Phillip Smith

Hacking with @HacksHackers at @ONAConf, open source in newsrooms, #Hacktoberfest updates & more.

I’m fresh back from two weeks of trouble-making for the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership project. There are lots of big and little tidbits to report. My body is telling me that I’m still exhausted from too much time crossing the Atlantic, so I’m going to keep it short-and-sweet today:

  • The adventure kicked-off with a Hacks/Hackers and Mozilla run “hack day” at the Online News Association conference. There’s a great summary of the event on the Hacks/Hackers site, and I put together a 4-minute video summary for your viewing pleasure.

  • Two days later, the new Knight-Mozilla program lead, Dan Sinker, kicked off a great lunch keynote session that explored “Open source in the newsroom” with Brian Boyer, Jacqui Cox, and Al Shaw. I managed to audio capture Dan’s introductory comments, which really provide a lot of insight into Dan’s vision for the program. (Unfortunately, I also managed to leave my equipment pouch at the soundboard, containing several microphones, as I rushed to pack up to head to the airport. Ug.)

  • Dan and I hit the skies to Berlin that afternoon to prepare for a week-long prototype-building event that became known as “Hacktoberfest”. I managed to get a quick post up on PBS Idealab about Hacktoberfest and how it fits into the Knight-Mozilla program, which you can find here.

  • There’s lots of follow-up and wrap-up work to do from Hacktoberfest – posting photos and video from the event, etc. – which will get published as time permits in the coming weeks. If you just want a quick taste of what the Hacktoberfest participants were working on, take a look at the Hacktoberfest wiki pages or at the Github organization that links to each of the participants’ repositories.

  • I also suspect that there will be more posts from the participants themselves, like this one by Trina Chiasson, and ongoing tweets with the #hacktoberfest hash tag on Twitter. There are also some posts coming out from the news partners, which we’ll also try to pull together into a bigger update in the coming weeks.

Next steps

So, what are the next steps? Well, here’s a super-quick brain dump:

On my end, I’ll be heading back to the UK to run a hack day with the Association of Online Publishers UK that will focus on HTML5 in the context of multi-platform publishing. The aim is to produce some great prototypes and convince a whole bunch of UK-based publishers that they should be joining us at the Mozilla Festival and thinking about how to introduce open-source innovation into their operations.

I’ll also be working to do a thorough post-mortem on the #MozNewsLab experiment, and – in the process – trying to sketch out some ideas for improving the next series of Knight-Mozilla learning labs.

Lots to think about. I better get to it. :)


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.