[@OKau] After the hackathon: 4 classic recipes

Tamsyn Michael tamsyn.j.michael at gmail.com
Fri Apr 24 13:26:44 UTC 2015

+1 again.

The benefits that have come from GovHack here in Adelaide are massive!  It
fills me with joy.

On 24 April 2015 at 21:37, Pia Waugh <pia.waugh at gmail.com> wrote:

> +1
> The main benefits of community run hackfests are community development,
> skills, gov engagement, more open data, platform for people to show off
> skills and launch startups or research projects, redefining innovation to
> be meaningful, and showcasing our awesome tech community and the value of
> tech as something to invest in. Also some projects go on to be projects or
> commercialised, but the other benefits are significant.
> Cheers
> Pia
> On 24/04/2015 12:24 AM, "Cobi Alison Smith" <cobi.smith at unimelb.edu.au>
> wrote:
>>  Hackathons can also lead into or contribute to research projects, or
>> other collaborative projects independent of government, which are not
>> necessarily businesses - I guess that could come under the umbrella of
>> community projects; in which case I guess I would that I *have* seen it
>> happen :)
>>  For example, in Geneva last year I was involved in 2 projects that
>> developed across multiple hackathons. Geotagx.org a disaster response
>> citizen science project, and blindstore.github.io a cryptography tool.
>> Things like Mozilla Festival and Wikimania involve hackathon elements which
>> are typically sprints on existing projects rather than projects starting
>> from scratch. I think such bigger festival-type events are great because
>> they allow cross-fertilisation of ideas and skills between communities and
>> projects. These "soft outcomes" may be more valuable than new tools or
>> projects themselves.
>>  Thus another aspect of what emerges from hackathons is value & learning
>> for individuals, beyond a given project. For example, I was part of the
>> flushed.co team at melbournewomen.startupweekend.org. Most people
>> involved were time-poor and overcommitted, so there really was a
>> one-weekend focus. Because we used data.melbourne.vic.gov.au (which was
>> part of our pitch - part of what I wanted to do was to demonstrate use of
>> open data), people from council were super-keen to follow up and kept
>> trying to organize meetings with our team. However we were all too busy and
>> overcommitted with kids, work, study, travel etc. for that to happen. I
>> found it frustrating that the council guy didn't seem to understand that
>> while the hackathon structure worked for us as a group, we couldn't all
>> just magically find some weekday business hours meeting time, especially
>> since they weren't offering anything besides a vague meeting (I think our
>> team's junior dev may have prioritised the meeting if they'd been offering
>> a job or grant or any hard incentive to develop the project).
>>  That relates to Rosie's recent sharing about community and incentives
>> etc. but is mostly unrelated to Steve's sharing. Back to Steve's sharing -
>> I learnt in that startupweekend that I had 0 experience with the mapping
>> method our main developer wanted to use, so despite getting involved in
>> that team partly due to my mapping interests, I ended up focused on
>> communications aspects no-one else wanted to do, which I dislike getting
>> typecast into (but was also my own fault since I was keen to communicate
>> about open data & sanitation).
>>  That led me to refocus my interest in OpenStreetMap, which led me to be
>> interested in geotagx.org as it's underpinned by OpenStreetMap, which I
>> consider valuable. So experiencing what I found to be a dead-end in one
>> hackathon weekend led me to refocus energies on something I saw as worth
>> developing - namely OpenStreetMap applications - which influenced my
>> subsequent career path.
>>  What's the takehome from this braindump? Umm.. if what Steve wrote is
>> partly about showing value from Govhack, perhaps another topic could be 4
>> classic recipes from the perspective of participants' growth, in contrast
>> to project growth?
>>  /back to thesis :)
>>  ------------------------------
>> *From:* okfn-au [okfn-au-bounces at lists.okfn.org] on behalf of Steven De
>> Costa [steven.decosta at linkdigital.com.au]
>> *Sent:* Friday, 24 April 2015 7:35 AM
>> *To:* Open Knowledge discussion list for Australia.
>> *Subject:* Re: [@OKau] After the hackathon: 4 classic recipes
>>  Another type is 'collaborative procurement'. It replaces a more
>> traditional RFQ process. It requires the buyers to be involved and
>> committed to a paid project outcome before the hack starts.
>>  However, it needs to not be exploiting the talent of hackers by asking
>> all to work for free. Rather the event, or part thereof, could be just for
>> pitching and team creation (private-public teams). The team selection
>> can be facilitated by the organizers, a panel of experts or a third party
>> such as NICTA. After that there is a proof of concept phase with no free
>> work (that runs foe at least two months). It can be heavily discounted,
>> such as by awarding 5, 10, 15k to the three teams in order of success. They
>> aren't competing head to head to try and win the same projects in this
>> scenario either.
>>  Importantly the public sector Organisations should be able to direct
>> source at the end of the PoC stage for a significant effort - 100k+
>> projects should be possible.
>>  With regard to GovHack I think it needs to remain 99% on creating a fun
>> atmosphere for developers. Fun in a challenging, learning and connecting
>> way. The Govt interest for Apps and ROI on their sponsorships should be in
>> the last 1%. Over the last three years GovHack has needed to raise
>> awareness within Govt to get data and get them involved. Now they are at
>> the party we just need to keep the right vibe going and let them have some
>> fun.
>>  And, I still think the DTO will be cool when it's up and running.
>> Folks there will get it and help agencies update the way they work with
>> creative technical folks.
>>  Hoots!
>> On Thursday, April 23, 2015, Steve Bennett <stevage at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hi all,
>>>   I've been thinking for a while about the potential directions that a
>>> GovHack hack can go (or not) after the event, and have finally written it
>>> up:
>>> http://stevebennett.me/2015/04/23/after-the-hackathon-4-classic-recipes/
>>>  In the interests of easy reading and commenting I'll paste the text
>>> here for discussion. (Obviously this version will be out of date if I have
>>> to fix something...)
>>>  Hopefully more clarity around the different directions available to
>>> hacks will lead to greater action?
>>>  Steve
>>>   Everyone loves hackathons. And almost as much, everyone loves asking “but
>>> what happens to the projects afterwards?
>>> <https://web.archive.org/web/20150317093856/http://www.govhack.org/hack-longevity/>”
>>> There’s more than one route to follow. I’d like to propose four standard
>>> recipes we can use to describe the prospects of each project.
>>>  #1: Start-up
>>> The creators of the could form a business. The developers work very hard
>>> to polish up what they’ve written until it’s a viable product ready for the
>>> marketplace, and then try to build a start-up around it while probably
>>> looking for external funding.
>>>  [image: Snap Send Solve - hackathon to start-up success story]
>>> <https://steveko.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/screenshot-2015-04-23-22-53-05.png>
>>> Snap Send Solve <http://www.snapsendsolve.com/>– hackathon to start-up
>>> success story
>>> This kind of result is very desirable for hackathon organisers because
>>> there is such a clear story of benefits and outcomes: “a few thousand
>>> dollars of sponsorship paid for a weekend hackathon which led to this $50
>>> million start-up which makes the app your grandma uses, which is great for
>>> the economy”.
>>> *Ingredients required*: Start-up mentors, entrepreneurs, a business
>>> focus from the get-go
>>>  #2: Government app
>>> [image: OpenBinMap.org - a government app in waiting?]
>>> <http://openbinmap.org/>
>>> OpenBinMap.org – a government app in waiting?
>>> If you make an interesting and useful app with a government body’s data,
>>> then maybe they’d like to take it on board. They might use the code base,
>>> but it’s probably better to use the concept and vision and write the code
>>> from scratch. Imagination isn’t a government strong suit, but once they see
>>> something they like, they’re pretty good at saying “we need one of those”.
>>> This also doesn’t seem to happen very often, but can we try harder? We
>>> should follow GovHack up with serious discussions between hack developers
>>> and the government bodies that sponsored them. Following my cheeky “
>>> CanIBoatHere.com <http://caniboathere.com/>” category winner last year,
>>> I did meet with Transport Safety Victoria, but didn’t really have the time
>>> or motivation to pursue it. But they were very keen, so why couldn’t we
>>> have made it work? Similarly, there was potentially money available from
>>> the Victorian Technology Innovation Fund to support GovHack projects, but
>>> no clear process meant that months of fumbling through paperwork might
>>> eventually lead to nothing. Not so appealing to developers.
>>> *Ingredients needed: *A solid process, government/developer wranglers,
>>> pre-commitment to funding.
>>>  #3: Community project
>>> [image: Eventable would make a great community project.]
>>> <http://eventable.in/melbourne/>
>>> Eventable
>>> <http://stevebennett.me/2015/04/23/after-the-hackathon-4-classic-recipes/eventable.in> would
>>> make a great community project.
>>> If a hack is interesting and important enough to other developers, could
>>> it become a self-sustaining open source project? The idea seems plausible,
>>> but I don’t know if I’ve seen it happen. The major blockers are the hackish
>>> quality of the code itself which typically would require a major rewrite,
>>> and the sense that the weekend was fun, and this would be a lot of work.
>>> Hacks are a kind of showy facade. Once developers sit down to talk
>>> seriously about onward development, all kinds of serious difficulties start
>>> to emerge. And between the end of the weekend and the announcement of
>>> prizes a lot of momentum gets lost which can be hard to start up again.
>>> *Ingredients needed:* Post-hackathon events to explore projects and
>>> establish communities.
>>>  #4: Story
>>> [image: Living, Breathing Melbourne - still just a story.]
>>> <http://stevebennett.me/2015/04/23/after-the-hackathon-4-classic-recipes/melbourne.yuri.io>
>>> Living, Breathing Melbourne – still just a story.
>>> And finally, let’s acknowledge that the most important part of many
>>> hacks is their potential as an interesting story in their own right.
>>> Anthony Mockler’s GovHack 2012 entry “Is your Pollie Smarter than a Fith
>>> Grader” isn’t a failure because it didn’t lead to a start up – it was a
>>> great story that captured a lot of attention. My team’s 2014 entry “Living,
>>> Breathing Melbourne <http://melbourne.yuri.io/>” has been frequently
>>> referred to as a model for actual open data dashboards, even though we
>>> didn’t develop it further. We should try to extract as much value as
>>> possible from these stories, and preserve their essence, even if only in
>>> screenshots and blog posts.
>>> *Ingredients needed*: Story tellers, blog posts, active engagement with
>>> journalists
>>>  In summary
>>> Let’s think of these different paths early on when discussing projects:
>>> “This would make a great *community project*“, “I don’t see this going
>>> anywhere, but let’s get the *story* out”, “It would be a shame if the
>>> department doesn’t take this on as a *government app*“. And don’t write
>>> off a hack just because it didn’t fit into the mould you were thinking of.
>> --
>>     *STEVEN DE COSTA *|
>> *EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR *www.linkdigital.com.au
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