Five things we learnt from October’s Hacks/Hackers London

Hacks/Hackers at Twitter UK (Image: Peter Yeung)
Hacks/Hackers at Twitter UK (Image: Peter Yeung)

October’s edition of Hacks/Hackers was a bustling affair held at Twitter’s London HQ. Organised by the Wall Street Journal’s Sarah Marshall, Twitter’s Joanna Geary and PixieLab’s Peter MacRobert, a healthy cohort of interhacktives were in attendance. Here’s what we learnt:

Streamlined design is the final frontier

Erin Sparling, head of newsroom development at Dow Jones, showed off a number of sophisticated in-house tools, as well as a love of Patrick Stewart. Coining many of his programs after characters the actor has played – Picard, Xavier, Arthur – Sparling gave insight into how digital design can be mastered. Xavier, for example, allows the newsroom to alter a layout without the need for multiple templates. What’s News “decomposes” articles into a module of elements (headlines, pictures, paragraphs), and if you’re looking for a slick way of building timelines, lists and slideshows, Narrator is able to make it so.

An “IMDb for the web” is on its way

Joscelyn Upendran talked about Zilpa, an attribution startup for the web. Through bookmarking and curation options, it creates a personalised content feed linked to Twitter. From this feed, Zilpa is able to show you – at a glance – who wrote a link, who shared it, who published it, who’s in it, who owns it, as well as other related information. Upendran’s touting Zilpa as the “IMDb for the web”.

Wearable tech is bad news for the legacy media


“Print dollars, digital dimes, mobile cents, and wearable…?” said Jack Riley, director of audience development at Huffington Post UK. Following on from research he did as a Nieman Visiting Fellow at Harvard University, he explained that wearable tech is the most intrusive device we have ever had, meaning user experience must be carefully thought over. His three key points were that they must be: personal, relevant and glance-able. He ominously concluded: “With wearables, there isn’t space for ad-supported content”.

There’s a new place to Tuttle-tattle about emerging technologies

Hacks/Hackers London is thriving, with names from The New York Times, The Economist, WSJ, Buzzfeed and more populating the room. But there are other options too, as Lloyd Davis, founder of Tuttle Club, pointed out. Tuttle’s series in the forthcoming weeks, Future of Work, will focus on emerging technologies and how they’re changing the world of work. Artificial Intelligence, Blockchains, Drones and Virtual Reality will all be explored.

Love is in the air

It may have been due to the free alcohol provided by The Economist, but it was a particularly friendly outing. Peter MacRobert of digital product incubator Pixie Labs took freely-available data from (the website used to register for Hacks/Hackers London), and matched up like-minded attendees for us all to see at: It was a creepy – yet informative and interesting – experience for everyone.

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