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POV Hackathon 2: Know Your Hackers, “Data Docs”

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The Data Docs team returns from POV Hackathon 1 to participate in POV Hackathon 2 (Jan 12-13, 2013).

POV Hackathon 2 is about to get started. In this first in a series of blog posts, we’re introducing you to the participants and their goals for the hackathon.

The Data Docs project aims to spread data literacy by telling short stories that lie behind the most important datasets in the world. Each is a meld of the linear storytelling and animation with live, evergreen data and choice interactive elements.

The Data Docs team participated in the first POV Hackathon in August 2012, where they developed the concept and created a demo for their project. The team includes Joe Posner with Susan E. McGregor and Lam Thuy Vo.

Joe Posner (Photo: Ian McAlpin)

Joe Posner works at the intersection of documentary film, motion design and music. His work as a mixed-media director has appeared at Newsweek & The Daily Beast and APM Marketplace, and he has contributed Motion Design to several feature documentary films.

This is the second time I’ve participated in the POV Hackathon. Part of my motivation is the same as before: to try to broaden my horizons as somebody who makes things for a living, learn and invent new approaches, and meet people working toward the same goals. But I have a new reason, too. The first Hackathon played matchmaker for us and created the wonderful Data Docs team, and the project itself was born there. I can’t wait to have another weekend of all-out creative blitz with them!

I’ve always created digitally-mediated work since I learned photoshop in 6th grade, so it’s hard to call myself a “filmmaker” when most things I make remain zeroes and ones. The line between filmmaker, designer, coder — it’s a bit fuzzier than we like to admit, as all of the Hackathon projects are sure to prove.

From the Hackathon, I hope to learn more and more from my teammates about coding for the new web standards, and some strategies for making my own linear work more interactive. For the Data Docs project specifically: last time we birthed the concept, and a rough demo. This time we’re going to try to make some dynamic, responsive visualizations that fit in and complete the picture.

» Official Site: fire-works.co
» Official Site: thedailybeast.com/video
» Follow @joeposner on Twitter

Susan McGregor (Photo: Claudia Castillo)

Susan E. McGregor is an Assistant Professor at Columbia Journalism School with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism. Her interests include data journalism and information visualization, as well as digital privacy and security.

I was lucky enough to be part of the first Hackathon, and it was a really great experience. While our team shared a topical interest, our backgrounds and approaches were really complementary, which made it a rich and exciting learning process. The preparation help we got from the organizers was also incredibly valuable, and, I think, a key reason why we accomplished so much during the weekend. In fact, it was so successful that we continued to meet and develop the project in the subsequent months. We’re really excited that the second round will let us take on a new aspect of what we began creating last August.

The developer’s world is an algorithmic one, and programming thrives on uniformity within a project. Film, though, is all about unique moments. Both disciplines thrive on a strong narrative backbone, but what they’re good at is completely different. I love that working with a filmmaker lets me break out of the typical “write once, use everywhere” dogma of programming and instead focus on crafting a one-of-a-kind experience. Learning how that is constructed from a film perspective is really valuable to me as I develop my own storytelling practice.

» Website: towcenter.org
» Follow @susanemcg on Twitter

Lam Thuy Vo (Photo: Lam Thuy Vo)

Lam Thuy Vo is a multi-platform journalist, currently covering economic issues for NPR’s Planet Money. Previously, she was a video journalist for The Wall Street Journal in Asia where she covered the G20 summit in Seoul to the 2011 Japan earthquake to food price inflation across the Asian continent.

I have always been interested in the intersection between the moving image and the interactive web. Having worked with Susan and Joe before, I know that our skill sets are very complementary and I hope that they can bring my work as an infographic artist to another level.

» Website
» Follow @lamthuyvo on Twitter

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Shannon Carroll was Digital Community Associate at POV, where she supported POV's social networks.