Hack for Help

Last October saw a group of Developers, Designers, Business Minds and Young People join together in the EMEA Facebook Headquarters to spend a day hacking away with the SpunOut system. The Aim: Make the service better. SpunOut offer guidance and life advice to youths in the 16-25 year bracket. Most importantly, the SpunOut service is a bastion of good advice, some of it written by young people, and all of it brimming with the kind of knowledge you cannot obtain from the aether! In this post, I detail some of the activities I took part in, and describe the campaign I’m now very excited to have had a part in.

Facebook Picture Album

Many interesting and wonderful creations and ideas came out of that hackathon in October. We had a fuzzy logic search engine, enabling people to get at the right information even easier; a prototype iPhone application mood tracker journal, to encourage self-awareness; and some redesigned webpages, to make information access as pleasant as it can be, just to name a few. Crucially, however, we all experienced the feeling that these types of events (bringing young people together to mend, and create, a better future for ourselves and our friends) are overwhelmingly good. Not subjectively good, as can be seen in many wheel-spinning exercises, but objectively good; the kind of goodness we should all strive to encourage, the kind of goodness that brings with it those now-encumbered words: “Change”, “Disruption”, “Future”. It was this goodness that made me think about how long I’ve gone without engaging in these sorts of activities. Game Jams, Hackathons, and that big one “Volunteering”, such a blanket term shrouded in deep negativity. Well, I like it. If a mere one person benefits from something I’ve created, or even helped to create, then I’m satisfied, that’s “payment” enough. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about, and the smallest of assistance can reap the largest of rewards.

After the events that transpired in October, an ensemble of young people volunteered to take these prototypes further, to homogenise efforts, and to create something wonderful. We knew a limited number of things: we knew our skill sets, we knew the most impressive ideas and prototypes from the hackathon, and we knew we were the right people for the task at hand. That may not seem like much, but it’s enough. One thing I noticed from that weekend was if you give young people a task, they’re going to see it to fruition, and they’re going to make a mighty effort to make certain it will succeed. Over the course of that weekend, we went through ups and downs, like a bouy-bound seagull, contemplating it’s next move. Struck with waves and fatigue (and last minute architecture changes) we persevered and managed to create. We made an application that is now known as Miyo.

Miyo is one part of a larger effort, however. Encompassed in this campaign is a series of Animated Short Movies, currently playing in cinemas across the country, a book, the SpunOut.ie Survival Guide to Life, and the Application for iPhone and Android, which helps you track your activities over time. These components form what is called the Ditch The Monkey campaign. I couldn’t be happier with the result. Below is a video taken of the original hackathon in the Facebook EMEA headquarters. (I show up  at ~2:40! 😄 )

On May 1st, Miyo will be available to download from the Apple App Store, and the Google Play Store. The animated shorts are available online and the book is out now. I’m delighted that I could be part of this, and so excited to get the application into the hands of young people and see what they have to say about it.

picture of Miyo application

Miyo application © Spunout.ie



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