You are browsing the archive for Hack days.

Hacking, designing and tinkering open cultural heritage in Finland

Sanna Marttila - March 3, 2016 in Contest, Events/Workshops, Featured, Finnish, Hack days

The Hack4FI – Hack Your Heritage hackathon was organized for the second time in the beginning of February 2016. Nearly 100 creative minds came together for an inspirational and creative weekend. Designers, artists, storytellers, software developers and cultural heritage experts were working with concepts ranging from ‘big dada’ to sauna culture, and all the way to viable business solutions!

image00More than 30 Finnish cultural heritage institutions had made open cultural data and content available for everyone to explore and appropriate (see the datasets here). The biggest release ever in Finland of open cultural content was done for the hackathon: the service released an open API that provides a way to perform searches and access metadata from nearly 9 million cultural objects and artefacts coming from Finnish cultural and memory institutions, as well as access over 200 000 openly licensed photographs.


“In my opinion opening collections is an important part of the mission of the publicly funded art and cultural institutions” Senior Planning Officer Sanna Hirvonen, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

The hackathon weekend was organized around 10 different tracks that were facilitated by invited experts coming from different fields. These tracks included themes such as Digital Humanities, Art & Design, Digital Fabrication and Digital Storytelling. This year Hack4FI also partnered with the CreatiFI project, which organises Creative Ring Challenge Helsinki as a horizontal track where selected teams can win up to 50.000 euros to develop their idea further if the solution has business potential and you are using at least one of the offered FIWARE enablers.

“I took the Finnish Wartime photography archive terms-of-use clause: “you may not use the photographs to mislead people” as an invitation and inspiration to my Misleader project.” Artist, Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen


After the busy weekend of hacking, designing and cultural tinkering 20 teams presented their ideas, concepts and prototypes on Sunday evening. These presentations comprised a variety of innovative, creative and even a bit crazy concepts varying from tangible information visualization and 3D objects to flash mob experience for single people and ‘big dada’, to games and virtual museums. Most of the results of the hackathon were collected to the Hack4FI Hackdash, where one can also get a better overview of the concepts and follow their progress. (

The Hack4FI competition is on!

The hackathon was the kick off event for the Hack4FI – Hack your heritage 2016 competition that is looking for innovative solutions that creatively re-use open cultural data and show a potential in creating value for the society at large. The competition welcomes designs, artworks and services in various stages e.g. concepts, prototypes or working products.

During the competition period there will be events in the partner organisations, and workshops to support and facilitate the teams to excel in the competition! To find more about the offerings please visit

In addition to the participants of the Hack4FI – Hack your heritage! hackathon all creative minds all around the world can take part in the competition with their project. The only criterion is that the submitted works should make use of open cultural data or content with a Finnish or Nordic origin (see the competition’s datasets here). The competition will be open for submissions until March 31st, 2016 (see the submission guidelines here) and the winners will be announced and awarded in the final gala on April 13th, 2016 in Helsinki, Finland.

Did you miss the fun at Hack4FI – Hack your heritage hackathon? See the short video of the weekend below:

Hack4FI – Hack your heritage from Open Knowledge Finland on Vimeo.

The Future Museum Challenge

Lieke Ploeger - January 28, 2016 in eSpace, Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

The Europeana Space project is exploring different ways of reusing digital cultural heritage by running pilots in six thematic areas (TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing and Museums).  On March 17-18, 2016 the Museums pilot invites everyone to Venice for The Future Museum Challenge, focused on creating disruptive solutions to enhance the museums’ visitors experience, engage the audience and boost the educational experience.


In the past several years the amount of digitized cultural content made available online has grown exponentially. The way people interact with culture and media as well as the way people learn and absorb information has changed as well. Museums around the world are moving away from a physical space speckled with digital devices to digital spaces that operate in the physical. Placards on the wall next to pieces are no longer enough. The E-Space Museums Hackathon seeks to discover new disruptive, innovative and sustainable ways that museums can enter this “phygital” realm.

During a 48-hour marathon of brainstorming, hacking, networking and pitching, participants will be encouraged to utilize new technologies and devices to see how digitized materials can enrich the museum experience. They will have access to the technical solutions developed within the E-Space Museums Pilot, including the Toolbox and Blinkster, but also to millions of digitized cultural heritage items from around the world via Europeana Space’s Technical Platform. Technical staff will be on hand to assist with development issues and business modelling consultants to help shape and hone participants ideas for the marketplace.

Designers, coders, museum experts and lovers, cultural managers, artists, creatives, IT and marketing experts are all welcome to join, either in pre-existing teams or as individuals. The jury will look at several aspects of each concept:

  • Relevance and value to the cultural heritage sector. Does the proposition offer a new application or perspective on the use of the digitalized cultural heritage content? Does the proposition use, re-use, or facilitate the use or re-use of digitalized cultural heritage material? It is important to remember that these projects are not only confined to the museum space. Participants are free to choose their own field for exploration.
  • Business potential & job creation. Does the proposition hold a strong position against current and likely competitors? What is the composition and size of target market(s) for this proposition?
  • Likelihood of success. How likely is the proposition to be adopted by users? Does the team have the skills and capacity to successfully accomplish and launch a new business concept?
  • Innovation & quality & uniqueness. How innovative, new, or original is the idea? (New technology, original approach, potential uptake by target users) What is the quality of the concept? (Form, function, aim)

More information on the programme will be made available through registration is possible here.

Romania’s first Open Culture Hackathon

Lieke Ploeger - May 7, 2015 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

On the 18th and 19th of April, Timisoara hosted the first Romanian Open Culture Hackathon.  In this blog, Silviu Vert (Smart City Association Politehnica University Timisoara and Open Knowledge ambassador for Romania) reports on the the main applications that were developed during this event.

On the 18th and 19th of April, almost 30 hackers, graphic designers, artists and representatives of cultural institutions worked about 15 hours to develop 4 applications that promote local and national artworks. Monuments, postcards, paintings, portraits of the royal family that can usually be found on museums’ or archives’ websites can be soon downloaded on mobile devices.

Timisoara City Art is a mobile application that helps both residents and tourists to explore Timisoara’s public space monuments. The app has multiple functionalities, such as the possibility to identify on the map where the monuments are located, the distance and the means of transport that takes you there. It also allows users- art consumers to find out information about the sculpture or the building through augmented reality.
Timisoara City Art

Open MarT is an alternative website for the Museum of Art from Timisoara. Besides the online exposure of works of art owned by the museum, the platform offers information about 50 paintings, allowing virtual visitors to comment on the works and to find out masterpieces using a keyword-based search engine. Thus, the website changes the culture of dialogue between the public and the museum.

Open MArT

My Postcard links postcards from twenty century Bucharest, provided by The National Museum of Art of Romania and pictures from nowadays. Users can locate on the map the buildings caught in the postcards and what have they been replaced with. The platform testifies the changes in the city’s architecture and urban planning.

My Postcard

The Royal Album is a gallery of portraits of the Romanian Royal Family, turned into a platform that allows users to identify the members of the Royal Family and to discover personality treats that made them famous.

Royal Album

The event was organized by the Romanian Coalition for Open Data, the Department for Online Services and Design – Romanian Government, Smart City Association, Kosson Community, Open Knowledge Romania, Polytechnic University Timisoara, The West University Timisoara and the Timisoara City Hall. The event was supported by the SEE Grants 2009-2014 through the NGO Fund in Romania.

Coding da Vinci 2015

Helene Hahn - March 16, 2015 in Contest, Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

More than 325.000 open cultural data files are just the beginning – Coding da Vinci sets goals for 2015 in Germany
CC-BY Coding da Vinci, Volker Agueras Gaeng

CC-BY Coding da Vinci, Volker Agueras Gaeng

Last year, Coding da Vinci (the first open cultural data hackathon in Germany) was an exciting experience for everyone involved: 150 attendees and 16 cultural heritage institutions from all over Germany jointly developed apps, visualizations and games based on open cultural data sets for both the public and the cultural sector itself. Over 325.000 media files have been contributed in total.

 From “zzZwitscherwecker” over “Old Berlin” to “Mnemosyne” – just to name a few examples – great ideas have been implemented and demonstrated the great potential of digital culture heritage.

For us, the hackathon only marked the beginning of a bigger movement towards more freely available and usable open cultural data in Germany. For 2015 we set the goal to contact more institutions and help them open up data in preparation for the hackathon.

 Whereas a classic hackathon offers its participants only a short time frame – typically a weekend – to develop software applications, Coding da Vinci runs for a total of 10 weeks. Since it was the first event of its kind, combining the formerly separate worlds of technology and cultural heritage, the organizers chose this more extensive time frame in order to provide the much-needed space to interact with and learn about each other.

At the beginning of the 10 weeks, a two-day inaugural event takes place in Berlin on the 25th & 26th of April 2015. The purpose is to  offer sufficient time for the institutions to present their data sets, and for the participants to make contact with the GLAMs in order to develop project ideas and to form teams for their realization. The teams then can use the coming 10 weeks to develop prototypes, that are presented and evaluated at a public award ceremony on the 5th of July 2015 (sprint phase).


Currently, more than 20 cultural heritage institutions are set to participate in the hackathon as data providers – among them galleries, libraries, archives, museums and even theatres. All institutions and data sets will be announced shortly on our webpage. 

All those who are eager to work with cultural data are invited to join the hackathon in Berlin: . Please register online and let us know, if you would like to apply for our travel grants.

We are looking forward to your ideas!

Coding da Vinci – Der Kultur-Hackathon is a community project of Deutsche Digitalen Bibliothek (DDB), Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V. (OKF DE), Servicestelle Digitalisierung Berlin (digiS) and Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. (WMDE).

Helene Hahn
Project Lead Coding da Vinci
vicarious for all organizers
Project Lead Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V. I +49 30 57703666 2

First Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon

Beat Estermann - March 4, 2015 in Featured, Hack days

The First Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon which took place on 27 / 28 February 2015 at the Swiss National Library in Bern was a great success: Some 100 software developers, artists, designers, researchers, Wikipedians and members of the heritage sector gathered to re-use more than 30 open data sets. The data and content provided by over 20 different institutions was re-used in a wide range of fields: for research purposes in the Digital Humanities and related areas, for the transmission of free knowledge in the context of Wikipedia/Wikimedia, for a variety of web-apps, and for artistic remixes. The hackathon was also an excellent means for heritage institutions to enter into dialogue with software developers, researchers, Wikipedians, and to put cultural data and digitized collections to wider use. And, last but not least, the hackathon was about sharing know-how, insights, software code, and techniques in an open-minded and playful environment among participants of varying backgrounds.

CH-NB-Swiss Open Cultural Hackathon 2015-Picture-031

The artefacts developed during the hackathon have been documented on the hackathon wiki; here some examples:

"Picture This"

Carl Durheim’s police photographs of stateless persons from the mid-19th century inspired several projects. One of them is “Picture This”, which consists of a “smart” frame showing a police photograph. By looking at the picture, spectators trigger a face detection algorithm that analyses both the onlooker and the stateless person’s gender and age as well as the mood of the person on the portrait. Information about the person on the photograph appears. Thus, spectators become part of the system judging the homeless person, and the person on the picture is once again at the mercy of the onlooker.

The Project “Schweizer Kleinmeister – An Unexpected Journey” shows a large image collection in an interactive 3D-visualisation: Some 2300 prints and drawings by the so-called “Schweizer Kleinmeister” (Swiss 18th century masters) from the Gugelmann Collection of the Swiss National Library form a cloud in the virtual space. The images are grouped according to specific parameters that are automatically calculated by image analysis and based on metadata. The goal is to provide a fast and intuitive access to the entire collection. Based on the criterion of analysis chosen (e.g. techniques or image features) the images are projected onto 3D space, where they can be explored.

There are many other things you may want to explore:

This blog was cross-posted from the Swiss OpenGLAM  local group website, OpenGLAM.CH

Europeana Space project: TV hackathon

Marieke Guy - February 2, 2015 in eSpace, Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days

espaceThe Europeana Space project, which is creating new opportunities for employment and economic growth within the creative industries sector based on Europe’s rich digital cultural resources, will be running a 3-day Europeana TV hackathon from 8th – 10th May 2015 in Amsterdam.

The hackathon will be aimed at creatives, entrepreneurs and developers of content, hardware and/or code.

They will get the opportunity to experiment with Smart Audio/Video formats and come up with inspiring applications that create new TV experiences for the public or private domain, using Europeana content.


Europeana TV pilot activity is one in a series of six pilots which will cover the following thematic areas: Europeana TV, Photography, Dance, Games, Open and Hybrid Publishing, Museums. The pilots will be a means to explore different scenarios for the re-use of digital cultural content, with a special focus on the re-use of the content accessible via Europeana.

EuropeanaTV exploits the opportunities of re-using Europeana content in SmartTV applications to create new TV experiences. A technical framework will provide an environment to analyse, personalize and present Europeana content. The pilot will support and evaluate two scenarios in which video material is brought out of the archive and onto the viewer’s screen.

banner Tv hackathon

The hackathon will take place from Friday 8th May 2015 at 4:00pm till Sunday 10th May 2015 at 4:00pm at the Waag Society, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam. For full details and information on how to register see the Europeana Space project website.

Open Knowledge is a consultant on the Europeana Space project supporting activities related to open licensing.

eu_logo-150x120Europeana Space has received funding from the European Union’s ICT Policy Support Programme as part of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, under GA n° 621037.


1st Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon

Lieke Ploeger - November 27, 2014 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days, Working Group

On 27-28 February the local Swiss OpenGLAM working group will be organising first Open Cultural Data Hackathon in Switzerland. The event will take place at the Swiss National Library in Bern, and focuses on using cultural heritage data/content online for research purposes in Digital Humanities and related areas, as well as in the context of Wikipedia and Wikimedia. Participants are welcome to re-use the open data/open content provided for other purposes, such as the development of apps or artistic re-mixes. 

In preparation for the event, the Swiss OpenGLAM Working Group is calling on all Swiss heritage institutions to provide data and content for the upcoming hackathon. The event is an excellent means for heritage institutions to enter into dialogue with software developers, researchers, and Wikipedians, in order to put their data and digitized collections to wider use.

Datasets from Swiss institutions are listed on the event wiki: more information on the event is also available from this event page.
A preparatory meeting for data providers will be held in the afternoon of 23 January 2015 at the ETH Library in Zurich.

Swiss National Library, Photo: Marianabeauty, CC by-sa 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swiss National Library, Photo: Marianabeauty, CC by-sa 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hack the Bells – The world’s first interdisciplinary open license contest celebrating the carillon!

Sarah Stierch - July 10, 2014 in Contest, Featured, Hack days

Image credit: Michael Pihulic (CC BY SA 4.0)

Image credit: Michael Pihulic (CC BY SA 4.0)

In this blog (cross-posted from her blog The Culture Feed) Sarah Stierch introduces the world’s first interdisciplinary open license contest celebrating the carillon: Hack the Bells, running from 1 July – 1 September.

An esteemed jury of cultural visionaries will be awarding $1,000 USD and the opportunity for the grand prize winner’s work to be exhibited and acquired by the University of California, Berkeley and the Anton Brees Carillon Library.

What makes this so groundbreaking?

One, it celebrates the peoples instrument – the carillon – a bell tower of epic proportions found in cities around the world, including the famous Campanile at the University of California’s Berkeley campus. Carillon’s ring out the time of the day on the hour, and at noon, concerts take place around the world, freely able to be heard (and felt) by anyone within the right distance, as carillonists perform original and classic works written specifically for the world’s largest instrument. (Learn more, here).

Second, all works submitted are freely licensed under Creative Common’s Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. These works will be legacy pieces – allowing others to find inspiration in their creations, the works to be forever attributed, and newly created works using the submitted works being published under the same free license forever. All compositions, recordings, and media we have provided are licensed under the same license by carillon composers & photographers. Creative freedom takes a bold stance here, and we are shouting from Sather Tower about it.

The above video features Tiffany Ng, my co-organizer, talking about carillon’s and performing.

Third, it’s interdisciplinary and international. Anyone can submit in any language and any type of creative and innovative work. The opportunities are endless: performance art, remixes, smartphone apps, paintings, poetry, short stories, video art, robots – anything! Get creative! We’re encouraging applicants to consider submissions related to: the 2014-15 Centennial of the Campanile, accessibility in the tradition of the campanile providing music for public space, and openness related to open culture and licensing.

Our jury comprises of awesome innovators. 

  • Jeff Davis – University Carillonist, University of California, Berkeley
  • Alex Freeman – Director of Special Projects, New Media Consortium
  • Lizzy Jongma – Data manager, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
  • Susan Miller – Program Manager, Consortium for Interdisciplinary Research, University of California, Berkeley
  • Greg Niemeyer – Professor of Art Practice, Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media, University of California, Berkeley

Learn more about who they are and what they do, here.

Thank you to our sponsors: Berkeley Center for New Media, Anton Brees Carillon Library, Meyer Sound, the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenGLAM initiative, The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, and the Hargrove Music Library at UC Berkeley.

Submission: deadline September 1 2014 by 11:59 PST

Please visit the Hack The Bells website to learn more and submit your entries. (#hackthebells!)


Mediahackdays – how to make the most out of a hackathon

Thorbjørn Wulf - May 13, 2014 in Featured, Guest Blog Post, Hack days

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

From 2-4 May the MediaHackDays took place in Aarhus, Denmark. The event, organised by the Danish chapter of Hacks/Hackers, aimed to bring together developers and journalists and mix up their combined skills to create innovative solutions. Thorbjørn Wulf was there on behalf of the National Gallery of Denmark and reports on the success of the event, which will inspire the next edition of the Danish HACK4DK event in September 2014.

The MediaHackDays event was in many ways a far more inspiring hackathon than I have had before and it was for a number of reasons:

  • That there was a strong and committed facilitator throughout the weekend, who managed to create a forum where creative ideas could emerge

  • That there was a “movement” behind as organizers (Hacks/Hackers)

  • That there was ongoing media coverage (Danish newspaper “Information” blogged from the event)  which added seriousness to the event

  • That there was a generous sponsor – CCI Europe – that provided the event with a very nice venue, meals, snacks, drinks, music and a lot of gadgets to play with

  • And, most importantly, that the relationship between journalists and developers was 2:1

The fact that there were both journalists and developers was crucial to the success of the event, because in this way developers were facing specific problems and the journalists being the majority ensured that the process was driven by content and not by technology. Therefore the end product was far more useful and not just an exercise for programmers to parse some random data and visualize it with the Javascript library that they just think is cool now.

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

In my eyes, this proved how a hackathon can help to break down the barrier between technology and content. This barrier is broken because you meet with a common goal of wanting to show how new technology can enrich and transform data. With that objective in mind, a hackathon can actually serve as empowerment of non-technical people with good ideas, so they can stand up to heavy content management systems and enterprise-thinking with words like open APIs, Linked Data and NoSQL databases. And it can also turn them into digital agents when they return from the hackathon, with the experience that developers actually will say ‘yes’ when you come up with a good idea .

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

Picture taken by Mads Johansen,

The practical experience I want to share from the weekend was with Julie, a journalist and editorial developer of Funen Media. She pitched a problem: a news story can cover hundreds of articles spanning a long period. She needed an easy and navigable visualization – News Navigator – and was frustrated that her own CMS could not do that. So .. who could help her out? I decided to join her team thinking I could contribute with data crunching. We were also joined by a graphic designer and two more journalists. We could have used a frontend developer, but nevertheless we achieved (from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon) to go from an open news API (The Guardian has indexed their data with Solr), via our own datastore (MongoDB) through to a visualization based on Timeline.js. Our solution is available on It’s static but with a few more hours it would have been dynamic. But that was really not what is was about. More importantly the process had been very giving for all of us in the team and interestingly enough we received an email from Julie three days later:

“Thank you so much for putting all that hard work into my idea. It was so much fun, and I really learned a lot. I have been talking to our developers and my boss and we will try to do this.”

This proofs – as I see it – that we as cultural institutions can make more of a hackathon than just getting “an outside look at our data, and the opportunities they offer that we as agents and institutions that can reflect or build on afterwards”. Julie was given the opportunity to control technology in terms of content, thus providing technology with direction and intentionality. I was on the other hand given a use case for a specific piece of technology that I find interesting – a NoSQL database – and through this kind of joint effort the exercise ended up as a concrete usable product – albeit a static one. But most importantly thanks to the experience she had during the hackathon she could go home and challenge company-technology and hardcore technologists in such a way that her problem might be solved – and even if it in the end turns out not to be solved – she was taken seriously!

In this way, we can achieve more than just getting free labour to test our software. Just imagine Kasper Monrad turns up and asks for a visualization of the Golden Age or an art-guide asks for a simple yet complex and responsive Art Navigator to bring in the exhibition – then we will really get to walk the frontiers of our data.


On 26-27 September we will be organising another edition of HACK4DK – Hack your heritage, an annual hackathon on cultural heritage organized by major heritage institutions in Denmark. The set up of this hackathon will hopefully be inspired by the successful mediahackdays event, so that we can make the most out of bringing people with different skills together.

Coding Da Vinci Open Culture Hackathon – first round started

Helene Hahn - May 2, 2014 in Events/Workshops, Featured, Hack days


“So much culture in here…” is what Julian Kücklich writes on his paper roll, on which he is graphically following the hackathon. This is not surprising, because the first round of Coding da Vinci, the German open cultural data hackathon, started in the weekend of 26/27 April, with loads of coffee and Mate. Participants set themselves the challenge to develop apps using open cultural data sets.

150 participants and 11 cultural heritage institutions from all over Germany had the opportunity to exchange views on digital cultural heritage and furthermore develop projects for the cultural sector as well as the public.

Tinkering, programming, hacking

A total of 24 project ideas were pitched during the weekend. Kati is programming a Cyberbeetle based on data from the National Science Museum, that could for example dance to the drumming beats of the music instruments of the Ethnological Museum. With their project “Poetic Relief” Flo, Noa and Ruperta create new access to the Jewish grave inscriptions of the Steinheim Institute, while Kai, Dierck and Frederike give a new data-look to “the list of harmful and undesirable writings” to make Nazi banned literature and authors visible again.

All projects are presented online on this Hackdash page for everyone to benefit from – those who are eager to join the groups or start their own project, should drop us a few lines!


What’s next?

During the next 10 weeks, all team members will further develop their projects. We will meet again on 6th of July, when prizes will be awarded to the best projects at the end of the hackathon.

Coding da Vinci – the culture hackathon is a joint project by the German Digital Library, Service Centre Digitization Berlin,Open Knowledge Foundation Germany, Wikimedia Germany.

Press reports: