Over the last few weeks, there’s been a new format at Chicago’s OpenGov Hack Night in an effort to bring more leaders into the management of hack night.
Before and After
Before, the hack nights had a consistent agenda.
6:00pm – Food
6:15pm – Introductions
6:30pm – Announcements & Presentations
7:00pm Hacking / Civic Hacking 101 (From 7:00pm – 7:20ish)
This worked pretty well, but it wasn’t always easy to do the connection between arriving at hack night to working on a project. Additionally, the hack night wasn’t set up in a way where people could step up to be leaders.
The format has now changed in the following ways:
Previously, the hack nights were organized by just three people. Now, the hack nights are run by a volunteer leadership committee that meets regularly and anyone can join. The general guidelines for the meeting are based on the ones that FreeGeekChicago uses.
We want everyone to have a voice. At the same time, we don’t want discussions to become unfocused or endless. So we try to follow some guidelines:
We try to keep the meeting length under one hour.
There is a 10-minute time limit to all topic discussions. If there is no solution after 10 minutes, we poll the room to decide whether to discuss the item further or table it until the next meeting.
The meeting notes are then posted in the OpenGov Hack Night google group.
The other change is that there are now multiple breakout groups focusing on different subject areas. This is being done as a way to help facilitate projects and work being done in each area – even if theres not a particular app being worked on. For now, there are six breakouts – but if there’s interest more will be added. They currently are:
Orientation / Civic Hacking 101 – Christopher Whitaker
The Civic Hacking 101 class is a fifteen – twenty minute orientation that explains the basics of open data, open source, community organizing, and some of the work we’ve done so far. You can watch the Civic Hacking 101 video below:
New Coders – Karl Fogel
If you’re new to programming and want to learn how to code, open source guru Karl Fogel is leading the breakout to help you out.
If you’re interested in education in Chicago, then this is the breakout group for you. This breakout group is led by schoolcuts.org alumni Josh Kalov and Elnaz Moshfeghian.
Transportation – Steve Vance
This breakout group is for those interested in public transit, biking, and urban planning in general. This session is led by Streetsblog reporter Steve Vance.
Environment – Scott Beslow
If you’re interested in finding out how tech can help the environment then this breakout session is for you. Led by Scott Beslow, this breakout session covers recycling, water quality, and air quality.
City Data – Tom Schenk Jr & Gene Leynes
Who better to learn about city data than from the people who run the city data portal? This breakout is available for anyone who has questions about the city data portal.