Codex Hackathon Day 2

Phew. For those who’ve been following Matt’s blog, today’s been a hectic second day at the CODEX hackathon. As Matt mentioned (but for those who haven’t been following along) CODEX is a hackathon devoted to literature, publishing, the literary arts, and reading. I’m Anika Gupta, and I helped organize. This is the second day of the second iteration, and here’s what we’ve been up to so far at #codexhack.

Saturday, 3:30 pm

Presentations have begun! Follow the presentations on Twitter or via livestream:

Saturday, 3 pm

Another SWAG BREAK, this time a boatload of awesome-looking books. I go for a Joyce Carol Oates.

There are also lovely T-shirts, bags, socks and jewelry, all with literary themes, from the creative minds at Out of Print. My friend (now a proud owner of a “Where the Wild Things Are” tote) and I coin the term “swag brag” — feeling unnecessarily proud of the cool items you nab.

Presentations are going to start any minute now.

Saturday, 1:30 pm

Lunch. And also, the last call. If you haven’t taken look at the hackdash, now’s the time, because presentations are starting ASAP.

Saturday, 1 pm

I’m now recruiting participants and sponsors to do mini-interviews about the hackathon. Some of these will make it into the new CODEX video. This is a fun interlude, because it offers me the chance to hear other people’s perspective on this two-day event. As one of the organizers, it’s gratifying when people talk about how much they’ve enjoyed it, especially folks for whom this is their first hackathon. Case in point: me and videographer Elisa have a lovely chat with Michael Gaudet of Hachette. Michael gave a passionate and memorable speech at the start of the hackathon about how publishers need better tools to annotate and mark up the many PDFs they trade back and forth during the publication process. During our video interview, he elaborates, talking about how this hackathon is a great opportunity to learn what young people — “millennials” — want out of the reading experience.

Speaking of young people, we also interview a high school senior named Austin, for whom this is definitely not his first hackathon, but who says he has enjoyed poking around the Media Lab. He tells us his favorite moment of the hackathon was getitng banned by Project Gutenberg for trying to download too many books. Tragedy was averted because someone else at the hackathon suggested a workaround.

I’ve never spent a lot of time in a publishing office, but I can see how this might be a huge change of pace for folks who are used to trading PDFs :D

Here’s the Codex video from last year, featuring a two-second cameo towards the end by yours truly (I did not know that was in there!) as well as a lot of good explanation from my Codex 2015 teammate Doug:

Saturday, 12:30 pm


Did I say a hackathon is nothing without food? That is true, but also, let’s not forget about the power of excellent swag. These posters arrived courtesy of the Recovering the Classics project, which invites artists to create evocative new cover designs for classic books that have entered the public domain. The Grimm’s Fairy Tales poster I snagged is quite beautiful, but then again, Grimm’s lends itself to gorgeous covers. (The Recovering the Classics folks also take a moment to announce that they have launched their own Kickstarter, possibly with the help of the Kickstarter folks present at the hackathon)

Saturday, 10 am

Breakfast. Because a hackathon is nothing without food. I check in with teams who seem to be cranking away. Having been to several hackathons (including CODEX 1) in the past, it’s always interesting to watch hackathon projects go through the funnel from Big Adventurous Idea Practical presentation. For the teams here, that process seems to have involved evolving a series of workflows, often independent, that’ll then come together in the critical moments before presentations. It’s early, but it’s already crunch time.

Here’s a list of the projects that are going to be presented this afternoon:

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