Computer hacktivists set for 24-hour hackathon in Salford to create ‘next generation’s Apple’

Computer hacktivists are to embark on a 24-hour ‘hackathon’ in Salford today in an attempt to create the next generation of political protest tools.

Hackathons can have varying results. It is rumoured that the Facebook ‘Like’ button originated at an internal Facebook developers’ hackathon.

Companies have even been created at hackathons – GroupMe was borne out of a 12-hour project and later sold to Skype for an estimated $85million.

Hacktivism: the Unlocking Ideas Hackathon, takes place at Islington Mill on June 7.

The aim is to challenge keen, bright minds to come up with the next generation of protest tools to ‘hack new ways of speaking truth to power’.

But do not be fooled – this is not hacking in the conventional sense of the word, the kind that is frowned upon.

The hacktivist group Anonymous, whose members bare Guy Fawkes masks to shield their true identities, have courted much controversy and support for their cyberattacks on the Church of Scientology, MasterCard and PayPal to name a few.

The much publicised ‘Heartbleed’ bug, which affected more than half a million web servers earlier this month, has also drew much scorn on the hacking community.

Catherine Robins, Unlocking Ideas Project Assistant, said: “No, it’s not that sort of hacking – there is some tension around that area of it. [Our project] is using software and accessing data online to create something like an Apple website.”

Organised legal hackathons (or ‘hack days’) – which are held regularly by the NHS, The Guardian, and Netflix – bring together programmers, graphic designers and project managers to collaborate on software projects.

Jared Hecht, one GroupMe’s founders, told “Shit gets weird at a hackathon around 5 am. People are walking around like zombies.

“I found a corner of some room and just passed out on the floor.”

The general idea is that participants fuel their efforts on pizza and energy drinks before crashing out in a sleeping bag.

The event at the Islington Mill may be more sophisticated than this though, with a proper a dinner and breakfast provided.

Ms Robins told MM: “We really want it to be open to anyone but we are really targeting computer programmers and developers.”

Websites such as show that activism is moving online these days – with people creating posters and petitions to show their feelings.

“It is a form of campaigning and voicing your views by engaging in politics that way”, Ms Robins told MM.

Anyone is welcome to attend the event which, starts at 1pm on June 7 and will carry on throughout the day and into the night, with the option of sleeping on site for all those hardcore enthusiasts.

For more information and to book your free place, visit here.

Image courtesy of gaelx, with thanks.

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