aaronsw Memorial Hackathon

On Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 11am – 11pm (planned) HacDC will be hosting one of many, self-organized, global hackathons to memorialize the late computer programmer, writer, political organizer, and Internet activist Aaron Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) (Wikipedia article)

Participants will be asked to advance solutions to issues that were near to Aaron’s heart.

Activities for the day will center on furthering work on his repositories, opening access to information belonging in the public domain, developing or contributing to countermeasures to Internet censorship, and exploring code-driven methods to enhance social justice through access to data.

Among the like-minded participating groups will figure HacDC’s resident Project Byzantium and the organizer and team from the District Commons project.

Those interested in participating should register via our MeetUp event.

Those wanting to arrive after 2pm should make note of our telephone number, 202-556-4225, to gain entry as the building will be locked. More location information on our homepage’s sidebar.

Participants are encouraged to bring food and drink and practice good neighborliness. There are a variety of carry out options available around Columbia Heights though some may suit individuals more than others. There may be a group purchase at some point(s) but nothing has been set as of this writing. We’ll update this post as needed.

Related: An event taking place on Capitol Hill, on Monday, 2/4/13, at 7pm, this event memorializes Aaron Swartz and seeks to raise awareness about the urgent changes that are needed in the CFAA. These changes are part of Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s draft “Aaron’s Law” (PDF here).

CNC Mill training

tj-and-sharad_with-millRecently, HacDC member, TJ Johnson, generously reconditioned and bought new bits and a shiny vise for the TAIG CNC Mill HacDC has on extended loan from Vince Rossi & Adam Metallo of the Smithsonian Institution 3D Digitization laboratory. Over the coming weeks, TJ will be teaching a handful of single-session classes on using the mill.

tj-at-mill_and-cube-projectOn 1/26/13 a few of us crowded around TJ as he went through a presentation of slide-based and hands-on instruction covering care & maintenance, jargon, safety, and milling. The fun part of the class consisted of learning to use the software to fabricate a cube-shaped aluminum object with a complicated milled out shape within.

The classes of 2 or 3 students are designed to provide 1-on-1 instruction while maintaining safety. All remaining sessions are filled but TJ will schedule more sessions soon. Because of the small class size, these will likely not be announced via our MeetUp group so if you’re interested, join our discussion email list to find out when they’ll be held next.

HacDC mentioned in Shimon Schocken’s TEDtalk


During 2012, HacDC hosted a regular study group following Shocken & Nisan’s “The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles.” In October, Shocken gave a TEDtalk about open learning in which he mentions HacDC (beginning at 7’52″).

The TEDtalk description for “The self-organizing computer course,” describes Shocken’s experiment in open learning:

“Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online — giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks — they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn…”

HacDC-incubated Project Byzantium is an Access Innovation Prize finalist!

Project Byzantium ad-hoc mesh network

A Project Byzantium ad-hoc mesh network (detail). (Image from their HOPE9 [2012] presentation; courtesy of Project Byzantium.)

Sez the Project Byzantium team,

Project Byzantium’s application was for the Blackout Resilience category. We were recently notified that we are a finalist in this category, and have been invited to New York to attend the awards ceremony on 10 December 2012. We are honored to have been selected as finalists, and will be in attendance…”

The Access Innovation Prize is a new initiative that will award 5 lots of US$20,000 to individuals, organizations or networks that have the best actionable ideas of how to use information technology to promote and enable human rights or deliver a social good outcome. $100,000 will be granted in 2012.

Congratulations to our colleagues!

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