14/04/2014 00:32 Some thoughts post-SpaceApps 2014

If you know of a better medium for this purpose, please let me know. For a type of precedent to this document see here. I write this in the belief that even some quick, unfiltered thoughts are better than nothing: a little more reflective & retrievable than social media documentation. Or maybe you’ll find this “article” entirely unnecessary: old school, a regression into an old format. Is this type of information/attempt at contextualisation even necessary? Or would it have been more meaningful for everyone for me to just upload the two 15sec videos I took of Space Apps Volunteers dancing a slow kalamathkianos to Giorgos’s (correct?) spontaneous karaoke: “pai3e mou diplopenia & o minas exei enia”?


Today I bit into two apples & finished neither of them, had a mini sneakers-type snack that was perfect at that moment, consumed one (redbull-branded) paper-cup of Sprite with vodka (absolut), & lots of water. Speaking of which: although I came to the hackathon wanting to work on the Coastal Inundation challenge (i.e. on warning & management systems to do with water-related natural disasters), I didn’t end up working on that or any other NASA project directly. Even so, closely related to my initial intention and what I feel was my most significant contribution during the whole two days was that I played a role in completely opening up access to the (dwindling) supply of water-bottles towards the end of the event. Things weren’t too bad: there was a water dispenser around the corner which would have worked as a last resort. Still it was crucial to secure everyone’s immediate access to water (i.e. that of a great number of exhausted, excited, over-caffeinated, & vodka & redbull-drinking & generally dehydrated people).

The fact that amidst all that wonderful creative, p2p, collaborative chaos, & amidst all the talk about openness, open data & open access, we almost collectively defaulted to a system that restricted access to water, is going to keep me thinking for quite a while. Even so, given my initial direction for a commons-management, water-related project, for me this is another example of hackathon serendipity (see hackcyprus12 report cited above for a discussion of another type of default access restriction as an apparent community default).

So many good things have & will continue to come out of this weekend. Beyond & behind the project work there were so many things happening, most of which will have serious but not measurable impact. That’s what I’ve come to find more interesting.

Unlike previous times: this time we did manage to create a situation where people stood up & explained to everyone else what they were interested in & what they were working on early on on the first day. It was a bit of a rough ride but I know for a fact that when this happens it radically impacts how information is shared, whether & what kind of culture of collaboration is established, & how projects form & develop.

It seems that some groups/individuals didn’t come up in the end to present their work. We didn’t have nearly the number of people, the number of projects, or the sense of momentum we had last year. This could mean that things were a little bit more serious this time round. More constrained. That people – myself included – were less willing to take risks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something to learn from & think about. (Edit: There was also reported decline of momentum for hackcyprus*14).

I’m especially interested in the role / the emergence of the Cyprus Space Exploration Organisation in giving things a more serious character – is this not a case where a grassroot initiative may be inevitably becoming institutionalised? Of course so far it could be argued that CSEO isn’t far from the grassroots itself, even so I don’t think it can stay that way for long. Can / should a CSEO type of organisation stay sustainably open? The internal organisational challenge to pull such a thing off would be a great task. I doubt whether they/we, as an extremely young community have the maturity for this.

At the same time the whole thing was fresh. And there an awe-inspiring amount of hard work took place. See projects submitted here: https://2014.spaceappschallenge.org/location/nicosia/

I’m finding it tremendously interesting that there were three projects with a focus on data visualisation, out of which two dealt with “Climate and my neighbourhood” and that a majority dealt with environmental issues! Who would have thought!

There’s many things I’d like to bring up:

– the type of presentation.

Scarabeo, for example, a project about collecting space debris didn’t respond to a specific NASA challenge, was exceptional in being what I thought the only truly mature & thought through presentation that was aware of its own issues). It was also exceptional in defying the start-up logic almost all of the other presented projects felt they had to abide by.

– ..



Notes for later:

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