Over the last few weeks we have been mulling the possibilities of running an Online Hack for the Will’s World project. You can read more about the plans on the Will’s World blog where you will also find a survey that we would love you to complete for us or pass on to developer/hacker/creative colleagues and friends.
As mentioned in our Will’s World post the idea is to try and take the energy and creativity of an online hack event and translate that into something virtual not because we don’t like people, pizza, and coding through the night but because we recognise that type of format isn’t always right for people who may want to take part. That might be because an employer is supportive but can’t release a staff member for a full work day, it may be that they are available but cannot fund travel and accommodation, it might be that they have caring responsibilities that would make an in-person event much harder to fit in, or it may be that the venue isn’t sufficiently accessible for those with different physical abilities.
But there are also lots of other special things that we think an online hack affords. Running something online and with a cunningly chosen time/appreciation of time zones means collaboration across the globe – something the Open Source movement have been up to for years of course. And it can be much easier to start on a new hack when you know what software and hardware you have to hand (not to mention not having to travel with all your tech!), you know your internet connection is reliable and/or you’re used to working with it’s speed, and you have all that quirky personal creative stuff to hand – be it arduino kit, a fine selection of felt tip pens, a monster supply of gluten free brownies, etc.
And the reason I wanted to post something about this process on my own blog is that we think this is a pretty innovative idea but one of the particular challenges comes from considering which suite of social technologies will work and combine best to ensure this event has the buzz, the energy and the relevance of an in-person meet up. The survey is part of our approach to finding out what might work but I’d also appreciate any comments here about what you think would work best for real time collaboration?
For instance I’m thinking that Google+ may be an effective and fun tool to try out – particularly for managing multiple video streams – for this event but I haven’t had a good excuse to trial this on such a grand scale before so would love to know others thoughts on how well this works in reality for larger groups of participants. Please do any suggestions or comments on the hack idea either here or via the survey.