Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hack away this weekend

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 3:47 PM

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Starting tomorrow night, a group of organizers are hosting a hackathon in Spokane aptly named SpoCode. It's the third one this group has hosted.

“The mission from the beginning has been to get developers together because there are no other hackathons in Spokane,” organizer Michael Williams says.

A hackathon, by definition, is an event where a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming. And though it may be some time before the word “hackathon” doesn’t have that red squiggly line whenever you type it, the meeting of coding minds is becoming increasingly more popular as people all over contemplate how important programming is for being successful in life. Should kids code? Should journalists code? No one knows, but an opportunity for Spokanites to code has presented itself. SpoCode encourages developers to take a look at ways they can improve Spokane and life here by doing just that.

Interest here is certainly growing. “It’s been a lot of word-of-mouth marketing and reaching out to people who’ve been to previous events,” Williams says. “This is the third event, so a lot of developers have heard about it at least.”

The event was initially going to be a 24-hour one, but will instead run from 6 pm on Friday night until 2 am on Saturday morning in the Buchanan Building. At a meeting earlier this week, the organizers – Dan Gayle, Alexa Lohmeyer and Dan McGee working alongside Williams – discussed some of the feedback they’ve received and decided to make some changes to their original plans.

This is Williams’ first time planning the event and he says they’ve “taken a different approach with this one. We’re doing more of a maker event instead of strictly software and programming.” So the event is completely open to people for whom coding isn’t exactly second nature, because people with ideas are always helpful. As long as you’re willing to work on something for the greater good of Spokane and the people who live here, then you’re welcome.

“We’re just trying to get people together to see what they can come up with,” Williams says.

During the first 24-hour event, attendees collaborated to create something tentatively called “Crime Map” to aggregate records of vehicle thefts and break-ins in the area as well as crowdsource crime data and ultimately show which areas it’s not best to park in. Other projects include video feeds of local traffic cameras, an app for visualizing Spokane’s budget and a priority rating system for public issue. This time around, hackers will work on automating things — controlling lights, creating a sprinkler controller board or coming up with projects of their own.

Tickets were originally $20, but have dropped to $5 with the time change, and pizza will be served for dinner tomorrow night. Register through the event's eventbrite page. The website may not be up to date, so make sure to check Facebook for any other updates.

SpoCode • Fri, March 7 at 6 pm until Sat, March 8 at 2 am • $5 • Spocode.org • 28 W. 3rd 


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