Press: Appfest Coverage Highlights

Posted by Vicky Zeamer on November 21, 2012 in DPLA Appfest, Press.

Appfest shows off space for collaboration in the Chattanooga Public Library

View more from Aaron Schmidt, Views from the DPLA Appfest at Chattanooga Public Library

4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library looks blank, but is full of room for community and creativity 

“I think institutions have layers that move at different speeds. The parts of ALA working on the budget are generally contemplating different time scales than the interest groups, say. And clearly the fast-moving interest groups depend on the more deliberate strategic planning and budget work. But proper shearing layers need to avoid too many kinds of dependencies — to hang a painting I need to havea wall, but I shouldn’t have to change the wall, or even think too much about it. The layers need to have obvious affordances at their interfaces — which, in turn, means having interfaces at all. I don’t understand ALA well enough to flesh out this metaphor (comments welcome!), but my intuition is that the interfaces are often not well-defined, and the affordances not at all obvious; the picture-hangers too often have to change the wall. What would it look like if they didn’t?

“I think, in the case of a library, at least, it would look a bit like the 4th floor of the Chattanooga Public Library. For thirty years it was nothing but the oubliette for unused things. Now it’s a gigantic windowless room with most (not all) of the unused things moved out, no carpet, indifferent paint, occasional furniture, and new assistant director Nate Hill (about whom enough good things cannot be said) gets to fill it with…whatever. Which is apparently the local Linux users’ group, and DPLA’s Appfest (I got to go!), and a pitch day for local startups (with crazy awesome lighting. and fish).

“In other words, because the room is so blank, so underutilized, so still-waiting-to-learn-what-it-can-become, it can be filled with anything. And he’s filling it with community and creativity and energy and partnerships, and seeing what happens.”

From Andromeda Yelton’s blog post, shearing layers of the hundred-year library

Friday morning commences hacking, library full of intense energy ready for a day of “hackery”

“Friday morning, we got to the library early, took advantage of its impressive breakfast spread and lots of coffee, and plunged immediately into hackery.  One huge piece of butcher paper on the wall was our sign-up sheet as whiteboards — one for team members to sign up for projects, and the rest quickly covered with wireframes, database models, and scribbled questions on use cases. The mood in the room was energetic, intellectually engaged, and intense.

Brainstorming and planning

“The energy extended outside of the room, too.  An IRC backchannel (#dpla-api on Freenode), shared Google docs, a sandbox server that John Blyberg set up (thanks!) with an impressive range of language and tool support, the #dpla Twitter hashtag, and GitHub collaboration allowed for virtual participation.

“The intense, head-down hackery was briefly interrupted by barbecue, cupcakes, and beer (a keg at the library, by the way? Genius).  Truly, though, it’s all a blur until 4:30, when the teams demonstrated their apps.”

From Andromeda Yelton’s blog post on the ACRL TechConnect Blog, Report from the Digital Public Library of America Appfest

Technical and humanist skills come together to play around with the DPLA’s new API, build application prototypes

“Last week, Matthew Battles and I joined a group of literary hackers, digital humanists, media designers, and veteran librarians at the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) appfest on the sprawling top floor of Chattanooga’s brutalist-era public library. We wrangled with library metadata all day, seeking new modes of engagement with unwieldy media collections integrated from institutions across the country. The DPLA just released a new API and is preparing to meet your queries with troves of collections information and content. The appfest was a challenge to those in the library community as well as techno-savvy sympathizers to prototype the first DPLA killer-apps. The forty or so people in attendance came from near and far: there was a strong showing of library staff local to Chattanooga and developers, designers, and media scholars flew in from Boston, New York, Texas and beyond (Toronto).

“A range of technical and humanist skills were brought to bear on application prototypes developed in small groups. The results included a system for scoring the similarity of media records (winner of the Chattanooga library trophy), an online reference-ticketing system for asking DPLA-related questions, a mobile app for authoring new collections records, and many more beyond memory. Matthew and I collaborated with a group including local staff as well as visitors. For eight hours, with only short breaks for BBQ and cupcakes, we sought to compile a visual collections map for the DPLA, registering the scope and range of integrated contributions.”

From Yanni Loukissas at the Harvard metaLAB, Library Hacking with the DPLA: Megacollections, Visual Search, and the Ecology of Metadata


Want more? Follow the event through Storify, a timeline of tweets, comments, photos and more.

We’ve collected tweets and other bits of social media flotsam from the DPLA Appfest hackathon, November 8-9, 2012 at the Chattanooga (TN) Public Library.

Here are some final thoughts via twitter:

Chattanooga Public Library, @4thfloorChatt: “best news – the team/duo [Catalog The Whole Earth] wants to continue fleshing the idea out after the fest. thats what we like to hear! #dpla”

Josh Hadro, @Hadro: “DPLA Plus group takes home the #DPLA Appfest Cup! Congrats to all, some amazing work

Dave Riordan, @riordan: “#DPLA Appfest is honestly the most productive hackathon I’ve ever been to. More groups shipping near complete things than I’ve ever seen”

Andromeda Yelton, @ThatAndromeda: “Conclusion: diverse skillsets at #dpla (hack, design, metadata, etc.)=more communication challenges and TOTALLY WORTH IT.”

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