Tips for Enjoying (winning?) the Hackathon

Adapted from DevFish's Tips to Surviving and/or Winning a Hackathon
  • Bring some favorite food, drink.  We'll have plenty, including healthy stuff, but pack along some of your favorites too. Bottomless tanks of Floyd's Coffee will be on hand. Remember your lucky mug.
  • Bring business cards.  You will make new contacts.  Who knows what an event like this can lead to.  Networking is key benefit to an event like a hackathon.
  • It will be noisy, bring some headphones and some think music.
  • Wireless internet is essential. We will have adequate bandwidth but depending on what people are making, it could get taxed. Bring your own Internet access, like a cell-carrier mobile access point (ala mifi or whatever) or even better a phone that can serveas a wireless access point
  • Wear comfy clothes.  Wear socks.  Yes, your feet smell.
  • The place could be cooler than you like, have a sweatshirt
  • It's good to have a team formed ahead of time. Use the project ideas forum here.
  • Find a designer - decent graphics by a real designer will smoke away visually anything done by normal developers.  Bring toys for the designer so when they get tired of devtalk they have someplace to hide.
  • Game plan - once your team is formed, work out your gameplan.  Assign responsibilities and work items.  Setup a timeframe.  Stick someone with the managerial / monitoring / coordination duties. 
  • Pre-deploy a web/cloud service for use in your project.  Good starting point is setting up something like Azure or AWS setup and ready to go with base services before you get there. This will save you a ton of time. Time saver, why not do it ahead of time
  • Have a simple template (or whatever) project ready to go to access those web/cloud services ahead of the game. Again, a time saver
  • Map out good resources you can leverage, such as starter kits, graphics, and audio resources . Don't want to spent a ton of time hunting.  Check the resources here. Search around
  • Know the judging.  Read the event description and criteria.  Do this early.  Tailor your project if your goal is to win. 
  • Pick a spokesperson.  They're going to have around 5 minutes to present your project.  Make sure they're good.

OpenPaths: An examplar Vibrant Data app

Here's a good example of what we mean by "making data more vibrant and increasing its personal asset value". is a project of the research group at the New York Times, I learned about it watching a TEDx Vancouver talk by Jer Thorp (It's a fun talk. At 12:30 is the part about OpenPaths). The NYT broke the story about how much location data was stored in iPhone log files and created quite a storm. While concerned about the privacy issues, Jer, as a data junkie, was enamored with the possibilities of having so much location data to play with. To researchers this was gold.

OpenPaths lets people track their movements with iPhone and Android apps. The data are then available to research projects -- and you. If you participate, you can conveniently see your movements in fine detail and download your own data in the format of your choice. One use case might be for groups setting up car pools. Approved researchers see an aggregated, anonymized view. One research project is aimed at improving the tourist business in Spain. Another seeks to create a neighborhood map of New York by having residents bike or walk the perimeters of their various neighborhoods.

This application is a great example of what we are looking for in Vibrant Data PDX. It increases and makes available the value of  geolocation to the people who produce the data. It has a trusted, secure and private third party data banking function. And it creates new value to the community by making possible new insights in an inexpensive way.

A Standard Information Sharing Label?

Would something like our nutritional labels make it easier to manage are sharing relationships with Facebook and Google? Check out the Kickstarter for the Standard Information Sharing Label. It's building on concepts from the Vendor Relationship Management (VRM) effort at the Information Sharing work group. According to one of the authors, "There is great synergy with the PDRL (personal data rights language) conversation that came out of the World Economic Forum Tiger Team discussion about a standardized way to give people control over the information they share online". There's a blog post introducing it and a press release.