On Sunday, September 21, 2014, teams of computer hackers, user interface designers and domain experts and enthusiasts convened at UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology (PAHMA), to present their entries to judges and spectators in the first-ever HackTheHearst hackathon competition.
These teams drew participants from both UC Berkeley and nearby San Francisco Bay Area communities, who worked over the hackathon’s ten-day period to build working prototypes of applications (“apps”) that make the museum’s vast collections of anthropological and archeological artifacts more accessible online and more useful to various audiences, including researchers, Native American tribes, K-12 teachers and students, and the general public.
HackTheHearst was modeled after #HackFSM, a hackathon jointly organized by The Bancroft Library and UC Berkeley’s Research IT department, which was held in April 2014. In both of these hackathons, Research IT’s staff volunteered as mentors. In addition, the data that powered the HackTheHearst apps came from PAHMA’s collections management system, CollectionSpace. Research IT was a partner in the development of CollectionSpace, and is also currently involved in customizing and maintaining the system for PAHMA.
Ten teams presented, and five were awarded prizes:
Best Overall App
1st Place: Team I School with "Yapi Kapi.” This app, created by an 11-member team of new students at the UC Berkeley School of Information, allows users to ‘draw’ areas on a map to discover artifacts from Native American tribes from those areas, and store their favorite objects in a “satchel.” The app also provides extensive classroom management features.
2nd Place: Blue Lotus Crocodiles with "Time Capsule: Ancient Egypt,” an Egyptology matching game for K–12 students. This app challenges students to match objects from ancient Egyptian life with parts of the elaborate drawings on Stelae (decorated slabs of stone or wood), while learning how those objects were used in daily life.
Best Research App
1st Place: Übergrads with "Cleo,” a collections explorer, modeling how researchers can drill down into aspects of PAHMA’s collections.
Best Tribes/Heritage App
1st Place: Team I School with "Yapi Kapi"
Best K–12 App
1st Place: Blue Lotus Crocodiles with "Time Capsule: Ancient Egypt.”
2nd Place: The Wheeler Box Kids with "Museum Manager", a museum curator simulation game that challenges players to come up with approximate dates for pictured artifacts.
In addition to the winning entries, other teams also showed a number of new and exciting ways to discover and explore PAHMA’s collections. One participant even gave a demonstration of augmented reality – based on taking multiple photographs of artifacts, using a set of inexpensive cameras – with the potential to make objects in the collection remotely viewable in 3D.