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Reinventing the Media: Hacks/Hackers Comes to Vancouver

On Wednesday, June 1, Vancouver joins the likes of New York and Boston with the launch of its own chapter of Hacks/Hackers, a grassroots network of people interested in the intersection of journalism and technology. To learn more, I interviewed Miraj Khaled, one of the local co-organizers who championed the idea of bringing Hacks/Hackers to our city.
In addition to organizing Vancouver’s chapter of Hacks/Hackers, Khaled is part of the local organizing team for Mozilla Drumbeat; he is also a community moderator at Bytes For All, helping to manage its online forums — one of the earliest online networks from South Asia.
Khaled worked in the Information & Communications Technology sector in Bangladesh. He has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in international relations from the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. More recently, Khaled attended Simon Fraser University to study communications policy and development issues.

Tracy Bains: Why bring Hacks/Hackers to Vancouver? 
Miraj Khaled: Today, dozens of chapters are forming across five continents. If we don’t do this in Vancouver, then we miss out on joining a movement that is gaining momentum globally.

The whole media landscape is going through a systemic — even radical — transformation, in part due to technology but also because of citizens’ growing demand for more openness and transparency in every facet of society. The entire industry is on the cusp of a ‘revolution’ and we need likeminded people to come together and tackle challenges head-on, innovate new ideas and create a more resilient and inclusive community.

TB: In your opinion, what is the key challenge facing media producers and consumers?
MK:  There is simply too much information to sift through — and of the wrong kind. Trivial issues hog the headlines while there is a dearth of coverage for newsworthy, worthwhile causes and events.

TB: Who should attend the launch party on June 1?
MK: Anyone who is involved in the media industry as a journalist, editor, publisher, writer or blogger, as well as coders, developers, programmers and other techies who want to help change the industry for the better. In particular, we want to encourage those people who have hybrid interests or expertise in both media and technology to attend — they are sitting in the intersection we want to examine. 

And we’ll have free pizza and beer to share thanks to Mozilla, a non-profit helping shaping the future of the web for public good. The organization is sponsoring space as well as food and drinks for the event. 

TB: What can people expect at the launch party?
MK: The main goal is to let people from diverging fields meet each other, mingle, share ideas, get inspired and — hopefully — find partners for future collaborations. In short, we’re creating the space in which to click heads together and create a ‘clash of ideas.’

Plus, we’re hosting a jam session where participants can brainstorm ideas in response to the Knight-Mozilla News Challenge, also known as Mojo.

TB: What is the Knight-Mozilla News Challenge? 
MK: It’s where open web advocates, developers and designers around the world collaborate with innovators in news and media to invent the future of news.

Two organizations, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Mozilla, have created a technology partnership (Mojo) to drive news innovation. They are sponsoring various challenges from how to unlock video to tell better news stories to reinventing commenting on news sites.

As we were planning the launch, we realized that some of the Hacks/Hackers chapters were having meetups that incorporated jams for Mojo challenges. So, we have also decided to add a brainstorming section to our program, because we believe each of the challenges are relevant to Hacks/Hackers. 

What’s great is that students and young hackers who attend the jam session can enter the Mojo Challenge and get a chance at a paid app development fellowship at the Guardian, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Boston Globe and Zeit Online.

TB: Do people need to register to attend?
MK: We’ve set up a meetup page where people can RSVP — this will be really helpful when it comes to planning how much pizza and beer we should have on-hand!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011
6:30 p.m.


Suite 200, 163 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

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