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.

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There’s no secret that I love designing for the web and mobile space and as I continue to do so my love for it grows each day. But…it didn’t start out that way. In-fact before I fell in love with digital I couldn’t stand it. Even though at the time I wasn’t into digital and web design I was still into technology. Like a teenage girl I would glow with joy anytime I acquired a new video game or any other gadget. I’m also into illustrating comic books, growing up I’ve always been into Marvel & DC Comics and followed each the same way a couch potato would dedicate each day to their reality TV, parish the thought that I would miss an issue of Batman or X-Men.

I am aware that I have an intro post but I thought to re-post or better yet delve more deeply into how I managed to find the road I now travel. I started out probably in a typical manner reading and drawing comic books, I would wake up in the morning toss on some tunes and create my own from morning to night. The only time my mom would get a glimpse of her son would be if I was starving and in need of food, or to make a pit stop @ the bathroom. I was a crazy kid with a crazy dream of working in one of the better known comic book companies, that pretty much meant Marvel or DC comics, as those were and still are the two top dogs.
As the digital space grew I became more interested, now as a web designer I cannot imagine not tweeting, checking in on foursquare, writing on a facebook wall or most recently sharing with my circle of friends on Google+. Digital (social media) has become so integrated into my life that I don’t realize how much I tend to use it on a daily basis. I sleep with my iPhone right next to my head for christ sakes and am checking my phone each time I get a notification! I must be sleep deprived?! But who cares there’s a digital revolution happening and I’m playing a part in it, I’m not quite sure how big or small just yet, only time will tell that tale.
Regardless of anything I’m super grateful of all the people I’ve come across in this industry, I’ve connected with genuine people who are willing to help in any way they can. It’s really cool to share the same passion for an industry with so many others. Last night I attended the monthly social networking eventDigital DUMBO for what’s you status run by Carrot Creative and sponsored by Bigfuel.

I attended the event with my good buddies/RobRobCreative team @robertfpeterson and @awayofart upon entering the event we were given t-shirts to write on indicating our status and contact info. It was pure genius on the part of Bigfuel! Everyone had a complete blast, plenty of drinks and opportunities to be social. We shot the breeze with Mike Germano president of Carrot Creative which was an honor, he’s a super cool dude and someone so full of passion for creative that it’s coming out of his pores class act all the way! Avi Savar of Bigfuel is another individual who’s also a gentileman and worth getting to know. We also hung out with  fellow creative @RonnieLordi a graphic designer out of New Jersey, it was his first digital dumbo and he told us how awesome the event was and will continue to attend future events. Good for you Ronnie we always welcome anyone new creatives to the digital district.

All of this is but a small fraction which makes what I do so rewarding. As a creative I love being able to creative new exciting innovations that are functional, useful and fun to use. I realize how lucky I am to be able to do these things on this scale and I look forward things only getting bigger and better. When you love what you do and can do it on a professional level, that is the best feeling ever!

Think

Did you just do that, no like really?!

Living in NYC there are certain things you just expect, there’s the usual hustle and bustle fast pace, the crowded streets. There’s also countless amounts of tourist hitting all the touristy spots like Times Square, Grand Central, Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty among many other popular locales. New York City is also known for restaurants, theaters and its beloved Yankees.

But most people who don’t live here don’t know the dark-side of the city they might think they do but they really don’t. Living here I’ve experience all sorts of crazy things so vast and countless to remember them all but I’ll try. Let’s see there’s the time I was in a particular neighborhood in the Bronx and saw hookers roaming its streets stark naked they had on all but stilettos and a hand bag , all the while police cars drove past as if this was completely normal.

On 34th street and 5th avenue one day I’ve seen a man running from the police and tackle right in front of me, it was something straight out of the TV show Cops. In addition to all the other nutty stuff we’ve come to love about NY, the occasional unruly person, taxi cabs running people down, smokers puffing smoke in your face, 20 something year old guys and girls going clubbing/drinking and then puking their guts out in the street afterwards, bar fights etc…

While I’ve witness all of these things and tons more nothing has tested the very fiber of my being than what happened yesterday when I went to meet my developer/friend. We needed to check out a client of ours credentials in mid-town for a current website we are in the middle of designing. After we headed back down town on the N train and he and I are in the middle of a conversation and from afar I see a homeless man walking up the train car begging for money, a completely normal occurring activity for NYC. As he made his way past me out of sight I continued to converse, not after a minute passed did this homeless man take it upon himself to commence spitting on someone in close proximity to me. This liquid of filth then ricochet’s off of this person and I receive two specs landing flush on my left cheek. As if in that moment I possessed the speed of Flash I wiped my cheek and felt and unstoppable rage flow within me. It coursed through my veins like a rebel force going from 0-100mph in an instant.

I’m proud to say that I completely restrained myself and didn’t cause any bodily hard towards this homeless person who is completely out of his mind. And even though it would have felt good to pound him into a bloody pulp I didn’t. Thankfully I live close by and rushed home to take a shower, and even though I live close by every second that passed seemed like an eternity. I came home took off my clothes and gave them to be dry cleaned in addition to two showers, after the first one I still didn’t feel absolutely clean. My question is this why does the MTA allow for homeless people to ride and live on the trains?

Yes in fairness if a homeless individual can scrounge up enough money for train fair and ride it’s train system I can understand how they are allowed. It’s not like the MTA can remove them if so because that can be a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I’m sure plenty of lawyers would be aching to take on a case like this, the homeless person would probably walk out a millionaire? Have to love our justice system. But on the other end of the spectrum we as citizens have to pay ridiculous fares which increase every couple of months it seems, only to deal with these types of issues. Nice huh? Thankfully it was a crazy homeless person’s spit and not some knife wielding maniac psychopath. But who’s to say that this won’t happen in a way it already has just that the maniac wasn’t a homeless person.

The moral of the story is if you live or are planning to live in NYC or any other major city always be ready to be tested because you will, its what you do in that moment the defines your character as a person. And to the MTA come on man, do something to ensure that its riders have a more pleasant experience I mean it is your reputation when people choose to use your services.

Think!