Tag Archives: meetup

Hacks/Hackers Rosario launches; highlights openness and collaboration in news and civic media

Hacks/Hackers Rosario (HHROS) is already a reality. On Thursday, April 25, the second Argentine chapter of Hacks/Hackers (HH) had its first meetup in ClubdeFun Bar, with more than 60 attendees.

Programmers, journalists, designers, entrepreneurs, technologists and IT professionals gathered at the venue to attend the talks offered by Ezequiel Clerici (Journalist and co-organizer of Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires and HHROS), Pablo Cuadrado (Mozilla Argentina ), Dart Ceballos (Bachelor of Social Communication, digital reporter and co-organizer of HHROS) and Mariano Blejman (Knight International Journalism Fellow at International Center For Journalists and co-founder of Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires).

The opening talk, by Ezequiel Clerici, focused on the objectives of HH as global organization, noting that is an ideal space for networking where professionals of multiple areas can approach and assist in the development of the future of media, as well as technology projects related to civic information at large.

HHROS discussed the new space occupied by programmers, journalists and designers in media at outlets like ProPublica (USA), The New York Times (USA) and The Guardian (UK).

In particular, we discussed the policy of openness developed by The Guardian interactive news team, and the public-facing production processes of its Datablog. Attendees were encouraged to replicate this example in the local media.

Next, the journalists and co-organizers of Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires (HHBA) and HHROS showed two examples where journalism, programming and design intersect in order to tell a story.

The first was the multimedia journalistic investigation: 68 Blocks: Life, Death, Hope conducted by the Boston Globe on violence in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood. The second focused on one case about data journalism by The Guardian (Afghanistan: The war logs) realized in 2010 and produced based on a series of Excel spreadsheets obtained through WikiLeaks.

Pablo Cúbico’s talk highlighted the potential of collaboration between programmers and journalists, from the point of view of a programmer. “Even though we live in a time when the programmer is a fundamental part of any industry and the software rules any minimum instrument  with which we interact during our lives (like software that counts the coins we put in the public transport), programmers are rarely seen as agents of change, because the need for more software development comes from the corporate world,” Pablo said. Yet the man from the Mozilla community in Argentina believes that the culture of the programmer (and hacker) has a strong inclination toward cooperation, knowledge sharing, and the production of the public good as reflected in the open source software movement, since many are involved in projects or communities about open source culture, but with a very varied involvement level.

From Pablo’s perspective, Hacks/Hackers represents a participation space that is a great opportunity for programmers encounter the discipline of journalism, which is opening its production processes and looking for ways to create non-linear storytelling, with a production process that’s less like a tree and more like network.

The idea, in his own words, is that the product that born from this amalgam is developed in a collaboratively way, open and outward. Mental models of journalists, programmers, designers, and other stakeholders are quite complementary. The transformation of the stories and the data in interactive material (views, transmedia or whatever), lets the reader put the data in perspective and sometimes visualize it in a way that can produce an epiphany. At first glance, the conclusion is immediate, as seen during Pablo’s presentation of Pablo of a voting in block visualization, created by Andy Tow.

Pablo explained that collaborative teams are not only important when working in newsrooms today, but should also represent a new way of thinking the work in areas outside the media.

Meanwhile Dardo Ceballos, conducted a brief review of the state of the art in multimedia journalism and the data journalism in the region. Disciplines almost absent in the local mainstream media and smaller emerging media projects, or institutional, but still remain tied to closed technologies like Flash, or trying to apply Web 2.0 tools without much implication of programmers.

Dardo noted that until now the programmers have been basically dedicated to implementing publishing platforms and that journalists then use to publish. This division between developer and user demonstrates a lack of actual cooperative work towards enhancing products.

From Dardo’s perspective, HHROS would be local opportunity to create that cooperation — the place that brings people together to make working teams of programming, design and journalism, and other specific areas such as application development, interactive video, and other areas of technological innovation and journalism that can truly reboot journalism in Rosario.

Mariano Blejman, journalist and Knight International Journalism Fellow, was the last in lecture and the duration of his presentation addressed issues related to how Hacks/Hackers Buenos Aires was formed and what projects have been developing since the founding of the HHBA in 2011. In this segment of his speech he spoke about the work experiences around the platforms: Elecciones 2011 (Elections 2011) and Mapa76. He also explained how they worked on georeferencing of tweets about the #8N protests and what the HackDash can do to help for monitor progress and completion of many projects.

Then he reviewed the Media Party 2012 and said it will be repeated again, from August 30 to September 1, 2013 at the Ciudad Cultural Konex (CABA) in Buenos Aires.

To close, Mariano talked about the most recent HHBA hackathon. At that event, attendees worked with D3.js, the data visualization library widely used today by many, including the interactive news team of The New York Times. Mariano showed some of the results through the project “La trama financiera de la dictadura” (The financial scheme of the dictatorship in Argentina).

The HHROS meeting ended with the presentation of the group’s first collaborative project and a call for participation: “Evolución del crimen sicario en la ciudad de Rosario” (Evolution of sicario murders in the city of Rosario), presented by the local organizers.

The next HHROS meetup will take place in late May in the form of a workday. We welcome all new and existing Hacks/Hackers Rosario members (currently at 70 and counting)  to come and propose more projects, meet contributors, discuss ideas and identify possible tools to make them happen.

Hacks/Hackers Rabat: To E or not to Be

The first meetup of Hacks/Hackers Rabat in Morocco.

At the first meetup of Hacks/Hackers Rabat in Morocco.

For the first time in Morocco, Hacks/Hackers was organized in November 2012, in Rabat, the capital, but the story did not start from that date. It started in February 2012, when some friends and I founded the first think tank in Morocco working on using media for development.

One of our reasons to establish this NGO, was to contribute in reducing the gap in the digital knowledge of journalists in Morocco.

As the founder and head of this think tank, I started contacting international foundations working in the same field. At the same time, Ayman Salah, ICFJ Knight fellow, was looking for a media partner in Morocco to establish Hacks/Hackers Rabat.

Destiny played well for both of us. I was in Egypt when he contacted me, so we met, he talked to me about Hacks/Hackers, it was my first time to discover this “American concept.” I liked it and did not hesitate to agree to be this media partner in Morocco.

What’s Hacks/Hackers? It becomes a common question that Moroccan journalists asked me every time I talked to them about our desire to open Hacks/Hackers in Morocco.

This was our first challenge, to explain the meaning of Hacks/Hackers, especially because English is not the first foreign language in Morocco (it’s French). The official languages are Arabic and Berber, so the mission was not as easy to translate as we thought.

We did our best to avoid this linguistic challenge by keeping “Hacks/Hackers” as a concept and word too, and not translate it into Arabic or French. We also chose to be patient in explaining the meaning to our target audience instead of using translation. We’d like to motivate Moroccan journalists to be open to new ways of learning new media, and not be stuck in the French school.

Our first meetup, “To E or Not To Be,” was very attractive for our target audience More than 50 participants attended Hacks/Hackers Rabat. We organized it in the only public institute for journalism and communication in Morocco, ISIC.

For the first time, senior journalists, junior journalists, bloggers, journalism students, NGO leaders, even politicians and delegates of the ministry of communication were in the same workshop to talk “Hacks/Hackers.”

Ayman Salah welcomes attendees to Hacks/Hackers Rabat.

I could not forget the positive reactions of our attendees, so I asked Ayman Salah to come again to organize another meetup. This time we selected Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco. We chose different subjects from those selected for Rabat. “Spread your content, and “Show me the money” were our themes for Hacks/Hackers Casablanca.

In 2013, our target is to organize Hacks/Hackers Bus. We’d like to visit every Moroccan city. We’d like to put Hacks/Hackers in every corner of our country in accordance with the Hacks/Hackers mission to bring journalists, designers and developers together to create innovations for news and civic media.

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi: New markets, new models

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi first meetup
Hacks/Hackers New Delhi, the first Hacks/Hackers chapter in India, launched Dec. 5. About 50 journalists, techies and supporters came by What’s Up Bharat, in Hauz Khas Village to talk about the challenges of combining media and technology in India.

Nikhil Pahwa (@nixxin), founder and publisher of digital analysis site MediaNama, said he’s looking for people to take a closer look at ways to organize big data. He also suggested creating tools that can track the evolution of stories and ideas in real-time.

Kushan Mitra speaks to Hacks/Hackers New DelhiKushan Mitra (@kushanmitra), managing editor of digital coordination and new projects at the Pioneer, led a conversation about the need for new revenue models in the digital media space, particularly in the Indian context.

Narendra Nag speaks to Hacks/Hackers New DelhiAnd Narendra Nag (@narendranag), general manager of 2020Social, talked about his experiences as a hack/hacker for the past 10 years, and the fact that both journos and techies have a lot of learn from each other’s different viewpoints.

Narendra Nag speaks to Hacks/Hackers New Delhi
The crowd asked questions, enjoyed free pizza and cheap beer, and decided to throw a hackathon sometime in January. A few journalists asked for more workshops in coding and tech skills, and a lot of attendees were interested in a session on how to better understand Indian consumers’ digital behavior.

A good conversation and a great launch event that was also covered in The Sunday Guardian (New Delhi). For more info, check out this article.

Interested in Hacks/Hackers New Delhi? Sign up for the meetup or email NewDelhi@hackshackers.com. The event was sponsored by What’s Up Bharat and the Google Developer Group, New Delhi.
Narendra Nag speaks to Hacks/Hackers New Delhi

Hacks/Hackers São Paulo covers mobile, data and freedom of information July 16

Credit: Alexandre Diniz/Prefeitura de São Paulo

São Paulo, the most populous city and a thriving cultural hub in South America, will host the first Hacks/Hackers chapter in Brazil. A group of journalists involved with the National Association of Investigative Journalism – Abraji, led by Knight International Fellow of the International Center for Journalists, Gustavo Faleiros, is organizing the first meeting along with Everton Alvarenga, from the Open Knowlege Foundation in Brazil, and 3 other representatives from the W3C local office . The event happens July 16, 7 p.m., in the Folha de S. Paulo auditorium on Alameda Barão de Limeira, 425, 9º andar (See map)

São Paulo has a vibrant ecosystem of journalists and technologists working on meaningful data visualizations, active blogs and mobile applications. Some examples of this work will be shown at the first Hacks/Hackers meeting and the professionals involved will explain the process of creating the projects.

The first meeting will also try to identify potential leaders for working groups on data journalism, web scraping, HTML 5 and digital mapping, among many other subjects. One of the issues brought by W3C representative Vagner Diniz is the importance of the semantic Web and the need for media houses to start opening and linking their data.

The Hacks/Hackers meeting also happens just as Brazil has approved its Freedom of Information Law. Access to government data has increased the interest of media outlets on working with applications that help filter information and make it relevant to the public. Journalist Fabiano Angélico will present the main features of the law and its importance for people working to foster media innovation.

Follow @HacksHackersSP on Twitter.

To learn more about the next Hacks/Hackers São Paulo events and hackathons, sign up for the Meetup group.

Kickstarter’s ‘most successful journalism project’ and ‘taking on the unseen snoopers’ | Hacks/Hackers Brighton

Hacks/Hackers Brighton met on Tuesday evening (3 July) and heard from two fascinating speakers. You can find full details of the talks as liveblogged by Adam Tinworth on “One man and his blog”. Here is a summary that is cross-posted from Journalism.co.uk.

Bobbie Johnson talked about Matter, a digital project dedicated to in-depth science and technology journalism.

Matter — due to launch in September — is the brainchild of Johnson, European editor at technology site GigaOM and previously technology correspondent at the Guardian, and co-founder Jim Giles, a US freelance reporter who has written for titles including the Economist and New Scientist. The two raised $50,000 in 38 hours by crowdfunding on Kickstarter and raised a total of  $140,000 from Kickstarter 2,500 backers.

Each feature will be an in-depth piece of long-form journalism focusing on science and technology. Readers will be charged $0.99 to read each article.

Each story as an individual publication, it’s a small book. It isn’t a magazine, it isn’t a website, it’s Matter.

The aim is to publish roughly one article per week with the team working on the basis that “less is more”.

Johnson said that Matter will “look beautiful” and also “work across many difference devices”, from an iPad and phone to Kindle and desktop.

He said he expects the articles to be picked up by other publications.

We are writing stories that are interesting enough that other people will want to write about them.

Matter has been posting project updates on their blog.

The second talk was by investigative journalist Duncan Campbell.

Part of the talk was a “call to action” to highlight the “obscurely worded” Communications Data Bill, launched by the British government last month which is “intended to place every kind of internet communication and web access under official scrutiny”, according to Campbell.

Campbell has spent nearly 40 years reporting on secret national and global structures of electronic surveillance.

He told Hacks/Hackers Brighton how he had been followed by intelligence agencies, had his house raided, and was arrested in the course of his career.

As referred to in the talk liveblog:

Forty years ago GCHQ in Cheltenham was an absolute secret. When (Campbell) proposed a feature to Time Out, he phoned up GCHQ, and amazed the receptionist by the sheer fact of knowing it.

In 1976, he published the first article describing the now well-known signals intelligence activities carried out by GCHQ Cheltenham. Two American journalists were deported while Campbell and another journalist were arrested.

The following year Campbell faced trial at the Old Bailey and up to 30 years imprisonment, “prosecuted on charges laid under the Official Secrets Act”, according to the book The Justice Game.

In the mid-1980s Campbell went to work for the BBC, and started a series called “Secret Society” and worked on a story about the first government spy satellite, Zircon.

The show was banned, but the story was reported in a magazine. The office of the magazine, Campbell’s house, and the BBC’s Scotland office were raided, Campbell told the meetup.

In 1988, Campbell revealed the existence of the Echelon network of commercial satellite monitoring stations, and the “dictionary” system for storing and analysing intercepted private messages. In 2000, he prepared a series of reports on Echelon for the European Parliament.

Since then, Campbell told the meetup, he has worked as an accredited computer forensic expert, and has audited and examined thousands of call records, call recordings and location data files used in criminal cases, as well as dozens of computers seized from terrorism suspects.

It is well worth reading the liveblog of Campbell’s talk to see more on changes to privacy laws, some of which he said came after but “were not triggered” by the terrorist attacks in the US.

New Hacks/Hackers chapter forms in Bogota

Hacks/Hackers Bogota logo Bogota, Colombia now has a Hacks/Hackers chapter and we are excited to be a new addition to the Hacks/Hackers family.

Our Bogota group is already up and running with plans for a hackathon on Aug. 11 to build a crowdsourced map to assess environmental issues in Colombia’s capital city.

We took that decision at our second meeting at the end of May — when 40 hacks and hackers voted to make that the first chapter project — a proposal put forward by co-organizers Ronnie Lover, a Knight International Journalism Fellow in Colombia and Renata Cabrales, social media editor at El Tiempo newspaper. Formation of the chapter is part of Lovler’s fellowship mandate.

The idea is to establish a website for citizens to report on environmental issues – issues like cleaning up a park in a specific neighborhood, addressing city-wide water pollution or highlighting the daily drama of maneuvering through Bogota’s never-ending traffic jams and gridlock.

We are looking for sponsors and partners to maintain the map once we build it and launch it and are reaching out to governmental and non-governmental environmental organizations for content and local developers and media organizations for sponsorship.

The quick growth of Bogota’s Hacks/Hackers chapter is an indication of just how much journalists and developers wanted something like Hacks/Hackers here. We were officially recognized as a chapter less than a month after we held our first exploratory meeting and now have 120 members. We see possibilities for additional chapters to be set up in other Colombian cities. The Bogota chapter is perhaps the newest international chapter and one of just five in Latin America.

Other proposals for projects we hope to pick up at a later date include a plan to develop greater security for mobile apps, data-management programs to make public information more accessible to the public and other data-visualization projects.

Now, of course, we have to deliver. The next step is to lay the groundwork for the plan that will put our Bogota chapter to work on the crowdsourced environmental map, by forming teams on the hacks and the hackers side of our equation to get ready for our August hackathon.

Hacks meet Hackers in packed Ottawa pub

Hacks/Hackers Ottawa logoWalking and road biking to work is most popular in Nunavut. Canada’s federal Conservative Party raises more funds through personal donations than the rival Liberal Party does overall. And in Ottawa, you’re most likely to get a parking ticket on Lynda Lane, not far from the Ottawa Hospital.

Each of these tidbits, a story in their own right, and many more tales buried, sometimes deeply, in publicly available data were revealed the inaugural Hacks/Hackers Ottawa event on May 12.

In an overcrowded pub basement, the beer was pouring as freely as ideas about the future of storytelling in a data-driven world. The house draught list had two speakers: Glen McGregor of the Ottawa Citizen and Alice Funke of punditsguide.ca.

While he was humble about his own work in the field, Glen set the crowd — half hacks, half hackers — at level footing. He provided an introduction to tech-assisted journalism, explained how journalists shouldn’t depend on governments to provide important data, and spoke about how every column in a spreadsheet could lead to a story.

Alice, a hero on Parliament Hill in all political corners thanks to her electoral data crunching, happily managed to out-geek Glen. She showcased how she reverse-engineered inaccessible public elections data into gigabytes of relational databases. The hackers were wowed by her smug SQL, while visions of headlines danced in hacks’ heads. If every column is a story, her work could be a multi-volume epic.

Between presentations, one  of Ottawa’s leading hackers offered beer to any hack/hacker pair who came forward with one collaborative idea. That beer, perhaps unsurprisingly, was soon claimed. Journalists from across the country joined local developer groups, data visualizers, political parties, public servants — and one accordion guy — to launch Ottawa’s chapter.

The event couldn’t have happened without the support of the Ottawa Citizen, OpenFile Ottawa and Open Data Ottawa. The next meet-up will be sometime in July, and we hope to see you there. Join the Hacks/Hackers Ottawa meetup group to be notified.

Nick Taylor-Vaisey and Alex Lougheed are a Hack and Hacker, respectively, who helped get Hacks and Hackers Ottawa off the ground. They can be reached through the group’s meetup page at hackshackers.com/chapter/ottawa.

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.










Hacks/Hackers NYC: Wikileaks – Data Science & Data Journalism

When WikiLeaks released the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, news organizations and the public alike sprang into action to understand the documents.

The New York Times was instrumental in analyzing and reporting the story in articles, photographs, maps and graphic information.

Meanwhile, several local hackers worked on their own data visualizations and were featured soon after on Wired, NPR and the New York Times.

RSVP now to join Hacks/Hackers NYC on March 9 at New Work City to learn how the analyses were done, the importance of independent validation checks on data, and see further examples of their work.


  • Drew Conway, PhD student, Dept. of Politics – NYU
  • Mike Dewar, Post-doc, Applied Mathematics – Columbia University
  • John Myles White, PhD student, Dept. of Psychology – Princeton University 
  • Jacob Harris, senior software architect, The New York Times

Registration for the event is $10, payable in advance. If the cost of registration is beyond your budget, email nyc [at] hackshackers [dot] com to volunteer.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Presentations begin at 7 p.m.

St. Louis Hacks/Hackers sets ‘awesome’ goal

The first St. Louis chapter meet-up was a great success.

Fifteen hacks and hackers met for happy hour last Thursday, and expectations are high. When asked “Hacks/Hackers should _______,” the overwhelming answer was “be awesome.” (There was also a vote for “be pretty.” We’re going to try for both.)

Participants are already talking about ways to work with data. In December, we hope to join several St. Louis tech groups for a bowling outing.

Find St. Louis Hacks/Hackers on Twitter (@STLHacksHackers) and Facebook.