A Tale of Two City Hackathons

I had the pleasure of traveling to Austin, TX last week for the SXSWi festival and to present on civic hacking events in Baltimore and Philadelphia.

The presentation I gave can be viewed below.

A tale of two city hackathons

There’s also a storify covering my session here (courtesy of @sam_piroton)

I had a lot of fun preparing this presentation as well as giving it in Texas last week. I learned a lot from the two events covered in this presentation, and I think a lot of valuable lessons on how to effectively run civic hacking events can be gained from the experience of these two events.

Looking forward to applying the lessons learned in Baltimore and Philadelphia to future civic hacking events!

Practical Hackathons: Free is not Always Better

This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts with practical advice for organizing and running hacking events, particularly those focused on building civic apps and using open government data.

These posts will lead up to, and (hopefully) follow a talk I’m giving at SWSWi in March discussing the outcome of two civic hackathons I helped organize in 2011 – one in Philadelphia and one in Baltimore.

One of the lessons I took away from my own experience in helping organizing these events (and participating in many others) is that “free” does not always mean “better.”

It’s a widely held belief that civic hacking events should be free of charge, to encourage wider participation and to make it as easy as possible for people to join an event. There is some logic to this belief, and in some cases making an event free to attend is the best approach.

However, there are some cases where I believe charging people to participate in a civic hacking event can increase turnout.

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