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.
James Cameron’s massive ego is probably what it takes to pull off a Terminator 2/3, Titanic, or Avatar – his latest, a creative, massively expensive 3D CGI experiment that could be a nuclear boxoffice bomb (what they said about Titanic, though). Cameron has succeeded over and over because he sinks his teeth into a project and won’t let go, regardless the level of difficulty. As he started work on The Abyss (my particular Cameron favorite), he told Fox president Leonard Goldberg “I want you to know one thing—once we embark on this adventure and I start to make this movie, the only way you’ll be able to stop me is to kill me.” Read Dana Goodyear’s great New Yorker profile of Cameron, “Man of Extremes.”