Data Without Borders Update: An Exciting First Day

June 22, 2011

Read original post here.

Well that was awesomely unexpected.

What I thought would be a casual blog post about a project I hoped to quietly roll out in the fall became a lightning rod for some of the most enthusiastic, engaged, and socially conscious data folk that I ever could have imagined. As of my writing this, over 300 of you have shown your interest in this initiative by signing up to stay in the loop on the Data Without Borders email list. Considering I envisioned 20 of us sitting around a borrowed office to tackle this problem, that turnout seems incredible to me. In addition, I’ve been getting emails from around the globe from people with amazing socially conscious tech projects and an unbridled enthusiasm for using tech and data to help others. To all of you, whether you’re an excel ninja working with disenfranchised communities or just an interested observer, thank you for signing up and getting involved.

Ok, so let’s do this! Some quick updates on next steps:

New Website: I’ll be working to roll out a proper site in early July where NGOs / non-profits can submit their proposals and where data people, be they statisticians, hackers, or other, can get involved and learn about upcoming events / partnerships.

Kickoff Event – NY Hack Day: Our first event will likely take the form of a NY-based hack day slated for the fall, in which three selected organizations will present proposals for short-term projects (that we’ll help you plan out). We’ll then have local data folk come and help realize their visions or consult on other ways to tackle the problems. Of course there will probably be pizza and beer.

Other Kickoffs: Not in NY? Fear not! We ultimately plan for DWB to be a free exchange of data scientists, regardless of locale. As this is our first event, logistics dictate that we do something close to home, but we’re also looking into sponsoring similar events across the country / world (if you’re someone that could help us make that happen, get in touch!) Heck, if you’re inclined, feel free to throw your own and tell us how it goes! We can compare notes.

New Name for the Site: this may seem trivial, but the site needs a proper name. Data is already borderless, Data Scientists Without Borders is a mouthful and exclusive sounding, and I’ve heard rumor that other professions ‘without borders’ are very protective of trademark. So before this goes too far, suggest a name for this initiative in the comments or email datawithoutborders@gmail.com with your clever titles. Right now I’m partial to DataCorps (thanks, Mike Dewar!), so feel free to +1 that if you’re feeling unimaginative.

Once again, thanks to everyone who’s shown interest in this cause and who wants to get involved. If you emailed me personally and I haven’t gotten back to yet, my apologies. I’m working my way through the list and will get back to you as soon as I can. Ping me at datawithoutborders@gmail.com if you haven’t heard from me by the end of the week.

I’ll send another update when the site’s live and will send word as our kickoff event approaches. Thanks again for inspiring me, Internet, and I’m looking forward to doing amazing things with you all.