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Tag Archive: hackathon

Join Sunlight, NPR and the Washington Post for a Hackathon!


election hackathon 2012It feels like a little while since this community got together for a hackathon, doesn't it? We had a great time at the VIP event around Transparency Camp. But with the election looming and a full summer's worth of new technologies, APIs and data releases, the moment seems ripe for politically-minded devs to get together and create some cool stuff.

So we're delighted to be a part of the upcoming Election Hackathon, cosponsored by Sunlight, NPR and the Washington Post. It's happening October 6th and 7th at the Post's downtown DC headquarters, and it's going to be a good one: we've lined up $5000 in prizes, a bunch of newly-released APIs, and a judging panel that includes Ezra Klein, Brian Boyer, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda and our own Ellen Miller. Most importantly, it promises to be a great opportunity to meet other like-minded geeks.

You can find all the details here. Start brainstorming now -- we'll see you in October!

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Coming to PDF? Get Warmed Up With a Hackathon


PDF 2012 conference logoA bunch of the Labs team (and the rest of Sunlight) will be in New York next week for PDF 2012. It's one of the can't-miss events of our calendar year -- and not just because Sunlight counts Micah Sifry and Andrew Rasiej as close friends. PDF is a consistently great opportunity for like-minded folks to get together and share their visions for how technology can change society for the better. We've found more than a few team members at past PDFs; I don't think it's a coincidence.

This year the folks behind the event are trying something new: a two-day hackathon in the leadup to the conference. They're calling it PDF: Applied, and if you have talent for coding and a chance to make it to New York a little early, you should really consider attending. It's always exciting to see this kind of attempt to translate big thoughts into concrete action.

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Sunlight at the International Open Data Hackathon


This past Saturday was the second annual International Open Data Hackathon, a globally coordinated day for people to gather and hack on open public data from the world's governments. As part of this, POPVOX hosted an Open Data event here in DC at the MLK Memorial Public Library.

Several Sunlighters showed up, and we had a pretty great time. Andrew and I came expecting to work alone on our project, an ambitious attempt to bridge the data gap between legislation and the regulations they generate, that we're tentatively titling Crosslaws. Instead, after we (and everyone else) described our project to the room at the start of the day, we had 6 people come to our table and ask how they could help - 5 of whom weren't developers at all.

Despite Andrew and I not having any obvious tasks to hand out, after we explained the finer points of the work, everyone figured out their own valuable research and development to do for the entire course of the day, from scholarly articles to actual parsing code. You can find some of our group's notes on the Crosslaws wiki, as well as an overview of what's left to be done (there's a lot!).

Drew and Daniel went to the hackathon to work on their statistical analysis of USASpending data, using Benford's Law. They were hoping to find a stats wizard to help rigorously test the findings, and while they weren't able to find one, their search was still fruitful. The project did attract interest from a handful of very thoughtful people, and they had a long discussion that helped refine the goals of the project. Drew was very thankful for that, as he came away from the hackathon better focused on a concrete goal. At the end of the day, they had the parser and downloader written, but weren't able to download enough data to test it thoroughly. You can find Drew's team's code on Github.

In general, it was a fantastic crop of people who showed up on a Saturday morning at the MLK Library, from awesome self-directed policy people, to talented folks from the DC and federal governments. My project got real momentum from it, and we'll be capitalizing on that momentum with more work over the next couple months. Given all that, the hackathon felt like a real success to me, and I'm looking forward to next year's.

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Hack for Change Was Great


Hack for ChangeA quick note of thanks and congratulations to all those who participated in last weekend's Hack for Change event. Timball and I were in SF for the hackathon, and I know I speak for us both when I say it was thrilling to see so many smart people working on interesting and important problems.

The folks over at Tokbox have a great roundup of links to the various entries -- and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Ruby gem that Code For America's Erik Michaels-Ober cooked up for Sunlight's Real-Time Congress API (thanks, Erik!).

All in all, a great event -- many thanks to the good folks at for making it happen.

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West Coast Coders: Come Hack for Change!


Hack for is hosting a hackathon at their San Francisco headquarters in a couple of weeks. If you're in the Bay Area, handy with a text editor, and feel like doing some interesting work, I hope you'll consider joining the party (did I mention they'll be giving away $10,000 in prizes?). I'm pleased to say that Sunlight is a partner for the event, and indeed, I'll be on hand to talk to folks about our APIs, judge entries and, if at all possible, eat some Mission burritos.

You can find all of the details about Hack for Change here. I hope to see you in San Francisco on the 18th!

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Recap: RailsConf 2011


Last week at RailsConf, Sunlight held an Open Government Hackathon at the event's official unconference, BohConf. We worked on a few projects:

Speaking of Dan, he gave a keynote at RailsConf the next day:

Thanks to all who made it out and contributed!

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