Difference between revisions of "Worldwide Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon Series"

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==Projects to Work on==
==Projects to Work on==
: Main article: [[Aaron projects]]
=== TOR ===
=== TOR ===

Revision as of 11:19, 9 November 2013

The Worldwide Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathons generated considerable interest and engagement, but there's more work to be done!

The Second Worldwide Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon is scheduled for the weekend of Nov. 8. Our official page is here but this wiki is for coordinating projects.

We are also using #aaronswhack on irc.oftc.net and can be reached on the list org@aaronswartzhackathon.org

video etherpad active during the events


"We were part of an inchoate, ad-hoc community of collaborators who helped each other learn how to code. No, not how to write code ‒ how to write code for the purpose of changing the world." - Zooko, on memories of Aaron (full post here)


Structure of the event (condensed from meeting notes):

  • In advance at each location, (at least) one presenter is chosen to "pitch" what they consider a vital project. This project should be eminently hackable -- the presenter or another volunteer who knows the project well should be prepared to help interested parties get involved, at many skill levels.
  • The event starts like a hybrid (un-)conference, with introductions and short presentations. The pre-announced presenter(s) do these presentations, and during the introductions people can offer or request talks, which are added as time permits on the spot. Total presentation time should be ~1.5-2hrs. Presentations are recorded and immediately posted online (or streamed), for remote participants or people at other hackathons to see.
  • Then there's open time to work.
  • Finally, at the end of the event, there are 1.5-2hrs of demonstrations of results. Anyone can sign up on the site with info about project status to get a demo slot. Demos are also recorded and posted online, cross-referenced with individuals and projects.

Proposed Dates

  • Set up a event webpage - Done (Sept.)
  • Recruit hacklabs (as hosts) and activists (as PMs) - Ongoing (Sept./Oct.)
  • Get signal-boosting web coverage - Ongoing (Sept./Oct.)
  • Run events - Nov. 8 weekend

Projects to Work on

Main article: Aaron projects


  • tor2web and jot2tor (virgil, SF)(oliver, BOS) : Tor2web makes it possible for internet users to view content from Tor hidden services. It's online in a (mostly) functioning form at http://tor2web.org . Jot2tor is an extension of this allowing users to use Aaron's jottit.com framework to easily create pages hosted on hidden services. Naturally, pages created via jot2tor are accessible from tor2web. Aaron and I actually worked on both of these projects until his death.
    OliverDay (Cambridge)

More information about what help we need is at: https://tor.jottit.com


  • Fork the Law (Christie (talk), SF) Fork the Law has spent the last few months working out what ordinary people need to know in order to effect legislative change. We're now working on condensing this down to a set of technical design requirements. We'd like to dig into turning the requirements into code, integrating existing open source applications and other services wherever possible. The repository for the development effort is https://github.com/fork-the-law/hancock.
  • Free Law Project - non-profit providing free access to primary legal materials, developing legal research tools, and supporting academic research on legal corpora. Creators of CourtListener and Juriscraper. Easiest project for new contributor would be to extend juriscraper to cover another state court website not yet covered. See code on bitbucket.org.
    Free Law Machine is a virtual machine containing all dev tools and code one needs to get started.
    See also the "Free the Law" project @ HLS
  • PeerLibrary is a new open source project and a service providing collaborative reading, sharing and storing. Users can upload publications they want to read (currently in PDF format), read them in the browser in real-time with others, highlight, annotate and organize their own or collaborative library. PeerLibrary provides a search engine to search over all uploaded open access publications. Additionally, it aims to collaboratively aggregate the open layer of knowledge on top of this publications through public annotations and references user will add to publications. In this way publications would not just be available to read, but accessible to the general public as well. Currently, it is aiming at scientific community and scientific publications, but could be deployed for any other field (a StackExchange-like family is envisioned).
    source code (build with Meteor)
    screencast of a prototype
    OKCon blog post about the ideas behind the project

Personal archive

  • Archiving Aaron's writings (psawaya, SF). I think it'd be helpful to produce an archive of Aaron's writings, as the formatting on his blog isn't well-organized or good for reading on mobile devices. Some projects might include producing ePub and MOBI versions, organizing and tagging his writing, making it searchable, and perhaps even making it annotatable. It may be possible to build off of this project. I recall not finding a Creative Commons declaration on Aaron's blog, though this project certainly seems to be in alignment with his ideals. Yan suggested talking about it with Noah Swartz.
    JoshL, SJ (Cambridge), JamesGrimm
  • Abelson Report TL;DR (Cambridge). Distillation and restating the Report to the President, such that more people can join in the conversations around the issues specific to MIT. Ongoing project page
  • Getting projects their own articles on Wikipedia
    James (Cambridge)

Legal Fixes

  • Repeal the CFAA: SJ, Andy (Cambridge). The CFAA is broken; noone but prosecutors like it. Building a constructive, normative replacement, and strategies for getting support at all levels: executive, policy, law, prosecution, activists, cyberwar. Cooperating with Aaron's Law and EFF work; but also tackling.
    Most discussions of "CFAA reform" have been incremental, in a framework of discussing what changes to current law are possible and would help fix recent problems; as opposed to describing why CFAA is broken and what proportionate and moral laws in that space wold look like.
    We're trying to describe what effective policy would look like, starting from scratch. Policy, Legal, Social, Tech/Security, and Prosecutorial norms which make sense.
    Project details and analysis
  • Prosecutorial Overreach/Underreach: The DOJ turns a blind eye to war criminals and Wall St crooks yet throws the book at activists like Aaron. I've registered 14 domains that are variations of the three main prosecutors in Aaron's trail (i.e. carmenortiz.org, stephenheymann.org, etc.) The names Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann are already synonymous with abuse of power. Let's cement that while drawing attention to other activists/whistleblowers who are being prosecuted for non-crimes. While we're at it, let's give prosecutors something useful to do by highlighting well documented but unprosecuted crimes (I'm looking at you John Yoo/Jamie Dimon/James Clapper).
  • Restore the Fourth placeholder. We'll know more closer to the date about which of our projects would benefit the most from this. Options include the various encrpytion/meshnet/other coding aspects, blog posts and other content development, or drafting policy documents and researching for coalition-building.

Privacy and other software tools

  • Indie Box: Set up our own web applications on cheap Linux devices (like the Raspberry Pi) in our own homes: http://indieboxproject.org/
  • Client-side encryption (Daniel, SF): a library for creating web apps that encrypt user data before sending it to the server. This is an attempt at keeping the convenience of cloud storage while retaining data privacy.


  • Transparency Toolkit (shidash, ?): Unfortunately Shidash is unavailable, but maybe someone else could do it?
  • Overview Project (Ian, SF): an open-source tool to help journalists (or anyone!) find stories in large sets of documents, by automatically sorting them according to topic and providing a fast visualization and reading interface. It's a way to quickly make sense of huge leaks, FOIA responses, and document dumps using a combination of clever algorithms and human intuition. Remember, transparency is meaningless if nobody's watching. Homepage: http://overview.ap.org/ Source: https://github.com/overview

Activism tools

  • Taskforce (Sina, SF): https://taskforce.is are a group of developer volunteers working on a range of different activism tools and campaigns, aiming to improve the tools available to citizens and organizations advocating for better technology policy.
    • Two projects we'd love to collaborate on are:
      • An SMS campaigning tool - Similar to MobileCommons, but open source. We have funding from Twilio that will enable this to exist as a "warning broadcast system" for people interested in tech advocacy. How it should work: The system would allow a user to sign up (either via SMS or via a web form) to receive SMS updates about tech advocacy projects. When a user signs up they immediately receive a text confirming their signup, and they can opt out any time. Admins can send messages to all subscribers via an admin interface.
      • Crowdsourced anti-apathy platform - There's quite a bit of apathy with regards to surveillance in both the tech community and in the general public. We've been brainstorming to try and figure out how we can effectively convince people that it matters. Our best proposal thus far is to create a system to crowdsource the most convincing content, videos, photos and articles from around the web. Users would then be able to upvote the things that they found the most convincing.
    • Feel free to hack away. If you have any questions, feel free to email me (Email: [1], SMS: 949-878-8202). Also see https://github.com/tfrce and https://taskforce.is

Activists/Groups to reach out to

Feel free to add to the list or contact someone you know at one of these!

  • Praveen (SF) - California prison reform/hunger strike stuff (contacted)
  • Willow (Cambridge?) - Hackers Without Borders (contacted)
  • EFF - pgpbot, other tech projects? (contacted)
  • Internet Archive - (will host reception in SF)
  • Mozilla - (contacted)
  • Freedom of the Press Foundation - (contacted)
  • OpenITP - (contacted)
  • Mailpile - (contacted)
  • Wikimedia - (contacted)
  • Maplight - Contacted
  • Restore the Fourth - (contacted)
  • Demand Progress
  • Digital Right Northwest (Seattle - Contacted)


Please include the main organizer name and email. This list is non-authoritative: please see the official website for an up-to-date list of locations.

  • Nosebridge, SF - CONFIRMED, yan (yan at mit dot edu)
  • Boston, MA - CONFIRMED, willow leading (Media Lab)
  • Chicago, IL - CONFIRMED, brian (brianhray at gmail dot com)
  • Seattle, WA - CONFIRMED, Jigsaw Renaissance, Noah leading
  • Austin - IN PROGRESS, samantha mahool
  • Netz39, Germany - IN PROGRESS, katharina holstein
  • NYC - CONFIRMED, 630 Flushing Ave, rmo (rmo at numm . org)
  • Zagreb - CONFIRMED, david (david at numm . org)
  • Hacklab Barracas, Buenos Aires Event Site - CONFIRMED, nicolás reynolds
  • Santiago Chile - CONFIRMED, hugo baronti hugo at baronti dot net in Sofa Santa Isabel 0151 web lab dot libr3 dot org
  • Bangalore - contacted & interested, in progress
  • Berlin - CONFIRMED, samuel carlisle
  • Amsterdam - CONFIRMED, TechInc Hackersspace, vesna manojlovic (becha at xs4all . nl)
    • Talk to samthetechie at the c-base for more info
  • Houston, TX (combined with civic hackathon) - jeff at januaryadvisors. com
  • Paris
  • London
  • Tokyo
  • Guatemala, CONFIRMED Café Barista, centro comercial Galerías Primma. Calzada Roosevelt Ciudad de Guatemala. www.slgt.org cflarrazabal en tigo.com.gt
  • México, Hackerspace Rancho electrónico (ranchoelectronico.org), Asamblea RE ranchoelectronico@riseup.net

San Francisco

In memory of hacker activist Aaron Swartz, let's get together for a weekend to work on projects for social/political reform, information freedom, preserving our rights on the Internet, and making the world we want to live in. Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether or not you code. This event is being organized by User:Yan, so get in touch if you have questions.

We'll be working on several open source projects simultaneously with developers from Tor, EFF, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Mozilla, and other organizations (see projects list above). All of them need your help, no matter who you are! Come find out how you can help us fight mass surveillance and protect whistleblowers, or work on something important that you've been putting off for years, or simply hang out and learn how to use encryption.

Note that the event kicks off at the Internet Archive on Nov 8 but will be at Noisebridge for the rest of the weekend.

If you're coming to the Internet Archive event on Fri, please RSVP via https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ExJpzJY5uy8apNJGK8qPROgfoNXr0u1JdtaL7V8psKA/viewform. No registration is needed for the hackathon at Noisebridge.


Nov. 8 (at the Internet Archive)

  • 5 pm: The Internet Archive opens for early hacking! Yan and possibly others will be around to help people find projects to work on.
  • 6:30 pm: Reception starts at the Internet Archive. Come mingle.
  • 7:30 pm: The event kicks off at the Internet Archive on Friday evening with talks from Cindy Cohn (legal director of the EFF), Kevin Poulsen (editor of Wired), Brewster Kahle (founder of the Internet Archive), and others TBA.
  • 9 pm: Let's start hacking! (Until we get kicked out of the Internet Archive around 10 pm, at which point we might move to Noisebridge?)

Nov. 9 (at Noisebridge)

  • 11 am - ?: Hackathon starts up again at Noisebridge! We'll start with more project presentations and then spend the rest of the day working. Come by any time.
  • 2 pm (ish): CFAA discussion and Q&A
  • 4 pm: Impromptu cryptoparty

Nov. 10 (at Noisebridge)

  • 11 am: More hacking at Noisebridge!
  • 4 pm: DEMO TIME. Come demo what you've done over the weekend. Afterwards we'll head to the Sycamore for celebration.

Who's going

  • Yan
  • Jay
  • posi Already there! Although I think I am at the wrong place.