Rappathon Hacking for a Change

I wanted to share my recent experience I had last week at RAPP’s Rappathon: Hacking for a Change. Last month I attended my usual Digital Dumbo event and was approached by someone about checking out this upcoming hackathon event, and being the person that I am; I’m always looking for the next opportunity to challenge myself, collaborate and learn. So I reached out and was given a brief two days before the event that laid out 5 problem areas in that we as attendees would need to solve.

Check out the brief here: Rappathon Social Media Week Brief

We were encouraged to come up with ideas prior to attending and I thought to address the problem of “How can we eliminate the barriers to adopt alternative forms of transportation such as bicycles”. My idea consisted of a mobile app which empowers and educates people on the choices they choose and the impact those decisions have not just on ourselves but our environment as well. Now known as comoti. The idea was to give people an option to choose how they move from point A to point B. The visuals would amount to icons some examples would be of walking, bicycling, skateboarding, a car, train, bus, boat or airplane.

Rapp Presents Rappathon – Hacking For Change: A New Way Of Collaboration

The app would use location based technology like Google’s map quest API, this would enable the user to input a starting and end point which would equate to travel time. The data would capture expenses, calories burned and a carbon footprint documented into weeks, months or a year but through visuals. An example would be of someone who walked every day to work from home their analysis would be for sake of argument, today you expended 120kcals; saved $10 reduced your carbon footprint by 5% in a total time of 35min 5sec. If this same user on another day chose to take a taxi the analysis would be expended 20kcals, spent $15, increased your carbon footprint by 10% and reached your destination in a time of 15min 25sec. This data would be converted into visuals and can be shared throughout you’re social networks with a gaming perspective in setting challenges for yourself or against others who partake. We could also toss in some fun stuff like you just grew a forest from a seed, this would be someone who uses alternative means consistently, or you just chopped down a tree if you chose to go in the opposite direction of decision making.

I pitched this at RAPP’s ideation session which garnered a positive response and people seemed stoked to work on it. Two other ideas pitched were Start up Start Up and Social Smack down. We were broken up into 3 teams consisting of different disciplines; in addition we had 3 stations in which the idea would stay tied to. So the idea remains at a specific station and the teams would rotate collaboration on the ideas. It was extremely difficult because we had to commit to the project and be able to detach once rotation time came. The role I played was in providing user experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA).

The 3 ideas we worked on throughout the day was presented at this past Social Media Week hosted by Big Fuel. The panel was moderated by Wayne Pick  Camilo LaCruz   Craig Elimeliah  Paul Steketee  Ozioma Egwuonwu   and Benjamin Gatzke 

They all played an integral role in helping the teams gather their thoughts and strategically structure how it might be best to tackle the situation. Other people involved that contributed was Edwin Chog @e4c4 (backend developer), Paul Molluzzo @PaulMolluzzo (strategy), Aliona @siberiancharm (designer) and Jason Rosado @awayofart (front-end developer).

Closing thoughts: Would I do something like this again? In a heart beat! I learned what I’m capable of accomplishing under super tight deadlines working on multiple projects, 3 to be exact. That is a tremendous amount of work to take on, I had an awesome time making new friends and learning from them also. As I sit here and wonder what could have we accomplished if we had two days or a week?! Collaboration in rotation can it be the new way to innovate? What a concept.

The Friendship Effect

The Age of Social

It recently occurred to me today during my morning commute that we all posses the most powerful social media platform, it’s not an app located on our mobile phones or tablets that needs to download. This powerful platform I speak of is friendship real friendships that live outside of the digital landscape.

As I look back on the past year (2011) at how many new friendships I’ve gained through social media it’s pretty awesome to say the least. Social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Foursquare among others tend to initiate or strengthen these relationships which continue to foster outside of the space. But I think it’s important to note that as good as we can be navigating the new pretty interface of the next app, gaining followers & sharing content, we have to continue to practice our skills of communication when we are unplugged. Don’t be mistaken being social offline is just as much a skill as it is to be in the digital space maybe more so.

Carry on the conversation

You might be surprised to find out what you’ll learn in a f2f meet and greet. All of the little subtleties that articulate when carrying on a conversation, funny, charming, serious etc… These things you cannot experience when tweeting or leaving a wall post. I was fortunate I gained my social skills from playing in a band, touring around the world and going to clubs and that carried over into the social media world.

I’ve met some smart cool people that I’ve learned from because of social media. Social Media was the first initial connection, but when you really break it down it’s intended to be a tool to stay connected. In addition it’s better not to limit social interactions solely to the online space. So while it might be cool to have tons of friends online be sure to strengthen those relationships offline as well because these skills will not only carry over when talking about friendships but also career wise as well when interviewing for that next awesome gig.