Hack Day Technology

Who are we hoping will come to Hack Day?

Since Yahoo and the BBC announced a couple of weeks ago that they were doing a Hack Day in London’s Alexandra Palace, I’ve had a lot of people contacting me with questions and comments. Of all the questions, the most common one by far tends to go something like, “Hey there, I’m really excited by the Hack Day thing, but I’m not sure I’m the right kind of person for the event. Should I come?”

The truth of the matter is that the event in Sunnyvale was really exciting because there were a whole lot of people working in really different areas, and I’m really hoping the same thing happens in the UK. Personally I’m hoping that alongside people working with the web and widgets and desktop software that we get a fair few students and creatives working (or looking to find someone to work with) in the cutting edge of real-world product, hardware design or even fashion design. I think the day has the potential to be a real creative melting pot.

That may sound a bit weird, but let’s have another look at some of the projects that were made at the US event. In fact let’s look at the group who won the day. Known as Black Box Nation, they were a group of three women working with sewing machines, soldering irons, nokia 6682s, pedometers, Flickr and the Zonetag API. They collectively put together a handbag that took a picture with a camphone every few steps and used Zonetag to upload it to Flickr and turn it into a life-recording weblog. It even geotagged the photos as it went. You can see the Flickr stream of the handbag to this day and there’s a site about it the whole project at Blogging in Motion. Does that kind of thing interest you? Do you want to get together a project about future fashion with built in computrons? Then Hack Day really could be a great place to do it, with access to a whole range of people who’d be able to give you information about some of the technology side.

Winning Hack team

Another project that did really well at the event was called the YBox, a piece of hardware that called itself Konfabulator for your TV. This project was a whole bunch of technology inside a sweet tin that you attached to your television. Once you’d done this, it gave you access to simple plain-text useful information pulled off the internets by computer magic. This kind of project could be a really good match for the UK Hack Day. If you’re interested in this territory, I can reveal that we’ll definitely have at least one speaker who’s very knowledgeable about building and developing around set-top boxes and interactive television.

And this is just the start. The other projects ranged from the sublimley useful to the ridiculously fun. Cal Henderson knocked up a digest-maker. You could go to a web page, type in a word and get back a digest of information about that subject that would automatically print itself out of a nearby printer. That one used Flickr, and Wikipedia. Another guy called Mo Kwaken made something called Blabber which unfortunately I can’t find any more information about online. It was supposed to be able to use absolutely any face from Flickr but in the end just used Patrick Stewart. You drew a line where the mouth was and then whenever you talked into a microphone, his mouth would open like Canadians on South Park. So you could pretend to be Patrick Stewart, which was fun.

There was an awesome Upcoming hack called gutentag which added a different social layer to the service, and an awesome flickr-based project called The Color Field Camera which would identify the colour of the thing it was pointed at, access Flickr and source pictures that matched that colour using the Flickr Colr Pickr. That was pretty extraordinary. Here’s a picture below:

Basically the day was tremendously creative, and hopefullyif you’ve read some of this postyou’ll realise that you don’t actually need to be working in Python to be able to come along. If you’ve got a great idea that you can’t build along, then first off I’d recommend trying to find a team of people to work with you. Ask your technologist friends or come up with an idea you could build together. If you do have a team, make sure you let us know though when you sign up, so we can make sure that you all get to come along. Or if you’re a designer and you want to come along to help out other people, and are prepared to get involved in their hacks – that’s good too. If you know people who build and create things in different and unexpected territories, then let them know about the day. This really is a day where you can show off your creativity.

I’m hoping that we’ll get a whole bunch of people coming who are interested in building mash-ups or new sites and services. I’m hoping that people will come along and build the features that they’ve always wished their favourite sites had, using all the gear and technology that Yahoo and the BBC have available. But I’m also definitely hoping that we’ll get groups along from people interested in weird interactive art projects like the ones that Regine Debatty talks about at We Make Money Not Art or some of the really awesome people who make stuff at the RCA’s Interaction design course. I’m hoping that people interested in Everyware and the kinds of physical stuff that Schulze & Webb and ThingM put together will also think about coming.

If any of this is exciting to you, then sign-up now and spread the word around. You can also read more about what people are saying over on the YDN Hack day blog. Andas usualif you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments here or directly at tom {at} the name of this website.

One reply on “Who are we hoping will come to Hack Day?”

The person on the right is Diana Eng of Project Runway (the US predecessor to Project Catwalk) fame. She was memorable mostly because of her fondness for wearable tech and her inability to correctly align magnets in her garments.

Comments are closed.