What we learned over a weekend of hacking

Philo Van Kemenade

What happens when you bring together filmmakers, web developers and designers for a weekend of story hacking? May 2013 saw the start of Popathon – a series of hackathon events that encourages multidisciplinary experimentation in the field of web-native storytelling. By bringing together different skills in a time-pressured environment, diverse teams have the opportunity to experiment with the capacity of the web as a narrative mechanism. At the end of the weekend each team has an interactive prototype that is presented in a live demo and shared beyond the event by releasing code open source.

The process of collaboration and experimentation isn’t always easy or self-evident, not least because of differences between the various backgrounds involved. We have been fortunate to explore the storytelling hackathon format in partnership with local communities in cities such as London, Lisbon, Paris and Barcelona, each of which have taught us a lot in the process. In this presentation I will share our key learnings from organizing an international series of storytelling hackathons and reflect specifically on the relevance for web documentary.

Besides lessons learned, we will take the opportunity to explore some of the projects created during the weekend-long hackathons.

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