Code Across America ATX: A Civic Innovation Hackathon

ATX Codeathon

Google-funded Code for America was in Austin Saturday for a codeathon using data accessible via the city’s data portal. I dropped by the geek chic coworking facility Conjunctured, where the codeathon was happening, and hung out long enough to get a sense of the projects the ~40 coders were tackling. Those included a Bike Accident and Route Safety app, an app for finding miscellaneous stuff around town, and a “garden dating” app (to help people who want a community garden find a space). What was missing? For at least one project (Find It), there were fewer sources of data than the developers would’ve liked. I realized that it’s not enough to bring coders together to create apps – we should also be cultivating data sources. A project to build databases and facilitate citizen input would be a logical complement to the various codeathons.

Jon L.’s iPhone in the NY Times

I’ve been interviewed by the New York Times before, but usually for the technology section. Who’da thunk I would turn up in “Fashion and Style”? Katie Hafner included me in a piece called “When Phones are Just Too Smart.” She originally asked how I find iPhone apps, and I realized I have no one method – some I find online, some I find by searching the store for a particular kind of thing, or I might search for the app that goes with a specific service (like Yelp). Others I see friends using – like “Bowl” (Tibetan singing meditation bowls) and “Bloom” (Brian Eno’s virtual musical instrument app), both of which I found via David Armistead.

I counted around 80 apps on my phone, and I use about 20 of those regularly. As Katie mentions, I found several Buddhist apps, including the very useful “Meditator,” a mediation timer. (Looking for the link, I discovered that Simple Touch Software also has an app called “Meditate.” Checking that one out, too.)

I’m really digging music apps, like Soma.FM’s, and DJ Spooky’s interactive app for his new release, “The Secret Song.”