arrival in Austin in time for the SxSW technology conference."
It kicked off in 2010 with 25 people and has grown to an annual event happening in multiple locations around the globe, the most recent consisting of 5 buses full of people who worked their way to (and presented their pitch at) Le Web 2013 in Paris.

What happens on the bus?

Strangers get on at a particular destination for a 3-4 day trip. The ones with startup ideas already forming can pitch them to the rest of the folks on the bus and form teams to get working. The teams build plans, prototypes, marketing strategies and, most importantly, pitches. At the end of the trip, the teams compete by pitching their various business ideas. And the lucky ones get funded.

I think the word "pressure cooker" was used somewhere on their site or in their promo video. Sounds about right.

How do you get on the bus?

First you have to ask to be invited. And to get invited, you pretty much have to beg. You can stalk them on their Facebook page or Twitter account and convince them you've got what it takes. If they think you're worthy, you get an invitation and then you have to apply to get on the bus. There's not much competition; just a few thousand other like-minded people with startup ideas or mad coding skillz. Apparently they need 3 types of people: hustlers (sales people), hackers (developers) and hipsters (designers).

As former "buspreneur" Esther Gons blogged on the site, "When was the last time you did something that frightened you?"

This sounds like the kind of thing that would have intimidated the crap out of me in my twenties. I did my time in a variety of startups, all of which were certainly pressure cookers. But they were the most intense learning experiences in my career. Despite all the layoffs and lack of job security, I would not have traded them in for anything. StartupBus brings the adrenaline and pressure of those jobs into a sterile, time-constrained environment. I can only imagine what an exhausting and fantastic experience it must be.

(Source: Swissmiss)

FYI: I’m this month's speaker at Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa. Join me this Wednesday, January 30th for some IRL geeky goodness. For more info, check out the event details and a sneak peek at my talk.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

NASA Launches an Online Hackfest to Fix the Space Station ($10,000 Prize!)

Credit: Top Coder
I love me a good hackfest and this one from NASA is right up my open data loving alley.

It would seem that the International Space Station (ISS) is designed with solar panels that have to be positioned in a specific way as to minimize casting shadows upon itself. When too many of the support beams fall into shadows, they can bend and break thereby damaging the solar panels. Currently, the panels are positioned in a way that reduces their own effectiveness at collecting energy but that is less conducive to breakage.

Here's where you space and math nerds come in: NASA is hosting a contest to have you devise algorithms to determine the optimal positioning to balance maximum energy collection and minimize the risk of damage. If you come up with the winning algorithm, you could win $10,000 and of course bucketloads of geek cred (way more valuable). The video below provides an overview of the design problem and the challenge itself. For the rest of you non-space geeks, don't worry: it's in English (not science speak).

If you're interested in getting involved, you can get a lot more detailed information about the challenge on the Top Coder ISS Challenge site. Way to crowdsource a solution!

(Source: Hackaday)

FYI: I’m this month's speaker at Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa. Join me on Wednesday, January 30th for some IRL geeky goodness. For more info, check out the event details and a sneak peek at my talk.