You've heard of hackathons. These are short, dedicated periods of time in which software coders and data wonks get together and create something new, improve some code, or tweak and complement an existing product. They've become integral parts of corporate culture at places like Facebook, are an important part of the Open Government movement, and increasingly common in the social sector.
They're also ripe for improvement. The "cutting room" floor is littered with apps and tools built in these weekend long events. The need to connect the coders and the techies to the social problem solvers, policy wonks, and potential customers for a new app, website or tech tool is now well understood. Creating ongoing communities of coders and doers is as important a result of these one-off events as the 24 hour apps they produce.
Building on the experience and insights of hackathon leaders, Stanford PACS is excited to host our first CodeJam this coming Saturday, April 20th. In partnership with the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, LinkedIn, Palantir, The Aspen Institute, and several other Silicon Valley firms student teams will be working on a variety of ideas all drawn from the intersection of open data, jobs and job creation, and the social sector. We've got teams working on social enterprise corporate forms to immigration and work issues, 'common applications' and career planning tools. We also have a special challenge focused on jobs for veterans and military families.
The students will get advice from experts from the Foundation Center, Caravan studios, Benetech, SocialCoding4Good, GirlGeeks, Watsi, investors/attorneys, and local foundations involved in the Reporting Commitment. They're joining us help the students ground their ideas in reality and to think about how this type of CodeJam opportunity might be applied to some of their data. We'll highlight the Markets4ForGood effort and the Data Interoperability Grand Challenge as potential "next steps" for some of the ideas, and are thrilled that at least one of the teams is already a Knight News Challenge semifinalist.
As part of the ongoing work of the #ReCodingGood project and Digital Civil Society Lab we're planning to continue events like these in partnership with social sector organizations, government agencies, and tech firms - always looking toward building human connections and ongoing relationships as well as new code or apps. We hope this is a useful addition to the burgeoning network of hackathons - including the NASA SpaceApps Challenge (which also launches on April 20th) and the National Day of Civic Hacking.
Stay tuned - I'll report back on the outcomes of the day.