A cross-post from GDI teacher Izzy Johnston who covered the event on her blog.
You can check out the fruits of our weekend at http://commutingintraffic.com
During what may have been the first all-female* hackathon in NY, fifteen people banded together to use technology to take on the global problem of human trafficking. We were programmers, designers, writers and researchers. We came from a variety of backgrounds. We had an array of skills. And we all came to donate the most precious resource we had, our time.
For anyone who follows me on twitter (@izzy_johnston), you know that this weekend was the Girl Develop It Hamptons Hackathon for Humanity, sponsored by JumpThru. Deborah Jackson graciously hosted our hackathon at a beautiful location in the Hamptons and Buff Penrose supported us every step of the way with words of encouragement and food!
We really got started on the planning and programming at 8pm on Friday. And I ran out the door to catch the train at 8:15pm on Sunday. In that 48 hour period, the fifteen of us developed three amazing products.
Vanessa Hurst, database analyst for Paperless Post and fearless co-founder of Girl Develop It, and husband developed a Ruby on Rails platform that crawled and flagged Craigslist posts that were likely posts by or for human traffickers. To be honest, we all parted ways in such chaos that I have no idea how far they were able to get on this very complicated program. But don’t be surprised if the CIA and FBI have already whisked the couple away to work for the government.
Marianne, founder and creator of F.S. Publishing, worked tirelessly with others to aggregate data and create QR codes (those squares-within-a-square bar codes) that educate people on trafficking issues. Keep a look out for a possible guerrilla campaign to plaster them across New York City.
Most of us, however, worked round the clock on developing Commuting in Traffic, an online choose-your-own-adventure game that educates the player about issues of human trafficking that happen daily right here in NYC.
We had a spectacular design and front-end team—Christina Lutters, a designer and front end developer for a post-production team, Brenda Storer, a designer and developer at a design firm here in NYC, and Pamela Castillo, co-founder and creative director of Market Publique. There is no way we could have created such a beautiful, simple and elegant interface without their tireless work and amazing collaboration skills. This was one of the first chances I ever had to work closely with designers. Usually, I am given designs and told to implement them. What an opportunity to learn how the designer approaches a project! I honestly believe that if there were more opportunities for designer/developer collaboration, the tech world could come together in so many positive ways!
JumpThru intern, Jasmine, and community manager, Jamie, worked endlessly with Jennifer Hill, an attorney who specializes in advocacy for startups and entrepreneurs. They poured over content and statistics, sifting through the heartbreaking stories of women, men and children who have been trafficked. All of us agreed that the content was the hardest part of the endeavor. They expertly balanced the light-hearted story of the game with the sobering truth about human trafficking. If you learn anything from playing Commuting In Traffic, it is because of the dedication of these three amazing women.
All in all, through the lack of sleep, the frantic programming, the fist-shakings of frustration, and the spontaneous ovations for our little success—one thing will stick with me. No matter what your skill, your tech-savviness, or your background, we can all come together and program for humanity.
*Ok, we had one guy, but he’s awesome.