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Are You Ready to Hack?

A special guest blog post by Volkan Özçelik

I’m tired of the mainstream media, movies, and everyone else depicting the term “hacker” as a jackass script kiddie, hijacking into highly-secured mainframes, screwing up secret files, and financial records.

This biased representation in the media leads many people think of the word “hacker” in a pejorative sense: a fringe-type individual with highly specialized programming skills, who does what she does out of greed, malice, and ill intentions.

And to so many people around the world, the concept of “hacking for good” may seem like an oxymoron: The dark image of a hacker shadows the fact that people can work together, in a collective effort, to make things better for themselves, and for others around them.

I can proudly confess that I’m a hacker, and I am proud to be a geek too; and my friends and colleagues consider I’m damn good at it. Yet I have not done anything illegal so far. I sure can exploit quite a few security holes to gather information. But why would I?

But… Isn’t “Hacking” An Illegal Crime?

Saying “hackers are evil, because they can screw your online identity” is as equally ridiculous as saying “car mechanics are crooks, because they can install a time bomb in your engine”.

Hacking, in an of itself, is not illegal. It is as legal as throwing a dart. It all boils down to your intent:

If you are throwing the dart at the bull’s eye of a dart board, then it’s fair game; but if you are poking the dart into the eye of someone, then I’m sorry my friend, you are going to jail.

As in everything, you are responsible, and you will be kept accountable for anything you do. Once this distinction is clear, then hacking is no more dangerous than wood painting.

As a matter of fact, a hacker is none but an insanely creative person; and as with anything out-of-the-ordinary, creativity can be used for good purposes, as well as for evil purposes.

Hacking Is Misunderstood

A hacker is a person who makes things work beyond perceived limits, or beyond their common use.

Hackers enjoy exploring the details of systems, and are curious about how they can stretch the system’s capabilities; as opposed to many who only prefer to learn the minimum necessary skill set to get the stuff done.

Hacking is all about learning, empowerment, and sharing knowledge. – Hacking is not a goal, it is a means to do good.

Hacking is an “attitude”. There’s a community, a shared culture, and an accumulated wisdom behind it.

And you don’t necessarily have to confine yourself to hacking software: The hacker nature is totally independent of the particular medium that the hacker works in.

No matter what you do, and no matter where you are; if you have the hacker spirit, you will reflect it in every action you take. And that’s something to be proud of.

We solve problems; we build things, and we believe in collaboration, meritocracy, and mutual help. That’s the gist of being a hacker.

If we do something really, really well, then it is discovering:

We are motivated, curious, and creative. – We get so deep into how things work, that we acquire the knowledge to control them and change them to something else.

From the eyes of a hacker, failure is not a mistake. It is something to be taken a lesson from. Every failure means, something new has got to be learned. Moreover, making the same mistake twice is not that bad; because out of scientific curiosity that same mistake might lead to different results to explore.

This exploratory mindset is what society needs to make progress. That’s why hacking should be taught at schools.

There Is a Way To Fix the Misunderstanding

After a hard day at work, I don’t want to see an arse-twerking, tongue-wagging dumbass on the TV, bitching about her recent (quote-unquote) “album”. Instead, I would love to see how HIV can been fully deleted from the human cells for the first time, or what the best way of learning a new language is, or now nano flakes provide a greater solar efficiency, and may solve the energy needs of the next generations.

This constant and ever-growing thirst for knowledge is a major personality trait disorder of a hacker:

Hackers have an irrecoverable malfunction in their brains called “curiosity”:

We want to learn anything, and everything; regardless of whether it will be useful at work, or in our daily life. It’s this “curiosity” that makes us look at things from diagonally different angles; and it’s this curiosity that makes a hacker figure out unconventional solutions to seemingly-hard problems in ways that no one else can imagine.

Not only do we want to acquire knowledge about everything but the kitchen sink, but also we want to share the knowledge, and help others who want to walk the walk.

And I bet you, if there was a way to inject this mentality to the rest of the world, then the world would become an exponentially better place.

Yet still people want to see us as skinny, black-coffee-chugging nerds who sit in their garages 24/7, with their $50,000 computer set-up, using nicknames like “M4fi4 B0y” as an alias to talk to other fellow hackers, while plotting on how to take down the government.

Hey, wake up Trinity… Wake… Up! –
That $#!% only happens in Hollywood movies!

Everything the majority of the world knows about hackers are completely and utterly wrong. And there’s a way to fix this through showing, to the rest of the world, that we, hackers, can hack the world, and make it a better place to live!

Read on, if you wonder how…

Hacking is Evolution

Our disobedience is to the status quo.

Whatever we hack, be it a programming language, a poem, a math formula, a new color and shape for our yard fence, a new melody for a song… we create a possibility of new stuff entering our world. Not always great stuff, not even stuff that works, or has a particular purpose; but new stuff.

It’s the information that matters. It’s in that information where new possibilities for a new world emerge.

Hacking, is the change in the inherited characteristics of a system, over successive iterations.

This rapid iterative change gives rise to diversity, and diversity helps us create better solutions.

Hacking is not a result; it is a movement towards a future higher state: It is a continuous improvement; it is a curious exploration that least to massive change.

By this token, hacking is evolution.

You Are Born To Be A Hacker

  • Haven’t you ever tried to do something over and over again, in different ways, to make it do what you wanted?
  • Haven’t you ever disassembled a toy, to see how it works, while you were a child?
  • Haven’t you ever ended your almost finished jar of Nutella with an ice cream? (if not, try it; seriously!)

That exactly is what hacking is. You hack stuff when you deeply examine how things work, in order to change it creatively into doing what you want.

Diving right into the problem, and following a feeling rather than a formal methodology; that’s the hacker way of doing things.

And it is not necessarily a bad thing. Many great inventions have spawned out of genius minds who have not followed the conventions of what had been believed to be true at their time.

Every society needs their mad scientists ;).

Hackers, are pioneers. They constantly discover new and unusual ways of doing things; they constantly learn, research, and explore. It’s about discovering, and finding extraordinary solutions, to seemingly-ordinary problems. It’s about doing things differently, in a hope to create better outcomes.

Every child is a natural hacker; therefore you are born to be a hacker.

It’s time, society, the system, whatever you name it… makes you grind this innate ability to a halt.

Pardon Me, So What Is a Hack Again?

A “hack” is trying to do something differently.

It’s possible that what you create can turn out to be a solution that’s better than similar ones that have ever been done before, or it can be some crazy shit that no one else but you will use ever.

The essence of hacking is not the final outcome. Per contra, the essence of hacking is the road you are willing to walk.

What Makes a Hacker?

If everybody is born to be a hacker, then so are you. And there are certain characteristics that make hackers stand out.

Wanna be a better hacker? Then just sharpen the following habits of yours:

  • Be self-directed: We value in inner motivation, and self-direction. They believe that people learn best when they are free to explore their passions.
  • Be accessible: We know that no matter how much karate you know, there’s someone better than you somewhere. We share knowledge, we share wisdom, we try to build thing on top of the shoulders of giants, and we openly share what we’ve learned on the way. Hackers are connected, thoughtful, and supportive.
  • Be curious: That’s the most important part of it. Just observe a three year old, interacting with the environment; how curious she is, how she questions even the most basic facts. A hacker is that three year old kiddo, grown up, without having lost her attention, intention, and curiosity.

Contrary to popular myth, you don’t have to be a nerd to be a hacker. It does help, however ;).

Have you read anything to coding, computers, or programming in the above list? – Read once more, if you are not sure.

It’s a preconceived notion that to be a hacker, you need to be good at math, or you need to be good at cracking some code. – To be a hacker, all you need to do is to be curious, and to be able to question everything.

You don’t need to be a programming prodigy to achieve that. You just need to be willing.

You Can Hack For Good

Hacking, in a sense, is the ability to connect the dots to create desirable outcomes. When this ability is used to promote ecology, sustainability, civic life… to improve the state of the world around us, then wonderful things happen.

There are enough of insurmountable issues that need to be tackled in the world today. Take for example the climate crisis, gender inequality, war and hunger, need for clean air, underrepresented groups, discrimination, increased crime rates, torture…

Hacking is evolution; it is the only way to create better alternatives to our current way of living.

Sometimes you want to flip things around, and want to convince people of actually wanting to live in a better world, in a sustainable way. And that’s when the hackers come into play. It’s as simple as that.

Hacking is Not Only For the Elite

Hacking is not something exclusive to a limited sub-community of geeks. It is something that everyone does. It is something that everyone can do.

One of the core values of the hacker ethic is that hackers are not judged by bogus criteria like their degrees, their education, whether they have a CS major, or a Ph.D., or an MBA, or their race, or their position, or how long they have been into hacking. In contrast, the hacker culture is extremely open and meritocratic.

The best idea and the best implementation always wins – not the person who’s best at lobbying for an idea, or the person who has bigger role power.

Which makes us do more, talk less, and get the $#!% done. That’s the “hands on imperative”.

You can learn a lot from the world, or from a system, by taking it apart into pieces, seeing how stuff works. This micro-level knowledge that you acquire helps you create new and more interesting things.

Seeing the internals of the system will help you understand how the system is broken, and what can be done to fix it.

And the system to fix need not be a computer program:

  • It can be the day-long waiting lines in government agencies;
  • It can we the ridiculous thing called “war”;
  • It can be a preventing a disease from killing millions;
  • It can be child abuse;
  • Or it can gender inequality…

The matter of fact is, something can always be better.

Nothing is ever complete. You just have to go fix it.

This Is Not a Cake Walk

I will be up front, though. This is not an easy task, because human beings have an astonishing capacity to disregard all kinds of noise. And, again, human beings, have a monumental resistance to change.

So it’s not just a matter of coming up with an ingenious solution, supported by a strong argument; to make people care, you have to make your solution so desirable that people cannot resist it.

You have to translate an idea into something tangible that can blend into the everyday lives of people. And this leap can only be done with a hacker mindset.

You do have this mindset; it’s just “maybe” you haven’t taken the red pill “yet”.

Get Your Hands Dirty

If the system is not working for you, go out there and make it better! JFDI.

In the end of the day, this is not about thinking who we are, or what hacking is.

This is about getting your hands dirty and getting $#!% done; because, once your hands are dirty, miracles can happen.

So if you are unhappy with the status quo, instead of mourning about it, go and make a change.

Hacking is good, and you are born to be a hacker.

So there’s only one question that remains…

Are you ready to hack?

p.s.:
I will be at #hack4good 0.6 to make a change.
Hope to see you there too.

Fauna & Flora International join upcoming Geeklist #hack4good

 
Mobilising globally, teams are preparing for the world’s biggest ever hack against climate change, being staged across 40+ global locations this 12-14 September.

Today I’m very excited to announce our first Global Challenge partner for the Geeklist #hack4good against climate change!
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Fauna & Flora International (FFI) will be leading the “Ecosystems and Nature” global challenge theme.

FFI’s work spans across the globe, with over 140 projects in over 40 countries, mostly in the developing world. Their work is broad, visionary and holistic, with biodiversity conservation at the core and a strong understanding of how the human and economic factors must always be considered, including the fundamental role ecosystems play in providing resilience to natural disasters and climate change.

Founded in 1903, they played a key role in establishing much of today’s global conservation infrastructure – including being a founding member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and were instrumental in establishing some of the first protected areas such as Kruger and Serengeti National Parks. FFI has always been a groundbreaker; they are renowned for innovative, landmark programmes, many of which have come to be regarded as benchmark examples of conservation practice.

Our champion there is Gavin Shelton, the Head of ‘Conservation Labs’ – a new initiative to foster innovation and encourage the development of technology-based solutions to conservation challenges globally. He’s a big champion for open data and collaborative approaches, I’m incredibly excited about not just what we’ll do at ‪#‎hack4good but the projects that we can take forwards together to have a lasting impact on the preservation of ecosystems and nature, for humans and for the variety of life on Earth.

Teams globally will be responding to challenges set by FFI and partner organisations on the theme of Ecosystems and Nature, which is one of 15 global challenge themes at this September’s global #hack4good.

The full list of global challenge themes are:

Climate awareness themes:
  • Public awareness - gain a critical mass of public awareness and support for addressing climate change
  • Personal impact - help people understand their personal impact and carbon footprint
  • Digital activism - develop tools for digitally-enabled activists and campaigners
  • Compelling visualisation - create compelling visualisations of climate models and climate impacts
  • International negotiations - facilitate effective international negotiations and strong international agreements
Climate adaptation themes:
  • Resilient communities - build tools to empower strong, prepared and resilient communities
  • Temperature rise - respond to heatwaves, drought and agricultural challenges
  • Extreme weather - respond to flooding, tropical storms, wildfires and extreme sudden weather events
  • Ecosystems and nature - protect and restore ecosystems, natural spaces and animal habitats
  • NGO collaboration - facilitate collaboration and communication between NGOs
Climate action themes:
  • Consumer behaviour - influence and encourage climate-friendly consumption choices
  • Energy production - develop global scale solutions for low-carbon energy production
  • Responsible finance - encourage responsible finance and divestment away from fossil fuels
  • Sustainability - increase energy efficiency, appropriate use of resources and sustainable business
  • Reforestation - end deforestation and stimulate reforestation
With #hack4good you’ll work with world leading NGOs, local and national government and organisations creating positive social impact to find innovative technical and creative solutions to humanity’s greatest challenges.

To join us in hacking against climate change this 12-14 September, sign up as a participant or local organiser or mentor at http://hack4good.io - We’ll be announcing the other 14 partners over the coming weeks! (some of who are confirmed and some of the themes are still open!)

If you’re a global organisation working in one of the above areas, and interested in engaging top software engineers, product designers and entrepreneurs around the world - or you’re interested in sponsoring or partnering with Geeklist, email us at hack4good@geekli.st to find out more.

I’m thrilled that organisations with such global credibility and weight as Fauna & Flora International are joining and look forward to seeing what we can build together! 


The Geeklist #Hack4good™ is owned and operated by Geeklist, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Announcing #Hack4good 0.6 - Hack against climate change - call for volunteers

 

Geeklist #hack4good 0.6 Global: Hack against climate change
12-14 Sep 2014 - call for volunteers, partners and sponsors

Uniting globally this September, 2,000+ leading software engineers, hackers, ui/ux designers, product makers, founders, thought leaders and civic-minded organisations will gather in 30+ global cities to hack against climate change, building prototypes of technology solutions (such as web sites, mobile apps and hardware devices) that address challenges within three broad themes:

1. Climate awareness - creating the will to act

  • universal understanding and awareness of climate change and what we can do about it

  • a radical shift in public and political will to take the action necessary

  • systems that create the right economic incentives for consumers and businesses

2. Climate adaptation - preparing for and mitigating the effects

  • adapting to the climate effects that are already taking place (e.g. heatwaves, drought, forest fires, flooding, extreme weather events)

  • mitigating against and preparing for events that are increasing in likelihood

  • building communities that are resilient and proactive

3. Climate action - limiting climate change

  • facilitating a rapid transition to carbon-free and low carbon energy

  • ending deforestation and stimulating widespread reforestation

  • influencing consumer and business behaviour to make climate-friendly choices

How does #hack4good work?

 

Teams respond to problem statements and challenges set by NGOs, government organisations and subject matter experts, collaborating intensively over a 48-hour period. The result is 100s of prototype projects that demonstrate innovative technology solutions to have a positive impact for humanity.

Locations

 

Bangalore

Kazan

Malta

Odessa

Santiago

Berlin

Krakow

Minsk

Paris

Senegal

Chicago

Kiev

Mumbai

Philadelphia

Southampton

Dublin

Lisbon

New Delhi

Port of Spain

Topi

Hyderabad

London

New Orleans

San Jose

Tunis

Kathmandu

Los Angeles

New York

San Francisco

Washington DC


+ more to be announced

 

In each location, a judging panel made up of technology leaders and subject matter experts will select the most promising teams in terms of their potential impact. These go forwards into global judging.

 

The teams selected by the global judging panel will present their projects as part of Climate Week NYC alongside the UN Climate Summit in New York in September.

Previous #hack4good events

 

Write-ups of our previous five events:

 

 

Results

 

More than 200 projects have been built at Geeklist #hack4good events and more than 1 in 4 teams continue their projects after forming at #hack4good.

 

Geeklist and its partners support and facilitate teams formed at #hack4good to continue their projects beyond the hackathon and have a real impact in the world. Here are some of the success stories:

 

  • Taarifa for International Medical Corps won the Global Sanitation App Challenge, secured World Bank funding, now working to get adoption by Tanzanian government Ministry of Water

  • Humanitarian Internal Communication System is undergoing further development in collaboration with INSEDD for field testing by Médecins Sans Frontières in Nigeria

  • TreeTag is being established as a social benefit b-corporation to certify supply chain origin of sustainably sourced timber, Jungle Bird are working with Greenpeace to field test in the Congo

  • BangonPH was built during the Philippines Typhoon Yolanda hackathon and quickly grew to track relief aid status in 135 locations

  • CauseHub – a tool to unify efforts around any cause – has graduated the Bethnal Green Ventures social impact accelerator programme and is now being piloted with non-profits

  • Community Resilience Indexing System - team is now contracted by Concern Worldwide and presenting their project at an international seminar in Ethiopia in May 2014

 

Global media coverage

Geeklist #hack4good has been featured extensively by both technology and mainstream press, online, in print and on national television. Click the logos for reports of previous events:

         

 

#hack4good NGO partners

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#hack4good sponsors and partners

We partner with companies who share our vision of harnessing the world’s best technology to solve humanity’s greatest challenges. Together, we have an ongoing commitment to support teams in developing and deploying world-changing projects:

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Get involved

 

As a challenge partner…

Challenge partners are key to the success of #hack4good. Successful, sustainable projects are created when organisations bring forwards key challenges and problem statements, collaborate with teams over the 48-hour event and show an ongoing commitment to creating real-world impact with these projects.

 

As a sponsor…

By sponsoring #hack4good, you will gain exposure to a network of developers passionate about changing the world, you’ll help build apps and products that better the world, and join Geeklist in giving these projects perpetual life to create real global impact on the issue of climate change.

 

For more information on getting involved as a sponsor or challenge partner click here or please contact:

 

Dan Cunningham

Head of Geeklist Corps of Developers

hack4good@geekli.st

+44 7964 404 897

Code for Good with Duke University

I was recently invited to speak at HackDuke in North Carolina to attend their “Code for Good” hackathon.  My mission was simple:  Inspire the audience to make a difference.  

Let’s set stage….

HackDuke, Duke University, North Carolina.  Event Name:  Code For Good

A buzz fills the room with electric energy as hundreds of students, engineers, designers, and non-profit organizations fill the entry hall.  All of these students are here for one reason:  To apply their technology skills to make the world a better place.

Zppppt , the swag at each sponsor’s table is gone.  Everywhere we turn students are asking questions varying in size and complexity from “What’s the best stack for landing a job”, “What are the best languages to use during a hackathon”, to “What’s the most impactful hackathon project you’ve ever seen?” 

I answer diligently, all the while impressed by their vigor.

Kick-off

With the Hackduke team (like, 20 of them!) ready to kick-off we were all ushered into the main auditorium.  It was time to see what the event was about.  So, what WAS the event about?

"HackDuke is not just about building meaningful projects. It’s also an open forum to discuss, share and bring to life ideas that aim to make a positive impact on social issues. Look forward to working with experts from non-profits and coding alongside mentors from tech companies!HackDuke encourages students to venture beyond the classroom. Learn how your skills can be used to make a difference other people’s lives.”

Ok - I cheated a little bit there - I took that directly from their homepage, http://www.hackduke.com.

Geeklist’s Spot

We have been heavily involved in the civic tech scene for over a year now, with 6 major civic tech events to show for in the #hack4good series.  We’ve seen a lot, and although we are still learning (never stop!), we have great stories to share.

And share we did - we spoke about apps built to save the rainforest (check out http://treetag.org), apps to save lives (Typhoon Yolanda), and civic hackathons world-wide (#hack4good 0.5).  We spoke about scalability, design, and how to think outside the box to create real world solutions.  Most importantly; we spoke of Impact.  The real, lasting impact that these projects can make in the lives of those around them.

Outcome

As always I was surprised at the level of thought, aptitude, and functionality displayed during the final presentations.  There were projects ranging from an education tracker for Syrian refugees to a self-diagnostic tool for cervical cancer (yes, including hardware designed by the schools research department).  I can’t possibly cover them all, but I would love to give a quick description of the 3 winners in each of the 3 categories.

Changing the World – Education, Inequality, and Health & Wellness

Homecrowd

By Tyler Nisonoff, Chinmay Patwardhan, and Michael Lai, all from Duke University, won the education track.  Their idea was simple:  Through their custom website students take control of the class by uploading course notes and other study guides. Participation is encouraged through a gamification model, which rewards points based on actions completed on the site.

They chose to donate their prize to Teach for America.

Bullhorn

Alex Browne is from Duke U and his solo hack “Bullhorn” won the inequality track, by addressing an issue prompted by a local non-profit, the Urban Ministries of Durham. UMD helps the poor and homeless connect to sources of food, shelter, and other resources. His hack allows UMD to better communicate with their clients, by allowing those looking for resources to subscribe to “broadcasts” sent out by UMD on their phone, which eliminates the need to be connected to the Internet.

He chose to donate his prize to UMD. 

Mamoru

Built by James Magnarilli from Northeastern U, Abhishek Bobo Bose-Kolanu from Duke U, Siddartha Tondapu from Virginia Tech and Zachary Fogg from University of Maryland, and won the Health and Wellness track. Mamoru means “to protect” in Japanese and is an emergency contact app that alerts your friends if you don’t check in when you’re supposed to.

Mamoru chose to donate their prize to DurhamCares.

Take Away

Having skills in technology is one thing; using those skills to help those in need is something in itself.  The quality and caliber of character the students & volunteers at Duke University displayed in their work with the local non-profit organizations was nothing short of inspiring, and I am proud to have been a part of this event.

I’m looking forward to the next Code for Good with HackDuke, and I hope next time you will all join us there.  Let’s make this world a better place, one line of code at a time J.

~Jedi Weller

VP of Ops, Geeklist

Making a Difference in Technology with TechGirlz

[This is a guest blog post exclusively for Geeklist, by Tracey Welson-Rossman, founder of TechGirlz.org and CMO at Chariot Solutions, Philadelphia.  If you’re interested in guest blogging for Geeklist contact us at blog@geekli.st]

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Tracey Welson-Rossman is the Founder of TechGirlz.org , a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring teenage girls to consider careers in technology. She is a founding member and Chief Marketing Officer at Chariot Solutions, a leading Philadelphia area IT consulting firm. Tracey is the Chair of the Philly Women in Tech Summit and the Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise Conference. She serves on several Boards including: Economy League of Philadelphia, Barnard College’s Athena Digital Design Program, and Haydle. Recently, Tracey was honored by as one of 40 Women to Watch Over 40 Worldwide. 

What is TechGirlz? 

TechGirlz is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping adolescent girls understand that a future in technology does not necessarily equate to a “boring computer job”, but instead transcends the cubicle into nearly every field imaginable. TechGirlz offers technology workshops, a summer camp, online resources, and opportunities to connect with peers and tech role models. The programs are designed to help breakdown gender stereotypes and help girls improve tech skills, gain confidence, and see new possibilities. Individuals, tech companies, developers, and foundations such as the Ebay Foundation who share our vision fund us.

What is the Major Drive behind Your Organization?

It might surprise some that the mother of two boys would start an organization dedicated to girls’ success. But I know first-hand how satisfying and flexible a career in technology can be. I also know the research shows that many tech-savvy young girls opt out of pursuing technology careers. It’s no secret that women represent a small minority in tech and an anemic three percent of tech startups in the US.

This tech gender gap starts early. Last year, according to the 2013 testing data from the College Board, only 12% of high school students who wrote the AP Computer Science exam in Pennsylvania were girls. That translates to a mere 106 female high school students for the entire state. Alarmingly, there were even three states in which not one single girl took the exam.

TechGirlz aims to reduce the tech gap and show young girls that there are great opportunities in tech. The U.S. Department of Labor projects that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings and we’d like to see many of these openings being filled by women.

Hands-on Techshopz + 350 Girls in Enrollment= 70% More Interested! Wow!

We run a series of hands-on Techshopz throughout the year and are quickly approaching our 40th session. We have just completed our first impact survey and 70% of the girls have expressed, “more interest in tech jobs after attending TechGirlz”! Here is a sample of some of the workshops we have offered:

Create a website using HTML and CSS: in this popular workshop, students learn the elements of HTML and CSS and use them to edit a webpage template to create their own website.

  • Design with Scratch: using Scratch, students experiment with the basics of programming.
  • Program with Python: using Python, students learn the basics of programming including: simple data types, comparisons, if-statements, and loops. 
  • Design Mobile Apps: using MIT App Developer, students work in teams to design a mobile app. They select an app idea, develop a prototype, and present their final product. 
  • Gaming with Unity 3D: using Unity 3D, students learn about the history of video games and build their own game.
  • Create a podcast: in one of our most popular workshops, students learn how to create a podcast. 
  • Learn the basics of Ruby on Rails:  students learn the basics of Ruby on Rails web development and create their own app.

 

TechGirlz also holds an annual, tech-entrepreneurship summer boot camp. This week-long camp has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and CNNMoney. In this camp, middle school girls learn how to go from idea generation to presentation of their prototype and business plan under the guidance of some of Philadelphia’s top startup leaders and developers. This is one of the few camps supporting girls and entrepreneurship in the country.

Call to Action: How can the Tech Community Help?

You can have an impact on a girl’s future by running your own TechShop.  Our survey indicated that only 12% of the girls in our programs are learning technology in schools and that there is a shortage of specialist tech teachers. We’ve had individual technologists, college students, and corporations run Techshopz using our free, 13-year old girl approved lesson plans.

I can testify that being in a room with these girls for a TechShop is very impactful, not just for them, but for you. It is a rare volunteer opportunity that allows you to really see the change you are making.  

What are Your Next Steps?

We want to reach a total of 50,000 girls in 5 years. But we can’t do it on our own. We will continue to do what we do best - offer classes and create lesson plans that resonate with this demographic. But, we need IT professionals to run Techshopz in workplaces and community spaces. We need encouraging, inspirational, and positive tech role models. We need to help girls breakdown gender stereotypes, advance their tech skills, and envision new possibilities.

Visit www.techgirlz.org to run your own Techshop or volunteer.

Free Private Git Repositories come out of Beta on Geeklist

We would like to invite the entire tech community to test our free Git Repositories on Geeklist.

We launched them in Beta mode a few months ago, recently broke 3,000 active users and now wish to invite the entire tech community to join! (Invite your friends too)

We believe Git repositories are only one part of global collaboration and innovation. We launched them to support our global #hack4good efforts, providing it as an important tool - but needed private repositories for those teams working on sensitive projects. 

Today Public and Private repositories are a free service with your Geeklist account. Test them out and merge over all of your repos. It’s pretty simple and our support team is happy to help! Go here: Git.geekli.st
 

Have fun and #hack4good!

- The Geeklist repo happiness team :)

Building tech communities for social good

I was recently invited to give a brief talk at Uncubed SF about social good and tech communities. It got me thinking about my very first hackathon organized by Geeklist. It was in NYC in 2011. 40-50 hackers. One of them, Erik Price, asked what the theme was for the event. I know. Nowadays that seems like a ridiculous thing to have to ask, but at the time hackathons were still very loosely formed social meet-ups to build cool shit together. In one place. With tons of coffee and pizza.

So I answered the one answer that made the most sense… “Build something that can make the world a better place”. Still a very loose guideline, but he got it. He also went on to win the event.

Nowadays social good has become more prevalent in the lives of developers and companies. We’ve gone on to focus our Geeklist organized events on social good with our ‘Geeklist Global #Hack4good' series. Of course we get involved in or power the occasional music or otherwise more commercial event, like this weeks Slashathon, I mean who wouldn’t want to pitch Slash, Scoble and Bram Cohen? But when it’s a Geeklist organized and run event… It’s all about changing the world and making it a better place. 

I’ll be speaking more about this in a brief talk and q&a session on Thursday, March 27th - 3:30pm at Uncubed SF. Geeklist users get a 50% discount off of registration for Uncubed SF with the code: GEEKLIST 

Hack good things and hope to see you there,

Reuben Katz - Founder and CEO of Geeklist and their global #hack4good series.

Slash announces judges for the Slashathon

SLASH Announces Judges For First-Ever 'Slashathon'

As the music world prepares to descend upon music week in Austin, Texas during SXSW 2014, the Grammy-winning, iconic guitarist and Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame artist Slash has announced the Slashathon. Powered by GeeklistSlashathon is the first-ever artist-focused hackathon whereby developers create applications and technology within a 12-hour period. The music-oriented Slashathon will offer developers a unique challenge to create solutions for musicians to engage their communities in new ways for an album release. Slashathon will take place Wednesday, March 12 at Capital Factory (701 Brazos St., STE 1601, Austin, Texas). The entire Slashathon will be live-streamed all day, via Livestream.

Slash will be joined by Bram Cohen (chief scientist and founder of BitTorrent) and Robert Scoble (first employee at Microsoft, creator of HackathonsRackspace) onsite in Austin to judge the Slashathon. Also, a major entrepreneur in the world of tech will make a surprise guest appearance. The Grand Prize includes a Gibson guitar autographed by Slash, $1,000 dollars and the opportunity to have Slash use the winning hack with the release of his new album, coming out in late 2014.

Register for the Slashathon at: www.slashathon.com. *SXSW badges are not required to participate.

Slashathon
Wednesday, March 12
@ Capitol Factory, Austin
8:30 a.m.: Registration
9:00 a.m.: API presentations
10:00 a.m.: Hacking begins
1:30 p.m.: Lunch
7:00 p.m.: Presentations
8:30: Awards

A pioneer in blending tech and music, Slash launched his first two music apps "Slash360" and "Slash AmpliTube", to promote the "Apocalyptic Love" album (2012) featuring his band MYLES KENNEDY AND THE CONSPIRATORS. The critically acclaimed album "Apocalyptic Love" earned Slash his two first-ever No. 1 rock radio hits — "You’re A Lie" and "Standing In The Sun" — and stormed onto The Billboard 200 chart at No. 4, marking the top rock debut for that week. Last year, Slash also partnered with the Swedish company Rovio — creator of the popular mobile game Angry Birds — to create a theme song for the "Angry Birds Space".

Slash and his band are currently in the studio working on a new album, to be released in the fall of 2014.

slashathon


Read more at http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/slash-announces-judges-for-first-ever-slashathon/#Y1TcahKCHwtXTaRI.99

And the winner of the Geeklist #hack4good 0.5 is…

25 locations - 2,500 developers world wide - 145 Amazing Projects - tackling disabilities, health, education, human rights, agriculture and humanitarian aid - this is what Geeklist #hack4good is about!!! 

35 projects went in to the global finals of Geeklist #hack4good 0.5.

The judges have been deliberating for the last 10 days - this was a tough decision! 

They’ve watched so many amazing videos and demos of incredible projects.

Heard from a lot of passionate people from all over the world. 

Challenged and questioned some of the teams to understand the impact their ideas could have.

And now…

They’ve picked their top four teams.

These 4 projects were judged as the most creative, well-executed and - most importantly - those with the greatest potential for social impact. 

Here - without further ado - are the global winners of #hack4good 0.5!

In joint 3rd place…

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Air Triage is a free application that makes it easy and efficient for anyone to use imagery from aerial drones, precisely georeferencing aerial photographs and marking on a map where particular help is needed. This transforms what is normally a process of several days and hundreds of man-hours into something that one person with a laptop in the field can do right in the moment!

Watch Air Triage in action:

Congratulations to the team from London: James O-Halloran, Rob Finean, Olivia Comberti, Andrew Curtis, Florian Rathgeber and Jon Somerscales - in collaboration with Ivan Gayton of Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) / Doctors without Borders.

We’re really impressed at how they worked extremely closely with an NGO to tackle a specific problem here. They’ve built enabling technology that can make a real difference to the speed and effectiveness of humanitarian response in disaster situations!

Give the Air Triage team a high five!

and also in joint 3rd place…

Offline Connect and Communicate tackled the problem of communication in a disaster situation. Using Raspberry Pi devices to build ad-hoc wi-fi networks, their system allows voice communication between Android phones, even when mobile networks are down.

Watch Offline Connect and Communicate in action:

Congratulations to the team from Hyderabad: Praneeth Kalluri, Raghava Yamsani and Vishal Varun.

We love the way they approached this problem - thinking very clearly about the constraints of a disaster situation, what would be most effective and then building a simple solution that uses affordable hardware and could be easily deployed in the field.

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2nd place… the runner-up of #hack4good 0.5 is…

V.I.S.I.O.N. stands for Visual Impairment Supporting Interactive Obstacle Navigator. This hardware project - using Arduino - aims at replacing the walking stick of a blind person, locating and detecting foot/knee/head-level obstacles, staircases, steps and ditches, providing audio and tactile feedback and alerts to aid people with visual impairments in day-to-day life.

Watch V.I.S.I.O.N. in action:

Congratulations to the team from Bangalore who participated Online: Anirvan Maiti, Shrey Rupani and Ritvik Gautam.

It is incredible how much you achieved in the 48 hours and seeing the journey unfold on your videos - each one with seemingly more and more wiring and Arduinos hooked together - was awesome! We’re very excited that you’re now field testing this with blind people to get their feedback.

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And the global winner of #hack4good 0.5 is…

Whitecane is a personalized face recognition app that enables people who are partially blind, with a cognitive disorder or prosopagnosia (face blind), senior citizens etc. to identify and remember their beloved ones.

Watch Whitecane in action:

Congratulations to the team from New Delhi: Manish Singh Bisht, Sonu Raj, Hitesh Dua and Siddharth Sudhakar - you are the global winners of #hack4good 0.5!

Several things were extremely impressive about this team and this project:

First - very focused on a clear problem that profoundly affects the lives of a large and increasing number of people.

Second - judges were extremely impressed at the execution and presentation of this project - the voice interface, the added features of understanding emotion - this just blew us all away!

Third - and most important - for those people who need it, this app will have an absolutely life-changing impact. To have built something with such power to improve people’s lives, in a single weekend, is just an astounding achievement.

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More amazing projects!

The judges had a REALLY hard time choosing between so many amazing projects!

We are proud to present a collection of all the local winning teams:


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On top of all these, we really want to congratulate and commend every team who committed to the 48 hours and built something for social good.

What you each built is a major achievement…

so we built the ability create an Achievement Card for your profile right from your Project!!

Try it out - go to your project card - click “Edit” and then “Make this project an achievement”.

If you’ve enjoyed this as much as we have, Geeklist #hack4good 0.6 is just a few months away and we’d love to have you be part of it - either as participants or even to get involved in making it happen in your city!

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To all the world-changing ideas and projects and all of you who make them happen, we thank you for making this Geeklist #hack4good awesome!

- Dan, Jedi and Reuben

Geeklist #hack4good global team

Geeklist powers Slashathon during SXSW

Slash + Hackathon + Geeklist + SXSW!

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That’s right. On March 12th, during SXSW opening day of music, just after SXSW Interactive finishes… SLASHATHON, powered by Geeklist is the first ever Artist-Focused music hackathon with Slash, BitTorrent Chief Scientist and Founder, and Ben Parr of Dominate Fund will be judging on stage! 

Think you can hack the world’s next great music app? There are only 250 spots so you’ll want to sign up: http://slashathon.com

Contact sponsors@geekli.st asap if you’re interested in sponsoring!


Here’s a clip of the release that went out today:

SLASHATHON
POWERED BY GEEKLIST
FIRST-EVER ARTIST-FOCUSED HACKATHON ON
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
AT CAPITOL FACTORY IN AUSTIN, TX
 
SLASH
BRAM COHEN (BitTorrent) AND BEN PARR (DominateFund) 
WILL JUDGE HACKS ONSITE DURING EVENT IN AUSTIN 
 
 
The Grammy-winningiconic guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist SLASH is heading to music week in Austin during SXSW 2014 to launch SLASHATHON, the first-ever artist-focused hackathon. Powered by Geeklist,  SLASHATHON is a hackathon where developers create applications and technology within a 12-hour period. The music-oriented SLASHATHON will offer developers a unique challenge to create solutions for artists to engage their communities for an album release. SLASHATHON will take place Wednesday, March 12 at Capitol Factory (701 Brazos St., STE 1601, Austin, TX).
 
The SLASHATHON GRAND PRIZE includes a Gibson guitar autographed by SLASH, $1,000 dollarsAND the opportunity to have SLASH use the winning hack with the release of his new album, coming out in late 2014. The judges for SLASHATHON will be SLASH himself, Bram Cohen, Chief Scientist and Founder of BitTorrent, and Ben Parr, Co-founder & Managing Partner, DominateFund.
 
REGISTER FOR THE SLASHATHON AT: WWW.SLASHATHON.COM. *SXSW badges are not required to participate. APIs available to developers to build with include Aviary, Dolby, LeapMotion, Gimbal, Raspberry Pi, Codio.io, Spotify, Mad Mimi, Yellow API and Lob. Furthr.laGeeklist and Wolfram Research will provide mentorship for all participants.
 
SLASHATHON
Wednesday, March 12
@ Capitol Factory, AustinAnchor
8:30 AM: Registration
9:00 AM: API presentations
10:00 AM: Hacking begins
1:30 PM: Lunch
7:00 PM: Presentations
8:30: Awards

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