What is the role of data, technology, and the Land o' Internet in our daily world?
Some might vote that it is a way for us to communicate. Others would say that we should turn to it for entertainment and escape. Still others believe that communities and our lives can benefit from tech and code in a more real, consistent way.
Enter the National Day of Civic Hacking, a memorably monikered, all-hands-on-deck event that began on Saturday, June 1 and continues on Sunday, June 2. And the heartfelt, future-forward goal of the weekend, which is happening in Los Angeles and several cities across the country? The coming together of "citizens, software developers, and entrepreneurs from all over the nation to collaboratively create, build, and invent new solutions using publicly released data, code, and technology."
The ultimate goal? To "work together to improve our society." Hack for Change is both the aim and a nickname for the event, and it is as noble in spirit as its lofty handle.
Hacking for Change, though, is big-hearted goal, and the task is huge, but consider it essential in an age when the areas of tech in need of improvement often nab the headlines (while the little victories are played down).
What this means, at least in real-world terms, is that many curious, risk-taking, wide-thinking visionaries are gathering in Boyle Heights to explore how data can enhance our everyday lives rather than take away. Yes, developers and designers are out in force, but "non-technical participants" are in the get-things-done mix, too. Code is important, yes, but fresh, implementable ideas are even more important.
Translation? You don't need to be an impresario of code to play a role in civic hacking. If you have ideas on how to better communities through tech, join in.
Some 95 happenings are going down. What changes will flower from all of this collaboration? They may be subtle or they may be the next movements to impact how government and other agencies deal with information flow. However they play out, it is good to remember how tech can grow our social systems in positive ways, and not merely entertain or help pass the time.