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Hacking For Innovation

  1. Hacking for Innovation Christian Heilmann | | Sunderland, UK, University Hack Challenge, January 2009
  2. Hello, I am Chris.
  3. I am a hacker and a geek.
  4. The term hacking has a lot of different meanings.
  5. To me it means: “Altering a system to do what you want it to do using what is at your disposal.”
  6. It also means having a lot of fun trying to make things do what they weren’t made for.
  7. It is unrestrained innovation.
  8. So welcome, innovators!
  9. We’re here to host a University Hack Challenge
  10. We want you to show us what can be built using the systems we (and others) offer...
  11. ...that makes a difference in your lives and make the things you care about easier to achieve.
  12. Find something that always annoyed you with systems you use...
  13. ...and build a workaround.
  14. You’ll be amazed about the impact this can have.
  15. To reach hackvana you need three things:
  16. Access, Data and Users
  17. Access happens on several channels.
  18. The oldest way is to cheat your way in using a very cool piece of software.
  19. Using cURL, you can be your own browser and get any data from the web to remix.
  20. The problems are that you don’t get the data back in a structured way.
  21. You’re at the mercy of the HTML structure and if that one changes your hack fails to work.
  22. This is why clever companies realized that it does make sense to offer their data in easier to digest formats.
  23. RSS or Really Simple Syndication was born.
  26. Using RSS or Atom feeds you get data in a predictable and easy to convert format.
  27. It doesn’t allow you to request specific data or define a different format though.
  28. This was the next step: REST APIs or Web Services.
  29. REST based Web Services allow you to request the correct data from a system.
  30. Which brings you to the second hack ingredient: data.
  31. Yahoo Answers
  32. AnswersService/V1/questionSearch? query=sunderland&region=uk&lang=e n&appid=yahoodemo
  33. ... lots more...
  35. A lot of web services also allow you to choose your data format.
  36. AnswersService/V1/questionSearch? query=sunderland&region=uk&lang=e n&appid=yahoodemo&start=1&output= json&callback=useme
  37. This makes it dead easy to get the data and re-use it in your own interfaces.
  38. What if you want to use several sources?
  39. There’s Yahoo Pipes for mixing, filtering and matching.
  41. Or if you like SQL-style data conversion there’s YQL:
  43. Both of these systems allow you to reach data from Yahoo and other services and pre- filter it for use in your own hacks.
  44. Now you got the access and you got the data. Time to consider the users.
  45. Building *working* web interfaces is a specialist skill.
  46. I’ve been developing for the web for 12 years and it still is a mystery to me why some things just don’t work.
  47. The technologies are easy enough: HTML for structure CSS for presentation JavaScript for behaviour
  48. Where it gets truly annoying is the unknowns.
  49. You have no idea about the user’s setup, ability or rights to change their technical environment.
  50. And then there are the browsers and all their wonderful bugs and quirks.
  51. This is why it is a good start to use libraries or frameworks.
  52. Their only reason of being is to make your life as a developer easier and development less random.
  53. Here are our helpers: YUI BluePrint
  54. Using these, you can quickly build interfaces that work on the web and mobiles.
  55. What about reach?
  56. The newest way of access that systems and companies allow you these days is opening up their address books.
  58. Instead of building it and waiting till people come, build where the people are.
  60. How about some hack examples?
  61. I am a big fan of accessibility.
  62. The web is supposed to be for everybody – regardless of physical or mental access restrictions.
  63. At Accessibility2.0 Antonia Hyde asked for a video player that works for people with learning disabilities.
  64. media-and-web-apps-for-people-with-learning- disabilities
  65. Shortly before YouTube announced their API to build your own YouTube Player.
  66. I took the API and Antonia’s findings and built EasyYouTube.
  67. Screenshot of Easy YouTube
  68. Easy controls ★ Option to search for videos ★ Copy and paste video URL to share ★ Select video size ★ Easy Volume Control ★ Option to show a playlist created with ★ Option to search YouTube ★ API to automatically open videos in Easy YouTube ★ Documentation how to host it yourself ★ Open Source ★
  69. Another example: I use Twitter – a lot.
  70. Not all of my updates there are valid for re-distribution though.
  71. So I use Pipes to filter my updates and get them back as JSON: _id=f7229d01b79e508d543fb84e8a0abb0dd
  72. And adding a few more lines of JavaScript I can now display my “useful tweets” on my blog:
  74. Another example: I use SlideShare – a lot.
  76. One cool thing is that SlideShare automatically creates transcripts of your slides:
  77. So I’ve used this to create a version that is easily accessible for blind people or those who don’t have Flash.
  78. presentation
  79. Using YQL, it was also easy to write a JavaScript wrapper that allows you to show the transcripts with your slides.
  80. presentations-embedded-from-slideshare-using-yql/
  81. However, coming here I wanted to show a quick new example and spent an hour on Sunday on a hack.
  82. I think I said, I use Twitter – a lot.
  83. I got all this emails from Twitter telling me about people following me.
  84. What I didn’t get was it telling me when people left me.
  85. Or what I was telling the world before they left me.
  86. So I dug into the API a bit and built
  88. I put it up, and started testing edge cases.
  89. One of them was Guy Kawasaki, whom I knew has a lot of followers and updates.
  90. One of them was Guy Kawasaki, whom I knew has a lot of followers and updates.
  91. And that started a landslide of visitors, comments and ideas for it.
  92. Tim O'Reilly Guy Kawasaki Ryan Carson
  93. What about reach? That was me, time for you to show what you can do!
  94. Innovation is not a matter of skill or being in the right job position.
  95. It is a matter of wanting to change what we have and be ready to play.
  96. We do this to help you see your potential.
  97. And we do this to see if we do a good job in explaining our offers to the developer world.
  98. The web is yours, go out and play!
  99. THANKS! Christian Heilmann Moon bridal hat photo: All other photos of the interwebs