For 26 hours this weekend, a bunch of journalists and coders got together to make lots of great things designed to help the citizens of New York City.My blog post summarizing the event and all of the resulting projects is upon Hacks/Hackers.I helped Jenny 8. Lee, Chrys Wu and Stephanie Pereira organize the event. Then I joined a team working with digital heaps of NYC taxi trip data to make data visualizations and start some other projects. My favorite one is here (with a detail below), which is a representation of taxi usage for 24 hours, set around a clock. Beautiful. It was built by Zoe Fraade-Blanar using Processing and data crunched by the other teammates.
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I came away from the event with many new connections, excitement about learning Processing, some more skills in Sinatra and a note to check out Bees with Machine Guns(!)
Wow: I learned a ton at the Hacks/Hackers Open(source).athon this weekend.Check out the great writeup of the day for a summary of the event. Personally, I worked on recrafting some Associated Press Election data for a project we're working on at WNYC. I also had conversations that could lead to several collaborations, and even got some tips for programming in Ruby and Sinatra.The day also gave me a great frame for my next hackathon, which is being run November 8 and 9 by Hacks/Hackers and Eyebeam, with support from WNYC and The Knight Foundation.
Start with dinner. Get together. Talk. Dream. Learn. Over food, of course. Don't be self-centered. You'll kill a relationship quickly if you spend all evening talking about yourself, your needs, your wants. Instead, find out about your potential partner. Learn about their hopes and dreams. Think about how they may enhance or build on yours. Don't name the baby. Put off the discussion of branding, naming the project, how credit is bestowed. This gets emotional fast, and quickly moves you out of the realm of low-risk prototyping. Put off the prenup. In fact, I'd avoid writing anything down at first -- especially anything regarding goals, directions, duties, etc. This starts to define the relationship from the outset instead of allowing for open innovation and low-risk experimentation. Respect each other. Be nice. Be giving. Be open. And if that costs a little, consider it an investment in the potential of the partnership. Pick up the check here and there. Meet up again. And again. Make a plan -- and put it in your calendar -- for the key people to meet regularly, preferably over a meal, to check in on how everyone's doing. That's the time to make sure nobody feels disrespected, over-committed, or unhappy. Then adjust accordingly. Break up gracefully. If the partnership just doesn't click, part ways, remain friends, and be sure your team gets together to learn from, and record, what parts worked.I won't kiss-and-tell about our newest collaboration, but I will say this is the approach WNYC took when we approached Iowa Public Radio back before the Iowa caucuses. We made a concerted effort to learn about them and focus on their needs. We talked a lot. We shared info and a common effort. And we didn't name the baby. The result was an amazing night of radio, and smiles all around (scroll to the bottom). It's also how we've approached a lasting relationship with the wonderful folks over at the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, where we first prototyped this kind of coverage.Happy dating![Photo by hypertypos]