So You Think You Want to Run a Hackathon? Think Again.

a case study on smart event organizing for #civictech

Takeaways from The Tech Embassy

Part 1: Set Goals You Can Hold Yourself Accountable To

[Or, Why We Didn't Have a Funk Parade Hackathon]

Two “hackers” from The Tech Embassy. Photo by Laurenellen McCann
This was happening literally right outside The Tech Embassy for the entire afternoon. Could you resist checking it out? Photo by William McCann.

Our framing criteria were:

Part 2: Let Your Audience Dictate Your Design

[An Intro to The Tech Embassy]

The Tech Embassy welcome table . Photo by Laurenellen McCann.

Part 3: Structure Horizontally, Not Vertically

[An Intro to Unconferences]

Setting The Wall (the agenda) on-site at TransparencyCamp 2014, an unconference about open government. Photo by the Sunlight Foundation.

Far less chaotic than they sound (I swear), unconferences have several structural attributes that we found met our criteria:

Part 4: To Increase Engagement, Play With The Familiar

[And Play With Art!]

A tween hacker shares a map of homeless student resources he helped to create at The Tech Embassy. Photo by Sandra Moscoso Mills.

3 reasons why including the arts is essential for inclusive tech environments:

1. Arts can radically alter an atmosphere.

The LEGO table at The Tech Embassy got some serious love from adults and kids alike. Photo by Sandra Moscoso Mills.

2. Art changes who gets to engage:

Is this visitor to The Tech Embassy too young to answer “What should the Internet look like?” Photo by Maureen McCann.

3. Art is not divorced from technology.

Recipe for DIY light art: combine one LED light bulb, one battery, one magnet, and a smidgen of tape. Photo by Affinity Lab.

Part 5: Lead, But Be Leaderful

[Lessons from The Tech Embassy & DiscoTech]

Top 4 principles wielded by The Tech Embassy and DiscoTechs that’ll keep you sane while managing an open format event:

The morning of The Tech Embassy, volunteers decided to make additional advertising to post around the block. Photo by Maureen McCann.
Local music producers give a history of go-go for Tech Embassy visitors who’ve been bopping to the beat all day. Photo by William McCann.

Final Thoughts:

User-testing at The Tech Embassy. Photo by Anthea Watson Strong.

Systemic change or bust. #BuildWith Founder, Trainer, and Strategist. BuildWith.org! Art-maker. Metal af. Pronouns: they/them and he/him.

Systemic change or bust. #BuildWith Founder, Trainer, and Strategist. BuildWith.org! Art-maker. Metal af. Pronouns: they/them and he/him.