The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Nov 08, 2010

Hacks and Hackers Collaborate at Inaugural Great Urban Hack

Posted by Knight Foundation

Photo: John Keefe Cross-posted from

As more than 45,000 were preparing for the New York City marathon this weekend, a different kind of marathon was happening in the city.

Journalists, designers and developers gathered for the inaugural Great Urban Hack, a two-day, overnight event hosted by Hacks/Hackers NYC and Eyebeam Art + Technology Center to design, report on, code and create projects that help New Yorkers get information they need while strengthening a sense of community.

Developers, outreach staff and a local comedian came on Saturday to help and encourage participants. More than a dozen projects were conceived of and produced in about 30 hours, including mobile and mapping projects, such as a community map of the greater Harlem area, one that will be accessible by mobile phone: Use the camera to pinpoint your location in the neighborhood and learn about the art and the news conveyed through art in the area.

There were games and utilities, such as Who's My Landlord, which is designed to help New Yorkers learn who really owns the property they're renting.

And there were data visualizations, including analysis of taxi ride data and roach infestations, as reported in the city's weekly restaurant inspection.

The code for each of these projects will be released as open source, so anyone interested in using and improving on the projects can do so. Links, photos and details will be posted on the Hacks/Hackers website. One of the participants live blogged the event. There are photos posted to the Hacks/Hackers NYC meetup event page.

The Great Urban Hack NYC was made possible by generous sponsorship from Google, the Knight News Challenge, WNYC, Aol, Patch and Meraki.

Chrys Wu, co-organizer of Hacks/Hackers, is both a hack (journalist) and a hacker (developer). When she's not meeting, greeting and connecting journalists and technologists, she is a user engagement strategist and a consultant to the Knight News Challenge. Talk with her on Twitter @MacDivaONA.

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