This year we participated in the Microsoft “Hack for Good” subdivision of their oneweek hackathon, working with several people internal to Microsoft to explore a problem for Spokin. The Nonprofit Hackathon session was brought to us by Microsoft Philanthropies, the Garage and 501 Commons, hosted on the Microsoft Campus on May 23rd.
Here was our project blurb:
At Third Place Technologies our mission is to help place-based communities such as neighborhoods effectively collaborate to solve their problems through innovation in community technologies, leveraging new affordances in social media, open data, and tools for collective action. In urban environments, one of the biggest challenges to developing collaborative relationships is fear of strangers, particularly for those who are different in life stage or demographic variables. For this project, we seek to develop a match-making tool that helps people connect to neighbors and local places based on common interests that cut across these differences.
The event organizers provided a fair amount of guidance to help assure project success connecting Microsoft employees to nonprifits. We had four participants on our project from within Microsoft, and we are very grateful for their contributions! It was, in a sense, an exploratory research project, and we learned a lot about the potential uses of existing data sources in social media to address this problem space of matching people to places. Our main challenge was because we could not really participate onsite, the project was largely incubated outside our participation, which presented challenges in knowledge transfer during and afterwards.