Hacks/Hackers Boston Knight Mozilla Beerathon

Hacks/Hackers Boston Knight Mozilla Beerathon

(Cross-posted from beta.boston.com)


Stitching together multiple realtime video feeds, syncing questions and and answers to videos, crowd-sourced editing of video highlights, and automated news karaoke — these were some of the ideas brainstormed at Monday’s Knight Mozilla Hacks/Hackers Boston Beerathon.



Knight Mozilla Hacks/Hackers meetupThe crowd of “hackers, reporters, editors, students, interested oddballs, etc.” (as described by Globe Creative Technologist Chris Marstall) met up at MIT’s Medial Lab to tackle the topic of “Unlocking video”, the first of three Knight Mozilla Innovation Challenges (the others are reinventing discussions and general ‘blow our minds’ killer news apps).

The Innovation Challenges are open to one and all — anyone with an idea about how to “hack the future of news,” as Mark Surman of Mozilla put it. Mark certainly knows how to motivate both journalists and hackers. As my colleague Damon Kiesow noted, “Mark must have mentioned the free beer 33 times.”

Beyond beer, the challenges have a fabulous prize. Twenty finalists will be invited to Berlin for a week and given help to prototype their ideas. Then of those, five people will be given a one-year paid internship embedded in a major news organization (the luckiest of whom will come to Boston.com to work with us). There’s a fun animation describing the process at the MoJo site, drumbeat.org/journalism.

For the first challenge,
a lot of the ideas revolved around the new capabilities of HTML5 video (as sketched out on pieces of paper). One group of participants suggested letting users search by person and phrase, so you could get a time line of what a politician had said on an issue. Two groups had ideas related to letting viewers identify the most interesting bits in long videos.

Other brainstorms involved letting viewers compare videos side-by-side or create a sort of wiki based on questions people ask in sync to the video. The last suggestion was to let you add a hot beat to a news clip, remove the words, and let you sing along. For more glimpses of the ideas, check out the photos posted by Jenny 8. Lee.

The event may have been summed up best by Boston.com developer Miguel Menchu who praised the open approach to getting good ideas: “you have ideas, you show up, I like it.”

If you’d like to offer up your ideas, or your comments on ideas, please head on over to the Knight Mozilla site. They’ve got everything there but the beer and pizza.

For more information on Hacks/Hackers Boston, join us at meetupbos.hackshackers.com and follow us on Twitter: @HacksHackersBos. Our next event, on May 19th, will dive into Data Visualizations, and using data to explain the world around us.

Below are some of the sketches.