WordPress.com designers and developers took part in a literary hackathon, hosted at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA.
Field Notes: The Codex Hackathon 2016
Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community. This week, I share my experience at the Codex Hackathon.
We’re big fans of publishing here at WordPress.com. From fantastic content created by our blogging community and news from our WordPress.com VIP partners, to longform articles on Longreads, we love helping publish the best content on the internet.
In that spirit, Automattic sponsored the Codex Hackathon last month. The event brought together over 160 people who are passionate about reading to the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. Librarians, writers, editors, programmers, and designers came from all across the globe to collaborate on small weekend-long projects to visualize the future of reading. Mel Choyce, Kelly Dwan, Kat Hagan, and I attended from Automattic, and we were eager to meet and collaborate with the like-minded crowd. It’s not often that such a diverse group has the opportunity to drop everything and come together around something they love.
The weekend kicked off with a series of short presentations on Saturday morning. Attendees learned about tools (like the WordPress.com API!) and saw examples of publishing challenges for inspiration. Those of us who came with pre-imagined project ideas shared them with the group, and those who didn’t could either join a team, or participate in a brainstorming exercise. The attendees mingled and shared ideas, and project teams started forming.
I joined a team, while Mel, Kelly, and Kat pitched in with design and development help across many different projects. The rest of Saturday was spent meeting new people, brainstorming, sketching, designing, and writing code. Our Codex hosts kept us well-fed throughout, and the atmosphere was exciting and inspiring. Teams worked well into the evening on Saturday, and were up bright and early on Sunday to polish our projects.
The event culminated in a set of short presentations from each team. It was thrilling to see the different ideas people worked on. Due to the incredibly short weekend timeline, many projects were still in the conceptual phase, but we were treated to quite a few application demos as well. You can check out the full list of projects at the Codex Hackathon 2016 projects page. Some of my personal favorites:
- Stanza: A tool to deliver a playlist of poems tied to a person’s mood and emotion.
- LitCity: Literary context, delivered into the real world through location-based phone notifications.
- Cover Design History: The beginnings of a website dedicated to book cover design.
- HippoReader: A tool for programmatically simplifying the language in a given text, to make it readable even by those with a elementary English language skills.
- ReadMember: A web-browser extension to help you keep track of the things you read online.
We all had a blast at the event, and thoroughly enjoyed working with everyone. The Codex Hackathon left us inspired to keep building ways for you to publish your own great content here at WordPress.com and beyond.
If building publishing tools for a more democratic web sounds like your idea of fun, we’re hiring!