Three cool things I learned at Hacks and Hackers Toronto

I attended my first Hacks and Hackers Toronto meetup this week and was amazed by the turnout — it was standing room only as more than 100 people gathered to share information and inspiration and generally bridge the divide between journalists and computer programmers.

As someone who’s spent most of her career in msm I’ve discovered there’s much to learn by rubbing shoulders with the techno wizards — either directly through the talks, by chatting one-on-one or through osmosis. It’s an excellent antidote to intimidation!

I picked up a lot of information, but here are three cool things that stuck out.

Winnipeg rules at comment moderation

During an interesting talk about story comments by Jennifer MacMillan of the Globe and Mail (13,000 comments per day) and Kim Fox of CBC News Online (300,000 per month) I learned that both media powerhouses contract out their comment moderation to a company called ICUC.  Go figure — the world’s leading online content moderation service is based in Winnipeg.  I checked out their website and saw that their other clients include NPR, CTV, Rogers, Virgin, Moson, Unilever, Calvin Klein, JCPenney and the Government of Canada.

Salmon will make your comments “swim”

James Walker and Paul Osman walked us through a demo of Salmon, a new open source protocol to make UGC “swim” to other sites instead of sitting in silos.  It’s about data ownership in social media and allows people to have a record of their comments and keep conversations unified.  What it does not do, according to Walker, “is solve the problem of stupid people on the internet”.

Innovation by TVO’s The Agenda

I wish more TV people could have heard the talk by Mike Miner of TVO’s The Agenda because Steve Paikin’s current affairs show is truly innovating when it comes to integrating television and online content.   Amazingly, I found out that anyone is allowed to embed The Agenda in their blog.  “It’s yours”, Miner said, but he added that they don’t want people to steal it and throw it on YouTube.   Public broadcasting at its finest.

I’m going to do it right here and now.  Because I can.

(I’ve had to link instead of embed because my WordPress blog is not self-hosted. But trust me, it works, because I tested it here on Blogger)

I also learned a lot by chatting with the guy next to me, Michael Pereira, who works at CBC  and is doing data visualization for the corp’s new votecompass, a really interesting interactive online tool that you should try out, if you haven’t already.

As I left the event and pulled off my red name tag (journalists were wearing red name tags and the programmers blue) I was feeling enthused, inspired and smarter about online journalism than when I walked in.  I’ll definitely go to the next meetup and I encourage other journalists to slap on a red name tag and join in because it was definitely worth it.

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1 Response to Three cool things I learned at Hacks and Hackers Toronto

  1. Great summary, Hedy. Many thanks for coming out to the event. Hope to see you at the next one. 🙂


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