The Great Urban Hack
In November 2010, over 100 journalists and developers came together for The Great Urban Hack SF: a weekend of programming, reporting and design around San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood.
The event was a collaborative effort of Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center (NYC), Hacks/Hackers, Kicker Studio, and Stamen Design. It was sponsored by Knight News Challenge, a media innovation contest funded and run by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In addition to the San Francisco event at GAFFTA, another Great Urban Hack event took place simultaneously at Eyebeam in New York.
An earlier project in 2009 between GAFFTA and Stamen provided an ideal launching point for The Great Urban Hack. The two organizations had teamed together to create Tenderloin Dynamic, a project whose interactive creations and printed pieces allowed visitors to explore the Tenderloin through a series of different maps and mappings.
For The Great Urban Hack SF, participants were challenged to find new ways to present issues and challenges facing this central San Francisco neighborhood. Each participant’s mission was to design, report on, code and create projects to help San Franciscans get information they need while strengthening a sense of community. How might we find stories in data, and convey them to neighborhood residents and others? The projects were open to themes around news, politics, government information, arts, culture or education — inspiring a variety of journalism and technology projects to help residents connect to each other or the city.
That December, 8 of the 15 resulting projects were celebrated with the public in The Great Urban Hack Showcase. The Showcase served as a part of The ARTery Project, an initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) aimed at revitalizing the Central Market commercial corridor into a nationally-celebrated cultural destination.