Ok, Here’s A First Stab at atlhack

by ynniv

What do you want atlHack to be?

4 Responses to “Ok, Here’s A First Stab at atlhack”

  1. ynniv says:

    So, I’ve been in Atlanta for 6 years.  I’ve met a bunch of people, but I know damn well that there are a lot more out there – obviously the primary, self serving motivation of this website is for me to meet new people.  Also, I think that a lot of people who know computers are generally more anti-social than the average joe.  From these there are some obvious conclusions to be made:

    • I want to encourage new users
    • I want to organize events
    • I want to publicize existing events
    • I want to see people talking, yelling, organizing, planning, and gathering with each other, and generally being more normal people.  Normal people are cool too…

    What else…  I think that it’s clear that computing suffers from a serious monoculture.  Given a photograph of a hundred people, we can probably all point out 95% of the "computer geeks" in the photo.  They will probably all be guys with funny haircuts, wearing a "worn in" t-shirt, with a goofy look on his face.  Ok, there are many exceptions to this generalization, but its a generalization for a good reason.  Computers are not an outlying fad – they’re not D&D in your parents basement when you’re 35.  Twenty years ago, personal computers were a fad – a couple of geeky kids playing with expensive calculators.  Ten years ago, they were the future – everyone envied the computer kids and their prospects of dot-com riches.  Today, they’re like cars – everyone needs them, everyone has them, and everyone hates them because they’re always breaking.

    If computing is a pervasive, everyday thing, how come there is still such a monoculture?  Where are all the { doctors, lawyers, nurses, kindergarden teachers, painters, sculptors, musicians, skaters, car tuners, photographers, entrepreneurs, bikers } ?  Where are all the girls?  You know, there’s half of a world of them out there.  How about the parents, and the grandparents?  All of these people use computers every day, and unless they happen to be *your* parents or *your* grandparents, you probably never interact with any of them, ever.

    So why not invite them to your party?  Ask them what about computers interests them, and then talk about that.  If Susie-the-Cheerleader-Hottie says that she only uses computers to chat with her cheerleader friends, then tell her that you’re going to have a short get-together with your friends mid-day Saturday to talk about AOL Instant Messenger Video Conferencing and how to get set up with a $40 webcam.  When Susie shows up with 10 of her cheerleader friends, takes notes on what you’re talking about, and then calls you k-rad and leaves with her friends, don’t be like "Man, who still says ‘k-rad’? Thats totally 1995!"… bask in the glory like "d00d!  Susie just called me k-rad!  I’m the shizzy!"

    Eh-hem… that indulgent fantasy aside, many people want to understand computers, and we should want them to understand.  What if Yahoo! had more women coders, and they were more interested in making things easy and straightforward?  Maybe Google wouldn’t have beaten them to a bloody pulp?  Has anyone called Yahoo! "God-like"?  What about the iPod?  Could anything make it more blatant that modern success in computing is based on something more than quantity of functionality?  Why would anyone want to perpetrate the geek monoculture in light of this?

    On top of this, I am very geeky, and I really appreciate geeky things.  I wouldn’t mind finding other people who share these ideals.  Anyone else out there own the BBS documentary DVD?  Do you have any of your own BBS stories?  How about a Tadpole SPARCbook?  An Apple Newton MessagePad?  Did you even know that you can run Solaris SPARC on a laptop?

    To wrap this up, computing needs socialization and culture.  As strong as geeks can be on their own, there is always strength in numbers – as well as a damn good time.  My goal is to make atlhack the spot for computer culture in ATL.  I’m not interested in making an empire of it, nor is it a project to further my ego.  Atlanta has a lot more computer culture than its showing, and its time for this to change.

  2. luke says:

    I simply want an environment that will encourage me to get my interesting projects finished as well as possibly provide a pool of new ideas.  I find it much easier to set aside time if the structure exists outside of myself. 

    This is not to say I think ‘ynniv’s’ goals are too much though.  I think the largest problem with personal computing is that that the motivations don’t seem to create software thats useful and people are right to be cynical about computers.  This cynicism pretty much limits the amount of people that will leverage computers to make their lives better.

    Some of the more practical projects on my list:

    • peripheral device middleware – why do we need full sized computers to connect our bluetooth/usb/firewire/etc devices?
    • email/website agents to build your calendar – if you book tickets on orbitz or accept an evite invitation, why can’t your computer place that information into your planner/calendar?  just working to solve data synchronization problems seems to be a useful endeavour.
    • small bits and pieces (perhaps more palm/linux specific):
    • fixing my laptop’s ‘presentation mode’ – I want to pick and choose what I see through the vga adapter and I want to be able to load slides fullscreen on the lower resolution projector without changing my laptop’s resolution or having the slides be fullscreen on my laptop.
    • some palm applications that should be relatively simple to make such as a palm instant messanger based on the many open libraries already available.
    • integrating my mp3 player into amarok so that I can connect my mp3 player to my laptop, play the library on my mp3 player through my mp3 player, but use amarok as the controller… using fuse seems like the way to go on this one. 


  3. Graham says:

    Well spoken.

    We need a T-shirt that says:

    Front: (atlhack logo, atlhack.org)

    Back: Smash the Monoculture!

    (It would be even cooler if the guy being smashed was wearing a top hat and a monocle! Get it? Monoculture?)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Computers are a universal tool that touch almost all human activities. With a little foresight and cleverness a computer application can save time and energy, freeing up more cycles for creativity. With a few wrinkles. The best tools enable that which would have not been possible without them. Things like Photoshop, scientific tools that afford new exploration, synthesizers which produce a new sound.

    For most of us, the economic plan puts us at the bottom of a pyramidal organization, cranking out a product that produces revenue. And that’s ok. But code can move the earth, and we don’t want our insights to go to waste. So we try to make something new. That’s what code excels at.

    And several ideas have been new. And fun. Or useless. Podcasting. BitTorrent. Wikipedia. But the culture and it’s artifacts are real and meaningful. The right corners of this culture have a number of good attributes: open, creative, distributive, blind or in denial about age, race, and most credentials. There are downsides, like the digital divide. But more people are arriving.

    But it goes farther than that. Weblogs provide an alternate media source that has different biases, but also fundamentally different interactions. What would it be like if you could talk back to the news anchor when they were talking complete bullshit? Communicate back with the culture.

    I agree with Luke, structure is good. Specifically resources that can help us manage and complete our projects, such as:

    • Project Management tools
    • Source Control

    This is also about community and inspiration, so more whimsical and fun exchanges will be appreciated. But it’s mainly about doing cool things with tech.

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