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Nonprofit arts organization Zero1 needed a way to help people make sense of its biennial, Seeking Silicon Valley, scheduled for September 2012.
Spread over three months and six cities, the festival presents a big challenge in keeping visitors engaged and informed.
To tackle the challenge, Zero1 decided to create an app. As recently noted by Frank Barry of Blackbaud, technology plays a key role in audience engagement for the arts and culture sector. For Zero1, an organization whose mission is at the intersection of art and technology, a tech-based approach to this problem makes perfect sense.
With that in mind, Zero1's community engagement manager Danielle Siembieda-Gribben organized HackFlux: a weekend hackathon bringing together a mix of coders, developers, designers, artists, and thinkers this past June. The goals of the hackathon were twofold:
Siembieda-Gribben structured the hackathon to maximize learning and shared knowledge. A Tech Advisory Committee of nine Bay Area technologists such as Kollective Mobile CEO Sian Morson mentored the teams.
A core group of interns assembled by Siembieda-Gribben will go on to develop the winning team's idea, using an API designed by Lift Projects for Zero1.
The participants gathered at The Glint, a live-work community aimed at accelerating the creation of value through design, philosophy, the arts, technology, and entrepreneurship.
For 48 hours, four teams brainstormed and tinkered, culminating in a presentation for a hand-selected jury. Including tech experts such as AngelHack founder Greg Gopman, Michael Shiloh of DorkBot San Francisco and the Exploratorium, and TheGlint co-founder Alexandros Pagidas, the jury selected the winning idea based on set criteria. The app should:
Additionally, each team needed to provide a clear plan for the execution of the app by the end of summer.
The four teams brought excellent ideas to the table, impressing both the crowd and the jury. Proposals included fun geocaching activities to draw attendees into deeper engagement with the biennial; informative, interactive maps; and a personalized, art-enhanced experience to alleviate the stress of festival parking.
A remarkable part of the judging portion of the event – and of the hackathon overall – was the collaborative energy sparked among the teams. As one team presented, others offered on-the-spot suggestions. The feeling was one of cooperation rather than competition.
In the end, one team's idea did stand out to the jury. Team Reactor, composed of Kelsey Innis, Anna Billstrom, and Helen Mair, proposed an app to crowdsource reactions to the festival artwork in the form of voice, text, and drawings.
Called The Reaction Trader, the app allows festival-goers to trade anonymous reactions to nearby art. It also allows attendees to vote on specific reactions, creating a summary of top responses.
Both the jury and fellow teams were impressed with Team Reactor's ingenuity and planning skills.
Don't miss Zero1's biennial this September to December and let us know in the comments if you've faced any of your organization's challenges by calling on your community to collaborate on a tech solution.
Interested in running your own hackathon? Check out NetSquared's tips for creating a successful app-for-good event by Vanessa Rhinesmith.
Michael DeLong | Online Community Manager
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.