Hack the election at Hacks/Hackers MCR

29 March 2015

Hack the Election

The fourth Hacks/Hackers Manchester was about the general election. How can we make the upcoming general election more interesting to young people and encourage them to use their vote? Can we use games, apps and other tools to engage them in the democratic process or just to make it more fun?

Here are my notes from the event.

First up was Beth Ashton, Social Media Editor at MEN, who outlined how for the newsroom had come since the last election. She also talked about some of the planned coverage including the Manchester Manifesto, an online poll on local and national issues which had over 5,000 respondents.

Next up was Francis Irving, CEO Scraperwiki. He’s a programmer and activist who has built what he referred to as “disruptive, civic tools” such as YourNextMP and ElectionLeaflets.org.

He went through various points from Agitprop Àgogo, a set of posts by Tony Bowden, mySociety‘s “international agitator” outlining mistakes and opportunities in civic technology. It’s a great site and well worth exploring in depth. Here’s a few that stood out:

To end we had Dan Hett, a games developer and livecoder who works at the BBC. He gave an excellent talk on his approach to work:

  • Restrictions are good. Not having much time or money can be to your advantage.
  • If it’s stupid but it works, it’s definitely not stupid.
  • The only valid test is other people. Get it working quickly then iterate.
  • Stay focused. Remember your objective. Don’t get too attached.
  • Choose your weapon wisely. Use what your know.

A great evening with much to mull over. Thanks to all the speakers.