Hackjams are simply “Webmaking for the rest of us.”
In our development as writers, there are always the tools that assist us in making the thinking in our heads visible and readable. The transformation of thoughts into prose is complex. Young children are certainly full of imagination and compose oral stories to the delight of their parents. Yet bringing those stories to fruition on the page is a long and laborious process as the prerequisite motor skills are developed to form letters with a pencil. Learning the QWERTY keyboard beyond hunt-and-peck is a similarly frustrating process that prevents the fluid act of composition.
As more and more research and attention is paid to the ways our literate lives are mediated by interactions on the internet, less attention is paid to the function of the tools that get us there. How many facebook posters understand the algorithm of the newsfeed? How many people uploading content to Youtube understand the genesis of the embed code? There is an entire hidden structure of the webpages with which we interact that mediates the way we compose and present ourselves on the web.
Enter the hackjam: designed to make visible the a few of the hidden structure of the internet for K12 students (but most grownups I know would benefit, too!), these tools provide an entry into inquiry about the ways we are both freed and bounded by the hidden structure of the internet pages we visit. By developing our hacker selves, we are then empowered to move ourselves more critically through these spaces, rather than being led through them.
What is a hackjam?
The hackjam, developed by Mozilla, is designed to illuminate a few key concepts:
- Tinkering and remixing the web in order to better understand it
- Understand that the web is written with HTML and styled with CSS
- Highlighting what it means to have and support an open web
At WIDE-EMU, you will be invited to develop your hacking skills through the use of a few simple tools. For a sneak peak of what it is to participate in a hackjam, follow the links below.
- On hacking public education by Chad Sansing
- Learning with Hackasaurus by Erin Wilkey Oh
- Hackasaurus: Webmaking for the rest of us
- HackJam #WideEmu Agenda
If you’d like to participate in the hackjam, bring your own laptop loaded with Firefox. I’ll help you do the rest!
Sweet! Will you be working to build something or running the event?
That’s a great question. What gets built is up to the participants. Each individual can choose to write some code or actually build a webpage from scratch. I will just be there as instigator and guide 🙂
I just came across this post now, and really love the language you use about making those hidden structures on the web visible. So much so I quoted it here: http://openmatt.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/baking-htm/
Thanks for helping to explain the value of Hackasaurus — and digital literacy generally. Fantastic work!