We’re sponsoring a civic hackathon! Come make something awesome

Print More

The National Day of Civic Hacking is this week, on June 6, and TrendCT and SeeClickFix are co-sponsoring a hackathon in New Haven. Details here.

There also will be an event in Hartford, led by TrendCT contributor Chris Brechlin, with a focus on transportation. Details here.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 1.34.56 PM

On June 6, civic groups around the nation will use technology to solve civic problems. More often than not, this involves data — understanding it, analyzing it and devising solutions with it.

You don’t need to be a technical person to attend a hackathon. You merely need to be willing to work with others to make something. We’ve found that everyone brings an important perspective to a team, whether it’s a concept or an expertise or design sense.

Arguably the best part about hackathons is that they push for creative answers to difficult questions. Here’s one person’s experience at a hackathon we put together last year.

So, join us in New Haven or Chris in Hartford. Say hi.

We look forward to hacking with you!

What do you think?

  • Jerry Sinnamon

    Hacking is a term I associate with individuals illegally accessing data for the purposes of stealing money, information, identities, and other nefarious purposes. Using the term hacking for accessing any data, in my view, conflates the term to such a degree that illegal hacking can often be seen as some cute, harmless activity perpetrated by ambitious geniuses. When, in fact, they are criminals destroying lives. It would behoove us all if the legal mining of data could be described with a term other than simply hacking.

    • Andrew Ba Tran

      My guess is that it’s the programming community’s attempt to reclaim the term from the negative connotations that you’re referring to. When you get to its essence, “hacking” is merely programming. Generally, some people are more aware of “hacking” when it’s associated with criminals. But “hackathons” are growing in popularity– like this upcoming National Day of Civic Hacking– and the new description will replace the old. Language is fluid like that.

      • Christopher D. Brechlin

        I think you pretty much nailed it Andrew! Hacking has a lot to do with taking things – software, hardware, everyday objects – apart to understand how they work and using your skills to improve their design or to utilize parts of the whole to built something new. In many cases, civic hackers aren’t trying to build something completely new, but trying to find better ways to use existing data or open source software tools to improve government services or develop new ways for citizens to interact with each other and elected officials in order to build stronger communities. We’re definitely taking it back.

    • illwill
    • alvinschang

      I entirely understand your sentiment. I think the word ‘hack’ has a marketing problem — especially in the context of the recent privacy issues and data breaches. It’s tough, though, for me to think of what word would work better. The spirit of good-hearted “hacking” — as in “making something work quickly, and perhaps not in the way it was intended” — is beautiful. But I don’t know what that word is, or whether the word ‘hack’ will lose its negative connotation eventually.

      Oh, also: Come to this event!

      • I like that description. In many ways the two uses of the word lets it function at a shibboleth to people in the technology community. The reluctance of mainstream people to want to use or adopt it means that it is not likely to be used for events unless they are run by other people who are experienced in the field and that those people have decision making power. It tells the potential attendees that I’ll be able to meet people like me there and actually get cool stuff done.

        The other thing that I like about hacker is that it can be broadly used. It doesn’t imply the level of expertise that “developer” does. There isn’t an expectation that the people are going to produce Google or Apple quality software with all the appropriate formatting and tests. It’s about taking the tools you have available and pulling them together to accomplish what you’re trying to do as quickly and easily as possible.

        • alvinschang

          “Hacking” as shibboleth. Love it, though I feel like that does make it hard for new people to integrate.

      • Interesting article by Harper Reed on how he was influenced by Hacker Culture at Medium today: