Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes on a problem can give us an important new perspective on it, but it is not often that scientists veer out of their very specialised fields to see their work through other people’s eyes. But 100 people, from a mix of different backgrounds, have just descended on San Francisco for Science Hack Day. They joined forces, shared skills, and spent 24-hours together, in the hope of finding new ways to use established technologies, and new ways to get information from existing data. Kate Arkless went to find out what a Science Hack Day is all about.
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The hackday project that crowdsourced data.gov.uk
How many of the now 3241 datasets listed as part of data.gov.uk are easy to open up and play with? How many are tables for computers to analyse, instead of PDF reports for people to read?
The Hacks and Hackers Hackday filled a Channel 4 office with journalists and developers on the final Friday in January. Our aim was to tell new stories with open data. Attendees already had form - the BBC's Open Secrets blogger Martin Rosenbaum, and data journalism teams from the Times, the Guardian, and the FT. Tom Loosemore judged our attempts in his role as head of hosts 4iP, alongside My Society boss Tom Steinberg. They awarded the prize to my team's analysis of Tory candidates. But another project promised to shed light on public data in the UK.
Tom Morris was part of a team that looked into the quality of data.gov.uk. Although data.gov.uk advertises itself as a database of open datasets, many of the entries are actually PDF files. He built a prototype format checker that invites people to go through datasets and record the file format.
We talk to the BBC's David Shukman about reporting climate change and the BP oil spill. Plus, the results of the Guardian's hack day, a study on mobile phone masts and cancer, and the pitfalls of patenting genes.
A gaggle of geeks recently invaded the Guardian's London headquarters for a hack day. Their leader, Jeremy Keith, reveals the results of two days of brainstorming.