049 #adventhack

The end of the year is a season of change, and so it is wise to allow ourselves the space and time for extra self-reflection. Prompted by the Open Source Challenge and my continued learning journeys, I posted one #adventhack for each of the 24 days of the Advent Calendar in December.

049 #adventhack

This story starts with a dare*.

The end of the year is a season of change, we allow ourselves extra space and time for self-reflection. Prompted by the Open Source Challenge and my continued learning journeys, I posted one #adventhack for each of the 24 days of the Advent Calendar in December. There is little to do with religion here, though it does share the traditional elements of gratitude, wonder and meditation.

The brief accounts that were additionally posted in the forum are there to explain the "hacks", provide links and commentary to wit. Each box represents an area of activism that has last year been directly or indirectly enabled by people who supported my work in the mentioned projects.

All of the entries in this advent cal, a token of my thanks, are summarised in the next section along with brief Ă©spoirs (wishes / suggestions) for each of these initiatives: to thrive and lead on the open road ahead.

Roots, branches](/workshops/2018/gv/advent.png)

1. Open Knowledge: An apple is bitten, a network grows around the world of people using and re-publishing open data, and running public events. Exhibit A: the Data Packages on the topic of plurilinguism made for the last Opendata.ch hackathon of 2018.

2. //ch/open: Sustaining technical and business development in Switzerland through useful platforms, community support, funding models and developer incentives - making sure that next gen IT is open by default.

3. Parldigi: Upgrading the government through data politics, transparency and hacktivism - new models of democracy and diplomacy will be championed in the years ahead by groups like this.

4. Digitale Allmend: Promoting the cause of the open culture commons and reforming copyright law (BTW, happy Public Domain Day!), the allmenders have successfully prototyped digital rights negotiation based on remix culture.

5. Opendata.ch: Good old-fashioned net activism sends a message, makes connections, furthers Solidarität. The ship that spawned a hundred ships sails on. “I say there is no darkness but ignorance.” (Shakespeare, Twelfth Night)

6./7. OpenGLAM: Publishing data from heritage institutions, from the National Museum to a local film club. We crunched numbers on the added value of this community, found indications of a promising future.

8. MAKE: Looking back at a long series of hackathons, exporting the data towards meaningful results and better infrastructure in the future. 2019 will be the year in which the original vision for this meta-project is realised.

9. Impact Hub: Reverse engineering a map, in a modest proposal for these globally-distributed spaces catering to the needs of open projects. As we experience peak coworking, they will compete for our data - not just our presence.

10. Climathon: Rebranding is a growth hack - especially if it works as an additional reminder of the biggest, and most urgent, problems to solve. I will continue to seek meaning, and potentially find lots more bugs in Linux, next year.

11. Open Food Data: Freshening up a hackathon app to add some A.I. pizzazz to your next grocery run, adds a sprinkling support for a holiday fundraising appeal. And shows again how strenous - and rewarding - it can be to go up against a very entrenched industry.

12. opendata.swiss: Contributing open designs towards future collaborations with the flagship national Open Government Data project, which will buckle down a new team, work across borders, and demand more community support in 2019-2023.

13. Finances: Running an association is no piece of cake - but, doing this with the best tools and steady helpings of humble pie is the best recipe to effective delivery on your promises. Better governance will turn up the volume both for the community, and for those coming along for the ride.

14. Research: Practicing what one preaches means, in this case, delivering value through the open approach. On the road ahead, I hope that Open Data (in) Science will be a huge source of opportunities to practice our craft.

15./16. IWI / BFH: There is lots of open development happening in Berne, most of it is connected to the two central Universities, who are masterminds in the OGD area. Stay tuned for more faculty, more activity, and more fancy showcases.

17. Health: This languishing yet anything but peripheral topic is actively pursued by organizations who are only loosely connected to the mainstream. As electronic patient data becomes a question of de rigeur, we are going to demand much more technical prowess, accessible evidence, and transparency from health companies and public institutions.

18. Energy: The first Opendata.ch hackathon of 2019 is already online and bears challenges to our scrutiny and inspiration. Our tools and experience will be well utilized by the people working in this transformative ;-) domain. Be there or be square!

19. Sport: Fair play makes sense in code, as it does in the company of human beings. The philosophy and ethics of open projects stand to benefit greatly from the wisdom of the greatest show on Earth.

20. School of Data: Alea iacta est. --Julius Caesar, the trials of our data literacy initiative echo the struggles of the community as a whole for a sense of direction and strong backing. But we will always be able to go for a nice Data Walk, explore the city, and share what we learn.

21. Transport: People love to party, that means going places, and that means the people need transport. This flagship hack will continue to inspire, even as it's own mission has by now been largely accomplished.

22. Legal: Anyone who delivers help muddle our way through the complexity of laws, regulations, restrictions and terms, is showered with (bit)gold and praises. Then things get wonky agagin. Opening the law is quite the pickle!

23. Tourism: Call me a perpetual tourist. I'm enamoured with this country and it's people, and there's always so much to discover. Especially with open maps, smart sensors, and decent LoRa/4G/WiFi cover!

24. Wikidata: Acclaiming a champion of champions, the last calendar entry opens a whole calendar in itself. The future looks bright red, green and blue for the wiki generation.

"Bist du bereit?"
"Ready For It?"

Keep reading to find out more about the Challenge that motivated these series, or visit the forum to review the full posts and leave feedback.

The Challenge

Part of a year-end tradition, the Open Source Challenge stirs communal unity through a single cause: contribute! One need not be a code ninja to join in the fray: there are diverse tasks and tools and easy starts. You can also support your favorite projects or organizations with a donation.

The resulting cornucopia of over 400 contributions is a snapshot of the activities in the Swiss open source community. Quite a lot of them are system administration and engineering tasks - which might well be part of the job at a company like Puzzle ITC, who run the challenge.

The common element is that the code behind the scenes is open. Open to use, to inspection, modification, comments, Pull Requests. Open to doubt. Open to sustainable development.


A steady stream of work goes into blockchain related projects, like a new mobile client Shango, the coinglacier instant paper wallet, or Sweet Lighting enabling your next Bitcoin candy dispenser.

Among the contributions you might discover an exciting new programming language like Crystal, great software tools like Wekan, Chaos Toolkit, Puzzle Time, Rambox and Dayon!. There's something for designers, like a newly open sourced wireframing kit. Even open source beer recipes for your at-home robotic microbrewery!

Visit https://www.opensource-challenge.ch/ to explore the whole shebang.

* If you are wondering why @sodacamper is mentioned in the tweet at the top, see my previous blog post!

To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. Not to dare is to lose oneself. --Soren Kierkegaard

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