Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon

Image of Aaron Swartz by Fred Benenson. CC-Attrib 2.0
Less than a year ago, the death of Aaron Swartz shocked us with sadness. This young man, one of “our own”, gave in to despair and lost the biggest fight of all. His death reminded the activist community of our need to take care of each other even as it woke many in the world outside our community to some of the issues about which Aaron cared so deeply. In the wake of his death, people from all over the world gathered in hackathons to work on some of those very issues, and now we plan to come together again for Aaron’s birthday.

On the weekend of November 8-10, there will be simultaneous hackathons in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Boston, Buenos Aires, Berlin and perhaps where ever you are, to celebrate the life of Aaron Swartz by working on projects relating to privacy, open data, open government, open science, or justice. Each location will pick one major topic or project to work on, something highly hackable with opportunities for people of any technical level to get involved. All products produced during the hackathon should be released with an open license. The global event coordinators recommend that videos and text be Creative Commons-licensed CC-By-SA, and code be licensed under the GPLv3.

Each event will start with a mini-unconference of one to two hours in which participants will be able to give lightning talks about the topic that the local event has chosen as its focus. People can present specific challenges related to the local topic, or inform the group about the local project, why it’s important or how it works. Wherever possible, these short talks will be recorded and streamed live so that remote participants and participants at other locations around the globe can see them. Once the talks have been given and the challenges discussed, the hacking will begin.

Normally the advice is that you can’t pull together a decent hackathon in less than a month, but this is different. If you do not live near one of the currently confirmed events, there is still time to organize an event in your area. The event need not be large, and if you don’t have time to find sponsors to feed your hackers, just make it a potluck. This is not a slick event. It is a memorial for someone we lost less than a year ago and a celebration of the activism that we share as a community.

If you are able to organize a local event, big or small, please visit the hackathon wiki page to learn more and contact aaronswhack@numm.org as soon as you have confirmed your location and time.