Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon

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Aaron Swartz Memorial Today[edit | edit source]


Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon 2013[edit | edit source]

In memory of Aaron Swartz, and in coordination with a world-wide effort, Noisebridge will be hosting a hackathon starting Friday, January 25th, and continuing through Sunday, January 27th.

Intro[edit | edit source]

Aaron was a hacktivist and friend of many in our community. He helped create RSS 1.0; contributed to Creative Commons; was an early builder of Reddit, where he's often acknowledged as a co-founder; created the web.py framework; and more recently, became a data liberator, first with PACER and then with scholarly articles from JSTOR, both of which got him into trouble with the law.

Aaron's Demand Progress project helped stop SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act in the US, which threatened to have far reaching unintended consequences.

Aaron Swartz committed suicide on Jan. 11, 2013, but his work on making the world a better place should not die with him. Join us for two days of understanding his work and contributing to keep his memory and projects alive.

(This section adapted with permission from the Bangalore hackathon.)

Event Details[edit | edit source]

When: 7pm Jan. 25 - 7pm Jan. 27

What: Come learn new skills and work together on projects that Aaron would have liked. Themes include open information access, sharing and preserving human knowledge, hacking for social/political justice, and techno-activism.

Organizers: yan, shannon, mct

Remote collab: mailing list

The event is free, but we'll have donation boxes for purchasing food and project supplies. BYO-snacks-and-energy-drinks.

Projects[edit | edit source]

Post and gather volunteers for project ideas on this spreadsheet. Most of them need someone to volunteer to be the point of contact.

Major projects hacked on on Friday:

  • Open Journal (mek)
  • Cleaning up http://www.data.gov (Yan, Robert, Eric, Connie, Ian, Evan, David)

In addition, lots of suggested ideas were added to https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ai2JAMm86EJbdFg1TW5tenNJSUt3X2dVVmQ3M08xSlE#gid=3.

Things that people did on Saturday:

  • Continue data.gov project
  • Look into FOIA-type requests to liberate academic journals/datasets
  • Scrape websites and stuff
  • Learn LaTeX
  • Discuss academic publishing reform
  • Work on porting Recap to Chrome
  • A bunch of talks (see below)
  • BACE timebank
  • Open Library
  • Chromatest and Eric played some sick DJ sets!

Things that people did on Sunday:

Schedule[edit | edit source]

Talks are relatively informal, supposedly fun, and probably won't go for an hour each.

Scheduled talks/demos (tentative):


  • 7 pm: Hackathon starts, Yan probably says some words and asks for money.
  • 8 pm: Keynote on Aaron's life and work by Danny O'Brien


  • 4 pm: Step 1: FOIA, Step 2: ??, Step 3: Profit, Ping. How to write Freedom of Information Act request letters to do good things for the world.
  • 5 pm: Hacktivism: On social justice movements, Daniel Jabbour. A brief history of social justice movements, and my own experience with policy reform and hacktivism.
    • Slides available online here
  • 6 pm: Principles of Low Power Design, Alex Newman. Hardware you have never heard of for more low power.
  • 7 pm: Improving the Scientific Process through Software, Jacob Steinhardt. Learn about existing open source projects to improve science, and others that should exist but don't.
  • 8 pm: Part two of Danny's talk


  • 4 pm: Data hacking: Machine learning + NLP, Joseph Turian. I will answer questions about machine learning, NLP, scraping, data hacking etc.
  • 5 pm: Scrape ALL the data!, how to scrape info from web pages with just a little Python, Ping
  • 6 - end: Project demos! Show us what you've worked on this weekend.

Unscheduled / Unconfirmed Events

  • DJ set by Chromatest J. Pantsmaker
  • DIY Book Scanner workshop
  • Field trip to look for hidden cameras in public places around the Mission
  • Ilsa Bartlett is a "crisis counselor for highly intelligent people (geeks) who need someone to talk to and creates a container of quiet for people to fill with their issues." She will be around to provide counseling during the hackathon.
  • David Newman, ipad portrait artist, showed up and started painting portraits of people hacking on Saturday.

If you'd like to give a talk/workshop, add it to https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ai2JAMm86EJbdFg1TW5tenNJSUt3X2dVVmQ3M08xSlE#gid=2.

Who's going?[edit | edit source]

(There's also a Facebook Event, if you are so inclined. Sadly, a Facebook login is required to access that page.)












Demos[edit | edit source]

Notes from presentations on Sunday, Jan 27

improving access to data.gov[edit | edit source]

  • Project participants:
    • chris , dev
    • connie, product
    • eric, dev
    • evan, dev
    • ken, ux
    • neil, dev
    • paul, design
    • robert, dev/product
    • yan, product
  • created in 2008 to provide access to public data
  • what data does data.gov have? not immediately clear
  • build an alternative portal?
  • experimental new portal already in progress at alpha.data.gov
  • built new tag cloud explorer for data.gov this weekend, presently at http://data2.me/

book scanner[edit | edit source]

  • participants:
    • David Nelson
    • Adam Kraft adam at media.mit.edu

vaccuum-powered page-turning arm for book scanner, built out of random parts that were laying around. NOT the Dany Q one, that one costs $1500 (and is awesome) but this one is under $100. It isn't actually scanning books yet so far, just turning pages. Interested in feedback on mechanism & software.

RECAP[edit | edit source]


Ping demonstrates PACER, the US federal court's paywall for public-domain legal documents, and how it charges $0.10 per "page" for everything (including search results!). The RECAP browser extension uploads PACER results to the Internet Archive so that others will not have to pay the fees. If you are about to pay for a document which someone else has already uploaded, it allows you to retrieve it from archive.org instead. There are 854,711 items in the archive.org RECAP collection so far.

The RECAP browser extension for Firefox is at: http://github.com/citp/recap

The hackathon project was to develop RECAP for Chrome: http://github.com/zestyping/recap-chrome

Currently, RECAP for Chrome checks the Internet Archive to see which documents are available, and adds links to the page so you can get the documents for free instead of paying to download them from PACER. It doesn't upload documents to the Internet Archive yet, though -- that part still needs to be done.

Fork the law[edit | edit source]

Perception Society, Inc. (PSI) (paul)[edit | edit source]

  • Chatroulette for mental health.
  • Meant to address gap in mental health care for people who fear being diagnosed/labeled and thus don't go to hospitals or support groups

Bitcoin Pogs (also paul)[edit | edit source]

  • YES.
  • Bitcoin dollar design featuring Neil DeGrasse Tyson, geometric shapes and shit, chipmunk QR code, LHC
  • Then made Bitcoin pogs w/ Felix the Cat
  • Kittycoin: bitcoin printed on a lolcat face
  • Other designs for trillion-dollar francium bitcoin, etc.

Aaron's blog (Sid)[edit | edit source]

  • you should read it
  • Sid talks about his study on the ideation of suicide as a cognitive linguistic model and its relation to Aaron's blog posts. He performed a limited analysis of the "Raw Nerve" posts over the weekend and explored it's use as corpus for identifying the linguistic ideation of suicide in other texts. We chat about some of the ethical issues involved in using computational linguistic analysis of blog posts to detect the ideation of suicide in an author.

Knowledge for Good (Aviv)[edit | edit source]

http://knowledgeforgood.referata.com/wiki/Knowledge_for_Good Working together to improve the way people create, organize, and distribute important knowledge.