Having had a whale of a time at the Aberdeen Culture Hack (aka #ach13) last weekend it was my intention to write a full blog post, but Kevin Mitchell beat me to it. So, I’ll pick out a few highlights instead.
- The coolest tools weren’t Martin’s Arduinos, or the data-liberating powerhouse that is Scraperwiki, but Steve’s Stattys: amazing next-gen postits that adhere to virtually any surface and can be slid around a bare wall with one finger. These make grouping or clustering of ideas a cinch. Try unpeeling and resticking traditional postits a couple of times and you’ll both get what I mean, and a paper-strewn floor. Stattys will stick there for weeks, and then come off with no residue or gum left behind. As one of the participants observed, “What kind of dark magic is this?”
- Following the initial brainstorm, we agreed on a single project outcome and all worked, as part of sub-teams to achieve that. We had excellent content generation and curation, great UI development and Paul and me beavering away trying to make Scraperwiki do what we wanted it. Scraperwiki is a great tool, but if you’re trying to get data out of a site that uses old MS Visual Studio-generated code with impenetrable javascipt post-back pagination, even the might of the mechanize library in Scraperiki doesn’t make it easy.
If you fancy having a crack at fixing the Scraper to paginate through the various sub-pages, please have a go and let me know if you solved it.
Working in a pair with another coder rally helps move the code development on as you’re always critiquing code and spotting errors – and makes for a more sociable experience.
- At the conclusion of the two days we had (with at least 2 minutes to spare) a working alpha demo that we the proceded to live test in the street with our audience for the Show and Tell. As I tweeted during the walk, we may well have been the first hackathon group to have our plans partly-scuppered by being locked out of a graveyard!
- Andrew Learmonth and @aberdeen2017 provided a great working space (which should be considered for future hack days, being so easily accessible from buses and trains) and excellent local catering. Enormous thanks go to IFB and CEO Graeme Gordon for their generous sponsorship of the event which made it viable.
Summing it up
Ach13 was a great way to spend a weekend. The output from the weekend lends itself to further development, and there is a real appetite to take the project forward, refining the UI and adding further content types and through better meta-data use allow better filtering at the consumer end. There’s also the potential to create a means of capturing, tagging and uploading content, to ensure that the metadata is rich enough to support the content type selection on the end device.
It was also very enjoyable and productive to involve other creatives, rather than just coders. I would love to repeat the exercise in a similar format.
We also now have a number of new Raspberry Pi owners in Aberdeen, so arranging Aberdeen’s first Raspberry Jam must be on the cards. I’d also be up for (co)arranging a Python coder dojo at some point. Leave me a comment below if you’d be interested in either in Aberdeen.