Pure Analogue - Mulling IT Over 2 - New Books
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Unboxing #DinoHack - Mulling IT Over 2

Being away is giving me the literal space for my dyslexic brain to embrace the spatial freedom being out in the back of beyond affords my soul. I never feel I fit anywhere except alone and backstage. The control box, prompt desk (cue / QLab station) or sound desk give me places to straddle worlds. The world inhabited by the audience. It should be no shock to me that when not working in theatre I gravitated to event management. My first self produced events were a series of MediaCamps followed by a TEDx in 2012. The Nottingham MediaCamps were MediaCamps, Barcamp, Open-Space, Unconference hybrids.

I guess I know what these are but to get a grip on my upcoming event DinoHack there are a few premises to understand.

BarCamp is an international network of user-generated conferences primarily focused around technology and the web. They are open, participatory workshop-events, the content of which is provided by participants. The first BarCamps focused on early-stage web applications, and were related to open source technologies, social software, and open data formats.

MediaCamps were inspired by Warner Bros. Media Camp, an accelerator program that educated entrepreneurs to build innovative media businesses. Key features of Media Camp include presentations and workshops focused on media technology, formal mentorship from media industry experts, community events and knowledgesharing, as well as direct investments including partnerships and vendor relationships.

An unconference is a participant-driven meeting. The term "unconference" has been applied, or self-applied, to a wide range of gatherings that try to avoid hierarchical aspects of a conventional conference, such as sponsored presentations and top-down organization.

The final format I hold in my Disruptor’s of the Mundane tool bag is the Open Space event, (Open Space Technology) championed by Theatre Company Improbable in their Devoted and Disgruntled events.

Open Space Technology (OST) is a method for organizing and running a meeting or multi-day conference, where participants have been invited in order to focus on a specific, important task or purpose.

Writing this post I ask myself how familiar with these event formats. They are the foundation that gives DinoHack its potential and makes it special. I strive to produce events that welcome and engage whoever attends. Each attendee to have the best experience.

What will DinoHack be?
It’s primarily about making something cool, fun, educational, useful/informative for Dinosaur and all thing paleontological fans… Uber fans… geeks even.

A hackathon is an event where people take a subject, accept the challenge to look at it from a different perspective, apply creative thinking and computer smarts to the subject to make or generated ideas for a solution to the set challenge.

We are looking at dinosaurs, the time of the dinosaurs, looking at prehistory. The organisers setting the challenge tend to supply the data.

I once took part in a hackathon where attendees were challenged to make it easier to get around Edinburgh during the annual theatre festival. There were thinkers, coders, designers, data engineers, transport admins, festival organiser representatives, festival fans, IT staff from the city council and the hackathon organisers. I recall the teams took transport data and the festival programme to producer by combining a variety of data sets so being traffic related to create a working prototype of an app that found the best route between festival performances and suggested shows that would conveniently nest together to optimise a day where a start and end show was specified. Genius.

Hackathon is inviting and hotly anticipates that a wide selection of people may come together with a passion for Dinosaurs to come up with ideas for Dinosaur games, toys, apps, that can be picked up by host company Kids-IZ as a prize and support a winning team or involve the winning team in the development of their DinoHack idea.

My task is to find 40 likeminded Dino enthusiasts with a wide variety of skills to collect together for 2 days to consider what doesn’t yet exist but could given the data, talents and collective considerations of a groups to hack the theme.

So what is a hack? Like hack feature big on YouTube and TickTock. Combining everyday objects and repurposing items that solve a problem in a surprising and easy to replicate way. Using a clothes peg to secure an opened pack of sugar or to decorate the peg to make a gift that secures the top of opened food packs.

Dampening your fingers to give purchase to a new bin liner to separate with a Rubina of the fingers to open a stubbornly closed opening. Looping together safety pins using a safety pin. Folding socks into a roll tucked over to form a compact ball for minimising space in luggage for travel. These tips and tricks …. Hacks, they unconventional with the mundane.

A Merriam’s Dictionary puts it… a clever tip or technique for doing or improving something.

That word ‘improving’ is the key. Take what is already around…
Data about dinosaur researched and documents by academics, tasty Dino data, where fossils were found, who discovered them, the size, the bones the distance in the past, the shifting tectonic plates, and find a new way of interpreting, presenting, combining or reinterpreting the information to create a new something.

Mechanics, engineers, computer coders, get under the hood of toys and games. Illustrators, marketers, product developers, storytellers, theatre makers, educators all have a critical eye and creative imaginations to feed into the technical process that manifests new approaches.

Does that give a better view of DinoHack?