I recently attended the Media Hack Day in Berlin organized by Axel Springer SE. I did this because last year my employer sent me to the TV Hackday in Munich to present a – at this time – non-existent API. The only thing I had was an dump of a CouchDB but because they were official sponsor they had to send somebody . Of course nobody tried to use my dump so I just watched the hackday and looked at the teams how they developed their ideas and hacks. I just was thinking about how long to stay when Bertram asked me to join a team which was looking for a programmer. It was a destiny that we just won the hackday with our second screen app EMO.TV. Anyway after that I liked hackdays.
Two talented guys Cosmo and Olcay I met on the tv-hack asked me to join on the media hack in Berlin just some days before it starts. No cheap tickets were available anymore so I tried meinfernbus.de an bought a 52 Euro return ticked. I invested the saved money in a nice hotel near the location. This time we didn’t made the 1st prize – but we won 3 of the API sponsor prizes which is almost as good.
One great thing on hackdays is that you learn lots of new stuff in a very short time. Cosmo wrote our app News-Sightseeing in RubyMotion wich allows to write native iOS apps in Ruby. We started hacking around 9 am but we had to attend a lot of moderations and API presentations, so we did not had that much time for hacking. Anyway, in the early afternoon Cosmo had a running app on his iPhone while I was still fighting with API documentation, tokens and OAuth. Meanwhile Olcay tried to extract addresses and geo-locations from plain text using Apaches openNLP (Natural Language Processing) for our location aware new app.
We also learned how to train openNLP models for a better data extraction, how to query Wikidata and understand their knowledge base, how to query the incredibly large stock of gettyimages and how to access the news from storyful. There are also some downsides. We tried to assess the SPIEGEL database but failed to access their picture data, which was essential to our apps.
We are still working on the app and try to keep the impulse from the hackday – although I think we have to shift the concept of the app sightly. More details are on our app are on Slideshare and you can watch it growing on github.
The hackday was a great event (read the tweets) and I wish to thank Axel Springer, Adam Thomas for the moderation and the whole team for the organization. I hope more companies follow their example and grow a community of developers and experts which will be able to build products and business models in the future. So I am full of ideas and looking forward for the next TV hackday in Berlin at 20.-21. Sept. If you can’t await it the next big media hack is taking place in Aarhus, Denmark from 2nd to 4th May.