This year is the fourth annual Presidential Hackathon. From the start, it was affected by the rising pandemic. As an important collaboration platform for the government and citizens, the team flexibly adapted and modified the participation approach: the first workshop was fully remote, and the second workshop was held using the concept of “Shared Reality”, so there was no interruption due to the pandemic.
Even though the pandemic has now eased, in my opinion, the experience and results of this integration of virtual and physical realities are still worthy of your reference.
The first and second Presidential Hackathon workshops all followed the traditional hackathon process. All people gathered and were divided into teams to post ideas and discussions at the same physical location. The reviewers listened to briefings from and provided consultation to each team at a fixed time. After the outbreak of the global pandemic in 2020, the third annual workshop arranged each team in an independent space, and the briefings and consultations with the reviewers were also changed to video conferencing.
Last year’s experience has made us realize that although the fully online approach can effectively reduce contact and ensure the effectiveness of pandemic prevention, it is difficult to ignite the sparks inspired by physical exchanges. The constrains due to participation and connection quality at a fixed time are no less than those in a physical field. On the other hand, the traditional fully physical approach not only has pandemic prevention concerns, but also has various physical limitations such as mutual noise interference from each table, lack of clear visibility during briefing, etc.
In view of this, this year, with the assistance of the “jothon.g0v” team, we adopted a hybrid model. In addition to the presentations and discussions in the physical space, the team also created an exclusive hackathon hall on the online platform Gather Town, and reviewers and teams all have virtual avatars. If a team needed additional help during physical discussions, or if they could not find local experts to discuss, they could go online as a group at any time. When they reached a stage through discussions in the virtual space and wanted to show the preliminary results, they could also gather together physically at any time.
As a result, the problem analysis of each team this year is indeed more insightful. It not only “explains the problem”, such as which open data lacks integration, but also further “solves the problem” through collaboration to find specific solutions for users to participate in data governance.
The main theme of the Presidential Hackathon is to leverage inputs of the citizen community to spur new ideas in the face of existing problems and ultimately form concrete plans to enhance the effectiveness of public services. In my opinion, in addition to the impressive results of the participating teams, in the Presidential Hackathon this year, the collaboration process itself put forward a pioneering demonstration of the integration of virtual and physical work models.
I think the true spirit of “shared reality” is to allow everyone to transcend physical and time constraints and combine virtual and physical realities to create a space suitable for each other. Only in this way can we fully experience the feeling of being present together, and then create the future together to become an autonomous and interconnected “Multiverse”.