What does it mean to make data human?
Yesterday I gave a lightning talk about this question at ODX13, the Open Data Exchange in Montreal. And I wasn’t talking about robots or Siri. I’m talking about how you can get people to feel personally connected to datasets, and gain more than a quantitative, mechanical understanding of the information. There’s a big difference between a story and a chart, and it’s easy to overlook the fact that computer-generated output often doesn’t resonate with real humans. Shocking, I know.Continue reading
This weekend I spent 54 hours at TechNexus building an unbeetable application for Startup Weekend Chicago. DebtBeet is a debt collection service that eliminates awkward IOU situations among friends. It’s fun, it’s simple, we have a badass beet for our mascot, and we’re chock full of stupid puns about beets.
It was Dave’s brilliant idea and it was hilarious. But my objective for the weekend wasn’t to start a company that (among other things) sends LOLcat-style beet pics to college room mates who suck at paying their shared bills. Although that would be pretty awesome, my main goals were to meet great people, have fun, and learn something new. I accomplished all of those goals.Continue reading
Six months ago, I made a promise to myself that I would learn Ruby or Python. At that moment, I had been to one too many hackfests where I felt limited by my skill set. I could conceptualize, write, design, coordinate, do front-end work, and make web projects look good on the outside, but I didn’t have the chops to build what I wanted to build, and contribute in the way that I wanted to contribute. I didn’t want to sit on the sidelines and theorize about possibilities; I wanted to build stuff.Continue reading
Last week I hung out with tens of thousands of tech folks at SXSW in Austin, Texas. It was my first time at South by, but definitely not the last. Surrounding myself with such a concentrated pool of geeks made me feel like a kid in a candy store. The people who show up in Austin not only believe in the power of technology to move society forward—they are actively engaged in building the world they want to see.
There’s no way that I can describe all of the awesomeness of last week in a single post, so I thought I’d share a few quotes from some of the keynote presentations and panel discussions that I attended. If you have the time, I recommend listening to some of the talks. That said, here are ten SXSW quotes that I scribbled in my notebook:Continue reading
On Saturday, I went to the Chicago Civic IdeaHack with the Code for America crew. Code for America is a nonprofit that finds passionate people across the country who want to use technology to help cities. Think ultra-geeky, open source, AmeriCorps-style projects that make governments work better.
Sound awesome? Well, it is. It’s also the type of thing that makes me wish I had 80 hours in each day so that I could work on every cool open source community project in the universe. (Will someone please make an app for that?)
Later, we were asked a question: What would make Chicago more awesome?Continue reading