Music, art, games, and context – who would’ve thought of the all the different apps that could be created around the presidential debates?
Inspiration and creativity were the bywords of the weekend, as Hacks/Hackers Boston held a “Hack the Presidential Debate” hackathon this past weekend. At least 40 people participated between Friday night and Saturday. The idea was to create apps that could be used for the third and final presidential debate Monday night (Oct. 22.). The event was sponsored by Hacks/Hackers, The Boston Globe, and the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, which hosted the event.
Two winners were picked. Debatify claimed first place. The app wraps music around spoken clips from the earlier debates. Debatify was a crowd-pleasing hit, inspiring waves of laughter from the crowd and judges. It was created by Joanna Kao, Jennifer Hollett, Dan Siegel, Max Rothman, Ying Tan, and Leon Lin.
The second place winner was Potato, which placed contextual art and links to stories alongside a live transcript of the debate. Team members were Alvin Chang, Jin Dai, and Matt Carroll. The app was created using software written by Dan Schultz. (Hopefully, a link will be up by the time of the debate Monday night.)
Other entries: Xin Xin and Gabriel Florit worked on an app that created artistic data visualizations, which might help show the emotional state of the candidates or how often they referred to different topics.
Andrew Inglis and Chris Amico worked on a game that would be played by two people, who could score points by guessing which words would be used by the candidates. The idea of the game was to help unite people of opposing political beliefs in an interesting, fun way.
Schultz also showed off an app that scrambled the transcripts, making it seem as if the candidates had been drinking.
The event was judged by Brian Mooney, a veteran political reporter for the Boston Globe, with more than 40 years of experience, Michael Workman, digital design director at the Globe, and Michael Morisy, founder of the freedom of information site, Muckrock.com, and now the editor and curator for The Hive, a blog on innovation and startups on Boston.com.