Hack//Meat or Data Community DC Members go to NYC

This past weekend, five intrepid souls (Robert Vesco, Valerie Coffman, Harlan Harris, Octavian Geagla, and ) from Data Community DC converged on New York City for the first Hack//Meat.

So, what is Hack//Meat? An effort to bring

"together technologists, entrepreneurs, creatives, policy experts, non-profit leaders and industry executives to develop technologies and tools that help democratize meat. Over the course of the weekend, “steakholders” will work with teams to rapidly prototype innovative solutions to business or consumer education challenges in the way meat is produced, processed, distributed, sold and consumed."

From Friday night to Sunday at 4pm, the team slaved away (with special technical awards going to Octavian and Valerie), first brainstorming solutions to the problem of data communication and then building out a prototype, HashMeat.org. Overall, we left NYC well stuffed with meat and having had a fantastic time. Keep reading if you would like a few more details on our project.

The Problem: Meat Monopolies

While everyone knows about the obvious monopolies (duopolies or oligopolies) such as Comcast and Verizon in the cable industry, many may not know of the radical consolidation that has occurred in the meat industry. The team's challenge was to unlock public policy results and data too often buried in PDF files and rarely-read glossy reports.

The Solution: #HashMeat

Telling a story to motivate activism is crucial. Transitioning that story telling from the cramped confines of PDFs and Powerpoints to the dynamic possibilities of the web and low-barrier activism is the key to kickstarting viral loops via social networks.

HashMeat.org is an HTML 5 website powered by JQuery and Twitter that provides a framework for rapidly deploying relevant infographics while drastically reducing the friction for engaged citizens to challenge their government representatives to affect change.

Using HTML 5's geolocation functionality, #HashMeat uses your latitude and longitude (and Sunlight Lab's services) to identify appropriate Senators and Representatives. With each unique infographic, #HashMeat allows the civic minded viewer to tweat context-sensitive tweets to these representatives, calling for change. Instrumental to HashMeat is the leaderboard (still under develoment) that visualizes the individual's influence via the use of a global leaderboard.

The Future:

This advocacy story is only the beginning. The site serves as a possible design concept for different advocacy movements without a voice. The gaps this solution has helped to bridge can serve as an example to other campaigns that are struggling to maintain a social presence or lack provisions with which their audience can take meaningful political action.