Code for Good

International Space Apps – view from the virtual room

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The International Space Apps Challenge is happening this weekend, at cities, space stations and virtually, all around the world. The livestream for it is here:

Behind every global development hackathon is a team of people who act like glue, watching projects around the world and connecting up the ones that are related to each other, or can help each other or people who can just plain support each other when it’s dark and cold and they’ve discovered that there are limits to how long coffee and doughnuts can keep you awake for.

Up to now it’s down to how many connections and projects we can keep in our heads at once, and what we’ve got scribbled on paper and files all over our pcs, and how many streaming windows we can physically fit onto all our screens (because one laptop is never enough if you’re keeping tabs on a global event).


But this time we’re spoilt. We have a list of projects that’s been moderated and sorted down to a mere 61. We have spreadsheets that show which teams (There are 81 of these at the moment, and about 1000-2000 people) in the 26 camps around the world are working on those projects (and we really mean around the world when we\’re talking about the international space station). And we have a piratepad for every project, so teams around the world (e.g. Jakarta, Oxford, Stuttgart and San Francisco on the Open Data API) can leave each other notes and hints and pointers to data and code.



It’s working well. I have some favourite silly moments. Like seeing how the StartupBus moving-camps-on-a-map idea got adapted to the ISS moving across the map of camps for this hackathon. And the duck that tells when the ISS is overhead. And the tweet from a zucchini plant.


And I have to give a big nod to the New York StartupBus Crew who came out in force when Mike Caprio (this year\’s New York conductor) asked them to.


But mostly it’s the feeling that the multi-city hackathon has finally come of age. And pride that a lot of people around the world gave up their weekend to go make a difference to the world. And space. And beyond…