Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day After Report: Civic Hacking At The Avenue HQ

This is a brief roundup of the civic hacking activity at The Avenue HQ (AHQ) coworking space in Appleton last night, the evening of July 22.

The AHQ event was an informal meetup for civic hackers to reconvene after the June 6 civic hackathon and continue work on projects from that day or start work on something new.

The first few civic hackers showed up before 5 PM, although the nominal start time was 6 PM. There was no agenda for the evening and a few more popped in after 6 as schedules allowed. We ended up with 12 people total for the evening, with a couple of them dropping in primarily to see what civic hacking is all about. We hope a good sales pitch was provided so that next time they’ll show up to work on some civic hacks and will bring a few friends with them. The evening’s participants were:
Some of The Avenue HQ civic hackers

  • Sharon Borde
  • John Brandenberger
  • Charlie Brown
  • Kim Hottenstine
  • David Kieffer
  • Ross Larson
  • Jacob Putnam
  • Mike Putnam
  • Mike Rosack
  • Michelle Schuler
  • Eric Schultz
  • Bob Waldron

We started out with everyone introducing themselves and talking about what they planned to work on for the evening, then people got busy coding, researching, doing graphics and UI work (user interface), discussing their hacks with others at AHQ, and just generally enjoying the evening.

Deep dish disappeared first!
Once work was underway, Omni Resources, through its super-agent Mike Rosack, graciously sponsored the event by fueling the civic hackers with pizza and beverages -- smiles and thanks were in great abundance for that support of the civic hacking community. Thanks, Omni!

Topics worked on last night were the “Is It Recycling Week?” Android app, “Is It Recycling Week?” Pebble smartwatch appAppletonAPI, GreenvilleAPI, a civic hack API locator, and a civic hacks wiki. Three of these projects are linked to previous blog posts, while others are linked to GitHub pages.

A couple future guest blog posts are anticipated from last night’s participants -- they’ll be able to do a much better job than I could of explaining the civic hack they worked on and what future plans are for their hack.

We had a couple members of Women In Technology Wisconsin join the event to learn more about civic hacking, and they said some of their members may want to participate in future civic hacking events. It sounds like that group is doing a lot with students, so the NE Wisconsin civic hacking community may see a respectable increase in the number of students and women -- and we have no doubt that will result in some awesome new civic hacks for our region! If you're a 'woman in tech,' check out their website!

We’ll probably schedule another informal civic hacking meetup on a weeknight in the second half of August. Watch this blog for details. Feedback was that a weekend event should probably wait until after kids are back in school this fall.

Earlier this week I had a meeting at Luna Cafe in De Pere to discuss the possibility of a Green Bay area civic hackathon. The topic was also going to be discussed at the Digital Fertilizer board meeting on Wednesday this week. If Digital Fertilizer sees value in helping support this type of hackathon in the Green Bay metro area, the DHMN will try to connect with a couple people from that area to identify a good date and start organizing a hackathon.

I’m also planning to meet in August with at least two Oshkosh people regarding a civic hackathon in their area.

If you want to work with the DHMN to organize some type of civic hacking activity in your area, email Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’ll be happy to help you with everything from a short session discussing what civic hacking is all the way up to helping you organize a civic hackathon in your city.


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