Here a hack, there a hack, everywhere a hack hack

Data hacking events are cropping up all over the place and that’s a good thing for public services.

What a data hack is

accessing publicly available data to use in creative ways like making useful apps, websites or for use in service design/redesign

What a data hack is not

illegally accessing computer systems or data sets

photo (26) This is what a data hack event looks like. Nothing sinister going on here!

Unfortunately the word ‘hack’ has negative connotations so some projects like the upcoming Learner Journey Data Jam are using ‘jam’ as an alternative word to ‘hack’. This may cause some confusion this summer as there is an upcoming GovJamUK in June being held in Dundee and Exeter which is not necessarily a data jam. So try to keep the nuances straight if you’re explaining to colleagues!

What happens at a data hack (usually over a weekend)

  • Technically minded people get together with people who are professionals in a field along with designers and generally interested parties
  • Anyone who has an idea for a useful service or product that can be produced by using data creatively pitches the idea to all attendees
  • Teams are formed organically as individuals choose a pitch they like and want to work on over a weekend
  • Work starts and prototypes are presented to judges at the end of the event.

There will be variations on a theme over events but the core of data hack events are usually standard. Why not check it out yourself? There are two upcoming events offering spectator tickets if you feel you don’t have any skills or expertise to help out a team. They are Learner Journey Data Jam taking place 12-14 April and Life Designs taking place 19-21 April. Both in Edinburgh. NHS Hack Scotland, which took place last month, has posted photos and video of their event so have a peek for a better idea of what goes on.

About Learner Journey Data Jam

Learner Journey Data Jam is a weekend long collaborative event involving developers, designers, learners, practitioners and education sector / policy makers. The purpose of the event is to explore and experiment with existing learner data and discover it’s potential in helping learners on their educational journey.
Data Jam is inspired by Culture Hack Scotland and the upcoming NHS Hack Scotland, both of which explore the benefits of open data for empowering individuals and producing innovative new projects.

About Life Designs

At the heart of a new three-year partnership between NHS24 and New Media Scotland, Life Designs will be a year long programme of public facing activity in 2014 at the Inspace laboratory in Edinburgh and venues across Scotland.

4 thoughts on “Here a hack, there a hack, everywhere a hack hack

  1. Thanks for this Leah. If you’re down south at the end of April, you might be interested in the BlueLightCamp Hackathon on 28th April in Manchester (also an unconference on the 27th). Details at:

  2. Pingback: ScotGovCamp returns | Scottish Public Sector Digital Group

  3. Pingback: What had happened was… My reflections on the Future Libraries hackathon | Leah Lockhart

  4. Pingback: My reflections on a hackathon for libraries - Blog - Leah Lockhart - Knowledge Hub

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