Geo:Code 2.0 Recap

This past weekend was the second installment of Geo:Code, a multi-jurisdictional hack-a-thon event focused on geospatial open data and technologies held in Minneapolis.

Geo:Code was my first official hack-a-thon event. Before attending a “hack event” like this I’ve always wondered how the atmosphere fared for an entire weekend – where the majority of attendees volunteer their free time to create solutions for a community. Now, a solution can’t necessarily be made in one weekend, but “hack events” are a means to start the conversation.

Some of the awesomeness that unfolded:

  1. During the event, the University of Minnesota provided two full days of usability experiences in the Usability Lab. I was able to participate in a session on the first morning. It was incredibly eye opening to watch someone use something I built. This was my first experience watching someone without a health background look through my application, which made the experience even more valuable, and helped me remember how difficult it is to present health data in a meaningful way to the non-health professional.
  1. I ran into so many people with a wide range of backgrounds. There were students, GIS professionals, cartographers, designers, developers, community members, and many others. But more importantly, there was so much passion around the event that helped contribute to its success.
  1. I ran into some colleagues from my previous employer – some I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to work with again. Even though we no longer work under the same roof, and have very different goals in our day-to-day jobs, we were working together as a team (again), and building our relationships for the future.
  1. I had some amazing conversations with some Open Twin Cities folks, and other developers that work for the same employer – I can’t wait to see where our conversations lead us in the future. 🙂

Concluding thoughts:

  • There are a lot of talented people in the Twin Cities (obviously).
  • If you attend a hack event, you don’t have to participate in a structured group project. Start your own, and if you feel ambitious – try to find others to help you!
  • If you’re an introvert; Find a nice quiet location away from the action – hunt down a couch/recliner near a window, throw in your headphones, and work away! Or, if they are available – attend some introductory sessions to learn something new!
  • Data is like a song’s rhythm; it initiates structure, but its not always memorable on its own. For example: It isn’t always intuitive to pick out a song from clapping the rhythm, but it initiates the basics to get you started.
  • You don’t have to be a developer to contribute!
  • Talk to others, even if they aren’t working on the same project. You never know when you’ll run into each other again. Plus, they could be a great resource to you when your working on something at school/work.
  • Help others! This empowers everyone; finding solutions together, and understanding different methodologies together.
  • The end of any hack-a-thon is just the beginning!
  • Work together, build beautiful things, and change the world.

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