Over the weekend of the 28-30 July, I volunteered at GovHack. While I was a Mentor volunteer, I felt I made my own role, but that worked for me. In the end, I connected hackers with Mentors and Coaches who could answer their project and/or database questions. For those of you who don’t know, GovHack is an open government and open data hackathon that has been running in Australia for around eight years.

I have been hovering around the edges of this event for a while and learning about it by following hashtags and attending events like Heritage Hack Connections. However, sometimes you don’t really get a sense of something until you dive in head first.

Like most, I’ve been hesitant to participate in GovHack as I thought you needed coding skills to do so. But over the course of the weekend, I meet people who were facilitators, creative, or data analysts, each bringing their unique skills to teams. I also met a couple people who didn’t even have a team but were joining in the fun and just having a go. Lesson? Stop being a wuss and get my arse registered for next year.

As a volunteer, I had more opportunities to make connections with people than focus on the projects created (though I did notice traffic data was a hot topic in Canberra this year). So I learnt there’s such a thing as social hacking and that there is interest in bringing the GLAMR sector into the GovHack fold. Also that companies are constantly working on the next best thing when it comes to searching, voice search vs image search. I really enjoyed those conversations as it’s an interest of mine – exploring the ways people search for information. Personally, I’d love to bring back the browse option and break through the filter bubble.

Oh and before I forget, there was one project I heard about during GovHack, and I do hope it wins at the red carpet awards because it sounds useful and relevant. It’s called Licence to Learn and it’s basically an app that can not only replace the driver’s log but be a tool to help L Platers be better drivers.

I also love this graphic created by a participant in his “spare time” during the hackathon.

So I’d call the weekend an interesting learning experience, what say you?

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t forget to be Awesome)

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