How can we preserve, use and keep our cultural heritage relevant? These are the questions that about 100 skillful hackers ask themselves during 50 hours of hard work with data from Danish museums, broadcasters and other contributors to cultural heritage.
It is all about #hack4dk.
I was a part of it last year at SMK, and I am present again this year at DR to tell you all about it.
Friday night is always a kick off, complete with coloured post its. But here is a new refreshing way to do it:
Put what if, could, with and to on each note and let your imagination do the work in making up one sentence for each of your ideas.
One of these even ended up with a device making foreigners understand Danish culture well enough to grasp the Danish humour in a crash course. Perhaps it is a crazy dream … but what if it is not? Let us play with the “what if …“.
Idea pitching is a part of every hackathon, and the come in with regular intervals on the open mic. Everyone will join a group, ask for any help they need and share their projects so far.
Here is the raw dataset of stamps that this lady is working with:
What can you possibly do with hundreds of old stamps?
Well, you could make a digital timeline and complete it with questions to each decade for young students to answer in class (these days some of them might not even know what a stamp is).
Or you could just start programming a fun game, without really knowing the purpose beforehand. 🙂 There is not much that a quick workout with pens and paper on a wall cannot fix.
Or how about all this data showing all mentions of “music”, “jazz”, “rock” or “opera” in DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) from 1920s to 1980s? Which kind of music is in and out throughout the decades?
Here is one of my fellow hackers showing off the data in which music seems to be dying in the 1960s. We wonder what happened.
Moving on to one of my own professional working areas; teaching. I would love to build a time machine to show my students how culture is created. But since that is not possible – even with the best hackers at hand – I play with the smartboard on a paper-on-the-floor-braining, complete with removable post its.
The result will help a group of hackers to form a mashup of old family portraits, which will blend with several other datasets, Then the teacher can ask her students to tell and share their own stories about what they think happened many centuries ago.
It might not be 100 % historically correct, but it is certainly great storytelling.
Work, work, work … Do these projects ever get real? Not all of them. But what if …?
We certainly got the ideas, and networking is free, so everyone is welcome to join up after the hackathon and finish what they started together. The contact wall in the back is an open invitation to do that.
As a result, this little gismo survived from last year’s #hack4dk.
When finished it will be able to measure temperatures, humidity and other conditions around the sensitive items at a museum and send a warning to the curator by sms.
This year #hack4dk is hosted by DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation) at the fancy concert hall. Check out our cool bar area among the studios … with loooooads of coffee and candy to consume.
On the downside, we do not see much of the bright crispy Autumn sun, as we spend most of our hours on front of the laptops.
Luckily, our organisers have planned a lovely trip around the sunny Ørestad in the afternoon. It brings us up from the deep dark depth to the sunny surface. Wow!
This is also a chance to have a look at the skillful architecture around DR. Notice the spaceship-like sculpture in front of the building … it brings broadcasting into a new dimension in your mind.
A short walk away we meet Tietgens Kollegiet. This must be one of the most beautiful dormitories in the city … it certainly have a lot of curious visitors (like us) to visit in the yard.
I wonder if the idea of this building ever came up at a hackathon like ours?
At the moment I am waiting for the final presentations of the projects at #hack4dk 2015. While I am waiting, I will be eating … a bit more. Every time I get up from my chair someone make sure I get new refreshments, and this is not always the healthy kind(!).
You do really eat like rubbish when you do hackatons, so it is a good thing that I am also a fitness fan …
I will work it out next week. Now I will have pizza 🙂
PS: Try the game of “what if …” in your own working life once in a while. It might be useful. And what if … you got inspired:
Have a look at our final projects from #hack4dk 2015.
(This is crowdsourced documentation at Google Docs).