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

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

Watch it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-M1P9hE3WHA


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