G.Hack at DS2015 Panel Talk: Hackathons-Grassroots Activism or Digital Sweatshops?

May 21st, 2015

Digital Shoreditch 2015 opened up with a roaster of interesting exhibitions, workshops and talks on Monday 11 May including the panel talk: Hackathons-Grassroots Activism or Digital Sweatshops? chaired by Becky Stewart (ex-QMUL G.Hack alumni, turned Codasign co-founder and book author!). The panel speakers included no less impressive, resourceful and full of amazing ideas: Ruth Catlow (Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Furtherfield online community for arts, technology and social change since 1997, now also a public gallery in the heart of Finsbury Park, North London), Gregor Engelmann (PhD student at University of Nottingham and a UK leader for Major League Hacking, the official sanctioning body for the world’s largest student hackathon league – a very busy world traveller indeed), Gerard Briscoe (interdisciplinary researcher mixing computer science, art & humanities, business, social and natural sciences – in other words a man who can do research on just about anything!) and myself, Nela Brown (representing QMUL, CogSci and talking about G.Hack’s ‘grand plan’ of encouraging more women to join hackathons by teaching them how to hack through workshops like ‘Learn to Hack Web Audio API’ we did at Sonar, and  Music Tech Fest 2014 Paris in 2014).

A lively discussion spurred by Becky’s thought-provoking questions covered a variety of topics from diversity and creche facilities at hackathons (Becky), alternatives to 24-hour tech hackathons being 24-day, 24-month or even 24-year art hackathons (Ruth) and applying hackathon model to devising theatre performances (Gerard) to amazing perks and prizes one can enjoy by attending a BMW’s Car Hackathon (Gregor). As a follow up to G.Hack’s workshops at Sonar and MTF, I threw a spanner into works by mentioning the new EU funded project #MusicBricks, organized by our friends at Sonar/UPF and MTF (amongst others), which will aim to incubate the best hacks from Music Tech Fest and Barcelona Music Hack Day and enable hackers to take their products to market! (If you haven’t already signed up for this, your first chance is MTF Scandi happening 29-31 May in Sweden followed by Barcelona Music Hack Day 17-19 June).

Digital Shoreditch 2015 continues until Sunday 24 May and there is plenty to hear, learn and see especially in the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall where you can find the amazing installations conjured up by the QMUL Media & Arts Technology peeps (for which the entry is entirely free – so really no excuse!).

You can also follow the panel speakers:

Becky Stewart @theleadingzero

Ruth Catlow @furtherfield

Gregor Engelmann @UniofNottingham

Gerard Briscoe @gerardbriscoe

Nela Brown  (not big on tweeting & very slow on email due to writing thesis/ pls send a message via a pidgeon or pick up the phone :-)

Nela Brown, Gerard Briscoe, Gregor Engelmann and Ruth Catlow (and Becky Stewart's funky shoe) at Digital Shoreditch 2015 panel talk



FryMachine Hack by G.Hack

December 2nd, 2014

We finally did it ! Finished, filmed and submitted ! Done !!!

After doing the Web Audio API workshop for female hackers at MTF in Paris,  G.Hack troops Nela, Katja, Magda and Patrizia joined the other hackers at MTF Hack Camp and found out about the YourFry digital storytelling challenge. We decided to build on the Web Audio API hack to create a drum machine that people can play on tablets and smartphones. Rani and Stacey joined us for a bit (Rani made the photo grid for the drum machine) but as we had to leave Paris early (to get back to our PhD research and thesis writing) we only managed to finish the hack and submit it to YourFry website a week later. As it turned out, the most challenging part of making the FryMachine Hack was trying to edit the video footage on iMovie! Apparently to delete a portion of footage you select it and than choose ‘reject’ ??? (memo to self: must have words with Apple peeps about this one!)

Some photos of making of the FryMachine Hack video are below. We will upload the hack to QMUL server and post the link to it soon, so you can play with it on your tablet or smartphone ! To all of the folks out there who might be appalled by our iMovie video editing skills (or there lack of), we suggest you treat the FryMachine Hack video as just one of the ‘hacks’!

Enjoy !

Stage set !

Virtual G.Hackers set !

Demo set (and working phew!)


Video is here: FryMachine_Hack_by_GHack

Link to the FryMachine Hack by G.Hack is coming soon !


G.Hack @MusicTechFest, IRCAM, Paris

November 19th, 2014
G.Hack troops returned from another successful workshop taking place at IRCAM as part of Music Tech Fest 21-23 November. We taught a group of women from different tech/ music backgrounds (and countries) how to hack Web Audio API to make a soundmap of Centre Pompidou, got the ‘thumbs up’ from the participants and the MTF organizers (so another collaboration might just be on the cards!). A BIG THANK YOU goes to our supervisors (Tony Stockman, Nick Bryan-Kinns and Simon Dixon), the amazing Mark Plumbley and the QMUL Platform Grant panel who approved the G.Hack travel funding application!
And what can we say about the G.Hack troops Patrizia, Katja, Magdalena and Nela ??? Well .. they certainly went ‘above and beyond’ by working at evenings and weekends to make this workshop a great success and to ‘represent’ QMUL as a place of female tech-talent ! (hmm this sounds like a title for a TV show, maybe a project for 2015 ?). Magda discovered her passion for teaching coding (so you might find her following in her father’s footsteps when she submits her PhD). Katja discovered hacking into Leapmotion and Web Audio API can be pretty addictive (and is probably poking around the code right now!). Patricia discovered her expertise in French and coding are better than she thought they were and Nela discovered her greatest talent might just be in “public speaking” having presented not once but twice in the course of the weekend (sounds like she might be following in her father’s footsteps too!).
Whilst the future of the MTF G.Hack team is slowly unravelling we leave you with some photos from the event (including the amazing G.Hack poster designed by our colleagues at MTF in French and English!)
MTF team designed this awesome G.Hack poster (in French and English!)

Nela presenting G.Hack project

Magda doing a last run-through the new coding slides

Sorting wi-fi for the workshop with IRCAM/MTF peeps

Magda, Katja and Patrizia troubleshooting local hosting on Windows 8

G.Hack workshop in full swing with Magda and Katja helping participants troubleshoot

Gail has hacked the Centre Pompidou soundmap !

Dinner at amazing Japanese bistro Sanukiya (recommended by Stacy)

Magda, Stacy (software engineer from San Francisco, workshop participant and Sanukiya host!), Patrizia and Nela at Pont des Arts

After dinner, cake and more hacking Katja and Magda are ready to hit the bed !

The morning after the workshop: Magda and Katja discussing history of religion after visiting Notre Dame ...

... whilst Patrizia is catching up on sleep in hotel lobby !

A few crêpes and café au lait's later, Katja and Patrizia are calculating XY co-ordinates for FryMachine hack images !




G.Hack at SoundSoftware 2014

July 8th, 2014

After returning from Sonar 2014, G.Hack team were invited to do a talk about preparation and delivery of their Sonar 2014 workshop ‘Learn to Hack Web Audio API with G.Hack’ at the SoundSoftware 2014: Third Workshop on Software and Data for Audio and Music Research.

Two types of questions emerged at the end of the talk: the ones about the code stability and the usefulness of Web Audio API and the ones about the ‘women only’ hack workshop. We had time to answer a few of them after the talk and the rest were discussed over a few beers at a local pub :-)

Nela and Katerina presenting at SoundSoftware 2014


G.Hack presents: Hack Workshop & Women Hackers panel at Sonar 2014!

June 2nd, 2014

After noticing the low number of female hackers at Music Hack Days, G.Hack troops Patrizia, Magda, Katerina and Nela decided to put together some fun activities for Sónar+D (Barcelona’s 21st International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art) festival including Learn to Hack Web Audio API with G.Hack workshop (to teach female attendees of some hacking skills and encourage them to participate in future Music Hack Days!) and Women Hackers panel with inspirational women founders, leaders, researchers and advocates of cyberfeminism, hacktivism, open culture and free tech education (more info and photos below!).

Workshop: Learn to Hack Web Audio API with G.Hack

In the workshop, participants will learn about the culture of software and hardware hacking through short demos and examples, before moving on to using Web Audio API straight through their web browser! The Web Audio API is a high-level JavaScript API for processing and synthesizing audio in web applications. It includes capabilities found in modern game audio engines and some mixing, processing and filtering tasks found in modern desktop audio production applications. Participants will use this API to build simple synths and combine them with other musical feature extraction APIs to make some cool hacks! (The workshop is aimed at women beginners with no previous programming experience, though all levels are welcome).

Talk: Women Hackers

Panel speakers:
  • Nela Brown, Chair of G.Hack
  • Alex Haché, member of Dones Tech a group of Social Research dedicated to creating digital content, media production and communication. Haché is doctor of economy, cyberfeminist, hacktivist, developer of technopolitical projects, researcher of ICT for public good.
  • Klau Kinki, part of Pechblenda LAB, an experimental laboratory where learning arises from raw experimentation and the self-formation where free knowledge emerges.
  • Amélie Anglade, member of OpenTechSchool a movement aiming to offer free tech education. Co-founder of Hackership, a full-time 3-month hacker school programme located in Berlin and based on the values of OpenTechSchool. Her work focuses on supporting hackers of all backgrounds to learn and grow, and also she does music information retrieval and recommendation for a living. She presents herself as a music hacker at heart.
ps Amélie is also ex-QML PhD student (C4DM research group) as well as one of the WISE@QMUL founding committee members, so a super woman indeed !!!

Nela Brown, Pechblenda LAB, Amélie Anglade & Alex Haché

G.Hack team brainstorming workshop structure at QMUL :-)

Katerina and Magdalena discussing mathematical models and how best to teach the coding part of the workshop

Day before the workshop: Patricia, Magdalena and Katerina with G.Hack poster

G.Hack Sonar 2014 Workshop poster

Nela delivering Part 1 of the workshop ...

Magda helping participants resolve 'soundmap' issues :-)

Workshop participants helping each other download all the 'tools'

Nela chairing Women Hackers panel with Alex Haché, Amélie Anglade, Julito and Klau Kinki

Nela, Magdalena and Patrizia celebrating the end of a loooooong day at Sonar 2014 with gazpacho soup and sangria (whilst Katerina continues hacking with the rest of QMUL troops at Sonar Music Hack Day :-)

WISE 2013 Awards !

November 15th, 2013

The QMUL team: Prof Ursula Martin, Prof Edmund Robinson, Bertille Calinaud, Katja Knecht (MAT / G.Hack), Ann-Louise Anderson (SEMS / WISE@QMUL), Nela Brown (CogSci / G.Hack) and their guests:  Steven Brown, Prof Caroline Wardle and Dr Rona Ramsey had a wonderful evening last night at the WISE2013 Award Ceremony!

Nela and Ursula (nominees for Leader Award and Lifetime Achievement Award) had the great honour of meeting all the other incredible nominees as well as shake hands and chat with the amazing HRH The Princess Royal (who is a big supporter of WISE!)

They managed to bring one award ‘home’ (Nela got the Highly Commended WISE Leader Award) and are looking forward to more awards being given to QMUL next year, flagging up the good work female students and members of staff are doing with the invaluable support from their departments !

BIG THANK YOU goes out to Bertille Calinaud and Peter McOwan for doing all the nomination paperwork and to Prof Ursula Martin  (an amazing supporter of WISE@QMUL and G.Hack activities from the very beginning), who miraculously managed to raise funds for a QMUL dedicated table ! What a star !

The Highly Commended WISE Leader Award, was given in the recognition of all the amazing things Nela has managed to achieve with G.HackWISE@QMUL and Flossie and a HUGE THANK YOU goes out to all the ladies who supported Nela over the past 3 years and whose dedication and commitment to these projects greatly contributed to this award !

Until next year !

Left to right: Bertille Calinaud (QMUL Diversity Manager), Katja Knecht (MAT/G.Hack), Nela Brown, (CogSci/G.Hack), Ann-Louise Anderson (SEMS/WISE@QMUL)

G.Hack at CMMR2013 conference 15-18 October 2013, with Light Touch

November 6th, 2013

A few weeks ago G.Hack team Katja Knecht (MAT),  Laurel Pardue (C4DM), Patrizia Carlota (Drama) and Nela Brown (CogSci) flew over to Marseille for the CMMR2013 conference to exhibit our interactive installation Light Touch.

Over the past 3 years, G.Hackers have been involved in many public engagement activities, but this one was special for 2 reasons:
  1. For the very first time we conducted a pilot research study around the audience interaction with Light Touch (to inform the next iteration of the installation to be exhibited in 2014)
  2. We secured the funding for ALL FOUR authors of the installation to travel to Marseille, attend the conference talks and concerts and network with the conference attendees !
For Patricia (who recently submitted her MA thesis) this was the first experience of attending an academic conference (and got her thinking about the way forward academically as well as artistically). For the rest of us, it was the first ‘research in the wild’ experience with G.Hack installation at an international conference (and hopefully one of many more to come!)

A BIG THANK YOU goes out to the following QMUL / EECS people who helped make it all happen: Mike Watkinson, Lucie Dubinik, Andrew McPherson, Mark Sandler, Richard Kelly, Geetha  Bommireddy, Chris Harte, Henrik Ekeus, Fiore Martin, Ben Bengler, Bogdan Vera, Holger Kirchhoff, Sharon Cording and Laura King.

A SPECIAL MERCI BEAUCOUP goes out to the wonderful CMMR2013 organisers from CNRS-LMA who bent all sorts of  rules to get us all there: Richard Kronland-Martinet, Charles Gondre, Gaëtan Parseihian, Olivier Derrien, Alain Rimeymeille and the many other CNRS-LMA staff who really looked after us during the conference, including the cafeteria ladies who kept us going by giving us free coins to use in the coffee machine (a proper espresso after lunch makes all the difference !)

A SUPER SPECIAL HOLA goes out to the amazing G.Hack troops: Katja, Laurel and Patrizia who made this conference ‘road trip’ absolutely unforgettable !

Go G.Hack !!!

G.Hack CMMR2013 team: Katja Knecht, Laurel Pardue, Nela Brown & Patrizia Carlota

more photos coming soon …

G.Hack, Campus Party Europe 2013 Community Partner !

August 28th, 2013

The AWESOME Campus Party Europe is coming to London’s O2 from 2-7 September!

Check out the amazing roaster of talks, workshops and hackathons including Women in Tech Panel on Thursday 5 September at 2pm (Archimedes Stage) featuring Anne – Marie Imafidon (founder of Stemettes), Sarah Lamb (founder of Girl Geek Dinners),  Gillian Arnold (Chair of BCS Women), Paula Graham (Director of Fossbox / founder of Flossie), Teresa Schoefield (IEEE/ WiE) and Nela Brown (Chair of G.Hack). Becky Stewart (ex-G.Hack, co-founder of Codasign) and Nela are also doing talks on the Michelangelo Stage the same day (Becky is on at 10am , Nela at 8pm)!

G.Hack is one of the community partners and our members can get discount on tickets by clicking on the banner below.

Happy hacking everyone !!!





A few photos from the event …

Women in Tech panel (Gillian, Nela, Paula, Anne–Marie, Sarah and Teresa) taking questions from the audience !

Nela talking about ZX Spectrum orchestra and other fun stuff :-)

G.Hack at Digital Summer Camp, 12 July 2013

July 12th, 2013
EECS’s participation at Digital Summer Camp last Friday was a real success, despite the super hot weather outside (and even hotter inside !).
A BIG THANK YOU goes out to following EECS SUPERSTARS who made it all possible: Richard, Andrew, Pollie, Ben, Ella, Geetha, Michelle, Ho, Chris, Duncan, Liam, Keir and Adrian. A VERY special HOLA goes out to my fellow G.Hackers Katja, Nicola and Laurel who talked tirelessly about  the tech behind SMLT to hundreds of high school kids who came by on the day!

The last peeps standing (ok sitting/ possibly falling asleep/ enthusiastically cheering) with a well deserved bottle of cold beer !

G.Hack at Mini Maker Faire, 6 July 2013

July 6th, 2013

All makers were invited to come and show their work at the very first Elephant & Castle Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, 6th of July, at the London College of Communication. It was an exciting, even though really, really hot day out with lots to see and do.

G.Hacker Pollie showed her extremely fun Firefly game and in a brief Lightening Talk we presented G.Hack to all of those seeking refuge in the pleasantly cool auditorium.

Looking forward to more to come!

More about the first Mini Maker Faire:


Katja (and Nela) presenting G.Hack