Shut up and Hack: crowdsourcing a blogpost

In the spirit of community involvement, this report on activities at Melbourne’ Shut up and Hack on April 22 has been contributed by attendees Sarah Godwin and Ros Lau.

Relative newcomer Sarah worked on Temporal Earth, mapping ANZAC troop movements So this was my 2nd OK Melbourne Meetup. First there was a short talk about Melbourne’s open hacking spaces. This was a really interesting insight into making things at the hacker spaces in particular the Connected Community Hackerspace. I was certainly intrigued and am beginning to think of some weird and wonderful gadgets to think about making!

We then parted into separate groups to help on people’s open knowledge projects. I joined in with Matt’s Temporal Earth group. This task was appealing as it was based on the topic of Anzac Day. Matt has spent some time compiling data from war diaries to represent where, when and with which battalion Australia and New Zealand troops participated in the 1st world war. He is making an animation to show where the troops were located on a given date. The data has taken him quite some work to gather together in a data file as it involves manually scanning through the mostly hand written diaries for dates, times and location names.

To coincide with Anzac day and commemorate the 100th anniversary we worked together to help complete his dataset up to the 25/04/1915.

We worked in pairs to decipher the text and enter the data. During the session we managed to get quite a few troops to Gallipoli. Some diaries had been typed but most were handwritten. Some were combined, others had pages missing and those that were available were not always in perfect condition with paper ripped over data entries. Reading these diaries is not easy to do quickly. You instantly get involved in the narrative and start to picture the movements of the troops. Some accounts are very funny, some really detailed and of course many are quite shocking and sad. There is so much information in the texts and mapping the tracks of each battalion is just a start of what is possible. I think this is a very valuable resource and an excellent example of opening up information which is already available to provide future possibilities and gain knowledge.

Oh, and we heard about Hackerspaces

Regular Open Knowledge attendee Ros spent some time chatting with the Code for Australia fellows and had the following to report: Tonight, Open Knowledge played host to 3 incoming Fellows for Code for Australia. Charged with working with data owners to identify and define problems in preparation for Govhack 2015, @AlishaRyansT, @CosmoRuth and @RosettaMills will be working with City of Melbourne , Geelong City Council and Ballarat City Council respectively. Fresh from hobnobbing with industry and digital denizens at the Connect Expo earlier in the day, the fellows (I mean, lovely ladies) chatted with @hiya_roz about how they would collaborate to bring a unified approach to uncovering the problems that their clients faced. The excellent selection of crudites and dips lovingly prepared by @MattCen (subbing for the regular guy behind the kitchen bench…hi Lachlan!) spurred further speculation by the Fellows about possible outcomes from GovHack as a result of their efforts. Meanwhile, @FCTweedie crowdsourced this blog entry so future generations shall bear witness to the exploits of a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens and their regular endeavours in open data, hommus scoffing and tea chugging.

Thanks to Ros and Sarah for sharing their experiences at a highly productive evening of open knowledge hacking!

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