Monthly Archives: March 2015

Hack the Election! Hacks/HackersMcr

Image of The Shed's doorThe great thing about organising Hacks/Hackers meet-ups is getting to meet amazing people from all walks of life who give their time generously and leave you feeling inspired. And hopefully everyone who came along to our event on Monday sixteenth of March felt similarly fired up by our guest speakers.

The Venue

Thanks to the brilliant team at MMU’s Digital Innovation for letting us use their fabulous, industrial space at The Shed. It meant we could provide tea and coffee to everyone on arrival which makes us feel all warm and hospitable! It’s also got full AV facilities and good wifi which meant our guests could show us the full range of their ideas and we also set up a Twitterwall so we could display the #HHMcr tweets as they happened!

Voter apathy?

The meet-up was all about finding inspiration on how to engage younger people in democracy and politics ahead of the election and even make it fun??!! As journalists, we know that although we get excited about elections, our audiences may not share that enthusiasm. Often, that’s because they don’t know where to find the information that can help them to get more involved. Or it may be because they don’t think the election is relevant to them especially here in Manchester with safe Labour seats leading to very low turnout.

The Speakers

Beth Ashton talking at HacksHackersMcrBeth Ashton, Social Media Editor at M.E.N. talked about how they’re putting together a Manchester Manifesto, asking the people of Manchester what they think are the big issues.

Next up was Francis Irving, CEO of Scraperwiki and the programmer behind They WorkForYou which parses Hansard data to show MP’s voting record in parliament. He talked about the suite of open democracy sites put together by Democracy Club .Francis Irving talking at Hacks/HackersMcr

  • YourNextMP - Find out who’s standing in your constituency and how to contact them
  • ElectionLeaflets.org – Real-time monitoring of election leaflets. Keep track of how politicians are trying to get your vote!
  • Democracy Club’s CVs – a site to help candidates share their CVs with voters
  • MeetYourNextMP – find out how to meet the candidates standing in your constituency and question them with this site listing hustings by constituency.

One of my local candidates happened to be following me as I was tweeting about this and has promised to upload his CV! And, of course, these sites are great sources of potential stories and data for journalists.

Dan Hett talking at Hacks/HackersMcrTo round off the evening, Dan Hett – senior games developer at BBC Childrens, live coder extraordinaire and all-round creative person – inspired us to just go out there and make stuff that is awesome. Throw off your chains and don’t worry if it doesn’t work!

So if any of you were inspired by what you heard to make something, let us know!